Alpha is an interdenominational evangelistic program that has grown phenomenally since its inception in the early 1990s. More than 18 million people have participated in the program in 169 countries, and the materials have been translated into 112 languages.
It was birthed at the charismatic Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican church in London, England, and the developer, Nicky Gumbel, said that he experienced “massive electricity going through” his body in 1994 when the “revival” broke out at the parish. One person was thrown across the room and lay on the floor howling and laughing, another lay on the floor with his feet in the air, laughing like a hyena, while others were “drunk.”
The Alpha Course includes a “Holy Spirit Day” with the objective of bringing the participants into a charismatic experience, including “tongues.” Gumble says tongues speaking begins with a limited vocabulary and “develops” (Questions of Life, p. 147), but of course we see nothing like this in Scripture. The apostles did not have to attend a class on tongues speaking!
The Alpha Course is a radically ecumenical program that is helping to build the end-time, one-world “church.”
Gumble says: “We need to unite ... the movement of the Spirit will always bring churches together. He is doing that right across the denominations and within the traditions ... People are no longer ‘labelling’ themselves or others” (Renewal, May 1995, p. 16).
The lead article in the February 1997 issue of Alpha News was “Archbishop praises Alpha on Pope visit as Catholic church hosts conferences.” The article described how that George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, recommended the Alpha course in a speech in Rome during his official visit with Pope John Paul II in December of that year.
In May 1997, more than 400 Catholic leaders attended an Alpha conference in Westminster Cathedral in London, to be trained in conducting Alpha courses in Catholic parishes. The meeting received the blessing of Cardinal Basil Hume, the highest Catholic official in England (Alpha News, February 1997, p. 1).
In February 2004, Gumbel met Pope John Paul II.
In June 2012, Gumble spoke at the Catholic Church’s International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin on the topic “Communion in Our Common Baptism” (Nicky Gumbel Speaks,” Alpha News, June 25, 2012).
Rome holds to the heresy of baptismal regeneration, yet Gumbel finds unity there.
When Gumble was asked whether the Alpha Course was sometimes used “to poach Catholics,” he replied, “No! When they do Alpha I say to them: do not come to Holy Trinity Brompton but go back to your Catholic parish. It’s part of the Church and I love the whole Church” (“Alpha Male,” The Spectator, Dec. 12, 2012).
Earlier in 2012, Nicky Gumble made the following statement: “Alpha runs in every arm of the Church. It’s growing the fastest in the Catholic church. ... the course runs exactly the same no matter the denomination. ... What unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us. We focus on what unites us. We present a united front to the world. In every different part of the body of Christ--Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, non-denominational, Catholic, Pentecostals, Bulgarian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox--Alpha crosses all divides” (“The Alpha Course: An International Phenomenon,” WillowCreek.org, March 2012).
In June 2014, Nicky Gumbel met with Pope Francis.
The May 2015 Alpha Leadership conference at Holy Trinity Brompton featured Catholic priest Raniero Cantalamessa (preacher to the pope), Archbishop Justin Welby, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols. (Female preacher Joyce Meyer also spoke.) Nicky Gumbel opened the conference with a speech entitled “A Vision for a United Church” in which he called for unity with Rome. Following are some quotes as taken from “Letter to the Editor: Alpha Course Founder, Nicky Gumbel, Asks for Ecumenical Unity with Catholic Church,” Lighthouse Trails, May 28, 2015:
“Ultimately, unity is not doctrinal, it’s relational.”
“Unity is not an option--Jesus is still praying for our unity--so that the world will be one.”
“Unity doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything—disagreement is healthy. ... I used to think if some part of the church is different from me, they must be wrong. Now I think, ‘wow, they’re different from me, I must have so much to learn from them!’”
“I have come to love the Catholic Church--if God has given them the same Spirit, who are we to oppose God?”
“The same Spirit lives in the Catholics, and the Orthodox, and the Pentecostals and the Protestants, even the Anglicans have the same Holy Spirit living within them. That’s what makes us one!”
“Unity doesn’t mean we’re not interested in the truth! The only way to get truth is through unity.”
In these statements, Gumbel laid out the unbiblical principles of ecumenical unity:
(1) It is based on a false interpretation of John 17 and a view that Jesus prayed for unity of all Christians.
(2) It is a unity in diversity rather than a unity in sound doctrine.
(3) It is careless about the definition of a Christian, assuming that all professing Christians, including those with a false gospel, are true Christians who have the Spirit of God.
(4) It is a unity built on relationships.
(5) It claims to be concerned about truth, but this is found to be a false claim, since truth is put on secondary level to unity.
The Alpha program has achieved a broad ecumenical acceptance because it is doctrinally weak. It deals with salvation, the cross, the death of Christ, etc., in such a vague way that false doctrine is not refuted. For instance, it says salvation is “by grace,” but it does not say that salvation is by grace ALONE by faith ALONE through the blood of Christ ALONE without works or sacraments. Of course, there is no condemnation of Rome’s gross heresies and blasphemies in the Alpha materials.
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