The Alpha Course - Chapter and Verse on Alpha`s Jesus
by Dusty Peterson and Elizabeth McDonald
Media Spotlight Vol 25 no. 4 cir. 01.03


Readers have now seen (Nicky) Gumbel systematically teach that Jesus' divinity was only partial and derivative. By his own admission, the common term for the great bulk of Gumbel's teaching on the Trinity is "Arian", after Arius (cir. AD 250-336)--a man who popularized this falsehood among the early Christians and who was excommunicated" as a result. But surely, some will protest, Gumbel exposes Arius as a heretic on page 103 of Searching Issues? This is easy to answer:

    •In the final analysis, if Gumbel's material can be shown to be overwhelmingly Arian*(see end note) then what Gumbel says about Arius himself is largely irrelevant. Indeed, within three pages of mentioning Arius, Gumbel is employing Arius-friendly analogies of the Trinity.[63]

    •If one checks the precise wording of what Gumbel says about Arius, one soon notices that Gumbel never categorically states that Arianism is a heresy. He does say that Arius was "excommunicated from the church for heresy," but Gumbel does not say he agrees with the view of the early church that Arius was heretical, and he does not make it all clear as to whether it
was Arius' view of Jesus that was consideredheretical, or whether his other views were the cause of his excommunication.[64]

•   Crucially, Gumbel is able to appear to distance himself from Arius by misrepresenting what Arius actually taught. He says of Arius "'The Three he envisages are entirely  different  beings,  not sharing in any way the same nature or essence"' [p.103], but this serves to exaggerate Arianism and thus enable Gumbel to appear both non-Arian and reasonable! Note also that Gumbel spends several pages attacking the opposite error of Sabellianism [65] (the false idea that God comprises just one Person who acts differently in different situations) vastly more space than he devotes to Arius.[66]


God bless you for persevering to the end of this very long article. We believe the Lord wanted us to write it for the sake of His Holy Name, and it is likely that only those readers who also care about His name will have managed to get this far.

The topic of this article matters enormously for a reason not stated up until now. One of the main tests God has given His people for identifying whether someone is a true brother or not is whether they will happily confess that Jesus the Messiah is God incarnate (1 John 4:1~3;67 2 John 1:7). We believers should ask each other this question regularly. A true brother will have no hesitation or difficulty in consistently confessing that Jesus Christ is God. For numerous reasons, those readers who have promoted Alpha in the past should not be unduly shocked if they missed many of Alpha's failings in this area. Even high-profile watchmen, undertaking extensive investigations into Alpha, have missed some of these things. On the doctrine of the Trinity, [and] the Deity of Christ,... Alpha is thoroughly sound" (Bayes[68]); "I was encouraged by his emphatic belief in
the deity of Christ" [N. Richardson[69]]; "Alpha's defence of the Deity of Christ is reasonably good. It makes the case quite well and succinctly" [Hand70].

Believers may "fill in the gaps" when studying Alpha materials, and often imagine that unbelievers come to Alpha already knowing a fair amount about the Lord. The combined effect is to believe Alpha is adequate when it is not. Much of our fellowship is among people who are relatively reliable. We can become conditioned to trusting others who have not earned it. We may thus end up approaching such things as Alpha trustingly and not think to look particularly closely at it. However, it is far better to err on the side of caution and be pleasantly surprised, than to be duped over such a vital thing especially in the last days before the Lord's return, days about which He warned us:

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name.. and shall deceive many Then shall they deliver you up to
be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another.. .And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax,: cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.. .For there shall arise false
Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders...Matthew 24:3-24).

Gumbel does a good job in Talks 2 and 3 of giving believers the impression he is orthodox on the deity of the Lord. Many do not notice that the remaining 12 talks whittle away at this doctrine. Gumbel's mistreatment of the "Word made flesh" is, along with his mistreatment of the written Word, the subtlest aspect of the whole Alpha Course. Gumbel has used his immense talent for wordplay to the full, so these things are not simple to spot. It is only God's grace that has allowed us to see most of them.

People who primarily attend Alpha because of their temporal needs (e.g., a desire for friendship or healing from past hurts) easily accept Alpha because it gives them a form of "love" and brings a degree of mental recuperation often confused with salvation. (Obviously their "testimonies" never seem to suggest that Jesus is God.) But thinking people who are primarily searching for truth are rejecting Alpha because it is so illogical and inconsistent. They want answers, not therapy. As such, they are unlikely EVER to show an interest in Christianity again because they will suppose, after attending 15 long talks, that they have checked out the faith very thoroughly. Alpha is jeopardizing souls in the churches and those outside them. This is an
unspeakably important truth. Please consider prayerfully copying this article and giving it to anyone you know who is capable of benefiting from it. God bless you.

D.P. & E.McD. Dusty Peterson and Elizabeth McDonald
The Alpha Course and its related publications offer teachings on a wide variety of Christian topics. We believe a clear and logical assessment of the world of Alpha is available in our book Alpha-the Unofficial Guide: Overview. We have endeavored to make it as gracious as possible so that it is suitable for as many as possible.

Added Note  Arianism: Circa 324 Arius of Alexandria was attempting to solve the difficult problem of the relation of the Son to God the Father. He suggested that the Son, though Creator, was himself created and therefore could be be truly divine like the Father. Alexander of Alexandria and his bishops judged this heretical and excommunicated Arius. However Arius found
support elsewhere and so finally the Emperor Constantine called a council of the whole church, the first 'ecumenical' [general] council at Nicaea in 375.

The orthodox statement of doctrine produced at Nicaea, with some later modifications, has become one of the great creeds of Western Christianity.

Article Notes

64   Gumbel's ambiguities continue, for his phrase "heretical beliefs" [p 104] is only categorically attached to the diametrically opposite position of Sabellius rather than to those of Arius. (As an aside, JWs are Arian and appear to have no problem with Gumbel's position on the divinity of Christ.)

65  See pp. 105-106, plus pp. 103-104& 107.

66  The New Age movement is a deception and a counterfeit version of Christianity, thus it comes as close as it possibly can to saying Jesus is truly God without ever doing so. As stated previously, New Agers believe Jesus was "divine" but we have now seen that this is not the same as being the God of the Bible. We would expect Alpha to be absolutely rock-solid on this matter if it was a Course inspired by God But what if it was from a New Age source? Every genuine Trinitarian who studies the Alpha material would want to check if the Course teaches the Deity of Christ. If the Course is from the other kingdom, then we would expect it to use every trick in the book to make it superficially appear to do so to most Christians whilst actually injecting a huge amount of doubt about the Deity of Christ and causing unbelievers and younger Christians to deny it. In other words, if this scenario is correct and Gumbel is Arian then one would expect him to distance himself from Anus in this way.

67  Even I John 4:3 has been corrupted in Gumbel's Bible so that a false brother merely has to "confess Jesus", rather than to confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh," in order to be acceptable. Thankfully, 2 John 1:7 has been less molested by the NIV in this regard.

68  Jonathan Bayes, A Look at the Alpha Course, (FIEC Video, 1999). Towards very start of tape.

69  Neil Richardson, in his (otherwise very useful!) booklet A Tale of Two Cities: Nicky Gumbel and the Alpha Course, (CWM,2000), p.20.

70  Chris Hand, Falling Short?, (DayOne, 1998), p.3.