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An Alpha Course checklist

May 1999 | by Edgar Andrews

For those who wish to pursue the matter further, we recommend a booklet by Chris Hand entitled Falling Short? The Alpha Course examined (Day One Publications). The following ‘checklist’ of problems associated with the Alpha Course is based loosely on this booklet.

  • The Alpha Course is unashamedly Arminian and charismatic in character. It presents a ‘user-friendly’ gospel, with a high level of humour, designed to offend no one.
  • It presents God as one who is there to help man, not as the Creator, Sustainer and Lord of creation.
  • Its gospel content is minimal. According to Alpha, the purpose of the gospel is to satisfy man’s spiritual hunger. In Scripture, it is to glorify God’s grace (Ephesians 1:6).
  • Alpha presents sin as human shortcomings rather than an offence to an infinitely holy God. The essential sinfulness of the human heart, and its inveterate enmity towards God, are glossed over (see Romans 8:7). According to Alpha, God loves everyone – period.
  • Though mentioned, judgement and hell are watered down to avoid offence. It claims that Christ died for all men, implying that his atonement was ineffectual for those who are lost.
  • It suggests that salvation may be obtained by saying ‘the sinner’s prayer’ with sincerity. It wrongly implies that the new birth is God’s response to man’s faith, rather than its cause, as in Scripture (Ephesians 2:1-10).
  • It encourages people to consider themselves Christians simply because they have prayed a prayer of commitment. In Scripture, by contrast, salvation is a sovereign work of God’s Spirit. Three quarters of the course are addressed to believers, even though many attending may remain in unbelief. No warnings are given to such attendees about the dangers of making false assumptions in this matter (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  • The high point of the course is intended to be an experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, accompanied by psychological release and various experiences, which may vary from speaking with tongues to tingling in the arms and sensations of warmth. Thus receiving the Spirit is presented as an emotional experience rather than the seal of an eternal union with Christ and the Father (John 14:16-23).
  • The course has been enthusiastically welcomed by the Roman Catholic Church at one extreme and the Vineyard movement at the other. That such unbiblical groups find nothing to disagree with in the Alpha Course is cause for concern about its teaching.
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