Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The local Presbyterian Church has a sign outside offering an Alpha Course. I'm sure I've heard of the same course being offered by the Roman Catholic Church. So is the Alpha Course a very general Mere-Christianity-type thing, or is it customised to each denomination, or are the two Alpha courses completely unrelated?

share|improve this question
You may want to read – James Black Oct 8 '11 at 0:35
I have closed this as too localized as it is impossible to know what your local churches are teaching under this banner, and the general aspect of Apha Courses is general reference. See the doctrine heading of the Wikipedia page for an exact answer to your question, minus knowing what modifications to the general course your local Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches may have made . If there is some other specific aspect to this question, please edit to focus on that, then flag it for a mod. Thanks! – Caleb Oct 8 '11 at 14:57
The Alpha course is worldwide. It certainly isn't too localized. – DJClayworth Oct 11 '11 at 15:31
Indeed. The question is pretty general, but it could easily be answer with a few explanatory paragraphs. I'd give it a shot if this was re-opened. @Caleb - I think this one should not have been closed. – Wikis Oct 18 '11 at 11:46
@DJClayworth: Did you read my comment? We don't have a "general reference" close reason which is what this really warranted, and the part of the question that wasn't general reference is what I was saying was too localized. – Caleb Oct 18 '11 at 12:46
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The UK website for the Alpha Course can be found here. There are others for each country, so use Google to find yours. The Wikipedia entry can also be useful.

The Alpha course is extremely popular across the world and in many denominations. It originated in the Church of England, and it is exactly what you expect - an introduction to the core of Christian belief, Mere Christianity style. It is not specific to Anglican beliefs, and has been used by a huge number of churches of many denominations.

One of the key things about Alpha though is that it is intended to be more than a lecture series. It is key to the course (assuming it is being done properly) that it is done in a discussion framework. The lectures should be followed by a discussion in a small group, to which Christians and seekers are free to contribute. Ideally there should be food as well - the guidelines for running the course recommend it.

The only slightly controversial aspect of the course is that it does teach that the Holy Spirit may give supernatural gifts, such as speaking in tongues, to Christians. It doesn't claim that those gifts are essential, and it doesn't talk about more controversial gifts. Some churches choose to omit those parts of the course.

Some churches choose to modify the course in other ways, but the one you see is unlikely to be a different course. Ask whether it includes lectures by Nicky Gumbel - if so then you are getting the real deal. I would personally make sure that there is an opportunity for discussion as part of the course. In my experience omitting that misses the point.

share|improve this answer
Oh, I have no intention of actually taking the course. The inevitable rows would be unpleasant ;). I was just curious at seeing apparently the same course offered by such different denominations. – TRiG Oct 25 '11 at 12:28
In every Alpha course I've been involved with, participation from those with other viewpoints is welcomed, as long a you're not being argumentative or obstructive. – DJClayworth Dec 21 '11 at 22:16
I've actually met the Presbyterian minister since. Sat in a pub with him till 2am talking beer geekery, Pratchett, and chemistry. Nice guy. – TRiG Jun 11 '12 at 22:42

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.