Changed by Grace

V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A.

Glenn F. Chesnut

Glenn F. Chesnut, Changed by Grace: V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A.
Glenn F. Chesnut, Changed by Grace:  V. C. Kitchen, the Oxford Group, and A.A., September 2006, ISBN 0-595-40680-7, xv + 184 pp., $17.95.

Victor C. Kitchen was a New York City advertising executive who wrote one of the Oxford Group's most important books:

V. C. Kitchen, I Was a Pagan
(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1934)

He also went to the same Oxford Group meetings as Bill Wilson, who later became the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is a book about A.A.'s roots in the Oxford Group, as seen through the pages of Kitchen’s work.

It explains how the key ideas which the two movements shared arose out of the evolution of the modern evangelical movement. The author begins with John Wesley's Aldersgate experience in 1738 and traces this understanding of the healing power of grace down to Kitchen's and Bill W.'s time, traversing en route the world of nineteenth century revivalism, the Keswick holiness movement, and the early twentieth century foreign missionary effort.

The great theme around which all of this is centered, is that of God's grace as the power to change human character itself. This book shows what faith and grace are really about. It shows how even faith mixed with doubt can lead us into true spiritual awakening, and it explains the basic nuts and bolts required to obtain a constant conscious contact with a God of our understanding.

Each century produces a small handful
of great spiritual books

"Each century produces a small handful of great spiritual books. I believe strongly that Changed by Grace is going to prove one of the greatest of our present century. The best way to describe it is to say that it does for us today what William James Varieties of Religious Experience did for the world of a hundred years ago. Those who read it with an open mind will not only come to understand what spiritual experiences and spiritual awakenings are about, but will also learn the simple daily actions required to produce such awakenings. It is my prayer this day that all who read this book will open their minds like morning flowers and absorb the sunlight of the spirit contained within this book." — John Barleycorn in The Waynedale News.

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V. C. Kitchen, Oxford Group author of I Was a Pagan

Victor C. Kitchen
(for more photos click here)


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V. C. Kitchen, Oxford Group author of I Was a Pagan

Victor C. Kitchen as a young man
(for more photos click here)

Click here to read Chapter 7

The Names of God

How to find a God of our understanding

In the search to find a God of our understanding, there are four traditional paths in western spirituality, going all the way back to ancient Christian and Jewish thought, all of which are firmly founded in the Bible itself. They have always been an intrinsic part of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox spirituality.

All four of these are recognized and acknowledged in modern evangelical theology (from its beginnings in the eighteenth century), in the Oxford Group literature of the 1930's, and in the A.A. tradition. Using the traditional terminology, we call these the four basic "Names of God," although it is the one God, who reigns over all the universe, to whom they all four point.

1. The divine Glory and the experience of the Sacred:  Bill W.’s conversion experience

2. The Spirit

3. The Good Itself and the Moral Law:  the moral law as the face of God unveiled

4. The Truth Itself and Being Itself




Chapter 1.  The Oxford Group and the Eighteenth Century Evangelical Movement

Victor C. Kitchen
Frank Buchman, founder of the Oxford Group
The modern evangelical movement
Psychotherapy and religion
The attack of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment on traditional Christianity
The chink in the Enlightenment philosophers' armor
Jonathan Edwards
Marty Mann's spiritual experience in A.A.
V. C. Kitchen's spiritual experience in the Oxford Group

Chapter 2.  Power to Heal the Soul

John Wesley's discovery of the religion of the heart
God's grace as power to change
The Oxford Group on the newly-given power to change
The changes which Kitchen saw in his life
Change in A.A. -- replacing resentment with agapê love

Chapter 3.  House Parties, Confession, Surrender, and Guidance

Kitchen's first visit to an Oxford Group house party
Surrender and the power to resist sin
Behavior based on divine guidance instead of legalism
Salvation by faith, not by legalism and works of the law

Chapter 4.  Quiet Time, Guidance, and God-Bearers

Quiet time and group guidance
F. B. Meyer, Henry Burt Wright, and H. A. Walter
General Protestant belief in receiving guidance through prayer
The potential dangers of believing that we are carrying out the will of God
The A.A. Traditions as guards against the misuse of the concept of guidance
Quiet time and individual guidance
Show me your glory
The God-bearers:  my story is my message
The Oxford Group and the modern evangelical movement

Chapter 5.  The Four Absolutes and the Dangers of Legalism

Bill W.'s rejection of the Four Absolutes
Works righteousness and legalism
Absolutist thinking, resentment, and depression
Grace as the great healing power
God's gracious acts of loving kindness (hesed) in Judaism
The healing power of grace in nontheistic religions
Paul's discovery

Chapter 6.  The Balanced Life:  Seeking the Golden Mean

Seeking the Golden Mean between the two extremes
The Bicycle Principle
The Pancake Principle
The Myth of Perfection:  St. Augustine and Paul's letter to the Romans
Martin Luther and Paul's letter to the Romans
The Calvinists
The Anglicans and the letter of James
The grounds for Bill W.'s opposition to the Four Absolutes

Chapter 7.  The Names of God and God as Truth Itself   CLICK HERE TO READ

The one absolute which cannot be discarded:  Absolute Honesty
The four Names of God
1. The divine Glory and the experience of the Sacred
Bill W.'s conversion experience
2. The Spirit
3. The Good Itself and the Moral Law
The Moral Law as the face of God unveiled
4. The Truth Itself
Being Itself
Truth and Absolute Honesty
A.A.'s great debt to the Oxford Group




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