On the 25th September 2000, I went to hear Nicky Gumbel and his ALPHA team at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast (UK). According to the advertisement in the Belfast Telegraph, this was ‘An opportunity to explore the meaning of life.” My assessment follows:
The whole thrust of Nicky Gumbel’s message focussed upon man and his problems. Nothing was said about the world and mankind as seen from God’s perspective. Those attending were never made aware that, because of Adam’s fall, unsaved sinners in this world are ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ with the ‘wrath of God abiding in them’ (Ephesians 2:1, John 3:36).
God’s love was referred to frequently but ‘the fierceness of his anger’ never got a mention (Joshua 7:26). Thus there was no attempt to induce ‘reverent fear’ of the Lord, which is, of course, the beginning of true knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).
The word ‘sin’ was studiously avoided. Man’s problems were identified as ‘wrongdoings’ but no yardstick was identified. Yet, actions can only be classified as ‘wrongdoings’ by reference to some standard (such as God’s law, which is the ‘schoolmaster’ ordained ‘to bring us to Christ’ (Galatians 3:24).
The result of these ‘wrongdoings’, we were told, is ‘guilt’ and ‘addiction’, from which Christ can set us free. Again, there was no reference to condemnation for sin (John 3:19).
Jesus was presented as one who can ‘satisfy’ people. Matthew 1:21, on the other hand, says, ‘Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save (not satisfy!) his people from their sins’.
According to Nicky Gumbel, the answer to man’s need is friendship and companionship with God. While that is true in part, the real source of happiness and companionship with God is given in Psalm 32:1: ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’. Friendship was elevated above forgiveness as the means to obtain happiness.
A story was told of a man who retrieved a bottle from the sea and inside found a will bequeathing money to whoever found the bottle. The man was not going to bother but others encouraged him to ‘check it out’. He did, and ended up inheriting a small fortune.
People were then encouraged to ‘check Jesus out’. At no time was the eternal consequence spelled out for those who would not ‘check Jesus out’ (a lost eternity in hell, another word never used).
When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, those listening ‘were pricked in their heart’ (Acts 2:37). But, no attempt was made to confront people in the Waterfront Hall with the reality and consequences of their lost and sinful condition. Unlike Peter in Jerusalem and Paul in Ephesus, Nicky Gumbel ‘shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27).
Overall, the ALPHA team presented an inaccurate and incomplete view of God, and a faulty diagnosis of man’s problem. Christ was presented as a ‘satisfier’, not a Saviour.
Throughout the message, a blatantly ‘free will’ or ‘take it or leave it’ approach was adopted, and Nicky rounded off his talk with a typical easy-believism ‘sinner’s prayer’.
I do not for one moment doubt the sincerity and loving zeal of Nicky Gumbel. The problem is that he and ALPHA are attempting to evangelise without offending people by confronting them with the truth about sin. This is not God’s Biblically ordained way.
They prefer the approach of Robert Schuller, who regards any attempt to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition as ‘uncouth and unchristian’. This meeting served to confirm that the ALPHA course does not truly evangelise people.
To summarise, the ALPHA movement does not present the answer to the ‘meaning of life’ because it fails to identify man’s condition before God. Likewise, in the light of Biblical truth, it fails to proclaim the actual gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He, by His person and work, can save men from their sin and bring true meaning to life.
(The above article was reproduced in full from ‘The Gospel According to Alpha’, Evangelical Times, November 2000, with kind permission. Cecil Andrews is a pastor in Belfast, Northern Ireland and founder of Take Heed Ministries.)
The article confirms our own assessment of Alpha made some years ago, that it is Arminian and not the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ. Cecil Andrews is describing a gospel that is no gospel, and, as scripture tells us, such a false gospel is anathema.
Alpha is an attempt by Satan to reduce the gospel to something it is not – a social panacea without mention of sin, making it another form of humanistic therapy. The zeal and good intentions of Nicky Gumbel do not hide the fact that he is not called to preach the mighty Gospel of Jesus Christ, for if he truly were called, he would preach the truth as found in scripture.
It remains our conviction that Alpha is just a method used to win people to the charismatic and ecumenical cause, both of which are evil in the sight of God. Those who listen to Alpha follow not the Gospel, but a lie. The result is to be ‘saved’ to an human system and not by, or to, God. That is, those who follow it are not saved at all.
As churches world-wide fill up with these false believers, so the world will be given a completely false picture of what the Gospel and God’s word are really about. Christians everywhere are being duped by the Alpha course, too, and many are succumbing to its gentle charms. This reflects their general apathy and theological laxity.
Do not allow this, or any other humanistic (Arminianism is humanistic) approach, sway your judgement, for their intention is prepared by Satan to deceive. (For further details of Alpha, see our other papers).
© December 2000
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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