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Behind The Alpha Course
Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald
1942; the middle of the Second World War.
You’re a combatant, but you have been permitted to take a short
break in neutral
sitting in a park, minding your own business, when a man you don’t
know walks over with a drink in his hand and offers it to you.
There’s a world war going on, and secret agents operate in that
in their right mind would make the apparent effects
of the above drink the sensible test of it?
If the concoction were lethal, one or more people would have to die
according to the above approach, yet this is exactly what certain
individuals today are insisting God has made the test of any new
movements being touted in the professing Church.
Fruit is the test of a person (in other words, does the person exhibit the fruit of the
Spirit as per Galatians
-23?) but, for the reason spelt out above, fruit cannot be the God-given
test of a move or movement.
tests of a movement are like those for our mystery drink…
Who are the people behind it, and what are their views?
What are its ingredients? How
is it produced? And how is
it supposed to be received? Biblically
speaking, if we happen to come across people who have already got
involved with the movement in question, its effects on them must
be understood in the light of these other, correct tests – but some in
the Church are being told (often rather impatiently too) that the opposite
is the case.
If the reader has ever struggled to square the fruit reported from Alpha with the actual background to the Course, the following material has been written just for you.
Course literature refers to “The God Who Changes Lives”, and
newspapers published by Holy Trinity Brompton are indeed filled with
testimonies of people who have been transformed during the program.
This fact is constantly used to defend Alpha against the
multitude of concerns that have been raised about its source,
ingredients and methods. As
we have now seen, the fruit is not
the God-given test of a movement. We
must always be sure to interpret its fruit based on the results of the
proper tests and not vice versa.
But once a movement has been around long enough, its fruit will
ripen and – if viewed from the correct perspective – will always
support the findings of those proper tests.
So, how are we to interpret the substantial changes occurring in
Alpha guests? The following
material seeks to answer that very important question.
a warning. Some folks,
especially those who do not know their Bible, will need to keep a
seriously open mind as they read this assessment.
We pray that readers will approach our arguments in a mature way
and will consider all our
evidence before reaching any conclusions.
(If you are convinced that our views are wrong, you will
obviously need to see the whole article in order to correct us fully.)
last thirty years the heaviest influence on Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB)
can be shown to have been from the Vineyard movement.
It is sometimes claimed, in turn, that Vineyard’s
roots largely lie in the New Age
If this is correct then we might reasonably expect the same
manifestations to be present on Alpha as occur in New Age initiation.
Is this happening? Readers
can decide for themselves, because the following list is taken, almost verbatim,
from Kundalini Signs and Symptoms
which is a New Age document describing the manifestations that occur in
New Age Kundalini initiation. (For
any readers unfamiliar with the term ‘Kundalini’, we explain it
later.) Intriguingly, the
endnotes for the article you are reading give source references for each
of these experiences occurring on Alpha.
Not only that, but every single endnote comprises two
such references, and every reference is taken from HTB’s own
publications. (Our book Alpha
– the Unofficial Guide: Overview supplies the quotes themselves.
See this note for outlet details.)
to the author, “The risen Kundalini can dramatically impact the body”.
It can cause:
to reiterate that every endnote in the above list gives source
references for two examples of the same experience being officially
acknowledged as products of the Alpha Course.
surely”, some readers will reply, “this list merely describes the
occult counterfeits of genuine
Holy Spirit manifestations?” There
is a truth in this, but not in the way such readers suppose.
Here are a few comparisons to illustrate what we mean:
► The true Holy Spirit brings us spiritual
light (i.e. biblical wisdom). A
mere physical light in the head is a poor and valueless imitation of
this. ► God gives us
real joy in our spirit
(through knowing we are saved from Hell).
It is a counterfeit if we are simply amused, or are forced to physically
laugh for no reason. ►
The true Holy Spirit supplies power in our spirit
(i.e. He enables us to stand fast in the faith).
It is not a blessing from God if some ‘power’ just makes us physically
do things, such as jerk uncontrollably, or makes us feel things like
electric shocks in our physical
bodies. ► The Holy
Spirit gives us warmth in our spirits
(helping us to be warmhearted towards others).
It is just an empty imitation if people are made to feel
unnecessary heat in their physical
bodies. (We supply several
further examples of this pattern in Part 5 of the aforementioned book.)
of God is holy. As such, He
indwells and testifies to our spirits,
not our fallen souls or bodies (Rom.
; Acts 18:5; John
) – thus the physiological sensations above cannot represent His
presence. Beyond this,
Alpha’s Nicky Gumbel calls his
Holy Spirit a “controlling Spirit”,
and says “we should be completely
overwhelmed by” this Spirit,
but the fruit of the genuine Holy Spirit includes self-control (Gal.
). Being supernaturally forced into a physical experience is consistently associated in the
Bible with curses and judgment. For
example, see Daniel 40:30-33; Psalm 69:22-24; Jeremiah 51:57-58, 48:26,
25:27; Isaiah. 29:9-10; and Mark 9:20,22.
In contrast, after Legion was cast out, the delivered one was
found “sitting [rather
than jerking] at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right
; see also 2 Tim. 1:7).
One researcher explains it thus:
“The classic definition of kundalini (or, the Kundalini) is as
the ‘primordial energy of the universe’. It is known as the
‘serpent force’, also ‘shakti’, and in Hindu thought is
considered the key that opens the door to hidden ‘spiritual’
We will let readers decide the source and nature of this
“energy” for themselves. Kundalini
yoga is merely one of the New
Age activities that seek to awaken this “force” in people.
if readers were expecting references to barking like a dog or snorting
like a pig in that list of manifestations earlier, such activities are
implicit under the heading of “spontaneous vocalizations”.
They have likewise occurred during Alpha,
but the enemy is subtle and will obviously not want to expose folks to a
manifestation more shocking or frightening than they can tolerate.
But regardless of how ‘mild’ the ecstatic manifestations may
appear, they all derive from the same source.
(It is worth observing at this point that Kundalini’s
“spontaneous vocalizations” regularly take the form of tongues.
The enemy seeks to counterfeit everything of God in order to
deceive as many souls as possible.)
because the New Age movement leads many unbelievers today into
supernatural experiences, we must not yield to temptation as this Alpha
leader did: “We realized that we needed to offer something
… – especially in a
post-modern world – where [the participants] can have some
The spiritual experience unbelieving participants need is a
Spirit-wrought conviction of their sinful nature and sense of God’s
wrath (both are strikingly absent from Alpha), not more of the New Age.
The true Holy Spirit humbles
us, and He directs us to glorify God (John 16:7-14), but this is not the
pattern on Alpha:
now knew I mattered to God …
Nicky [Gumbel] invited us all to say a prayer … It was one to welcome
Jesus into our lives [rather than give our lives over to Him?] … As I said the prayer, I
had this feeling like a gold Catherine
wheel hitting me in the chest and then shooting all down my arms and
legs. When I came home I said nothing…”
[HTB’s UK Focus magazine]
Here is a
big clue to Alpha’s ‘success’.
These manifestations can be produced in participants who are self-confessedly not Christians.
When this happens, Course leaders invariably assume that these
people are now saved (if not baptized in the Holy Spirit), and tell them so.
Furthermore, Alpha materials suggest to participants that they
can have more of these drug-like experiences if they join the Fellowship
running their Course. Decisions
to start attending Fellowships after completing the program can be made
purely for this extremely shallow reason, but they will typically be
interpreted by Course leaders as more evidence of salvation.
The gullibility of such leaders is a result of their mistaken
belief (heavily propagated by Alpha’s resources) that the world is
going to get ever more righteous as the return of our Lord approaches,
whereas Christ Himself taught rather differently (e.g. see Matt.
24:3-27; 10:14-39; Mark 13:3-23).
follows is Alpha’s ace. Despite
its use of formulae and worldly techniques instead of Spirit-led
preaching, and despite all the heretics legitimized within its
resources, and despite the serious problems associated with its
doctrines and practices, and despite the unbiblical manifestations
produced on it (see our book for proof of all this),
Alpha is welcomed by denominations the world over because it changes guests in apparently good and substantial ways.
The logic of biblically unaware Christians today dictates that
this must mean Alpha is being
used of God and therefore has His approval.
notion that Alpha must have God’s approval would not follow regardless.
After all, the crucifixion of our Redeemer was “used of God”
but that doesn’t mean God approved
of the murder of His only Son! However,
there exists a second terrible flaw in the above argument, because New
Age initiation is a deliberate, satanic counterfeit
of being authentically born-again. The
transformations caused by Alpha, while almost never leading to a
testimony that even comes close to exhibiting the telltale signs of true
conversion, are identical to
those of Kundalini awakening. The
following list has been copied word-for-word from the remainder of that
New Age document quoted earlier but, since Alpha has Christian
trappings, some folks in the Church today seem incapable of ascribing
the following – unarguably deep and supernatural – changes to the
risen Kundalini flings open gates to all sorts of mystical, paranormal
and magical vistas. It often
Intervals of tremendous joy, love, peace and compassion;
Psychic experiences: extrasensory perception; past-life
memories; healing powers;
creativity: new interests in self-expression and spiritual
Intensified understanding and sensitivity: insight into
one’s own essence; deeper
understanding of spiritual things; exquisite awareness of
one’s environment (including “vibes” from others);
Enlightenment experiences: direct Knowing of a more
expansive reality; transcendent awareness”
words, New Age initiation can result in profound
transformations. It can
‘rescue’ people from off the streets and out of mental wards; it can
cause hardened criminals to ‘go straight’; it can make people seem
much more spirit-oriented than they were before – but none
of this means it is of God. It
is a pagan counterfeit of Christian salvation and it tellingly never
leads to the all-embracing conviction of sin or fear of Hell or
appreciation for the cross that genuine rebirth involves.
And so it
is with Alpha. Check
testimony from any Alpha
Course against the above lists and the reader will discover that it has
no precedent in God’s Word but instead corresponds to Satan’s
imitation. Ask yourself, for
example, if you can find any reference to Christ or to conviction of sin
in this guest’s statement published by HTB:
friend asked me if I’d like to attend an Alpha Course and my reply
was, ‘Why not, I’m kind of bored anyway!’ That’s how I looked at
my life, I was bored and so I was trying to fill the hole with drugs.
I needed a change in my life. I’d always been interested in talking to
people and seeing how they felt and I thought, ‘How unique’ and
that’s just what Alpha is. On the Holy Spirit weekend, late in the
evening, I lay in the back of my pick-up truck and asked God to stir me
and fill me full of the Holy Spirit. Late in the night, I was awakened
by God and I felt as if he opened my heart and
poured all the stars in the universe in me” [Alpha
no mention of conviction of sin in the remainder of the testimony
either. Neither is there any mention of Christ – even after the interviewer specifically
tries to prompt this individual to talk about our wonderful Saviour by
asking “What difference has Jesus made for you?”.
this clear correlation between Alpha and Kundalini has been revealed,
HTB has started making much of the fact that the Course has been known
to dissuade attendees from continuing with certain New Age practices.
But, provided these people remain unsaved (and ideally become
entangled in Alpha’s equivalent of Kundalini), Satan is only too happy
to produce such ‘deliverances’ if they fool the recipients, and
those that hear about them, into thinking they have found the truth.
Plainly it is the same spirit behind both Alpha and the New Age.
Indeed, an Alpha graduate from Holy Trinity Brompton has released
a yoga video and a book
promoting yoga without offering so much as a hint that this might not be
compatible with Alpha’s spirit.
with various mind-altering drugs, Kundalini awakening usually results in
greater calmness on the part of recipients.
This can take place alongside an increased sense of harmony with
the world and an enhanced degree of forgiveness towards others.
(As a result of all these changes, New Agers often also report
improved relationships.) Obviously
New Agers can point to healings as well, else their ‘alternative
therapy’ clinics would soon lose every customer.
The enemy has ample power to do such things, yet these are
exactly the types of test being used to verify that Alpha is of God.
given that all demons and unsaved humans are in his kingdom, Satan is
perfectly able to engineer ‘coincidences’ in the lives of people in
his realm, hence: “After
the awakening of Kundalini,
you experience many coincidences which are miraculous…”.
Again, coincidences in the lives of Alpha guests are naively seen
as proof of God’s hand at
new-found interest in spiritual things commonly experienced by Kundalini
initiates naturally reflects the values held by
the folks who guided them through their initiation.
Hence people receiving this spirit within Catholic circles become
more Catholic as a result.
Therefore, graduates from the supposedly evangelical Alpha Course
may well develop a real eagerness to read Scripture, but this must not
be allowed to fool us. Satan
is more than crafty enough to counterfeit a God-given devotion to holy
writ, which is why the Pharisees too were very keen on reading
Scripture. In both cases
though, it is just an interest
controlled by a false spirit, rather than a commitment
prompted by the Holy Spirit.
And in both cases it manifests as a desire not to submit to
everything we are commanded in Scripture, but rather to pick and choose
convenient verses which then become the focus and are misused to obscure
the “weightier matters”, as our Lord put it (Matt. 23:13-28).
recipients, like people on drug highs, also feel they ‘love’
everybody. They particularly
‘love’ whatever they believe caused their thrilling experiences.
Likewise, Alpha’s guests (not after hearing the ‘gospel’
talks of course, but only after enjoying some exciting bodily
manifestations on the ‘Holy Spirit weekend’) may say they ‘love’
what they think to be Jesus. However,
we need to bear in mind that many New Agers would say they ‘love’
This is not the correct
test. (The true test is
obedience to the words in Scripture of the true
Jesus, not merely some fuzzy feeling toward the different Jesus being
taught on Alpha – and about whom Paul warned us in 2 Cor. 11:4.)
Like New Agers, Alpha guests ascribe their supernatural
experiences to the force or person they are taught was behind
put her hand on me and said ‘Come Holy
Spirit’ [among other names,
New Agers refer to Kundalini power as ‘Holy Spirit’] and the most incredible
thing happened. I felt as if someone took two torches and put them into
my eyes. I saw this incredible white light and my whole body, from my
head to my toes, was bathed with bright white light [remember
the enemy’s physical light in place of God’s spiritual light?].
… I kept saying over and over again ‘I’ve met Jesus.
I’ve met Jesus.’...” [Alpha News]
take stock. An Alpha
graduate may well develop a
‘spiritual’ worldview; may behave a lot more morally than before;
may receive a healing; may say they ‘love Jesus’; may want to join a
Fellowship and read the Bible, yet all
these types of change occur among New Agers too.
They don’t mean the person is saved.
One could spend months searching official Alpha testimonies in
vain for any
of the hallmarks of true conversion – such as deep humility, or a
serious reverence for the Almighty, or a heartfelt desire to be forgiven
by the souls against whom they have trespassed, or a mighty gratitude
for Calvary, or a profound shame for the sins of their old life, or a
proper grasp of their sinful nature.
The chances of finding multiple such hallmarks are virtually zero.
time the reader comes across an impressive-sounding Alpha testimony, we
urge them to ask (a) if any
of the above biblical hallmarks are clearly present, and (b)
if Satan is genuinely powerless to produce the changes described,
especially given that New Agers experience the very same sorts of
healings, transformations, restorations and so on.
As we noted at the start of the Introduction
section, Alpha Course literature refers to “The God Who Changes Lives”, as if only one supernatural entity has
that ability. Let’s not
imagine the “god of this world” to be incapable of changing lives
too. It is the God who saves souls we need to be following.
so much more we could say to prove our assertion, but it is all in our
Please pray about warning elders before
they accept Alpha.
They will listen much more readily if they have not yet taken the
program onboard. Why is
this? Partly because they
will lose a lot less ‘face’ if they reject Alpha before encouraging their Fellowships down the very involved road of
running a Course, but also because we constantly find that the powerful
spirit behind Alpha blinds people to the truth once they have received
People who have already imbibed this spirit need to renounce it and repent of accepting it. For more information, see this endnote. We firmly believe the Lord enabled us to produce this article. May He deliver many souls through its prayerful and discreet use.
God bless you.
 Nicky Gumbel said, of a well-known movement of the mid-90s, “The fruit is the test” [Wallace Boulton, Ed., The Impact of Toronto, (Monarch, 1995), p. 83]. The truth is that God would never require us to wait for its fruit to appear in order to be able to determine whether a movement is sound or not. Unfortunately, some people go so far as to claim that the true test is not just the fruit but the long-term fruit. For instance, a report on the above movement said, “the test [singular] is the lasting … fruit” [Boulton, op. cit., p. 124]. If the true test were the lasting fruit then this could introduce a huge delay, and thousands upon thousands of folks might be poisoned before we could determine whether the drink was okay or not. And if, for example, the drink didn’t actually kill but simply reduced the sanity of those who tried it, this could greatly impair the ability of recipients to recognize the true nature of the drink – even after the lasting fruit was revealed!
 For instance, when discussing a certain “move of the Spirit” of the 1990s, Holy Trinity Brompton’s head man at that time wrote, “it is the fruit by which a [move] is recognized and which is the test by which to judge both the [move] and its roots – not the other way round” [Sandy Millar, HTB in FOCUS , Oct 1995, p. 2].
 What’s more, the attitude of Alpha’s home church to the fruit it generates will give us useful pointers about the creators of the Course and thus its true nature.
 For details see the first two articles in the series ‘The Powers Behind the Alpha Course’ freely available from the ‘Rubies’ section of our website (www.bayith.org).
 For details see the second article in the series ‘The Powers Behind the Alpha Course’ freely available from the ‘Rubies’ section of our website (bayith.org).
 The document was written by El Collie and is available at www.users.aol.com/ckress/symptoms.html (as at 07:Apr:1999).
 Please see the ‘Rubies’ section of our website (bayith.org) for more information on this book and its outlets worldwide.
 Telling Others, (Kingsway Publications, 2001), pp. 86 & 122.
Alpha News, Nov ’98 –
Feb ’99, p. 15;
 Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 82; Alpha News, Nov ’97 – Feb ’98, p. 7.
 Telling Others, p. 152; Alpha News, Jul – Oct 2002, p. 9.
 Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p. 139; Alpha News, Nov ’98 – Feb ’99, p. 15.
 Telling Others, p. 123; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, pp. 238.
 Gumbel promotes the unbiblical idea of physical “sympathy pains” (e.g. in Telling Others, p. 156, and in Talk 13 of the set of Alpha talks released in transcript form in the summer of 2000).
 Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, pp. 128; Ibid., p. 158.
Alpha News, Mar – Jun
’99, p. 6;
 Alpha News, Jun – Oct ’97, p. 9; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., The God Who Changes Lives, Vol 3, (Alpha Publications, 2000), pp. 33-4.
Telling Others, p. 123;
 Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, pp. 12-13; Alpha News, Jul – Oct 2000, p. 36.
 Alpha News, Jun – Oct ’97, p. 9; Telling Others, pp. 123-4.
 Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’99, p. 6; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p. 120.
 UK Focus, Dec ’98, p. 5 (copyright The Express, 1998); Alpha News, Nov ’97 – Feb ’98, pp. 12-13.
 Alpha News, Dec ’95, p. 24; Testimony quoted by Gumbel in Talk 8 of the original ‘Edition 2’ Alpha videos.
 Alpha News, Jul – Oct ’98, p. 15; Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, p. 13.
 Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p. 118-9; Alpha News, Nov ’97 – Feb ’98, pp. 12-13.
 Questions of Life, (Kingsway Communications, 2001), p. 113.
 Ibid., p. 123.
 Some people protest that obedient servants of God in the Bible were sometimes supernaturally forced into physical experiences. They typically cite the fact that “the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip” (Acts ). But this is an argument from silence, for Scripture never claims that Philip was made to do this against his will, yet Alpha guests commonly report exactly that.
 R. Davis, True to His Ways: Purity and Safety in Christian Spiritual Practice, (ACW Press, 2006), p. 22.
 “A woman … says she cannot bring herself to ‘snort like a pig and bark like a dog’ on a Church of England course … Angie Golding, 50, claims she was denied confirmation unless she signed up for the Alpha course, which she says is a ‘brainwashing’ exercise where participants … make animal noises and then fall over. Mark Elsdon-Dew of HTB, Holy Trinity Brompton, said the Alpha course … ‘[A]ffects different people in different ways’” [The Times, 11:May:1996]. Note that Elsdon-Dew did not deny this woman’s claims about the farmyard manifestations. Note also that every reference to Alpha manifestations in the article you are reading post-date this clipping by at least a year, and in many cases by four or five years – i.e. after the ‘Toronto Blessing’ supposedly ended.
Stanislov and Christina Grof, quoted in
 Alpha News, Mar – Jun 2001, p. 20.
 See also 2 Tim. 1-5; Rev. 13:4-7; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Thess. 2:1-4 etc. For a detailed explanation of the end-times, see chapter 24 of our book.
 All mentions of “our book” in this article refer to Alpha – the Unofficial Guide: Overview, outlets for which are supplied in the ‘Rubies’ section of our website (bayith.org).
 Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, p. 7.
 HTB has even claimed that Alpha enabled a man to give up Kundalini yoga itself [Alpha News, Jul – Oct 2002, p. 5]. But (a) the testimony never mentions the words ‘Kundalini’ or, as it is occasionally spelt, ‘Kundilini’, (b) the introduction to the article suggests that HTB believes “Chi” is merely “energy”. HTB simultaneously attempts to distinguish between Alpha and Kundalini by claiming that the man in question had been “mentally moving … energies around the body” rather than the movement being controlled by another entity, and (c) the testimony says, “The Holy Spirit came into me … My chest was up in the air – like I was being pulled up. It was very powerful. I … couldn’t breathe properly”, yet we also learn that, in Kundalini practices, “Breathing may be constricted” [Ajit Mookerjee, Kundalini: The Arousal of the Inner Energy, (Destiny Books, 1982), pp. 71-72, as quoted in Davis, op. cit., pp. 40-41].
 The British ‘celebrity’ Geri Halliwell has published a book promoting yoga after attending Alpha at HTB. The book, Just For The Record, (Ebury Press, 2002), even includes Geri’s thanks to “Pippa and Nicky” on the last page. (Nicky Gumbel’s wife is called Pippa.) Halliwell’s video, also released in 2002, is called Geri Body Yoga. The advert for it claims “yoga is for everybody”.
Nirmala Devi, quoted in ‘Human Subtle System (Tree of Life)’, adishakti.org/subtle_system/kundalini.htm,
as quoted in
 See Part 2 of our book for details.
 See, for instance, the chapter entitled “God as the Beloved” in the New Age book tellingly called The Alpha Point, (BKISL, 1999), by Anthony Strano.
 For details of the many differences between Alpha’s Jesus and the true, see our series of three articles entitled “Chapter and Verse on Alpha’s Jesus” – freely available from the ‘Rubies’ section of our website (www.bayith.org).
 Solomae Sananda, ‘What is Kundalini?’, Living Spirit Foundation, geocities.com/HotSprings/Villa/i555/bab1.htm#whatiskundalini.
 Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, pp. 12-13. Note the resulting ‘me-centred’ mantra instead of God-directed praise.
 Part 5 of our book offers a fuller treatment of many issues raised in this article.
 Electronic copies of the article you are reading can be freely obtained from the ‘Rubies’ section of our website (bayith.org). If this article has blessed you, and you feel led to do something to support our ministry, that would be wonderful. The website gives details for this too. Thank you.
 Part 5 of our book Alpha – the Unofficial Guide: Overview has more on this. Please see the ‘Rubies’ section of bayith.org for outlet details.
 Please bear Matthew 7:6 in mind when considering passing this article on to anyone who is pro-Alpha. Other items on our website may prove much more palatable and hence effective for such people.
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