Volume Two, Issue Two

Dear Pastors & Church Leaders,

Please read the following articles and e-mails regarding a course that is gaining wider appeal in churches today.  It is called the
"Alpha Course".  This newsletter is an attempt to help bring you up to speed on the background of this course and the
deceptions it attmepts to introduce into mainline church denominations.

If your web browser cannot display HTML files, you can find this article online at the "Deception In The Church" website at:


His servant,


The Dangers Of The Alpha Course

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.

For a good critique on the dangers of this course, visit this web site:

The Alpha Course by Chris Hand

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.  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.  One of the cleverest ploys of the enemy in our day is to allow "unprincipled" men to use the salvation message as an enticment to unsuspecting and untrained people, thereby enabling "the devil a foothold" for fleshly manifestations and
temptations in their lives.  The men who designed this course are laying error alongside truth, introducing error secretly ("pareisaxousinin" in Greek) the result of which will ruin the faith of the believer in the end.  The Bible says of this process:

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves." (2 Pet. 2:1)

Beware of the Alpha Course!

Perhaps the preachers and evangelists who have endorsed this course need to take a longer look at their Bibles. Jesus NEVER laid hands on his disciples, the result of which were "manifestations" of uncontrollable laughter, mayhem, shaking, animal noises, vomitting, or any of the other demonic disorder of the Toronto and Brownsville "things".  Luis Palau, of all people, had better wake up to this deception that is sweeping the churches of Europe and is now being used around the world.

Following are two e-mails, then an article detailing the dangers of the Alpha Course.  The first e-mail confirms that Luis Palau has indeed endorsed this dangerous course.  The second alerts Christians to the fact the the Church of Rome is now using the
course for its own purposes.  The article following is a critique of the Alpha Course.  We hope you will find this information useful when some member of your church attmepts to introduce this course into your church!

From D. C.
Alpha 10-3-98


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!

D.A.C. <@}}}><

From I.C.
Alpha 10-2-98

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. 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 2. 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. She lulls everyone into thinking she is sharing, when all the time she is taking over. 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.

A futher point to notice since the Songs of Praise program devoted to Alpha, is the dishonesty of the propaganda. Did any of you notice how Alpha's history was glossed over in half a sentence; and how Nicky Gumbel was strangely absent in voice. You have to admit the propagandists have done a very skillful piece of work, but then this is precisely what you would expect from something that will be a major factor in the World Church scene.

To speak against Alpha is being made very difficult, but is all the more necessary. We see churches and fellowships going headlong into this abyss, but some will listen and be saved, and so we carry on. Incidentally, I just received in today's post a
leaflet from the Salvation Army promoting Alpha for young people.

God help us all. God bless you all,

             Looking at - THE ALPHA COURSE

             by Tricia Tillin

             The following article appeared in The Times, 11 May 1996,


             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.

             She has left the evangelical St Marks in Broadwater Down, Kent, with 14
             members of the congregation and founded a church at home in Tunbridge
             Wells. She said: "I'll be a fool for the Lord any day, but I won't be a fool for

             However, the church last night denied that she had been refused
             confirmation, and course organisers said she had misunderstood the nature of
             the event... "St Mark's is running an Alpha course at the moment which a
             number of people are attending. Those being confirmed this summer are
             attending the course as well."

             Mark Elsdon-Drew, of Holy Trinity Brompton, said the Alpha course included
             lectures on the Holy Spirit. "It affects different people in different ways." He
             said the course had the "overwhelming support" of Church leaders and
            theologians: "The suggestion of animal noises in connection with the course
             is unwarranted and could not have been made by anyone who is familiar with
             the material."

             Everyone is asking "What about Alpha?" What is it, and what are we to believe
             about it?

             The Alpha course is an evangelistic initiative begun by Holy Trinity Brompton -
             perhaps better known now for its promotion of the Toronto Blessing.

             The official history of the Alpha Course begins 16 years ago when a member of
             HTB, Charles Marnham, set up an informal home group to present answers to
             basic gospel questions. However, HTB curate, Nicky Gumbel, transformed the
             course into what we see today. [see endnote] It is designed to appeal to
             non-believers, with every detail - the food, flowers, hospitality and questions -
             aimed at disarming the unchurched.

             The final weekend away is a vital part of the course - and this has attracted the
             most criticism, as it gives a chance for the leaders, if they are so disposed, to
             present the Holy Spirit in an experimental fashion to a captive audience. The course
             always ends with a Supper laid on to which more non-believers are invited, and so
             the process continues.

             Whatever else can be said about the Alpha Course, it has been a runaway success.
             In 1991 there were just four courses involving 600 people; in 1993 there were
             fewer than 10 courses being held in Britain. Now there are an estimated 3,000
             being run regularly three times a year, more than 500 of them overseas. These are
             being run by every denomination, including Catholic.

             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

             However, there are deep concerns. Below I present some thoughts on the Alpha
             Course by a Christian (i) who grew alarmed when viewing the course materials. It
             is a personal view but I believe it speaks for many.

             Alpha certainly starts by preaching the gospel; the first three talks on Video One
             focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the three talks on video Two
             which cover fundamental steps for new Christians, such as 'How can I be sure of
             my faith?', 'Why and how should I read the Bible?' and 'Why and how should I
             pray?' are all good. But 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

             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.

             The Alpha course was virtually unknown until Eleanor Mumford of the South-West
             London Vineyard church brought the Toronto Blessing from the Toronto Airport
             Vineyard church in Canada to HTB, via Nicky Gumbel in May 1994, (ii) and
             Nicky Gumbel spends a substantial amount of time relating to Alpha participants in
             video 3 talk 9, exactly how it occurred:

                  "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. . ."

             Gumbel's description of the antics that went on in the vestry of HTB after their
             invocation of the Spirit seems to me to bear no resemblance at all to what
             happened on the day of Pentecost. (iii)

             Yet Alpha participants are being taught all this as part of an evangelistic/Christian
             Living course as though it is normal and desirable, with absolutely no mention made
             of the need to test the spirits (1 John 4:3), and at the end of this talk are prayed for,
             corporately, to receive it. Thus, they are initiated into the Toronto Blessing without
             a whimper of protest amongst them.

                  "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].

             So one of my concerns is whether the TB, which is being experienced at HTB, can
             possibly be divorced from the Alpha Initiative. In view of the similarities of
             emphasis and content between the two, I'm not sure that it can. 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


             Heavily influenced by the 'Signs and Wonders' ministry of John Wimber in the
             1980s, power evangelism has been one of the preparation grounds for the Toronto
             Experience. It focuses on a pragmatic/experiential rather than a
             proclamatory/doctrinal approach to spreading the gospel. As such it tends to shift
             the focus away from the shed blood of Jesus on the cross and onto the supernatural
             works of the Holy Spirit carried out by men. This is the method of evangelism
             favoured by Alpha. [Telling Others pp21-24;29-31].

             ALPHA AND THE NEW AGE

             All of this heightened interest amongst Charismatic Christians in 'Signs and
             Wonders' and the supernatural experiences of the Toronto Blessing is a reflection
             of spiritual and cultural changes going on outside Christianity, in which New Age
             experiential mysticism predominates.

             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 lead 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 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.". [Ian
             Lewis, 'The Alpha Course', Evangelicals Now, Dec 1995].

             The two testimonies given by Alpha participants at the beginning of the first Alpha
             video are prime examples of this. There are certain basic elements one would
             expect to hear in a classic conversion testimony: the conviction of sin leading to
             repentance and subsequent assurance of God's forgiveness and salvation through
             the death on the cross of Jesus Christ. But these are not there in any form in these
             two testimonies.

             A relationship with God is referred to, as is the experience of the baptism in the
             Holy Spirit, prayer, an interest in Bible reading, church-going, Christianity and what
             Alpha has done for them. But Jesus and what He has done for them and a
             relationship with Him is not mentioned at all. Yet the Lord Jesus is the gospel, He is
             salvation, He is their new life so how can He possibly be so completely overlooked
             in a basic conversion testimony?

             Adherents of false religions claim a relationship with God, and a prayer life, but
             they are not saved. Many church goers read their Bibles and have an interest in
             church and in Christianity, but they are not saved.

             Likewise, more compassion/understanding at work, more patience, tolerance,
             confidence and deep feelings of contentment can equally well be produced by a
             sense of psychological well-being. Without the cross they do not constitute
             salvation. The attempt by Nicky Gumbel to bring Jesus into the testimonies by
             asking exactly what had made these differences, was met with a blank look and the
             response: "Just the relationship that I've developed with God. Simple as that."

             These testimonies seemed to me to be, as Ian Lewis suggests, only evidence of
             conversion to a Christian lifestyle, not to Christ. And when the "Christian lifestyle" is
             an endless round of blessings', supernatural 'experiences', spiritual 'parties' [see
             video talk 14] and 'play'-times (iv), then the transition from the counterfeit
             spirituality of the New Age to Christianity is really only one of degree, not kind. In
             which case I would echo the question of one evangelical minister who asked:
             "What is it they are converted to?"


             "Scripture tells us that salvation comes through hearing the gospel, and I would
             expect any course aimed at non-christians to concentrate primarily on the facts of
             the gospel. The Alpha course deals with the basics of the gospel in two sessions...
             While these are unequivocal gospel presentations, the remainder of the course
             deals essentially with what may be described as Christian living... When we used an
             adapted version of the course in our church, non-christians were left behind by
             about the sixth week. They still had very fundamental questions about what
             Christians believe, which were not answered by talking about how Christians live
             and for this reason the course seemed more suited to people who have already
             made a commitment to Christ." [Ian Lewis, Evangelicals Now, Dec 1995].


             White Alpha training manual pp26-36/Video III talks 7-9 "We live in the age
             of the Spirit." [p29].

             Christians have always referred to the period of time between the first and second
             advents as the age of Grace, or the Church age. That has not changed. Why
             encourage now, in such a precarious spiritual climate, the New Age concept of the
             Age of Aquarius (the spirit)?

             Continuing his observations on the New Age Nicky Gumbel writes: "I have found
             on Alpha that those from an essentially enlightened background feel at home with
             the parts of the course which appeal to the mind, but often have difficulty in
             experiencing the Holy Spirit. Others coming from the New Age movement find that
             rational and historical explanations leave them cold, but at the weekend away they
             are on more familiar territory in experiencing the Holy Spirit." [Telling Others, p19].

             But it is the "rational and historical explanations" of sessions l and 2 which are the
             essence of the gospel (Acts 2:22-41; 6:9-7:60; 8:26-38; 17:16-33) and which the
             unbeliever must grasp and accept with his mind, under the convicting and
             illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, if he is to repent and experience salvation in
             his heart (Romans 10:13,14). Nevertheless: "At the end of the course I send out
             questionnaires... if there is a change I ask when that change occurred. For many the
             decisive moment is the Saturday evening of the weekend." [Telling Others, p120].
             This is the time when Nicky Gumbel invites the Holy Spirit to come and
             participants are filled with the Spirit. [Telling Others, pp117,120,123; Blue Alpha
             training manual p18]

             I find this extremely worrying. The "decisive moment" should surely be the point at
             which a person steps over from eternal death to eternal life through the conversion
             experience (John 3:16; 5:24; Romans 10:9,10,13 and other refs). But most of the
             testimonies in 'Telling Others' seem to confuse the experience of conversion with
             the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

             But is this surprising when Nicky Gumbel himself seems to treat conversion as a
             preliminary to the main event? The breath of new life into a repentant sinner is
             taught in talk 7, but Nicky Gumbel does not make it clear that this happens at
             conversion (2 Cor 5:17). Rather, he suggests this is due to a second experience:
             the baptism in the Spirit.

             The following testimony is an alarming example of the confusion between
             conversion and baptism in the Holy Spirit, but it is by no means the only one:

                  "....my wife encouraged me to read an article in a magazine about the Alpha
                  course at HTB. What had stuck in my mind was how the work of the Holy
                  Spirit was described as of paramount importance. I knew in my heart I had
                  to have his power in my life at any cost. So I... enrolled on the course and
                  focused on the weekend where the work of the Holy Spirit is discussed...
                  .Never mind the weeks of pre-med, I just had to get into the operating
                  theatre... .I looked at the order of play, saw that the third session on 'How
                  can I be filled with the Spirit (which I identified as the main one) was at
                  4:30pm and simply hung on like a marathon runner weaving his way up the
                  finishing straight with nothing but the finishing tape as the focus of his
                  attention... .the prize was so near but we were getting there so slowly. I
                  literally wanted to scream out 'Do it now! Do it now! I can't hold out any
                  longer' I'm not exaggerating when I say I was in agony Then Nicky Gumbel
                  invited the Spirit to come and oh, the relief." [Interview in Renewal, Oct
                  1995, p16; Telling Others pp36-37].

             Though the prayer at the end of these talks includes repentance, the gospel talks
             are not at this point uppermost in participants minds, and the corporate request
             "inviting the Holy Spirit to come and fill us" is then made by all in the room.

             HOW CAN I RESIST EVIL?

             Session 9 White Alpha training manual pp39-45/Video IV Talk 10.

             In section II of this session Satan's tactics are listed: destroys; blinds eyes; causes
             doubt; tempts; accuses. All of these Gumbel applies to the area of Christian
             behaviour. Deception, the tactic focusing on belief, is omitted. This oversight can be
             deadly. Deception concerning doctrine is Satan's most powerful weapon against
             the Church and new Christians need to be made aware just how practised Satan is
             at deceiving Christians through false doctrines and false spiritual experiences. (v)

             Gumbel points out in this talk that occult activity "always comes under the guise of
             something good". The Toronto Blessing is seen as "something good". How strange
             then that neither he nor anyone else at HTB thought to test the Toronto spirit before
             accepting it and then passing it on to everyone else. (vi)

             HOW DOES GOD GUIDE US?

             Session 10 White Alpha training manual pp46-51/Video IV Talk 11

             The "Guiding Spirit" and "more unusual ways" of guidance referred to in this talk,
             especially guidance by angels, need thorough testing against Scripture in today's
             religious climate in which false prophets and occult 'spirit guides' masquerading as
             angels of light abound.

             A testimony in HTB in FOCUS: ALPHA NEWS, Aug 1995, in which Jesus is
             referred to as "a guiding light" (p14), is just an inkling of what may be to come.

             DOES GOD HEAL TODAY?

             Session 12 White Alpha training manual ppS8-62/Video V Talk 13

             During this talk Nicky Gumbel tells Alpha participants of the visit by John Wimber
             to HTB in 1982 to demonstrate God's power to heal. He says: "John Wimber then
             said 'We've had words of knowledge' these are supernatural revelations, things that
             they couldn't have known otherwise about the conditions of people in the room...
             specific details were given, accurately describing the conditions... .as the list was
             responded to, the level of faith in the room was rising."

             Gumbel says that he still felt "cynical and hostile" until the following evening when he
             was prayed for: "So they prayed for the Spirit to come....I felt something like
             10,000 volts going through my body....The American had a fairly limited prayer.
             He just said 'more power'....it was the only thing he ever prayed. I can't remember
             him ever praying anything else... Now we've seen many kinds of these
             manifestations of the Spirit on the weekends... these manifestations... and the
             physical healings themselves are not the important thing... .the fruit of the Spirit...
             these are the things that matter, the fruit that comes from these experiences. So we
             began to realise that God heals miraculously...."

             Nicky Gumbel gives no indication here that he or anyone else attending that
             meeting tested the spirits to ensure that everything came from the Holy Spirit.

             And, of course, the fruit of the Holy Spirit does not come from "these experiences"
             but from the daily sanctification by the Holy Spirit through obedience to the Word
             (John 14:15;21;23-26;15:l-7;10;14-15).

             Once again Alpha participants are not being warned of the very serious dangers of
             accepting anything and everything from anyone and everyone. So they will walk out
             of the cocoon of Alpha and straight into the path of the "enemy the devil [who]
             prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour". (1 Peter 5:8).


             Session 13 White Alpha training manual pp63-68/Video V Talk 14

             (1) ROMANISM

             "The Alpha course is... adaptable across tradition and denominations... .I
             know of its uses in Catholic... churches." [Martin Cavender in Telling

             Adaptable in what sense exactly? Alpha's publications manager advises that, while
             presentation of the material can be adapted to suit, the content should be followed
             exactly. (He makes particular reference to the weekend dealing with the Holy Spirit
             in this respect) [Christian Herald, 9:12:1995].

             If the content of the course teaches the fundamental historical and theological facts
             and doctrines of the Christian faith as recorded in Scripture, then, having tested and
             proved that to be so, any Protestant church using Alpha could follow the course
             exactly. But could a Catholic church do that?

             In talk 8 and in section II of this talk Gumbel teaches Alpha participants that the
             differences between Protestants and Catholics 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 which are secondary."

             I agree wholeheartedly with the last sentence but that is not the issue here. It is on
             the essentials that Protestants and Catholics do not have unity. That was the whole
             point of the Protestant Reformation. Discussing the price of unity in the Church,
             Bishop Ryle wrote: "Our noble Reformers bought the truth at the price of their own
             blood, and handed it down to us. Let us take heed that we do not basely sell it for
             a mess of pottage, under the specious names of unity and peace." [Warnings to the
             Churches, 1877, p128].

             Still Gumbel says: "We need to unite... there has been some comment which is not
             helpful to unity. Let us drop that and get on. It is wonderful that the movement of
             the Spirit will always bring churches together. He is doing that right across the
             denominations and within the traditions... we are seeing Roman Catholics coming
             now... Nobody is suspicious of anybody else... People are no longer 'labelling'
             themselves or others. I long for the day when we drop all these labels and just
             regard ourselves as Christians with a commission from Jesus Christ." [Renewal,
             May 1995,p16]

             'Adaptability' of the Alpha course to include Catholics, not necessarily to convert
             them, is referred to in Alpha as 'unity' and I am concerned that Alpha is contributing
             - albeit unintentionally - to the undoing of the Protestant Reformation through the
             promulgation of ecumenism disguised as Christian Unity.


             "A disunited church, squabbling and criticising makes it very hard for the
             world to believe". [Gumbel, Renewal, May 1995, p16]. Consequently "we
             make it a rule on Alpha never to criticise another denomination, another
             Christian church or a Christian leader." [Telling Others, p114; and this talk,
             section II].

             Yet there are times when failure to 'criticise' - or rather to rebuke and correct (2
             Tim 3:16; 4:2-5) - is actually to be disobedient to the Word of God. Although in
             talk five Gumbel only applied the rebuking and correcting to Christian behaviour, it
             also applies to false teaching. We must certainly not judge one another's sins or
             their hearts (e.g. Matt 7:1-5), or their personalities, but we are to test all teachings
             prophesies and practices against Scripture and judge whether they are true or false
             (1 Cor 2:15;16; 1 John 4:1).

             According to Ephesians 4:3-6 Christian unity comes through our being baptised
             through one Spirit into "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of

             Unity is also essential to Latter-Rain doctrine, to enable the incarnation of Christ
             into His physical body (the Church), because He cannot incarnate a divided body.
             But Latter-Rain is a "different gospel" (Gal 1:6-7) with a faulty eschatology which is
             insinuating itself into Charismatic fellowships these days; one of its most successful
             routes being the Toronto Blessing (vii).

             It is vital that we "earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to
             the saints" (Jude 3). If not, we may find ourselves, and those new believers we
             have nurtured, part of the Apostate church.

             (3) THE PARABLE OF THE PARTY

             In section IV, Gumbel says the Church, though God's Holy Temple, so often loses
             "the sense of the presence of God in its midst". He is making reference here to the
             Sunday meetings of believers rather than to the Church as the body of Christ and
             uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to explain that Sunday services should be like
             a 'party'. "Jesus was saying that....the Church is like....a feast and a celebration, and
             at a party everyone has a good time. There's fun, there's laughter... .Why shouldn't
             there be laughter at the biggest party of all? and that's what we're seeing today,
             laughter and fun, and people getting drunk - not with wine, Paul says 'don't get
             drunk with wine - be filled with the Spirit, Come to a party where you can get
             drunk on God... .I was at a party like that last night. It was a whole load of church
             leaders, and we invited the Spirit to come... It was a party thrown by the Holy
             Spirit. It was a fun place to be. The Church is meant to be a party..."

             The Church will celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb when the Lord Jesus
             returns, but I find no references to "fun" or "parties" anywhere in Scripture, except
             in denunciation. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 for example. Until Jesus returns and we
             attend the marriage feast of the Lamb, there is no place for "parties" or "festivals";
             not even "to the Lord".


             It may only be part of Alpha's teaching which does not accord with Scripture, but I
             would say with Paul: "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." (Gal

             Every Christian and every fellowship is able to witness to the gospel. Many
             fellowships create their own evangelistic courses under the guidance of the Holy
             Spirit. It should not be necessary to rely on the methods and techniques of another
             fellowship when we have all the instruction and teaching material we need in
             Scripture, all the experience we need in each of our relationships with the Lord
             Jesus and are each empowered by the Holy Spirit to go and do it. But if leaders do
             decide to use the Alpha course they should at least consider the following points in
             light of the concerns above:

              That they ensure non-believing participants have fully understood the meaning of
             the cross and are saved (sessions I and 2) before propelling them into a course on
             Christian Living. (sessions 3-14).

              That they ensure converts are fully aware of their conversion experience and are
             becoming stable in their daily relationship with the Lord Jesus before thrusting them
             into the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for which they are not yet ready and which
             could allow into their lives the influence of an alien spirit through ground given,
             albeit unintentionally.

              That they ensure participants understand the different nature of the work of each
             person in the Trinity.

              That they ensure the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and his convicting and sanctifying
             work in a believer's life is not submerged beneath the gifts and the power of the
             Holy Spirit.

              That they ensure participants are taught to proceed from the Word to experience,
             not from experience to the Word.

              Following from this, that they ensure participants understand that deception
             regarding doctrine and supernatural phenomena has always been Satan's main
             weapon against the Church and that knowing and standing fast in the Word is our
             weapon of defence, as it was for Jesus (Matt 4:1-11).

              That they ensure participants are taught to become Bereans (Acts 17:11) able to
             test everything against Scripture for themselves, not relying on leaders, who are not
             infallible (e.g. Gal 2:11-14), to do their thinking and living for them.

              That they revise the booklist on pp72-75 of the white Alpha training manual as it
             tends to display a bias towards writers sympathetic to the Vineyard/Toronto
             Experience/Restorationist persuasion, while omitting other sound and more obvious
             choices in several of the sessions.

             In 1877 Bishop Ryle wrote: "The Lord Jesus Christ declares, 'I will build My
             Church'....Ministers may preach, and writers may write, but the Lord Jesus Christ
             alone can build. And except He builds, the work stands still....Sometimes the work
             goes on fast, and sometimes it goes on slowly. Man is frequently impatient, and
             thinks that nothing is doing. But man's time is not God's time. A thousand years in
             His sight are but as a single day. The great builder makes no mistakes. He knows
             what He is doing. He sees the end from the beginning. He works by a perfect,
             unalterable and certain plan." [J.C. Ryle 'The True Church' in Warnings to the
             Churches, 1877, pp13-14].

             [Note: Nicky Gumbel dates his call to evangelism (Tape Five of the video set) to
             the 1982 incident in which he received prayer from John Wimber. On that
             occasion, he experienced such supernatural power that he had to call out for it to
             stop. Wimber gave a "word" that Gumbel had been given "a gift of telling people
             about Jesus".]

             A much expanded version of this paper is presently available from Jo Gardner,
             price £1.25 incl. postage. Write to: Adullam Register/Alpha, 86 Manor Way,
             Croxley Green, Herts WD3 3LY. This paper and other material will also shortly be
             produced in the form of a booklet. Enquiries to Jo Gardner, not Banner!


             (i) Letters to the author should be directed to Banner Ministries.

             (ii) HTB in Focus: Alpha News, Aug 1995 p9. See also Wallace Boulton, ed., The
             Impact Of Toronto, 1995 pp2O-24.

             (iii) See Richard Smith, "Spiritual Drunkenness", Sept 1994.

             (iv) See Wallace Boulton, ed., The Impact Of Toronto, 1995, p19.

             Also David Noakes, Dealing With Poison In The Pot, audio tape, CFCM 95/04,
             side 1.

             And Johannes Facius, 'Laugh? I Nearly Cried' in Prophecy Today, May/June
             1995, p25.

             (v) See for example, Robert M. Bowman, Orthodoxy And Heresy: A Biblical
             Guide To Doctrinal Discernment, 1993. And J.C. Ryle, Warnings To The
             Churches, 1877.

             (vi) During the Leadership Consultation held in January and March 1995, by the
             Centre for Contemporary Ministry, it was noted that Wm Branham also practised
             impartation of the Spirit, which others could then pass on. Arnott has likened the
             Toronto Blessing to a virus. (See Haggai 2:10-14).

             (vii) See 'Birth of the Manchild' in Mainstream, Spring 1995, ppi-5 for the
             eschatology being taught at some Vineyard churches.