"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Monday, April 9, 2012

OUR ALPHA is NOT LIKE THEIR ALPHA

~ ~ By James Fire
The LORD Jesus Christ declared in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 1:8
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty
.

This confirms the fact that Jesus is indeed God, Who declared much the same in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 44:6
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God
.

Recently I heard about this ‘Alpha course’ and saw a sign in a church that announced that the course would be conducted there; I was rather curious. Is this about THE Alpha and Omega, the LORD Jesus Himself? I supposed it was, but I wanted to check it out for myself. A cursory search on the Internet brought forth some disturbing results.

If one visits the web site for this ministry, the explanation for the vision and purpose of this course seems somewhat biblical, if simplistic; however a deeper look reveals some fundamental flaws in its tenets, even to the point of unbiblical teaching and practices that only adds to the pervasive apostasy that is rapidly overtaking nearly everything that claims to be Christian or biblical.

What does Alpha course have to say for itself?
~*“Alpha gives everyone the opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course usually meets once a week for 10 weeks, including a one-day or weekend getaway. Sessions begin with a meal, followed by a short talk and time to discuss what's been taught.

“During the discussion, everyone is welcome to contribute their opinions and no question is considered hostile or too simple. Questions might include—Is there a God? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?”

It asks the basic questions of “Is there a God and if so, does He really care? Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? How does God guide us? Why and how do I pray? Why and how should I read the Bible?” among other questions. Here is a video that says pretty much the same thing: Alpha Course Promo Video

Where did this all begin?
“The Alpha course has been running for more than 30 years. It began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, England in the late 1970s, as a means of presenting the basic principles of the Christian faith to new Christians in a relaxed and informal setting. By 1990, when former lawyer Nicky Gumbel took over the course, Alpha was a central feature of the church's life. While leading his second Alpha course, Nicky realized this course could also appeal to non-churchgoers and he adapted it, making it welcoming and suitable for such individuals.”

Apparently this started out in the late ‘70’s in England as a means of getting new believers familiar to biblical principles and Christian faith, but then it was adapted to get the Gospel out to the ‘non-churchgoer’ but is this course really a proper venue to disciple new believers, or present the genuine and true Gospel to those outside of the body of Christ?

This course is both highly ecumenical: 44 different denominations were asked to examine the course and raise any objections to any of its teachings; none of them raised any such objections, including the Roman Catholic church.

Here is an interview conducted with a Roman Catholic priest that endorses this program: Note his use of the term “post-modern” –8 mins. 10. The Roman Catholic position is that certain supplements be added that would suit their particular denominational views.

The Alpha Course is also highly charismatic (Its leadership and its practices are very much akin with the likes of John Wimber and the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville fellowship experiences*).

* “. . . on January 20, 1994, at a concrete church next to Toronto airport, 80% of the congregation . . . suddenly fell to the floor and began writhing around, apparently singing in tongues and convulsing violently. Rumours about this milestone - which became known as the Toronto Blessing - quickly spread to Britain. Nicky [Gumbel] flew to Toronto to see it for himself. Was it mass hysteria or a miracle, a real experience of the Holy Spirit?

‘I don't talk about it now,’ says Nicky. ‘It divides people. It splits churches. It is very controversial. But I'll tell you - I think the Toronto Blessing was a wonderful, wonderful thing.’ Nicky returned from Canada, spoke passionately at HTB about the Toronto Blessing and, lo and behold, his congregation, too, began rolling on the floor, etc. The services soon became so popular, with queues around the block, that they were compelled to introduce two Sunday-evening sittings - and still not everyone could get in.”

In the ‘90’s this Alpha course spread across England and around the world.

“During the 1990s, the Alpha course spread – first throughout the UK and then internationally - as more churches and groups found it a helpful way to answer people’s questions about the Christian faith. Now, there are more than 60,000 courses run in 169 countries and an estimated 18 million people have now attended a course globally. The Alpha course is supported by all major denominations.”

(Quotes taken directly from the official web site:
http://www.alphausa.org/

How Did Alpha Start?

Who leads this movement known as the Alpha Course? That would be Nicky Gumbel:

“Nicky Gumbel is vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, a Church of England church in central London. He studied law at Trinity College, Cambridge, from1973-1975 (M.A. Cantab) and practised as a barrister from 1977-1983.
“In 1983, he went to Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, to read theology (M.A. Oxon) and to train for ordination in the Church of England. He was awarded an honorary doctorate (Hon D. Phil) from the University of Gloucestershire in 2007 for his contribution to church life. He joined Holy Trinity Brompton as curate to Sandy Millar in 1986. He took over the running of Holy Trinity Brompton's Alpha course - a practical introduction to the Christian faith - in October 1990. The course grew rapidly and attracted wide interest. The first Alpha conference was held at Holy Trinity Brompton in May 1993 and in 1996 the Bishop of London appointed Nicky as an Alpha Chaplain. In 2005 he was appointed vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton as successor to Sandy Millar. He became Vice President of Tear Fund in 2008.”

According to Gumbel’s bio more than 210,000 leaders have been trained in the Alpha Course and 55,000 courses have run across the globe, with 16 million people having completed the course by the late ‘90’s.

“Nicky Gumbel has written several books. Questions of Life - the Alpha course in book form - was published in 1993 and is the Alpha course syllabus in book format. It was declared 'Christian Book of the Year 1994' at the Christian Booksellers Convention and has sold more than a million copies world-wide. The evangelistic booklet Why Jesus? and its sister publication Why Christmas? have sold more than four million copies.
Nicky speaks regularly at national and international Alpha conferences.”

Nicky Gumbels Bio

What can be said about The Alpha Course? Much, as shall be shown here now:

From Webtruth.com we have the following statements in an article written by Michael J. Penfold: The Gospel According to Gumbel (Read the entire article here:

“Alpha is fully ecumenical1 and thoroughly charismatic in content. Three of the fifteen talks centre on the Holy Spirit – including a primer on ‘tongues’ – with another entirely dedicated to ‘healing’. Only two talks focus on Jesus Christ, with none at all on God the Father. Literally millions of people have completed the course, which is currently running in thousands of churches worldwide, Protestant and Catholic.2 The format, with its social meals, ‘weekend away’ and opportunity for small-group discussion after each session, have helped ensure its continuing popularity as a major medium for modern church evangelism.”

Ecumenism has long been a format for compromise of biblical truth, and a media used by those who disregard biblical authority in favor of church tradition and authority, as well as philosophy and mystical, spiritual experiences.

Of course the Charismatic movement is a haven for such mystical, spiritual experiences that lead people into deception and spiritual bondage with all sorts of unbiblical beliefs and practices. Such organizations as the United Council of Churches are prime examples of ecumenism which invariably results in biblical compromise and even rejection of foundational biblical truths.

“Alpha’s actual ‘gospel’ content is minimal . . . talk three, entitled ‘Why Did Jesus Die?’ as the only direct gospel section in the whole course. From this chapter, the ‘gospel according to Gumbel’ can be summarized as follows:

• The root cause of sin is a broken relationship with God.
• Everyone has done bad things and consequently our lives are in a mess.
• Sin has polluted us and will ultimately lead to eternal isolation from God [Yet Gumbel never expresses the biblical truth of damnation or an eternal hell].
• God loves us and longs to restore our lost relationship with Him.
• In Christ, God self-substituted Himself, paying sin’s penalty on the cross.
• To become Christians and receive all the benefits of the cross, we must pray to God, saying sorry for our wrong-doing, thanking Jesus for dying for us and asking Him to come into our lives and fill us with His Spirit.3”

The issue of our sin nature and our need of salvation by repentance and receiving Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice is unclear at times and in regards to the doctrinal issues of sin nature and repentance, these are almost ignored:

“Although Gumbel mentions sin over thirty times in talk three, he presents it almost entirely as something people do, omitting an explanation of what people are by nature. People do what they do because they are what they are. They sin because they are sinners. Yet, apart from writing Gen 3 in brackets at one point, Gumbel skips any exposition of the doctrine of original sin.”

“Gumbel invites his millions of viewers to pray a prayer saying ‘sorry for sin’ and asking Jesus to come into their lives. Yet, in reality, the dire need of his audience has never really been exposed. They may willingly say a very earnest and sincere ‘sorry’ to God for all their wrong doings, without ever having understood by the convicting power of the Spirit through God’s word, that they are by nature incurably bad, unfit for heaven and undeserving of . . . mercy, while the just wrath of a holy and righteous God hangs over their head . . . Gumbel neglects to emphasize that every single sin is against God and constitutes an act of rebellion (Psalm 51:4). Many sincere people are deeply upset about their sins, who have never once realised that their sin is against God . . .”

“Gumbel never expounds the foundational truth of salvation ‘by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone’. Catholic Bishop Ambrose Griffiths commends Alpha for being a “powerful evangelistic tool...it doesn’t contain anything that is contrary to Catholic doctrine” [emphasis mine]. Thousands of Roman Catholics have completed Alpha, said the sinner’s prayer, received the ‘spirit’ and spoken in tongues, without ever realising that the rosary, prayers to Mary, confession to a priest and the seven Romish sacraments are all unscriptural ‘good works’, that not only play no part in salvation, but are an abomination to God.”

And on conviction of sin and repentance:

“Despite majoring on the Holy Spirit, Gumbel never mentions His work of convicting of sin (John 16:8). But what is conviction of sin? . . . Conviction of sin is not:

• the ordinary smiting of a guilty conscience
• a mere head knowledge of what the Bible says about sin
• a shallow acknowledgement that ‘‘I’ve made a lot of mistakes.’’
• a mere fear of going to hell
• even an admission of sin (Pharoah, Saul, Balaam and Judas all said “I have sinned.” and went to hell).


“True Holy Spirit conviction is a proper sense of the dreadfulness of one’s [sinfulness] and sin against God (Psa 51:4, Lu 15:18). It is when a person inwardly feels and owns the wickedness and rebellion of their depraved heart. A stranger to conviction is a stranger to repentance; and a stranger to repentance must be a stranger to salvation for, “Unless you repent you will all perish” (Lu 13:5).
"Which raises another term that is little understood throughout evangelicalism, namely repentance. Gumbel gives it one brief mention, also using the synonym ‘turn’ a couple of times – but he neither develops nor emphasizes this vital theme. Repentance was John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus’ first spoken word in public ministry (Matt 3:1, Mk 1:15). Paul defined the very gospel itself as ‘repentance and faith’, and summarized the message he had preached throughout his entire life as simply, “repent and turn to God ” (Acts 20:21, 26:20). But theological terms need to be defined carefully.”

Biblical repentance is acknowledgement that we have sinned against God, and that we recognize our own unworthiness of God because of our sin nature, and despises the sins that are an offense to the Holy LORD and desires to change, that is, to turn away from our sins and our sin nature and turn completely to the LORD in unconditional surrender, seeking salvation by placing faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross and receiving Him as LORD and SAVIOR. Repentance, contrary to Alpha Course is not merely feeling ‘sorry for our sin’ and being ‘sorry for hurting God’s feelings’ or a self-determination to not commit a particular sin.

Or as Michael J. Penfold expresses it:

Repentance is not –

• Penance or restitution
• Mere tears and trembling (Acts 24:25)
• Fear of judgment. Multitudes desire to be saved from hell (the natural instinct of self-preservation) who are quite unwilling to be saved from sin. Yea, there are tens of thousands who have been deluded into thinking that they have ‘accepted Christ as their Saviour’ whose lives plainly show that they have rejected Him as their Lord. For a sinner to obtain the pardon of God, he must forsake his way.8
• Remorse ...we must all learn to distinguish between the sorrow that comes from being caught & the sorrow that comes from a deep, inward hatred of sin and longing for the glory of God that is the distinguishing feature of the regenerate person."9
• Confession or admission of sin. Salvation is never promised to those who confess their sin (1 John 1:9 is a promise to Christians).
• Reformation or turning over a new leaf.

From another ministry, Deception in the Church with Sandy Simpson we have the following article about the Alpha Course:

The Dangers of the Alpha Course (Read the entire article at the link provided) –

Mr. Simpson states:

“The Alpha Course is a course that has been used by many as a way to attempt to introduce the false doctrines and practices of the Third Wave into mainstream denominations.
I was dumbfounded when I found out some of the people who endorse this course. Among them were the Salvation Army and, most notably, Luis Palau. Here is his endorsement that is featured on the Alpha Course web page:

"Alpha seems especially blessed in that the Lord is using it to reach all sorts of people in all sorts of spiritual condition." http://www.alphana.org/alendo01.htm

The Alpha Course, though teaching some truth, also lays truth alongside error . . . introducing error secretly (pareisaxousinin in Greek) the result of which will ruin the faith of the believer in the end. The wooing of people using the gospel message, only to later enslave them in ritualism, works salvation, and occult manifestations is one of the great deceptions of our time. . .”
In the article by Mr. Simpson, he posted two emails from people who have made some key observations about The Alpha Course; here is the first:

“Blessings!

“The foundations of the Alpha course were originally laid in 1979 through the work of Charles Marnham. During his time at Holy Trinity Brompton in west London (one of the main proponants of the Toronto "Blessing" and where Steve Hill of Brownsville picked up his ability to "slay people in the spirit"), he sought to devise a course to look at the basics of the Christian faith in a way that would be helpful to new Christians.

“After Marnham's initial input, Alpha gradually evolved. One of the key figures in this and the main architect of the Alpha course as it now exists is Nicky Gumbel, currently curate at Holy Trinity Brompton. It was through Gumbel's vision and work that Alpha grew to have the impact it has today.

“Alpha has some well-known champions and supporters...

George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury
David Hope, the Archbishop of York
Alistair McGrath of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Regent College, Vancouver
Luis Palau, international evangelist
J.I. Packer of Regent College, Vancouver
The late John Wimber of the Vineyard churches
R.T. Kendall of Westminster Chapel
Joel Edwards of the Evangelical Alliance
Interesting to say the least...beloved let us discern the times!”

And here is the second email sent to Mr. Sandy Simpson:


“Dear Friends,
“The plot thickens and yet becomes at the same time more clear. This note concerns what we already know about Alpha courses, and two recent reports in the Daily Telegraph. The first DT item was on 30th Sept. p10, about the World Council of Churches. The second on 1st. Oct., about the Church of Rome and the Eucharist.

“We all (I hope) know that Alpha has become a front for both Ecumenism and Toronto [Blessing]. It is therefore not surprising that its Theological content is lacking in many respects. Any course that can appeal to the range of traditions and denominations that Alpha does; must of necessity sacrifice many essential truths. It is to be expected, and yet sad to observe, so many "evangelicals" going happily and willingly down this "broad" road. This fact alone, of course, begs the question; just exactly what is an evangelical today? It is suggested by this aspect of Alpha alone, that every evangelical participating in Alpha, is betraying the very Gospel they claim to uphold. When people ask me how can I be so critical of something of which I have no personal experience; my usual reply is that I do not need to put my hand into a fire to prove if it will burn.

“The second aspect of my note is about the Roman Catholic position in ecumenical matters. Here again most evangelicals must be either blind or ignorant of Rome's way of doing things. Rome has never changed one iota of the articles of the Council of Trent. Her attitude has always been one of waiting and persuading all to return to the "One True Church". While everyone else it seems is only too willing to compromise in the ecumenical cause, Rome has steadfastly given nothing away. It never ceases to amaze me, that so many think Rome is somehow different since Vatican II. This is the cleverness of the Roman system. She lulls everyone into a sense of false security before swallowing them up. Just look at how many of our institutional churches and others are making overtures to Rome, and you begin to see how successful Rome has been . . . This is why Alpha is a ready tool for Rome to exploit. While everyone is enjoying a meal and warm company, totally unaware of what is really going on under their very noses.”

LOOKING At The ALPHA Course – by Tricia Tillin

(These are excerpts; to read the full article “Dangers of the Alpha Course” please visit the web site article from DECEPTION in the CHURCH (link above):

“A WOMAN has walked out of her church and is holding services in her living room, because she says she cannot bring herself to "snort like a pig and bark like a dog" on a Church of England course. Angie Golding, 50, claims she was denied confirmation unless she signed up for the Alpha course, which she says is a "brainwashing" exercise where participants speak in tongues, make
animal noises and then fall over.”

“One difficulty in pinning down the problems with the Alpha Course is that each church running the course will use the materials in a different way. Thus it is feasible, in theory at least, that a church might avoid all controversy and simply use the course to preach the gospel to unbelievers. This does leave unanswered the question - why does any church need to buy a course to be able to preach the gospel?”

“. . . as the course progresses, some of the talks tend to wander
off into lengthy accounts of HTB's experiences of the Toronto Blessing and associated ministries, novel exegeses of various Biblical passages common amongst pro-Toronto preachers, calls for unity despite truth and an over-emphasis on the Holy Spirit, all of which are less than helpful, to say the least, to potential Christians.

“Clearly the aim is to bring as many into God's Kingdom as possible but by the end of the course I cannot help feeling that the Toronto Blessing may have been the greater beneficiary.”

Nicky Gumbel relates the following:

"Ellie Mumford told us a little bit of what she had seen in Toronto . . . it was obvious that Ellie was just dying to pray for all of us.. then she said 'Now we'll invite the Holy Spirit to come.' and the moment she said that one of the people there was thrown, literally, across the room and was lying on the floor, just howling and laughing...making the most incredible noise...I experienced the power of the Spirit in a way I hadn't experienced for years, like massive electricity going through my body... One of the guys was prophesying. He was just lying there prophesying. . ."

"I believe it is no coincidence that the present movement of the Holy Spirit [TB] has come at the same time as the explosion of the Alpha Courses. I think the two go together." [Nicky Gumbel, 'The Spirit and Evangelism', Renewal, May 1995, p15].

“Alpha also promotes, as does the leadership of the TB, 'unity' between Protestants and Roman Catholics, with no consideration, or perhaps realisation, of the unreconcileable doctrines of the two Churches, and so another concern is its trend towards ecumenism.”

“Nicky Gumbel is aware of this paradigm shift from reason to experience:






"In the Enlightenment reason ruled supreme and explanation led to experience. In the present transitional culture, with its 'pick-and-mix' worldview in which the New Age movement is a potent strand, experiences lead to explanation".
[Nicky Gumbel, Telling Others, p19].”

“Post-Christian neo-mysticism is already so pervasive that virtually every non-christian participant of Alpha - or any other evangelistic initiative – will reflect to some degree New Age thinking. In New Age philosophy "experiences leading to explanation" yet, like the Toronto Experience, the thrust of Alpha is towards the experiential, not the written Word. One pastor who has made use of The Alpha course writes:

"One of the problems of proclaiming the gospel in a post-modern world is that culture itself warms much more readily to lifestyle than to the doctrine. But the Christian lifestyle is not Christian faith...I am sure that many people are being converted through the Alpha course, but I have a suspicion that some of those people are being converted to a Christian lifestyle rather than to Christ.” [emphasis mine]

Ian Lewis, 'The Alpha Course', Evangelicals Now, Dec. 1995”


Suffice it to say that the Alpha Course is very superficial on the Gospel, negligent in presenting the clear message of repentance, quite careful not to disrupt denominational and ecumenical sensibilities; it includes unity with the Roman Catholic church and is completely open to spiritual experiences that are both deceptive and leads to further deception. Another brick in the Tower of Babel that stands for the coming one world religion!

The thematic question asked in The Alpha Course is, "What am I doing here?" A question that could validly be asked, and should be asked concerning this movement itself into the church - "What are you doing here in the church?"

In its desire to ‘bring people to Christ’ what it seems to actually be doing is bringing the world and unbiblical spiritual practices into the church with very little evidence of genuine repentance, conversion and spiritual life in Jesus Christ in accord with His Most Holy Word, our Guide and Light and spiritual nourishment for all things concerning a godliness.

2 Peter 1: 2 – 5

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

2 Timothy 3: 14 - 17

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works
.

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