The Saviour says: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit Matthew 7:18. The Alpha Course is the fruit of a corrupt tree. It is deficient when it comes to doctrine.
i. The God of Alpha is not the God of the Bible.
God is revealed in the Scriptures as the great and mighty God. He is the Creator, Sustainer and Upholder of all things. He is the Sovereign God of all the earth, Isaiah 40:25-28. Man is a creature of the clay, responsible and answerable to Him. There are divine claims upon mankind.
There is no declaring of these things in Alpha. God is referred to, but never described. In many ways The Alpha Course bypasses God the Father altogether. There is no setting forth of who and what God is. There is continual mention made of God being love. But this is not how God is only described. He is much more than this.
How can something that claims to be an introduction to the Faith fail to start at the beginning, with the most important thing of all, In the beginning God...? This is where the Bible begins. There can be no true understanding unless we begin with God Himself and man’s relationship to Him. This is what the Christian Faith is all about.
ii. The condition of man in Alpha is not what it is in the Bible.
Man is totally and utterly depraved before God. There is no good in him. He is a rebel, at enmity with God. The wrath of God abideth on him. He is bound for hell. He is deserving of no good thing from God.
In Alpha man is viewed, not as to how God sees him, but rather as to how man feels before God. He is spoken of as having ‘feelings of sadness and unhappiness’, and ‘feeling dead inside, often guilty’. Man’s sin is spoken of as ‘rubbish that clutters up our lives and our world’. This is not how man is described before God. Man doesn’t feel dead he is spiritually dead. He is not often guilty, he is always guilty.
These are but a reference to the effects of sin and even then they are not accurate. The Alpha Course never sets forth man as a sinner who is under the wrath of God. In one manual I read through, there is no mention of the judgment of God or hell at all. Christ spoke about hell. A sinner has to be brought to see their need, only then they can be pointed in the direction of the work of Christ on the cross.
Nicky Gumbel has this to say about mankind:
In every human being the image of God has been to a greater or lesser extent tarnished, and in some cases almost eradicated by sin. Good and bad, strength and weakness coexist in all human beings, Questions of Life page 18.
This is not in accordance with God’s Word. The image of God has been lost entirely due to sin. There is no good at all in man. God’s Word says: There is none good but one, that is, God. Mark 10:18.
iii. The Christ of Alpha is not the Christ of the Bible.
Alpha has much to say about the Lord Jesus. It tells us what He did, what He said, and it does establish the certainty of the resurrection. In the chapter entitled: Why did Jesus die? it does not set forth the Christ of the Scriptures. Alpha does not set Him forth as the one who died because the justice of a holy God required it. We are left with the impression that Christ sacrificed Himself to rescue us from some impersonal and rather arbitrary justice system. Having bypassed God the Father it cannot adequately explain the death of Christ.
You can never come to understand the death of Christ until you realise that for a sinner to be saved the just demands of God’s law must be satisfied.
iv. The Holy Spirit of Alpha is not the Holy Spirit of the Bible.
There is more space devoted to the Holy Spirit than to the Lord Jesus in Alpha. That in itself it instructive, when we consider John 16:13,14: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
The Holy Spirit will always work to uplift Christ Jesus not Himself. This is not taking place in Alpha. The Holy Spirit of Alpha is the agent for giving to people an ‘experience’ that is going to make God real to them. The main focus of this is the ‘Holy Spirit Weekend Away’. Going on that weekend people are told to expect that all manner of things might happen to them. We will have more to say on this.
v. Conversions of Alpha are not the conversions of the Bible.
In the Scriptures when men were converted there was deep sorrow for sin and a crying to God for mercy:
Acts 2:37: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Acts 16:29: Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas...
Conversions of Alpha are often nothing more than emotional experiences about the love of God with no conviction of sin or sorrow over sin and no turning from sin. People can feel forgiven yet never have known conviction of sin. These are mere professions of Christianity. It is all an act of their own will. They make a conscious decision to live as a Christian, believing some basic tenets and doing Christian activities. But no heart change has ever taken place.
On page 221 reference is made to the extent of the Christian Church. The Encyclopaedia Britannica is quoted that the church has some 1.7 billion adherents. This confuses Church membership and outward profession with belonging to Christ. Not every one who is a Church member is a child of God.
As to when this change occurred in their lives, most said it was at the ‘weekend’. The decisive moment is when the Holy Spirit comes in rather than the momentous occasion when they were supposedly converted.
One account of conversion in Alpha News July/October 1997 demonstrates this:
I still needed some physical evidence of the existence of God, part of the course was the Holy Spirit Weekend at a camp, which I wasn’t looking forward to. I went and maintained a stone wall approach until the second day.... suddenly a feeling of joy came over me and I began to laugh uncontrollably. At that point I knew that I had become a Christian.
I have virtually stopped drinking. I only drink socially now - just the odd beer or glass of wine. God gives complete victory over sin not partial victory.
The truth is, this movement is energised by another spirit. It is doctrinally deficient.