By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Feb 5, 2014
In J.I. Packer And Tim Keller Endorsing The Alpha Course here at Apprising Ministries, as far back as two years ago, I attempted to show you that the hyper-charismatic The Alpha Course (TAC)—marred by Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM)—is making another comeback within the mainstream of the visible church.
Another example might be found in John Piper Approves Of The Alpha Course? There I showed you that among the featured speakers for the 2013 Conference for Pastors put on by the Desiring God ministry of John Piper we found Tope Koleoso. Pastor Koleoso is “the lead elder of Jubilee Church,…in London, UK.”1
You may also find it interesting that charismatic blogger Adrian Warnock attends Koleoso’s church.2 And the fact is, Koleoso’s church does promote TAC:
To be clear, I’m not saying that John Piper endorses TAC himself because I don’t know. However, his friendship with Tope Koleoso makes it hard for me to believe Piper’s not at least aware of Koleoso’s use of TAC. Then there’s the following recent announcement by Willow Creek Community Church (WCCC).
Alpha – Wednesdays (Winter/Spring 2014)South BarringtonFebruary 5 – April 9
(10 sessions)Location: Blue Sky 2 room at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington Campus (source)
Alpha – Sundays (Winter/Spring 2014)South BarringtonFebruary 9 – April 13
(10 sessions)Location: The Garage room at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington Campus (source)
This is another illustration of evangelicalism losing its belief in the all-sufficiency of Holy Scripture and continuing its descent into charismania and silly superstitions a la the CSM of Quaker mystic Richard Foster. Now, please understand here that I’m using the term charismania in reference to hyper-charismatic excesses.
With this understood, let me show you that in Chris Hand On The Alpha Course he informs us that:
Many people have been greatly impressed by the Alpha course. Designed to be an introduction to the Christian faith through talks, video presentations, small-group discussions and a special weekend-away, lots of churches are now employing it as part of their outreach.
In the eyes of many it has been a run-away-success and its fame has spread far beyond the UK, and Holy Trinity Brompton, the London church where it originated.
It is no exaggeration to say it has spread right across the world and is now finding friends in several continents. It has been adapted so as to be accessible to young people and has also proved versatile enough to be used in prisons, schools and places of work. (source)
It’s also important to know that TAC is marred by spurious CSM, which is itself, rooted in Roman Catholic mysticism. This Counter Reformation spirituality flowered within the anti-biblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism, so we shouldn’t really be surprised to find that TAC is sinfully ecumenical.
TAC, as we know it now, was shaped by Nicky Gumbel who is “Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton[HTB], the largest Anglican Church in Britain.”3 Another questionable issue concerning TAC is the influence of John Wimber upon Gumbel. In an open letter to Gumbel, Dusty Peterson and Elizabeth McDonald remind him:
You cite John Wimber and his 1982 ministry team as being “very significant” in your life. You quote Wimber regularly and glowingly, and you recommend his books. Do you not feel that such strong endorsement legitimizes the people whom he cited as being influential on him?
These include: Morton Kelsey, Agnes Sanford, Kenneth Hagin, and John & Paula Sandford. Would you not agree that, in each case, their teachings are dangerous, and that they have admitted deriving aspects of their doctrine from New Agers? (source)
Lately you’ve seen me discussing a resurgence within mainstream evangelicalism of the New Apostolic Reformation group International House of Prayer (IHOP) extending from Mike Bickle of the nefarious Kansas City Prophets.4 Following is John Wimber’s connection to all of this:
The IHOP movement…is part and parcel of C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation and, in fact, helped to spawn the NAR and its foundational doctrines for Dominionism. Here is a brief synopsis of the IHOP/NAR history:
- IHOP is just one arm of a multi-faceted group (with many names, entities and offshoots) known as the “Kansas City Prophets” that has been around since the mid-1980s.
- These Kansas City “prophets” are leaders who track a direct lineage back to the old Latter Rain cult.
- John Wimber became an overseer of the KC group in the late 1980s when their cult excesses became public and controversial, and set them up under his Vineyard denomination.
- John Wimber was a mentor to C. Peter Wagner and vice versa, and the two of them have a history that tracks back into the mid 1970s at Fuller Theological Seminary where they concocted doctrines together.
- C. Peter Wagner’s “Third Wave” movement, the predecessor to the NAR, was founded on Wimber’s signs and wonders mysticism.
- C. Peter Wagner’s “New Apostolic Reformation” was founded on the convergence of the mystical streams of John Wimber, the Kansas City group, and Fuller Theological Seminary. (source, emphasis mine)
Here’s some guilt-by-endorsement for you; with respected evangelical institutions like WCCC of Bill Hybels now promoting TAC, all of the above will move another step closer to your evangelical church. Returning more specifically to Nicky Gumbel; from his bio at the TAC website, we also find out that:
he took over the running of HTB’s Alpha Course and promoted the course as one primarily for non-churchgoers. It became increasingly popular, attracting hundreds of young people who had previously had no interest in Christianity.
Since 1993, more than 19 million people have completed the Alpha course in 169 countries around the world. There are over 9,000 courses running in the UK and over 60,000 world-wide in all denominations.
It has been particularly supported by the Roman Catholic Church where senior archbishops and bishops recommend it to their clergy. It is now also beginning to grow in Orthodox churches in Russia, Greece and North Africa. (source)
Leaving aside the apostate Orthodox churches, as a former Roman Catholic, I’m going to zero in on TAC being “supported by the Roman Catholic Church where senior archbishops and bishops recommend it to their clergy.” With this statement we now have another serious problem here concerning TAC and the Church of Rome.
What’s being lost today is that at the very heart of the Protestant Reformation was the Gospel itself, which the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) condemned at their Council of Trent. As you’ll see in Has The Roman Catholic Church Really Changed?, from official RCC sources, this condemnation has never, ever, been rescinded.
This is why the later theologian Carl F. H. Henry is dead-on-target when he writes in Justification by Faith that:
evangelical-Catholic dialogue must now begin with Trent. Trent cannot be bypassed as merely the time-bound echo of one spectrum of influential Catholic dogmatics, since it expresses church doctrine that Rome identified as authoritative and irreformable. (source)
Check the Catechism of the Catholic Church and you’ll see that it regularly appeals to Trent for authority in its teachings.5 With this understood, now you’re properly positioned on the battlefield as I begin to introduce you to TAC’s Alpha For Catholics:
There you have it, TAC is already ecumenical enough for the RCC to even use as is. Under What Is Alpha For Catholics? we’re told how great a tool TAC is to help with the New Evangelization of the apostate RCC:
So, instead of giving these lapsed Roman Catholics the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’re further informed that TAC is great to actually win them back to the counterfeit gospel of the RCC:
In fact, TAC even makes it easy for Roman Catholics to find materials concerning this apostate organization that long ago anathematized the very Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. Under Explore Alphain the Alpha USA Store we click on What is Alpha Catholic Edition and come to this:
You’ll see that it’s billed as a “denominational” resource, which would mean that, contra the Protestant Reformers, Nicky Gumbel et al do consider the Church of Rome to be a part of the Christian Church:
In closing this out, for now, in The Alpha Course Director’s Handbook we find:
However, as we return to What is Alpha Catholic Edition, inside that publication on pg 9 Nicky Gumbel informs us TAC assists “the New Evangelization” and then changes the last sentence for the benefit of Roman Catholics:
Obviously Gumbel is referring to growing Roman Catholic parishes and sharing his Alpha mythology that God the Holy Spirit will transform their spiritually bankrupt gatherings preaching a false gospel. As you’ll see in What Catholic Leaders Are Saying that they’re very pleased with TAC.
For example, there’s Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, who tells us, “Alpha Course is a new way of announcing the gospel.” Really, mister Fisichella; and which gospel would that be? Remember now, the RCC placed its anathema on God’s Gospel centuries ago.
Then we have Walter Cardinal Kasper, Pontificium Consilium Ad Christanorum Unitatem Fovendam, who says, ”John Paul II encouraged us as Christians… not to relent in the task of the new evangelisation… The Alpha course sees itself as committed to exactly this task.”
However, it needs to be understood that those who adhere to the counterfeit gospel of the RCC are not Christians in the first place. Therefore, they aren’t even involved in the evangelization of anyone for Jesus Christ. Faithful Roman Catholics are actually leading people away from the only Gospel there is.
And finally, for our purposes here, consider His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFMCap, Archbishop of Boston shares:
Many of our Catholic parishioners have benefited from the Alpha program by way of its building on their initial interest in the Church, as a pre-catechumenate experience, or for others, a renewal of their desire to more deeply understand and live their Catholic faith…
Should pastors of our parishes wish to utilize the Alpha program as part of their religious education curriculum they can do so with my approval. (source)
That O’Malley approves of TAC is more reason to reject it. Also, notice that in typical RCC fashion he speaks of parishioners’ “Catholic faith” as opposed to the Christian faith. The fact is, if we love Roman Catholics for whom Christ died then we don’t want them left in the bondage of the corrupt religious system of Rome.
As far as I’m concerned, I wonder why in the aforementioned The Alpha Course Director’s Handbook we find respected evangelicals like J.I. Packer and Tim Keller endorsing TAC:
There are those who’d say such as these aren’t endorsing the Roman Catholic version of TAC; but this is to miss the point. For you’ve already seen that the Roman Catholic version of TAC varies very little from the supposed Protestant version;6 the difference is adding in a little mythology from the Church of Rome.
Do these pretending to be Protestants seriously mean to tell us that there’s not a genuinely Christian course on apologetics out there? Really; so instead we have to use the hyper-charismatic and ecumenical TAC, which is hostile to the proper Christian spirituality of sola Scriptura? Well, here’s the question you should be asking:
Why are these ostensibly Protestant leaders lending their name, as well as their considerable credibility within mainstream evangelicalism, to help support a program that is specifically designed to be sinfully ecumenical in the first place?
- RICK WARREN PROMOTING THE ALPHA COURSE WITH ITS MYSTICISM AND SINFUL ECUMENICISM
- THE ALPHA COURSE: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO NICKY GUMBEL
- IN A SENSE, NO HELL IN THE ALPHA COURSE
- http://bit.ly/1fMMQOt, accessed 2/5/14. ↩
- http://bit.ly/Lw8CLk, accessed 2/5/14. ↩
- http://www.alphausa.org/Articles/1000091299/Nicky_Gumbel_Bio.aspx, accessed 12/5/12.↩
- http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/kcp.html, accessed 2/5/14. ↩
- For example, the footnotes concerning Rome’s wrong view of justification here:http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6Y.HTM#$24G, accessed 2/5/14. ↩
- http://bit.ly/1eyjJPd, accessed 2/5/14. ↩