SOVEREIGN GRACE MINISTRIES IS OK WITH THE ALPHA COURSE?

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In Lawsuit Targets Sovereign Grace Ministries And Co-Founder Over New Child Sex Abuse Allegations here at Apprising Ministries I brought you up to speed concerning that amended lawsuit.

Things are a bit difficult for SGM right now.1 As I mentioned before, last December we began to see some real fallout from the suit in Flagship Church Votes To Leave C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Christian Research Network Associate Editor Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised… tells us:

Covenant Life Church (CLC) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has decided to leave and disassociate from the Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) family of churches. CLC, under the leadership of Pastor Joshua Harris, brought the decision of the pastoral team before the congregation in November. On 12 December, the congregation affirmed the leadership’s decision with 93 percent of voting members opting to leave SGM.

Though SGM recently relocated its headquarters to Louisville, Kentucky, CLC served as the original flagship church and formerly housed the organization’s offices on its campus. CLC’s decision to leave the denomination, then, no doubt will greatly impact SGM. (source)

You should know that CLC is hardly the only SGM church to leave over the lawsuit or because of SGM’s Book of Church Order. In fact, Brent Detwiler is a former pastor and board member2, who left SGM in 2009.3

In his December 22 post Dave Harvey, the Number 2 Leader in Sovereign Grace Ministries, Steps Down from All Responsibilities Detwiler writes:

Sovereign Grace Ministries is in total disarray.  Last Sunday, the largest and most influential church in the denomination announced its decision to sever ties.  Two days later, Dave Harvey abruptly stepped down from all his sizeable leadership responsibilities.  This is mind boggling news.

After C.J. Mahaney, no one is a greater luminary in SGM or before the evangelical world than Dave. (source)

Apparently there’s quite a bit of concern from local churches about putting “SGM in charge of their church.”4 With this in mind, let me now introduce you to Sovereign Grace Church (SGCNJ) in Marlton, NJ who tell us:

SG4
(source)

Now, under the Ministries category of the SGCNJ website we find The Alpha Course (TAC). As a matter of fact, just today it happens to be starting up again at SGCNJ:

SG3
(source)

SGCNJ also has their own The Alpha Course blog:

SG2
(source)

Actually, SGCNJ is even excited enough about TAC that they have recorded the below video entitled Alpha Promo SGC. Toward the end of the video clip you’ll see a man praising TAC for what he’s learning about God.

This is precisely the concern we have; what these people will be learning in sinfully ecumenical TAC. While discussing TAC’s many problems in his A Closer Look At The Alpha Course Daniel Neades brings out:

Alpha apparently continues to perpetuate the same old serious errors, giving a dangerously flawed presentation of sin, repentance and the work of Christ.

Unless Michael J. Penfold is mistaken, it even risks inoculating many unsaved people against the true gospel by giving them a false assurance of salvation, based upon the fact that they’ve prayed a short prayer.

The Bible does not teach that we are saved by ‘saying a short prayer to receive Jesus’, although much of evangelicalism thinks that it does. The visible church is truly in a wretched state, as I have previously discussed.

The question here therefore concerns whether it is even the true Gospel that Alpha is proclaiming. At best, Alpha’s presentation appears to be perilously defective. Given that there are over 33,500 Alpha Courses now being run, the eternal destiny of many people would appear to be at stake. (source)

Neades also asks the critical questions:

Why would an elder of any church choose to use such a course when there are better alternatives available? Because he is unable to discern its problems? Or possibly because he agrees with its theology? Both of those reasons would be deeply troubling. (source)

TAC encourages mysticism and includes the apostate Roman Catholic Church as a Christian denomination. Space doesn’t allow an apologetic against TAC so I will refer the interested reader to The Alpha Course Compromise.

TAC does have heavyweight supporters such as Rick Warren,5 Tim Keller,6 and J.I. Packer.7 And so, now we ask the question: Is Sovereign Grace Ministries itself really ok with TAC being promoted by its churches?

Let me also say that I fully suspect, should SGM actually answer this question, it will be in the affirmative.

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. http://bit.ly/UpYFzr, accessed 1-15-13.
  2. http://bit.ly/RZhgQn, accessed 1-15-13.
  3. http://bit.ly/VITaxV, accessed 1-15-13.
  4. http://bit.ly/VhYZ4j, accessed 1-15-13.
  5. See RICK WARREN PROMOTING THE ALPHA COURSE WITH ITS MYSTICISM AND SINFUL ECUMENICISM
  6. See J.I. PACKER AND TIM KELLER ENDORSING THE ALPHA COURSE
  7. Ibid.