27 February 2012
That Alpha Video
In the church I spoke at yesterday they showed this Alpha video which went viral. Now I know it's really quite old now, and I'm showing I don't really keep up with these things, but it's actually the first time I've seen it and I thought it was great. My in-laws were not too impressed with the censorship bit, but I thought the video was pretty slick, especially the end where it all comes to rather swift and depressing end. A classic example of good advertising that makes you think.
Over the years Alpha has been both praised and criticised. Critics feel it is overly pneumacentric (Spirit-centred) at the expense of a clear focus on Christ (Christocentric). I've heard several proponents respond by pointing out how, as originally an Anglican initiative, the course originally sought to take unchurched Anglicans who think considered themselves Christians already (i.e. baptised as children, confirmed, married in church, not in regular attendance yet still considering themselves Christian) to show how Christian faith requires more than this, that it must be lived out through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Others criticise its links with Holy Trinity Brompton, where the Toronto Blessing phenomenon was apparently evident under then-vicar Sandy Miller. Others point to the fruit of the course, with many new people coming to Christ and finding a church.
What do you think? Are these criticisms justified or not? Does that Anglican unchurched argument adequately explain its pneumacentric aspect, or indeed is it more Christocentric than some critics believe? And to what extent is it reasonable for Alpha to be judged on what happened at HTB years ago? I visited the church some years ago, since Nickie Gumbel took over, and my distinct impression was how completely un-Charismatic it was. I'd be interested in hearing people's views, both for and against.