Title & Purpose

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Friday, 6 November 2009

The Alpha Course part 5

What is wrong with 'The Alpha Course'?

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The Alpha Course is 'New Age' in Ethos.
Let me briefly define what is meant by 'New Age'. It is that movement which shares a vision of a new age of enlightenment and harmony (the Age of Aquarius) and who subscribes to a common worldview. That common worldview is based on Monism (all is one), Pantheism (all is God) and Mysticism (the experience of oneness with the divine).

The New Age Movement is evidenced in the Animal Rights Activists, Eco-warriors, the Green Movement, the anti-capitalists rioters, anti-gender brigade, etc, etc. There is a spiritual side to all these lobby groups and it’s false religion. They practice a religious syncretism which brings together different and sometimes contradictory religious and philosophical teachings. The New Age Movement is not 'new' in the sense of its teachings never been known before. It is but a 'new' expression of age old heresies.

In this sense of the term The Alpha Course is New Age in Ethos.

i. The New Agers are very much at home with The Alpha Course.
Commenting on the ‘Holy Spirit Away Weekend’, Nicky Gumbel says of those who had come from a New Age background:
They are on more familiar territory in experiencing the Holy Spirit. Telling Others, page 19.

How can this be? How can something that claims to lead men to the truth be in such harmony with that which is expressly not of God? The answer is that the Alpha Course is not of God but is of another spirit, even the spirit of antichrist. The same philosophy that underpins New Ageism underpins The Alpha Course.

ii. Experience leads to explanation.
This is the philosophy of the Toronto Blessing, The Alpha Course and New Ageism. There can be no absolutes in New Ageism. There is no infallible standard by which all things are to be judged. No individual can claim to have the truth.

The philosophy of those who promote the Alpha Course is similar. Whatever works, run with it. If a methodology ‘works’ then it has value and merit, regardless of whether or not it is Scriptural.

John Wimber applied this philosophy to his life and ministry. He focused more on experience and feeling than on doctrine. He even warned against ‘worshipping the Book’. He mocked those who judged everything strictly by the Bible saying they have ‘God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Book. He also warned against being ‘too rigid’ and ‘too heavily oriented to the written Word, John Wimber, Counterfeit Revival.

Nicky Gumbel esteemed John Wimber very highly, tracing his ministry in many respects back to the ‘Word of Knowledge’ that Wimber gave to him. This type of practice in the professing Church of Christ is New Age philosophy at work. Anything goes, if it prospers. It is subjective religion, based on experience.

iii. A direct mirror of New Age Philosophy.
A direct parallel exists between the teachings of the New Age Movement and The Alpha Course. The two can be set side by side. The same ideas and concepts appear in both. The similarity goes to demonstrate that they both are the fruit of the same corrupt and false tree.

[1] Moving into the realm of the supernatural. The whole growth of gifts and the phenomena of modern Charismatics is often spoken of as the Church moving into the realm of the supernatural.

New Agers talk about humanity moving onto a higher plain. To them there is a coming Utopia. New Agers believe there is a new world order coming which involves one-world government, global socialism and a New Age religion.

[2] The idea of the experience of the Holy Ghost. According to The Alpha Course this is the leaving of yourself open to whatever God has for you. Attenders are to seek this experience of the Holy Spirit, which is nothing more than something emotional and subjective.

New Agers call it tuning into the divine consciousness. This ‘transformation’ is in two aspects: ‘Personal Transformation’ and ‘Planetary Transformation’.

Personal Transformation’ is variously described as ‘enlightenment’, ‘attunement’, ‘God realisation’, and ‘self actualisation’.

Planetary Transformation’ is brought about as a ‘critical mass’ of ‘personally transformed’ individuals take socio-political responsible for the world of humankind.

[3] The idea of supernatural gifts. The Alpha Course teaches that we all are to seek for the experience these gifts, have new revelations and ‘words of knowledge’ from the spirit world. As already pointed out Nicky Gumbel numbers the days of his ministry from such a ‘Word of Knowledge’.

New Agers call it ‘channelling from the spirit world’. A ‘channeller’ is one who yields control of his or her perceptual and cognitive capacities to a spiritual entity or force with the intent of receiving paranormal information.

[4] The obtaining of the anointing from a teacher. Gumbel believed he had it from Wimber. ‘Transmission of anointing’ by the closeness or the touch of a teacher on the forehead.

New Agers call it transmission into higher consciousness through the close proximity of a guru.

The Alpha Course is devious and ought not to be touched by any who love the truth revealed in Christ Jesus. It is deficient in doctrine, ecumenical in emphasis, charismatic in tone and New Age is ethos.

There are those who have acknowledged the validity of some of our criticisms:
An infectious enthusiasm, entrepreneurial spirit, and a bold plan for growth are all trademarks among Alpha’s top leaders. But not everyone is cheering Alpha onward. Some church leaders have found Alpha teaching too charismatic, too experience-driven, and too negative about traditional churches. Martyn Percy, director of the Lincoln Theological Institute for the Study of Religion and Society of the University of Sheffield, England, has commented about Alpha that it is ‘a package rather than a pilgrimage.’ In a recent essay, he said, ‘It is a confident but narrow expression of Christianity, which stresses the personal experience of the Spirit over the Spirit in the church. ... The Alpha approach has been faulted for pushing an experience-driven approach to evangelism that sidesteps intellectual difficulties. Christianity Today 9th February, 1998

Nicky Gumbel’s Alpha Course contains a little truth but much error. It is a well-packaged meal with a dose of e.coli. The non-discerning are at risk. To be spiritually healthly you need to avoid being contaminated with it!


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid it is evident you have little or no first hand experience of the Alpha Course. I am glad to report that your anxieties about it are wholly misplaced. The course is rooted and grounded in Scripture and that it is not the slightest "New Age" in ethos. I am sure you would be welcome on any Alpha Course to see for yourself.

Rev Brian McClung said...


The Alpha Course is hardly 'rooted and grounded in Scripture' as you suggest when Rome is perfectly happy with it; it is full of charismatic error and exhibits parallel teachings of the New Age Movement, even to the extent that Nicky Gumble marvelled that New Agers were so much at home with it.

This is the result of it being so doctrinally bland. It is all things to all men which is just typical of what passes for Irish Presbyterianism today.

I have read enough about the Alpha Course and have had correspondence, even from those in Carnmoney Church who are unhappy with the drift that is manifested in this course.

You only have to look at the invitation extended to Steve Chalke, a man who denies fundamental doctrines of Scripture, to see what is going on in Carnmoney Church.

Whatever you may state about the Alpha Course one thing is sure you cannot reasonably claim is rooted and grounded upon Scripture.

Rev Brian McClung