Thursday, November 18, 2004

Do I really....

dare to say any more about Alpha? I've emailed Jennifer direct, as I'm rather hesitant about posting more on a public board, since I know that my knowledge of the course remains partial..I've only been to half the sessions, nor have I read all the material from cover to cover.
However, I don't think I'll lodge a precautionary apolgy with HTB just in case, as I suspect that they are every bit as prone to make assumptions about "liberals"...
To quickly pick up Humble Secretary's point, though there may be no direct teaching on homosexuality in the course, the high view of Scripture which is held means that there is a latent tendency to add two and two and make "an abhomination". That's horrid in itself, but my greatest problem with the course is that it purports to provide answers to all questions and a pill for every ill. Those who buy into this approach and are then presented with life experiences which conflict with the Alpha version of The Christian Life often find it almost impossible to hang on to faith at all...I've had too many anguished conversations over the past few years with Alpha refugees, many on the verge of abandoning Christianity altogether, unable to believe that they could possibly be acceptable to God....Honestly, I would much prefer to leave the judgement to him. He knows alot more about love than we do!

6 comments:

Tony said...

Oh, I agonise about Alpha, too. I share your worries about it, at the same time as having folk in the parish who really enthuse about it and want to run courses all the time. (Well, they're having one at the moment.) And then, it is welcomed and praised by Rowan and the RCs, and it does seem to work, and the liberal evangelists aren't working or are non-existent ... (Though I think Keith Ward would make a darn good job of it.) What's a self-respecting liberal, who wants people to encounter Christ, to do?

Humble Secretary said...

Well I will apologise if I was out of order with my comments on alpha - yes, I know refugees of alpha, equally I know happy ever after success stories of alpha-ites.

I really think in these equations the one size does not fit all approach has to be taken on board and if we can all see that - evangelicals, liberals alike, then maybe there is something that can be worked with?

No it is so not my style - but it is great if it helps someone. But if it doesn't, there are different resources (for want of a better word) out there - and I think that one of my greatest quibbles with such courses is that they don't generally make an effort to direct people in a different direction if it might be more helpful.

Does that make me an eternal-fence-sitter.

Kathryn said...

Well, I have at least come to one conclusion through all this angst, and that is that Alpha is a really lousy way of practising ecumenism, as it simply serves to highlight the denominational differences, encouraging undue judgementalism and/or defensiveness. So, I've learned something.
Keith Ward was Dean of Chapel at Trinity Hall, where I sang when I was at Trinity back in the dark ages...and took me to Little Gidding, for which I will be forever grateful. Not that this has anything to do with the price of fish, but I thought I'd tell you anyway :-)

mark said...

We're starting a Churches Together Alpha in January, so I was interested to read your comments. I think a massive amount depends on how the course is led and, especially, who facilitates the discussion groups. At it's best, Alpha would seem to encourage conversation and the expression of diverse opinions/stories, rather than shutting them down. It is not the 'discipleship training course' or the 'introduction to evangelically flavoured systematic theology' into which sometimes people try to turn it. And, speaking positively, it has helped a lot of people to encounter Jesus.

Karin said...

Very interesting thoughts on Alpha, Kathryn. I'm uneasy about it myself and more so Youth Alpha, which is being foist upon my son, although I think he has a healthy dose of scepticism, which I try to encourage.

DaveF said...

Alpha is supposed to be a discussion so I assume it can be fine if well led. I've refused to attend any though I have spoken at one!

Interchurch wise seems OK. In my experience people accept different attitudes and faiths, intolerence cuts in when it's happening in / changing "my church". Tounges / incense / choruses / BCPs are all OK until foisted on me! Maybe Alpha cuts a bit deeper.

I keep asking about Beta courses as I seemed to go through an Alpha equivalent about 25 years ago. Is that arrogant or sensible?