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The Alpha Course

The Alpha Course is an introductory course in Christian belief and teaching, conducted by the Church of Englandís Nicky Gumbel at Holy Trinity Brompton in London. It is a series of meetings and discussions for new people who want to know more about the relevance of the Christian faith in our times. It has proved very popular. A dream reveals what God thinks of it.

"I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth" (Rev 2:14-16, NKJV).

"I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads My servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead" (Rev 2:20-23, NIV).

 (This material was formerly included in MM Newsletter 16, Dec 2001)


On 6th August 2001 I received an appalling dream. This dream was horrible in its subject. It was meant to shock. If it shocks you, Iím sorry, but God gave it, so we should carefully consider what He wants to convey through it. Here is that dream and its meaning:

Dream: I knew that a particular person had been masturbating in his sleep. He was challenged about this by someone else, but his response was to excuse himself because he had done it without knowing, in his sleep.

This dream was given on 6th August, the night following an airing of a programme about the Alpha Course on Londonís ITV. As I considered what the dream meant, God revealed that it was to do with Alpha.

Meaning: It is an allegory of how vile to God peopleís self-will is and how people will casually dismiss sin without considering Godís view of it. This is a reflection of something deeply wrong with the Alpha Course, which most will not perceive. For this reason God reveals the evil spirit behind this course.

Masturbation is self-willed sexual stimulation. It is practiced for entirely selfish reasons Ė to please the self Ė to get sensual, sexual gratification. It is a sin. Any sexual activity outside of marriage is sin. The only sexual activity God sanctions is loving sexual union between a husband and wife in the sanctity of their own marital union.

The Bible uses sexual metaphors to portray how vile sins are. Jesus reproves the Church in Pergamos and Thyatira for their tolerance of false doctrines, which He likens to participation in sexual immorality (Rev 2:14, 20). The imagery is deliberately shocking, to try to awaken people to the serious and despicable nature of false teachings, which defile Christians spiritually.

God means to use similar imagery, to try and awaken any who will listen, to the serious nature of what underlies the teaching of this very popular Christian Alpha Course.

Another metaphor which God provides in the dream should also alert you to its gravity Ė sleep.

The Church is asleep spiritually. That means it is unaware of spiritual realities. It is asleep to the truths it needs to accept, and in this sleep it is preoccupied with sensual gratification and self-indulgence.

People come to Ďaccept Christí for selfish reasons but that is as despicable as someone masturbating to get selfish sexual pleasure. It is repulsively perverse.

As I said, this dream was given after part of the Alpha Course was shown on television the night before. As an introductory course, the Alpha Course has been very successful in bringing believers into the Church of England.

But human success is not an effective measure of its spiritual value.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets (Luke 6:26, NIV).

Alpha is essentially an effort in humanistic appeal to bring people to Christ. Instead of beginning to tell people to repent and to keep the commandments, which was where Jesus started when He preached the gospel (Matt 4:17), Gumbelís approach (and those who assist him in his efforts) is to please and entertain his audience until they find something from his rendition of the gospel that pleases them! It is an exercise in manipulation, slick salesmanship, and seduction.

Meetings start with a nice meal and a social gathering, which is appealing and may on occasion not be wrong. But how much are people attracted by the physical, and view the spiritual in the light of this seductive physical emphasis? Quite a lot!

Teaching sessions end in small group discussions  where each personís opinion is given respectability on a par with any biblical appraisal. Does such an approach elevate biblical revelation above human rationalism, empiricism and material pragmatism? Hardly!

This course is displeasing to God because of its subtly wrong emphasis. Nicky Gumbel was challenged about it in April 2000. I wrote three letters to him, but he preferred to excuse himself, just as the dream conveyed.

Malcolm B Heap

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