Talk:Alpha course

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Initial comments[edit]

This page is a duplicate of Alpha Course. should probably merge the two together Dfarmer 19:44, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Which Archbishop of Canterbury? The course described Rowan Williams as akin to the anti-christ in Robert Beckford's documentory. (unsigned comment from

Good point. It was Carey, and I've made that explicit. Also, it seems clear from Alpha's website that the course does not (so presumably cannot) claim direct endorsement from any Pope so I've cut that claim. Chelseaboy 13:48, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

The course material that I have read does not state that "New Age" materials (e.g. Ouija boards) must be burnt, it simply says that they are 'almost certaintly a power of evil'.Helzagood 20:10, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

I've asked for a specific source for that assertion. — Matt Crypto 20:46, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
The source for the suggestion that Ouija boards, etc. should be burnt, or at the least destroyed, is page 160 of "Questions of Life" (Nicky Gumbel, 2003 edition). It says:
"There is a whole new interest in spiritualism, palm-reading, ouija boards, 'channelling' (consulting the dead), astrology, horoscopes, witchcraft and occult powers. Involvement in these things is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:10; Leviticus 19:20ff; Galatians 5:19ff; Revelation 21:8; 22:15). If we have meddled in any of these things, we can be forgiven. We need to repent and destroy anything associated with that activity such as books, charms, videos and magazines (Acts 19:19)."
Consulting the NRSV translation of Acts 19:19 we find it saying:
"A number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books [implicit "them" in the Greek] was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins."
During the sermon based on this chapter ("How Can I Resist Evil") it was emphasised that New Age materials should be destroyed. I checked with the Alpha group leader that he did indeed believe horoscopes, Ouija boards, and the other materials mentioned in the Alpha text should be burnt.
Presumably other means of destruction are deemed acceptable, but the only one I heard specified, and the only one pointed to in the Bible, was burning. If no one gets back to me on this I'll restore what was previously there on this subject, but without specifying burning as the means of destruction.
Stuarta 16:27, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Please do restore it; thanks for digging up a source. — Matt Crypto 18:47, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Before I do, what's the reference for "a power of evil"? Stuarta 11:25, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't have any Alpha course materials, but I think we should make sure we are careful about whether they either "state" or only "suggest" certain principles. Currently we say that the Alpha materials "suggest pre-marital sex is unequivocally wrong". It's hard to see how anything could suggest pre-marital sex is unequivocally wrong! — Matt Crypto 17:16, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
I take your point. The wording could be improved there, but the intention was to communicate that if one believes "Searching Issues" then the Bible is unequivocal on these matters.
On pre-marital sex, Gumbel interprets various Biblical injunctions, including the "seventh" commandment (seventh in the Protestant numbering system), to mean that "[a]ny sexual intercourse outside marriage is forbidden" (page 46, 1995 edition).
In answer to the question "Is homosexual practice an option for a Christian?" Gumbel answers (p 79):
"He did not design our bodies for homosexual intercourse. This view of marriage and sex [in Chapter 3 and Genesis 2:24], which Jesus quoted and endorsed, rules out all sex outside marriage, whether heterosexual or homosexual."
He then points out Levitical prohibitions, the destruction of Sodom on account of homosexuality, and Paul's condemnations. None of this is qualified, and the final paragraph of the section says this:
"What the Bible condemns is not homosexual preference, but homosexual practice (a distinction we will consider later in this chapter). Jesus took the Scriptures as his authority and if Jesus is our Lord, then we must follow him."
In this case perhaps better wording would be "interprets the Bible to mean that homosexual intercourse is unquivocally prohibited".
On the subject of New Age, I found the Gumbel describing New Age practices as "what appears to be a satanic counterfeit" of the Holy Spirit (page 73), but I haven't managed to find the quote given above.
Regarding the move of critical material, I agree we can't suggest reports of the Alpha attitude to homosexuality are in themselves a source of criticism, but on the other hand this attitude certainly is a source of criticism from liberal Christians and non-Christians. I think this fact should be mentioned under "critics".
Stuarta 23:39, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

10 weeks, 15 talks[edit]

We say, "the Alpha course is organized as a series of sessions over ten weeks, starting with some food, a talk..." Then we list some fifteen talks. We should say how this works in practice; e.g. are some talks omitted, two talks done in one session etc? — Matt Crypto 18:47, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant? is usually delivered at an "Alpha Supper", which is basically a taster for the main course, though typically people who have been on the last course run by a particular church (or Christian Union or whatever) also attend the Alpha Supper. The Holy Spirit topics (I think those are basically the four listed with asterisks) are covered on a weekend or awayday somewhere in the middle of the course, called the Holy Spirit Weekend/Day. I'm not sure what the best way of adding that information into the article is, though.Bouncelot 00:24, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

The asterisked talk 'How can I make the most of the rest of my Life?' isn't a Holy Spirit course. But yes I believe usually at a weekend. I think the booklet you get during the course labels them as weekend courses - but I haven't got one to check.

I was wondering whether it's usual for the course to be advertised as a 10 week course, and then the weekend days are mentioned only after you start?


Fair to characterize as Large Group Awareness Training, even though based on a "normal" and established religion? -- 02:27, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

It seems that, based on the Wikipedia definition of Large Group Awareness Training, that Alpha displays none of the key characteristics such as marathon sessions, personality attack and "lovebombs". As it's an unsourced allegation, I suggest removal. -- Adders 16:25, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Is Alpha an "evangelical group"?[edit]

My attention was piqued by this curious Observer article which refers to "Alpha, a controversial evangelical group [that] opposes homosexual acts and sex before marriage". They make it out to be an extreme or fringe sect of some sort, which doesn't really tie in with anything else I've read about the Alpha course. 23:04, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

You can't have read very widely then or have attended a full-on Alpha Course. See, for example, Jon Ronson's account of his personal experiences on an Alpha Course, which is here and part 2 here. This used to be references in the article but the current version has washed it out. See NPOV comment below. Chelseaboy 13:47, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
This comment is very old, but I wonder which bit of "Evangelical" is causing the problem. Believing that the Bible is a guide for life and doctrine is a very common point of view, which of course, not everyone believes. There is therefore controversy, especially about sexual issues, especially currently! The media prefers sensationalism over accuracy, so tends to create as much hysteria as possible. The Observer could also have said "Alpha, a highly respected religious group, with its roots in Evangelicalism: a movement with a 280 year history of helping people live a life that they can love." I wonder why it didn't? On wikipedia, we have to stick to NPOV, which may be why the media isn't a good source for this article. Hyper3 (talk) 10:26, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

What unites us[edit]

"The Rev'd Nicky Gumbel, pioneer of the course, says "What unites us is far greater than what divides us"."

I'm pretty sure it was actually Pope JPII that said this...... 02:04, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I believe he was affirming what others had said before Olidp (talk) 16:35, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

NPOV (Neutral Point of View)[edit]

Wow, this article has had a serious massage since I last visited. All the critical links and most of the critical references have been expunged or explained away and it is now seriously lacking in NPOV. I don't have time to work on this at the moment but invite others to do so. Cheers Chelseaboy 13:41, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

This article is difficult to assess in that it relates both to the alpha course as run by Holy Trinity Brompton and to the many different courses that people will have experienced run by other churches (which while still alpha courses will still differ from that at HTB). There is little balance in the negative or positive opinions given which tend to be personal rather than academic, I have tried to give a more objective feel to the article based on materials produced by HTB when describing the theology/theory of the course it should then be possible for there to be praise and critical perspectives in separate sections. It might be helpful for there be a section linking to testimonies of those who have done courses. Olidp (talk) 16:35, 3 January 2009 (UTC)


Does anyone realise that the essay used as the reference here is blatently a student at the university of york who was evidently writing because he didn't like the alpha course being run in his common room? Since when have biased, argumentative, unhelpful essays been classed as official references? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:12, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Biased? - we all have a POV, but the encyclopaedic task means we should report people's various views from a neutral point of view, using appropriate third part sources. As an inappropriate source I think this one can be removed. No doubt there is a better source out there for including the Gay & Lesbian view point. Perhaps a scholar like Stephen J. Hunt might be able to provide a quote, as his work includes both Alpha and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. But then, of course, there are no citations in this article, so the whole thing needs an overhaul. Any other thoughts? Hyper3 (talk) 10:36, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Been to it[edit]

My wife and I attended the course when it was held at our evangelical, holiness based church. We were there as facilitators, not as learners, but nevertheless, we learned a lot about our faith in a manner that we would not otherwise have known it. I know that, watching the video, I was intensely curious as to the nature of the Brompton Church, and pleased that it was Anglican in origin, confirming that at the root, the various Christian denominations do have a great deal in common. Once introduced to the faith, a person should discover for themselves which denomination best expresses what they are feeling led to by God, and best represents how they wish to exude the faith in a group worship setting. I know that I could not go back to the fairly staid service of the Anglicans or Canada's amalgamation of Methodist-Congregational-Presbyterian, but neither could I feel comfortable in the very expressive Pentecostal style wherein worshippers speak in tongues as if it were a secret worship language (rather than talking in a language he or she does not know to someone who speaks that other language, as happened in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost), or falling to the floor. I respect and value these Christian worshippers, it is just not something I would do. But we're part of the same basic underlying belief of Jesus as saviour. GBC (talk) 08:38, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines "Stay on topic: Talk pages are for discussing the article, not for general conversation about the article's subject (much less other subjects). Keep discussions focused on how to improve the article. Comments that are plainly irrelevant are subject to archival or removal." David Woodward ☮ ♡♢☞☽ 01:06, 9 November 2012 (UTC)

Been to it too[edit]

I've been to it too. I was sent on it when I was about 14 years old (1997). To be honest I found it to often have methods used by cults: At one point we were all made to sit on the floor, with our eyes closed. Those who 'felt the holy spirit' had to stand and 'cross over' to the group. Obviously the pressure to do so was very great, and I did indeed cross, but with hind-sight I can see that these methods were tantamount to cult-like. Anyway, I'm writing to express surprise at there being very little criticism or mention of this aspect of the course. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lionfish0 (talkcontribs) 15:51, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Probably because what you describe is not part of a normal Alpha Course, so your experience is very untypical. --Bermicourt (talk) 11:32, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Marriage Course[edit]

Is it accurate to say that Alpha "operates" the Marriage Course? The Marriage Course, The Parenting Teenagers Course, The Parenting Children Course, etc., are all run by Relationship Central, which is now a separate part of the Alpha International charity. --copy (talk) 11:32, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Hi Bermicourt, the courses that you have mentioned (The Marriage Preparation Course, The Marriage Course, The Parenting Children Course and The Parenting Teenagers Course) are provided by Relationship Central. As these courses are separate to the Alpha course I think it would serve the general public better if Relationship Central courses were listed in their own article. Can I suggest the 'Relationship programmes' section is moved to its own article called Relationship Central. I think this would be very valuable as on that page greater information about Relationship Central ( and its courses could be shared. There is a lot more information about Relationship Central that Wikipedia does not yet contain. Relationship Central has been providing courses since 1985 and the courses are currently running in over 109 countries and have been translated into 40 languages. Are you able to create this article and move the 'Relationship programmes' section there? DaveAtAlpha (talk) 11:59, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi DaveAtAlpha. I hadn't realised the extent to which the relationship had taken off. Yes, it probably makes sense to form a separate article, especially as I understand some of these courses have been officially recognised e.g. by UK local authorities and the Armed Forces. The article would need to follow Wiki guidelines e.g. in having a neutral point of view, not a marketing tone and being appropriately referenced. But so long as it is, it should be fine. --Bermicourt (talk) 10:08, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

Alpha logo updated as of September 2013[edit]

Hi there, my name is Dave Underwood, I am currently the Social Media Manager at Alpha. I would like to request the help of the Wikipedia community to achieve an update to this page. As an employee of Alpha I wish to avoid any conflict of interest by updating this page myself. The Alpha logo (currently has been updated meaning the logo used by this page is out of date. The new logo is now being used on all official Alpha media including the official website: I believe the logo can be updated by the same fair use rationale that the old logo was uploaded under. The logo can be downloaded freely via but this does require a free account to be created. The actual download location is To aid this process I have also uploaded the new logo to our Flickr account here: Could a member of the Wikipedia community please assist us by uploading the new Alpha logo to the English Wikipedia and then update this page to use the new logo? DaveAtAlpha (talk) 17:43, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

That .zip file contains dozens of different versions of your logo, and it is not clear which one you want in the article. There is also the question of copyright. "Fair use" may allow a reduced-resolution version to be hosted and used here in English-language Wikipedia; but it would be better to have a version for which Alpha has released the copyright, which can pe put on Wikimedia Commons, and used in all Wikipedias. Maproom (talk) 19:27, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi Maproom, thanks for responding so quickly. To your first point regarding which version of the logo to use, I think this version is best: I think this because if you look at the branding principles for the new Alpha logo (the branding principles file is called 'Alpha_logo_principles_short_vsn.pdf' and it can be downloaded here: you will notice it is that version of the logo that is presented as the default version. It is also the version of the logo used on the official website: To your second point regarding a version for which Alpha has released the copyright, I think you make a valid point and it is something we here at Alpha will need to think about. In the short term it is my hope we can bring the Alpha logo up to date on the English Wikipedia. DaveAtAlpha (talk) 21:03, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I forgot to give the file name I believe is best used to update the logo used by this page. The file name is 'Alpha-Mark-Red_Med-1.png' and it is contained in the .zip file that can be downloaded from here: DaveAtAlpha (talk) 21:08, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Can I please request an editor from the Wikipedia community review my suggested change above, and if you agree the suggested change would improve the quality of the article, make the suggested change? I hope I have provided sufficient sources to back up the suggested change. I am happy to answer any questions if anything needs to be clarified before the article can be updated. Thanks DaveAtAlpha (talk) 15:33, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Dave. I have uploaded a new image at File:Alpha Logo 2013.jpg and updated the article accordingly. It's quite low-res, I will leave it to more experienced users to decide whether we could have a higher-res version or vector graphics. --LukeSurl t c 16:06, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I have marked the prior file with {{orfud}} as FU files, once unused, cannot remain.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 23:43, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks LukeSurl. I note you have sourced a medium-quality version of the logo: Would it be possible to use a higher-quality version of the image from the Alpha account on Flickr so the logo looks as sharp as possible?: Thanks. DaveAtAlpha (talk) 13:43, 19 September 2013 (UTC)
Almost certainly not, unless you change the license, to permit commercial re-use, which is probably not a good idea.
Wikipedia is using the logo at low resolution, in order that it complies with the "fair-use" requirements of US Copyright law - read the copyright explanation at File:Alpha_Logo_2013.jpg
The Flickr account uses an "Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)" license, which does not allow commercial uses.
As explained at WP:File copyright tags for Wikipedia to use a high resolution image it would have to be licensed to "permit both commercial reuse and derivative works". Arjayay (talk) 14:39, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

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