At my church, we have been going through the Alpha Course which is basically an introductory course to the Christian faith. I was amazed to find that there are many sites and people out there that feel that this course and it’s material are not in line with Christian beliefs. One site can even be quoted as saying that it 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 am astonished that these statements have been made regarding this study. After viewing almost all of the videos of Nicky Gumbel preachings, I can say that I did not find one endorsement that these sites claim to be taught. Many of these critiques are being spoken over this course due to these believers having a personal view that is in contradiction to the views of one or two of Alpha’s founders. One site even had a major critique with Alpha course having “slick marketing”. Tell me: are Christians not allowed to market their material just as the world markets theirs? I have not read anywhere in the Bible that states that promoting Christianity through marketing would be in opposition. This site also spoke in a negative light regarding the amount of materials, regarding them as paraphernalia, that have to be bought to conduct this course. These materials are only to spread the basic fundamentals of Christianity to those that otherwise may not have heard or understood these core beliefs. Another criticism came of a person that gave testimony of “feeling the Spirit’. The site’s author states, And one has to look even harder for a Scripture verse that says you can “feel” the Holy Spirit.
Are you telling me that the Bible states that we are never to feel God’s presence? That we are not to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit? No thank you. I absolutely love to feel God’s presence surround me. To feel the Holy Spirit upon and inside me, renewing me, giving me peace. I have felt his presence many times like a strong wind (just as it is referred to in the Bible, Acts 2:2.) In the word, many times it makes a reference the “spirit falling on people.” (Acts 11:15, Acts 10:44) or that they were “filled with the spirit” (Acts 7:55). What does it feel like to have something fall on you or when you are filled. I know the physical feeling of being filled with food. I imagine that a spiritual filling would have a sensation also. Actually I do not have to imagine because I have felt this sensation, and it is sensational.
As for the criticism of laughter in the Spirit…
Although this is never mentioned in this course, it is mentioned too in the criticisms of the Alpha course many times. In Luke 10:21, the Bible states that “In that hour Jesus was extremely joyful in the Holy Spirit and…” Hmm… Jesus was joyful in the spirit. What do people do when they are joyful? What do you do? Maybe these critics sit solemnly and pensively when they are joyful.
I do not believe that any man could tell define the ways that the Holy Spirit manifests. In Acts 2:2, outsiders viewed those that were under the “influence” of the Spirit, as being “drunk on wine”. The Spirit manifestations are outside of our comprehension, but not outside of our reach. I love that!
Here is the outline of the course so that you can judge for yourself whether this is a false doctrine or simply a study on the basics of the Christian faith.
Introductory Session 1: Is there more to life than this?
Session 2: Who is Jesus?
Session 3: Why did Jesus die?
Session 4: How can we have faith?
Session 5: Why and how do i pray?
Session 6: Why and how should I read my bible?
Session 7: How does God guide us?
Session 8: Who is the Holy Spirit?
Session 9: What does the Holy Spirit Do?
Session 10: How can I be filled with the Spirit?
Session 11: How can I resist evil?
Session 12: Why and how should we tell others?
Session 13: Does God heal today?
Session 14: What about the church?
Session 15: How can I make the most of the rest of my life?
I encourage you to at least look into The Alpha Course Manual: An Opportunity to Explore the Meaning of Life and draw your own conclusions. In my opinion, this course is a great introduction to the fundamentals of Christianity. Look into it, and of course submit your judgment to God through prayer.