May 1 2004
Question: A friend recently got involved with something at his church called The Alpha Course. It convinced him that by learning certain techniques one “can hear directly from God.” What is The Alpha Course? Is it widespread?
Answer: God’s power can no more be “activated” by techniques than can His love. This is science, not faith, and applies to the physical, not the spiritual. Scientific methods release and control the physical power in the universe. That there must be “principles” for scientifically releasing “spiritual power” is the error of “Christian Science” and other positive mental attitude cults and courses. Alpha is one of the newest and most popular.
This delusion, rampant in false religions such as witchcraft, was brought into the evangelical church by Norman Vincent Peale (who claimed that “Positive Thinking” equals “faith”) and his chief disciple, Robert Schuller (who claims the same for “Possibility Thinking”). Peale wrote: “God is energy. As you breathe God in, as you visualize His energy, you will be reenergized....! Just as there exist scientific techniques for the release of atomic energy, so are there scientific procedures for the release of spiritual energy through the mechanism of prayer....As in any...science one must learn...the formula for...receiving this power.” Schuller, who calls Peale his “mentor,” teaches basically the same.
The Bible teaches that “the just live by faith” (Hab:2:4; Rom:1:17; Gal:3:11; Heb:10:38), not by “techniques” or “principles.” Yet Pat Robertson, like other “positive confession” teachers (Hagin, Copeland, Hinn, Price, Cerullo, Hickey, Meyer, Crouch, Roberts, et al.), describes his book, Beyond Reason , as “an effort to teach some of the basic principles that enable you to...experience the flow of God’s energy [according to laws] as valid for our lives as...the law of gravity.” Says Pat, “You can perform miracles if you but understand...the laws...that unlock God’s power....We speak to money, and it comes. We speak to storms, and they cease...when you confess...success, [it] will come to you.…[T]he Bible is not an impractical book of theology, but a system of thought and conduct that will guarantee success.” (These quotes and more, with sources, are found in Occult Invasion . See offering list).
The Alpha Course is another form of “religious science,” with millions of followers in thousands of churches, Catholic, Protestant, and evangelical. It was conceived by Nicky Gumbel of Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in England after Gumbel got the “power” through the “Toronto Blessing,” later passed on to Steve Hill, who started the “revival” at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. Alpha has been endorsed by church leaders, from Robert Schuller and the Archbishop of Canterbury to J.I. Packer and Leighton Ford.
Alpha presents the gospel at times, but its “conversion” is more to a “Christian lifestyle” than to Christ the way, the truth, and the life; and its major aim is impartation of “supernatural power,” especially healing and speaking in tongues. Participants look forward above all to the big weekend when they will receive Holy Spirit empowerment. I remember the “testimony” of a man devoted to Eastern Mysticism who “got the Holy Spirit” that weekend—but clearly remained unsaved.