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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Psalm 95, Aug 26, 2007.
What do you think of the theology of the alpha course.
I chose "Other" as my response, because I believe the course to be very weak on sin. I also agree that it is "too charismatic" and "too ecumenical," but I could only make one response in the poll.
I voted for "I do not know.".
I hate apprearing as ignorant as I actually am, but have no clue as to what is even being talked about, here.
But anyway, what exactly is "'alpha course' theology"?
I'd say that question is obviously the place to start. I have never even heard of the phrase before.
"The Alpha Course" began in London, England in 1991, at Holy Trinity (Anglican) Church, Brompton. (This is the Charismatic church from which the "Toronto Blessing-style" teaching spread throughout the UK). Alpha courses are now being run in many countries. The instigator was Nicky Gumbel, one of the ministers at Holy Trinity. The idea was to present Christianity to unbelievers in an informal, unthreatening way, ususally somewhere other than in a church building. The Course consists of 15 sessions, the final 3 taking the form of a “Holy Spirit day or weekend.”
Sadly, the theology on which "Alpha" is based seems to be man-centred, with market testing by questionaires, and then fitting the course to the perceived "need". Whether because of this, or for some other reason, Alpha is very weak on sin. It is very ecumenical, so much so that Cardinal Basil Hume recommend it to Roman Catholics. Nicky Gumbel claims that the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism are “totally insignificant compared to the things that unite us....We need to unite around the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus; the absolute essential things at the core of the Christian faith on which we are all agreed. We need to give people liberty to disagree on the things that are secondary”. It is also extremely Charismatic, with instruction being given as to to receive the gift of “speaking in tongues”. John Wimber's books are reccommended. There is a whole session given to healing (in the Charismatic sense) - as much as is given to the subject of sin and salvation.
I came across the following two articles in Evangelical Times:
I hope that helps a little, Ed.
The statistics so far suggest:
1. The alpha course seems to be quite unknown among many american baptists (70%). This might be a good thing.
2. Nobody accepts the Alpha is a good tool and its theology is good (0%). I think in it's original charismatic form the alpha course can have serious problems.
3 A few suggest that the Aplha course can be a good tool if you choose among the subjects (20%). In Sweden its debated if its right (allowed) to have the alpha course without the charismatic focus on the Holy Spirit. Many have alpha course without the Holy Spirit weekend and many teach a more moderate form of the course adapted to the theology of the church.
4. Some think it is to eucmencial (20%) and others think it is to charismatic (30%). I do think that this often is true, the alpha course in its original form is both charismatic (speaking in tongues) and eucumenical (used by catholics).
5. One poster suggest it is to weak on sin. I think this is also true.
My suggestion for a summary:
The alpha course may in its original form is too charismatic, too eucumenical and to weak on important areas such as sin to be a good tool in a baptist church.
But, used responsible with less focus on the charismatic and eucumenical and more focus on sin and salvation it could be used by a baptist church.
On the other hand, if you change a lot in the alpha course to make it suitable for a Bible based church, why not have an other name and an other course material.
Maybe it is the food, the short preaching and the following discussion in small group that is the main thing. You do not have to have the alpha material to eat together, listen to teaching and to discuss what was teached in a small group. And you can meet ten times and invite people without calling it alpha. (For me eating together, listening to a good teacher and discuss the teaching seems very biblical).
Do any of you have a material for evangelism in the format of alpha that do not use the alpha material?
I don't have any personal experience of it, but I understand that a similar course, Christianity Explored, is much more biblical in its approach. The outline of the 10 sessions, which are based on the gospel of Mark, is:
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Jesus - Who Was He?
Week 3: Jesus - Why Did He Come?
Week 4: Jesus - His Death
Week 5: What is Grace?
Week 6: Jesus - His Resurrection
Exploring Christian Life weekend or day away: The Church, The Holy Spirit, Prayer, The Bible
Week 7: What is a Christian?
Week 8: Continuing as a Christian
Week 9: Choices - King Herod
Week 10: Choices - James, John and Bartimaeus
The course web site, http://www.christianityexplored.com/ includes the following:
Throughout the course, participants are encouraged to study the book of Mark in their group, and explore the book on their own. The aim is to help people answer three questions that cut to the heart of Christianity: who was Jesus? Why did Jesus come? And what does Jesus demand of those who want to follow him?
Secondly, the course repeatedly explores the problem of sin. Participants are gently and respectfully shown what Jesus has to say about the human heart, God's wrath, judgement and hell so that the sheer wonder of God's unmerited love can be fully grasped.
I would stress again that I have not personal experience of the course, so please check the web site yourself before you decide it is right for your church.
Also worth noting - there is another course, the similarly named Christianity Explained, but I know absolutely nothing more apart from the name.
By the way, I have just noticed that in my previous message on this thread (in reply to Ed Sutton), I wrote:
It is also extremely Charismatic, with instruction being given as to to receive the gift of “speaking in tongues”.
That should of course have been:
It is also extremely Charismatic, with instruction being given as to how to receive the gift of “speaking in tongues”.
I have looked att Christianity explored, I do like it, in many ways it seems to take the best from alpha and also replace bad things with good.