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1999, Elizabeth McDonald,  Bayith Ministries  email:  You are very welcome to make copies of this article for personal research or for free distribution by print or email, but please respect our conditions that the content remains intact (including this copyright statement); that no misleading impression is given that we are necessarily associated with or endorse the distributor; and that proper reference is made to the title and author.  Website owners are encouraged to link to this page, but you must not incorporate this article into your own website without our prior written consent.  Thank you and bless you.

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Alpha and the New Age
by Elizabeth McDonald

Adullam News, June 1999


In the last issue of Adullam News (March 1999, No 13) Jo wrote "It is essential that we exercise discernment daily (Heb 5:14) and keep ourselves abreast of the growing subtlety of deception.  The widespread acceptance of Alpha should act as a warning about how a shallow understanding of what the gospel demands is deception, and leads into further deception."  While Sandy Millar insists Alpha is merely an introduction to the Christian faith, the Course nevertheless claims to preach the gospel sufficiently enough for participants to come to salvation; several of the talks end with a prayer of commitment.  But testimonies such as :

Since I said the prayer of commitment something has changed.  I don't know what, but something has changed and my faith has been a journey.  There have been no dramatic experiences of the Spirit, no dramatic conversion.  Instead there has been a journey on which I have fallen in love with the whole thing stage by stage [1].

indicate that many participants have neither understood what the gospel is nor what it demands of them.

It is bad enough that so few Alpha testimonies include any mention of conviction of sin, repentance, or the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, but worse is the number of Alpha testimonies resembling occult experiences.  What are we to make, for instance, of the following testimony?:

On the Saturday, Nicky Gumbel talked about the Holy Spirit.  In the afternoon, he asked the Holy Spirit to come.  I was thinking to myself, What's going on? ... Then suddenly, as I stood there, I began to feel tingling in my left hand.  It was like little electric shocks ... Then two team members laid hands on me ... I felt that it took all the rubbish out of me.  Then suddenly I got all hot ...  The next day ... the Holy Spirit was asked to come again.  I was just standing there and it came quickly this time.  First I had all this tingling in my left hand and up my arm.  Then my leg started shaking.  They laid hands on me again. ... I was also boiling hot again ... When I got up it was as though I was a new person.  I had forgotten about the past ... I did pray afterwards 'Thank you God for baptising me with your Holy Spirit.' [emphasis mine] [2].

In the book of Acts, when men heard the gospel preached they were pricked in their hearts and repented, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord, they believed and rejoiced.  One will search the New Testament in vain to find any conversions accompanied by tingling, electric shocks, shaking, or heat, as mentioned in the Alpha testimony above.  Other Alpha testimonies speak of feeling a warmth or even burning sensation when someone lays hands on them to pray with them, usually followed by an overwhelming sense of peace [3].

While Scripture does not provide us with examples of this kind of thing amongst the early church, there are similarities to be found in, for example, Reiki Therapy.  'Rei' means 'universally or spiritually guided'.  'Ki' means 'life force energy'.  The practitioner channels this life force energy through the laying on of hands:

that lovingly supports one's innate ability to heal and also balances the energy centers in the body.  The Reiki energy and experience feeds the mental, emotional and physical aspects of an individual.  This results in a state of well-being and total relaxation [4].

According to one recipient of Reiki, who, like Alpha participants, claims his life has since changed dramatically:

The Reiki Master's hands seem to get hot, and I actually feel heat.  I could feel energy going through my body and out my toes [5].

Another occurrence amongst some Alpha participants is the 'white' or 'bright light'.  An article about the Alpha Course in Times Weekend reported that Nicky Gumbel had received a letter from someone taking Alpha while in prison for murder.  The man, who had been beaten and sexually abused as a child, agreed to let two Christians pray with him in the jail:

I held my eyes tightly shut.  After a couple of minutes a bright light came in from my right side, then disappeared, and I felt relaxed and at peace with my mind for the first time in fifty years [6].

During the time of one participant's attendance on the Alpha Course, she was prayed for by Anne Watson who had been invited to speak at her church:

I didn't have a clue what she was on about but it didn't matter.  At then end she invited people forward for prayer ... Anne put her hand on me and said 'Come Holy Spirit' and the most incredible thing happened.  I felt as if someone took two torches and put them into my eyes.  I saw this incredible white light and my whole body, from my head to my toes, was bathed with bright white light.  Liquid love was pouring onto me and I kept saying over and over again 'I've met Jesus.  I've met Jesus.'  I was so happy [7].

Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, had a similar experience.  A drunk for whom several detoxification programmes had proved useless, he finally cried out in despair:

If there is a God, let Him show Himself!  I am ready to do anything, anything! ... Suddenly the room lit up with a great white light.  I was caught up into an ecstasy ... It seemed to me, in the mind's eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind, not of air but of spirit was blowing.  And then it burst upon me that I was a free man ... All about me and through me there was a wonderful feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, so this is the God of the preachers!  A great peace stole over me... [8].

An inadequate grasp of the gospel is surely one reason for Alpha participants' acceptance of these 'spiritual' experiences as coming from God; another may be that the Alpha Course, to all intents and purposes being the evangelistic wing of the Toronto Blessing, would very likely display the same tendencies.  And this is the case.  it has been well documented by others [9] that the supernatural phenomena seen in the Toronto Blessing - and thus, by extension, the Alpha Course - are very similar to those experienced by practitioners of Kundalini Yoga.  At least one Kundalini Yoga website agrees:

There is a natural, biological energy center in us, which is usually sleeping ... When this center becomes alive a growth-process starts and unmistakable symptoms are observable in the body and in the psyche. ... In the last years these Kundalini awakenings happen more often that ever before ... in the 1970s occurred a marked increase in psycho-spiritual experiences ... when Bhagwan's Poona Ashram became famous.  But the 1970s fall short when compared to the ten thousands of people who came into contact with the Kundalini energy since 1994 in the so-called Toronto Blessing... [10]

It would be a mistake to think that because some of the more extreme manifestations have subsided the Toronto Blessing was just the latest fad that has now run its course:

Relax: after one or two years, the symptoms gradually disappear, because the body is then adjusted to the higher level of bioenergy and calms down [their emphasis] [11].

More frightening still is the realisation that these Kundalini awakenings are being claimed by the New Agers as initiation into the next stage in mans' alleged evolution:

Kundalini is the Hindu word for the sacred transformative element that awakens consciousness.  When it becomes active, it is usually felt as a high vibrational, electromagnetic energy or powerful force in the body, and/or a strong sense of the inner presence of the Spirit ... This process is also called shamanic awakening, ascension, awakening the light body or the energy body, rebirth, or simply transformation ... Judging by the current condition of the world, had my own Kundalini not arisen, I would have doubted the New Age proclamations that we are in the midst of a collective developmental leap in human consciousness.  But from what has transpired in my own life, on top of the testimony from countless others going through similar experiences, I have a growing spark of hope that as a species, we are truly evolving [12].

Evolving into what?:

The main purpose of its awakening in a seeker is to enable him to attain Godhood [13].  [NB from Jo Gardner: This is the same end as the teachings of Restoration, Manifest Sons, and Word-Faith.]

Returning to the 'white light' for a moment, one Western mystic says that sometimes, along with the white light is the experience of clairaudibly hearing an inner voice, indicating direction and elucidation.  This inner voice remains with him as an ever-ready guide to the unravelling of complexities in daily life [14].  This would also seem to be the case with the woman mentioned above who also heard voices on at least two occasions.  The first was during a panic attack, prior to her white light experience, when she cried out to God to help her if He was there:

All of a sudden, this incredible peace filled the front room. [My son's] photograph was on the side and I felt my eyes drawn to his face.  I heard a voice say, 'Hold on tight, ... look at [your son's] eyes. Aren't his eyes, your eyes?  Isn't he beautiful?  Aren't you beautiful?  Look at his face, ... he needs you.'  There was a glow around [my son's] face and it seemed to be coming out of the picture.  That was it - the panic attack went completely [15].

On the second occasion, shortly after her white light experience, feeling pain and confusion after finishing with her boyfriend:

I lay on the floor of my kitchen crying and pulling my hair out and then, in all that confusion and pain, I heard someone in the room say, 'Do you love me?'  It was the most beautiful voice I'd ever heard and I knew it was Jesus.  The whole room was filled with his Spirit and his peace peace and I said, 'Yes, Lord, I do.'  Then Jesus said, 'Well, hold on tightly to me now and I promise you with all of my heart that I will take all your pain away.'  That night, in the solitude of my bedroom, I gave my life to Christ [16].

But how are those visions to be distinguished from the following?  The Ascended Master Djwhal Kuhl appeared to New Ager Will Baron:

[R]adiating an almost blinding light golden light and a soothing presence that filled him with peace ... Will writes, 'When I first saw him, my own initial thought was, He looks just like Jesus Christ' [17].

Not one of the Alpha participants who had an experience of 'Jesus', whether visual or audible, questioned whether it might have been something else.  Yet we read this in Scripture:

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. ... For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works [18].

It is vital then that we:

believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world [19].

But we all know these Scriptures so well; why aren't they being applied by the leaders of Alpha Courses to the bizarre experiences going on in their courses?

Even if we allow that previously un-churched Alpha participants cannot be expected to distinguish the true from the false, there is no excuse for leaders of these courses - Christians, one would expect, for at least a reasonable length of time - to be uncritically accepting of these highly dubious supernatural goings-on.  But they are.  And the originators of the Course itself delight to publish ever more of these very questionable 'conversions' in their newspapers and books.  But what can we expect when they themselves encourage such occult experiences?:

Mr. Gumbel led a session entitled How Can I Be Filled With The Spirit? ... Mr Gumbell asked us to put our hands out.  He prayed: 'Fill us with your Spirit', then described what he saw - 'The Spirit of God has come and is filling people all around this room.  Some people are shaking.  Some of you feel a great weight on your hands.  Others, tears are rolling down your face and you are thinking, 'Why am I crying?'  This is the Spirit of God, don't be embarrassed.  Don't resist the Spirit.  Some of you feel waves coming over you.  Waves and waves of liquid love... [20].

The New Age may seem a long way from the Alpha Course, but is it?  The sentiments expressed by Kundalini initiates below are not to be found in Scripture but they are in Alpha conversions:

[T]his cleansing, divine light snakes its way up through the subtle nerve threads of the body and expels the darkness of the past, unknotting any traumas that are caught in the memory of the body, so that a person ceases to be limited by past life, present life traumas or old thought forms ... It is an opportunity to become new or reborn ... the nature of the cleansing process creates strange behaviour that might make th person weep and laugh within minutes [emphasis mine] [21].

Neither is the fact that Alpha leaders are calling on the Holy Spirit, rather than the Kundalini power, any guarantee it is the Holy Spirit who responds:

I also experienced a process called Christian Kundalini ... Kundalini is a vital force at the base of the spine ... Our vital force will answer to the term Holy Spirit and then it is Christian, or any other term that means spirit of God and then it is God's time to introduce Himself [22].

With little understanding of the objective facts of the gospel and an apparent lack of real conviction of sin by the (true) Holy Spirit, the experiences being had by Alpha participants are not sufficient evidence of their having been born again.  The very things claimed by Alpha to prove conversion to Christianity, though not to be found in Scripture, are frequently experienced during Kundalini awakening, or initiation into the New Age.

So, are these experiences by Alpha participants evidence of their being born again into the Kingdom of God or are they evidence of a Kundalini awakening and/or New Age initiation?  Kundalini Yogis, as we have seen, would seem to suggest the latter.  So would New Age Guru Benjamin Creme.  Creme was recently asked what he thought of the Toronto Blessing.  His response was that he thought it was a good thing: it is, according to him, the method being used by his spiritual Masters to soften up Christian Fundamentalists to accept the New Age Christ when he appears [23].

In closing, please compare this from Alpha:

Things reached a climax at the away weekend in Pontins. ... By now, thanks to a lot of of background reading and reflection, I was certain where I stood, but at least my atheism was an informed choice. ... 'You have to believe in the supernatural', Nicky told us, 'Otherwise, it just boils down to people being nice to each other and I don't think that's enough.'  That evening, he asked for the Holy Spirit to visit the congregation ... grown men and women began to shake and weep. ... One member of my group ... fell into a trance-like state, his mouth open and his head back as Tom prayed for him.  'I felt like I was a balloon being inflated, that I was absorbing a supernatural experience.  There was a swirling in my mouth and I felt myself engulfed by the Holy Spirit', he told us next morning.  I was ready.  It was time to open myself up to God [24].

With this from a former New Ager:

My New Age background made me think I had been in the 'presence of God' all my life. ... Neither Denny nor I had ever heard explanations like this from the Bible [the gospel preached to them].  Richard invited us to admit we were sinners and thank the Lord Jesus for dying in our place on the cross.  He quoted a Bible verse which says, that is you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).  My eyes lowered.  Tears fell to the ground as I was overcome by a sense of shame before God.  I remember praying, gently confessing that I was a wretched sinner.  I believed that Christ died in my place on the cross for my sins.  I was overwhelmed by His unwarranted love foe me through this act.  There were no bright lights or tingling sensations, only remorse mingled with gratefulness, a sense of peace in reconciliation and assurance of security for eternity.  I had confidence in a joy and safety I'd never known before [25].




[1]  Interview for Newsroom South East, 09:04:1998;  also Alpha News, July-Oct 1998, p. 7.

[2]  Mark Elsden-Dew, Ed., The God Who Changes Lives, Vol. 2, (Alpha Publications, 1998), pp. 149-150.

[3]  For example, Alpha News, Nov 1997-Feb 1998, p. 7.

[4]  { source }

[5]  Donna M. Viggiano, White Light Reiki,

[6]  Dominic Kennedy, Article in Times Weekend, 14:12:1996, pp. 1-2.

[7]  Alpha News, March-June 1998, pp. 12-13.

[8]  Quoted in Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World and Church, (Harvest House Publishers, 1998) p. 298.

[9]  For example, Alarm Call For Concerned Christians, Spring 1998, pp. 1-3;  See also Antti Huima, Comparing Kundalini Yoga and TB/Pensacola,,%20Antti%20-%20Comparison%20between%20Kundalini%20Practice%20&%20so-called%20Toronto%20Blessing.pdf


[11]  Ibid.

[12]  El Collie, Shared Transformation: Kundalini Signs and Symptoms,

[13]  Muktananda, as quoted in Ruth Trimble, When Mercury Escapes,

[14]  Master Subramuniya, The Clear White Light,

[15]  Alpha News, March-June 1998, p. 13.

[16]  Ibid.

[17]  Occult Invasion, p. 391.

[18]  2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15.

[19]  1 John 4:1.

[20]  Quoted in Times Weekend, 14:12:1996, pp. 1-2.

[21]  When Mercury Escapes.

[22]  Michael Foster, Recovery by Discovery,

[23]  Nick Needham, The Toronto Blessing, Part Two,;  See also Ed Tarkowski, Laughing Phenomena: Its History and Possible Effects on the Church, (PO Box 233, McKean, PA 16426, USA, June 1995).

[24]  Julia Llewellyn-Smith, Article in The Daily Express, 16:11:1998, reproduced in UK Focus, Dec 1998, pp. 4-5.

[25]  Caryl Matriciana, 'Outer Beauty, Inner Despair', in Dawn of the New Age: Five New Agers Relate Their Search for the Truth, (Penfold Books, PO Box 26, Bicester, Oxen, OX6 8PB, UK, 1998), pp. 48-49.





For more detailed and comprehensive articles than this one on the relationship between Alpha and the New Age please see the following:

Open Letter to the Leaders of the Alpha Course: Alpha's Holy Spirit Retreat

The Powers Behind the Alpha Course: The Powerful Spirit

The New Age of Alpha



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