Should We Use the Alpha Course?

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Is there any "evangelical" who sincerely believes in a 6-day creation today? Mr. Gumbel gives the nod to such people in his pamphlet entitled "Is There a Conflict Between Science and Christianity?" But he hastens on to add that the Genesis account can also be made to fit in with what he calls "modern" science. Though he mentions the organization that promotes creationism, his message is clearly that such teaching is not "modern." Specific names of prominent scientists who are creationists are not mentioned. (Morris, Ham, eg)

He then compares, in one of his worst written moments - my opinion- Galileo to John Scopes! He is attempting to suggest that the church is consistently wrong in the areas of science and should perhaps back off.

Most of us know the name Galileo, I think... the scientist whose belief that the earth travels around the sun (rather than the other way around), had him censored by the Roman Catholic Church. Persecuted, we would say. Convicted of heresy! Not a light matter in the 1600's, when the Inquisition was in its glory. Galileo spent much of his days under house arrest after this conviction.

In this case, Galileo, and Biblical texts, were right. Rome was wrong, and has admitted it. They had improperly interpreted some of the Bible texts, and ignored others.

In the case of John Scopes, the evolutionist in the famous trial by that name, the Biblical evidence is still intact and against his conclusions. He was wrong, the church was right. Yet Nicky, and so many "evangelicals" today, say that John Scopes was persecuted in the same way as Galileo. In actual fact, Scopes was fined a mere $100.00, having been found guilty of teaching evolution in a school system that forbade it. He admitted later that he had not actually taught it, but had set up some students to testify that he had. Also later, even the $100.00 fine was rescinded because of a technicality.

Later still he joined the Catholic Church.

Not sure where the persecution is to be found. Surely strong conviction and arguments supporting same, cannot be considered persecution.

Galileo, John Scopes. Unfortunate comparison to say the least.

So is it your thinking that one can pick and choose interpretations of Genesis, or are we duty-bound to discover what God actually said and live with it? For me, it's the latter.

But, "Many different interpretations of Genesis are held by sincere Christians," says Gumbel. Genesis one (may be) a literary device, mere poetic license. He quotes the claim that the fossil evidence is inconsistent with the literal interpretation. And all this is being taught to new believers, who are not being exposed to creation scientists who answer these concerns effectively.

He simply does not want his Christianity to appear to be out of touch, and therefore "un-cool."

Two responses: One, Science, true science, does back up the Biblical claims. And two, on the other hand, resurrection is very "unscientific," along with miracles in general, which he elsewhere defends admirably.

Our religion is not popular nor is it acceptable. To suggest to new believers that it is, is, I think, disingenuous. A time will come when they must choose between Christ, and being accepted.

Issue 2: The Toronto Blessing.

One other issue that readers must consider when thinking about Alpha: Alpha is wedded to the Toronto Blessing. There is a historic tie between Alpha and Toronto, in fact, and the retreat is aimed at bringing persons into this experience. Quite possibly the entire course gravitates more to the experiential than to the doctrinal. Some would say that a course in miracles now  is greater emphasis on the Spirit's work than on the work of Jesus on Calvary.

I never want to come against a genuine work of God, nor the possibility that God is moving in hungry hearts in ways that I personally can't understand or intellectually accept. But my own experiences with "Toronto-style" believers and teachers is that often they miss the mark Biblically, and teach a shallow message of Scripture.

And that is serious. Why would I want to lead people from the beginning of their Christian experience into something I know is not fully equipping and informing them?

But having said that, I understand that the Western church has in many places departed from energetic worship of the living God. A deadness akin to Pharisaic dogmatism has set in, in more than a few locations. They've got "the Word", but often the Living Word is not present to enrich and make meaningful their great learning.

The church prays for revival. In Alpha, they say, revival comes. But is it a revival based on repentance? Even the Catholic Cursillo causes many to enjoy the Lord and even His Word a little more. It especially engenders relationships with other seekers.