[TBC: We have alerted our readers to the dangers of the Alpha Course in our newsletter and radio broadcasts (see May 2004 TBC). It is instructive, however, to see how the Alpha Course has developed in the intervening years.]
Nicky Gumbel tells Alpha Course attendees: "Go back to your Catholic parish." [Excerpts]
Nicky Gumbel, who also is the vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton Church (HTB) in London, often affirms the popularity of Alpha among Roman Catholics, as well as the identical nature of the program across denominations. In a 2012 interview with the Catalyst ministry at Willow Creek Church, Gumbel stated,
“Alpha runs in every arm of the Church. It’s growing the fastest in the Catholic church. There are a billion Catholics in the world—many in Latin America, and in France where 99% are Catholic. But the course runs exactly the same no matter the denomination. In Alpha, we stick to the foundational pieces of the Christian faith we all agree upon: Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, the Bible, prayer. 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 (http://www.willowcreek.org/southbarrington/get-involved/catalyst/interview-with-nicky-gumbel).
[The] doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church stand in direct opposition to those of orthodox Christianity. It seems remarkable that The Alpha Course has not had to change its program for Catholics when the Roman Catholic Church in fact anathematized the biblical doctrine of justification at the Council of Trent, which was held from 1545–1563. As one example, Canon 9 as decreed by the Council of Trent reads:
If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema (http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/trent06.htm).
Contrarily, Scripture teaches that man’s deeds are as filthy rags before the Lord (Isa:64:6), and that men are saved not by works of their own hands, but by the grace of God (Eph:2:8–9). This is just one of numerous contradictions that exist between biblical, orthodox Christianity and the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, yet it is a fatal one. Its reality means that Rome stands in opposition to God’s Word, and thus to God Himself.
If, then, The Alpha Course truly teaches the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, that men are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, how is it that it is found to be acceptable by a group that has condemned this same gospel? Further, how is it that a Christian leader, as Gumbel proclaims to be, would send individuals back into the Roman Catholic Church, a group that denies justification by faith alone and thus is by definition apostate? In an interview with Nicky Gumbel, reporter Damian Thompson of The Spectator relates this portion of their conversation:
But doesn’t Holy Trinity sometimes use the Alpha Course to poach Catholics? ‘No! When they do Alpha I [Gumbel] say to them: do not come to HTB but go back to your Catholic parish. It’s part of the Church and I love the whole Church’