The Powers Behind
The Alpha Course
Part 3: The Powerful Spirit

Bayith Ministries  

This article first appeared in Vanguard, Issue 17, September 2003
(Vanguard, PO Box LB1475, London, W1A 9LB, UK)


The world-famous Alpha Course refers to a “God Who Changes Lives”, and HTB newspapers are indeed replete with testimonies of people who have been transformed through Alpha.  This fact is regularly used to defend the Course in response to the many criticisms about its content.  So, how should we understand the changes that occur in participants?  Is God blessing them despite the problems with Alpha, or could there be another cause?  This article reveals what is truly happening.


This is hard on all concerned.  It is hard for us to write the following material, but it will be especially hard for certain folks to accept it.  Some people will need to keep a very open mind as they read this article, but we believe they will be greatly rewarded if they do so – because this is probably the most crucial piece of work we have ever written.  We pray that readers will approach our arguments in a mature way and will carefully consider all our evidence before reaching any conclusions.  (If you are convinced that our views are wrong then you will obviously need to see the whole article in order to correct us fully.)

Overwhelmingly, the spiritual progenitors of the modern Alpha Course can be shown to be from the ‘Vineyard’ movement.[1]  It is often argued that Vineyard’s roots, in turn, lie firmly in the likes of Carl Jung, Teilhard de Chardin and E.W. Kenyon – i.e. the New Age movement.[2]  If this is true then we might reasonably expect the same manifestations to be present on Alpha as occur in New Age initiation.  Is this happening?  Readers can decide for themselves, because the following list is taken, almost verbatim,[3] from El Collie’s Kundalini Signs and Symptoms[4] – a New Age document identifying the various manifestations that occur in New Age Kundalini initiation.  Worryingly, the end-notes for the article you are reading supply source references for each of the following physical or mental experiences taking place on Alpha.  Not only that, but every end-note comprises two such references – and all of the testimonies derive from HTB’s own publications.  (Our book, Alpha – the Unofficial Guide: Overview, supplies actual quotes.  It is available from SMP and elsewhere.[5])

[Collie:] “The risen Kundalini can dramatically impact the body… It can cause:

*         Energy rushes[6] or feelings of electricity;[7]

*       Tingling sensations;[8]

*         Unnatural heat or cold;[9]

*         Involuntary bodily movements: jerking, tremors, shaking;[10] feeling a force[11] – especially a force pushing one[12] or moving one's body;[13]

*         Numbness or pain[14] in the limbs (particularly the left-hand limbs[15]);

*         Rapid mood shifts;[16] unprovoked or excessive episodes of grief, fear, rage, depression;[17]

*         ‘Whooshing’ sensations in the head;[18]

*         Spontaneous vocalizations (including laughing[19] and weeping[20]) – as unintentional and uncontrollable as hiccoughs;

*         Mystical experiences,[21] trances or out-of-body experiences[22] (also bouts of self-grandiosity[23]);

*         Strange activity (e.g. white lights), in the head;[24]

*         Mental ecstasy or bliss;[25]

*         Contact with spirit guides through inner voices,[26] dreams or visions (of spirit guides)[27]

“But surely”, some will reply, “these are merely the occult counterfeits of genuine Holy Spirit manifestations?”  There is a truth in this, but not in the way most people realize.  The Holy Spirit brings us spiritual light (i.e. biblical wisdom), whereas the enemy produces a physical light in the head; God gives us joy in our spirit (through knowing we are saved from Hell), whereas the enemy just makes people physically laugh – and for no reason; God supplies power in our spirit (i.e. He enables us to stand fast in the faith), whereas the enemy’s ‘power’ makes people physically do things (e.g. jerk uncontrollably) or feel electric shocks etc in their (physical) bodies.  And so we could continue.[28]

The Spirit of God indwells, and testifies to, our spirit, not our soul or body (Rom. 8:16; Acts 18:5; John 13:21) – thus the disorienting, physiological sensations above cannot represent the Holy Spirit.  Beyond this, Alpha’s Nicky Gumbel calls his Holy Spirit a “controlling Spirit”,[29] and says “we should be completely overwhelmed by” this Spirit,[30] but the fruit of the true Holy Spirit includes self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).  Lack of bodily control is consistently associated, in Scripture, with devils and judgment – e.g. animal noises (Isa. 5:25-30; Psa. 59:1-15); burning (Jer. 21:10; Isa. 47:1,14); shaking (Acts 8:7; Psa. 69:23-24); apparent drunkenness (Isa. 29:9-10; Jer. 48:26) and so on.  In contrast, after Legion was delivered, he was found “sitting [rather than jerking!] at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind” (Luke 8:30; see also 2 Tim. 1:7).

If readers were expecting references to behaviour like barking or snorting in the Kundalini list above, these are implicitly included under El Collie’s heading of “spontaneous vocalizations” and can certainly occur on Alpha,[31] but the enemy is very subtle and will obviously only want to produce manifestations of a severity that a particular group is prepared to tolerate.  Nevertheless, no matter how ‘mild’ the ecstatic manifestation may appear, it is the same enemy doing the same sort of damage.

Just because the New Age movement has led many unbelievers today into supernatural experiences, we must not yield to temptation as this Alpha leader did: “We realized that we needed to offer something … – especially in a post-modern world – where they [the participants] can have some spiritual experience”.[32]  The ‘spiritual experience’ unbelieving participants need is a Spirit-wrought conviction of their sinful nature and sense of God’s wrath (both are frighteningly absent from Alpha), not more of the New Age.

Here is a major clue to Alpha’s success: the above manifestations are frequently being caused in people who are still non-Christians.  As a result, Course leaders think the recipients are now saved (if not baptized in the Holy Spirit) – and tell them so.  Alpha also suggests to participants that they can have more of these drug-like experiences if they join the Fellowship running their Course.  Thus their desire to attend a Fellowship after completing Alpha is often for this shallow and unhealthy reason – but is frequently taken as further proof of salvation.  Biblically, the true Holy Spirit humbles us and directs us to glorify God (John 16:7-14), but this is simply not the rule on Alpha:

“I now knew I mattered to God … Nicky [Gumbel] invited us all to say a prayer … It was one to welcome Jesus into our lives [rather than give our lives over to Him? – DP] … As I said the prayer, I had this feeling like a gold Catherine wheel hitting me in the chest and then shooting all down my arms and legs. When I came home I said nothing – but at the end of the course I invited Mark to the Alpha Course” [HTB’s UK Focus magazine[33]].



What follows is Alpha’s ace.  Despite its use of formulas and worldly techniques instead of Spirit-led preaching (the latter is God’s requirement each time we bring the gospel), despite HTB’s shocking associations (e.g. with Paul Cain and Rodney Howard-Browne), despite Alpha’s many doctrinal errors (see our books), and despite the plainly unbiblical manifestations produced, Alpha is welcomed in denominations the world over because it changes people in apparently good and major ways.  The logic of a gullible Church today says that this MUST mean Alpha is being blessed by God and is acceptable to Him.  

There is, however, a terrible flaw in this argument – for New Age initiation is a deliberate, satanic counterfeit of authentically being born-again.  The changes seen on Alpha, while almost never producing a testimony that even comes close to exhibiting the telltale signs of true conversion, are identical to those of Kundalini awakening.  The following list is taken straight from the remainder of the New Age document we cited earlier, but, because Alpha has ‘Christian’ trappings, the Church today seems incapable of ascribing the following – unarguably deep and ‘spiritual’ – changes to the enemy:  

“The risen Kundalini flings open gates to all sorts of mystical, paranormal and magical vistas. It often leads to:

*         Intervals of tremendous joy, love, peace and compassion;

*         Psychic experiences: extrasensory perception; past-life memories; healing powers;

*         Increased creativity: new interests in self-expression and spiritual communication;

*         Intensified understanding and sensitivity: insight into one’s own essence; deeper understanding of spiritual things; exquisite awareness of   one’s environment (including “vibes” from others);

*         Enlightenment experiences: direct Knowing of a more expansive reality; transcendent awareness”

In other words, New Age initiation can result in profound transformations.  It can ‘rescue’ people from off the streets and out of mental wards; it can cause hardened criminals to ‘go straight’; it can make people seem much more spirit-oriented than they were before – but none of this means it is of God.  It is a pagan counterfeit of true salvation and does not produce the conviction of sin or the fear of Hell or the verbal repentance or the all-embracing appreciation for the cross of Christ that authentic rebirth involves.

And so it is with Alpha.  Check virtually any testimony from any Alpha Course against the above lists and the reader will find that the testimony has no precedent in Scripture but instead corresponds to Satan’s imitation.  (Alpha newspapers regularly claim that the Course is saving people from certain New Age practices, but the same spirit is demonstrably behind both.  Indeed, so exact is the agreement between them that an Alpha graduate from HTB has now released a yoga video and a book promoting yoga without offering any hint that it might not be compatible with the Holy Spirit.[34])


Just as with many mind-altering drugs, ‘Kundalini awakening’ usually results in greater calmness and/or happiness on the part of New Age recipients – plus a greater sense of harmony with the world, and a greater forgiveness towards people around them.  (As a result, New Age initiates also often report improved relationships.)  New Agers can frequently boast of healings too, else their ‘alternative therapy’ clinics would soon lose all customers.  The enemy has the power to achieve such things, yet these are exactly the types of test being used to ‘prove’ that Alpha is of God.

Understandably, the new-found ‘interest in spiritual things’ commonly experienced by people being initiated into Kundalini reflects the values of the people who guided them through their initiation – thus Catholics receiving this false spirit from Catholic charismatics become more Catholic as a result.[35]  Graduates from the (supposedly evangelical) Alpha Course may well therefore have a real eagerness to read Scripture, but this must not fool us.  Satan is easily subtle enough to counterfeit a God-given devotion to holy writ; hence the Pharisees were very keen on reading Scripture too.  In both cases, however, it is an “interest” controlled by a false spirit, rather than a commitment prompted by the Holy Spirit, and in both cases it manifests as a desire not to believe and obey all the things we are commanded in Scripture but to pick and choose ‘convenient’ verses which become the focus and which are used to obscure the “weightier matters”, as our Lord put it (see Matt. 23:13-28).

New Age recipients, once again like people on drug highs, feel they ‘love’ everybody.  They particularly ‘love’ whatever they believe caused their thrilling experiences.  On Alpha, this sometimes leads participants (not after hearing the ‘gospel’ talks of course, but only after they have attended the ‘Holy Spirit weekend’ and enjoyed some exciting bodily manifestations) to say they ‘love’ what they think to be Jesus.  However, a lot of New Agers would say they ‘love’ Him too;[36] this is not the test.  (The test is obedience to the words of the true Jesus, rather than just a gooey feeling toward the substantially different Jesus being taught on Alpha.[37])  As with New Agers, Alpha participants ascribe their supernatural experiences to the force or person that they are taught was behind those experiences…

“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 [Remember the enemy’s physical light in place of God’s spiritual light?]. I kept saying [or bragging?] over and over again ‘I’ve met Jesus. I’ve met Jesus.’...” [Alpha News[38]]


Let us take stock.  An Alpha graduate may well develop a ‘spiritual’ worldview; may behave much more morally than before; may say they ‘love Jesus’; may want to join a Fellowship and read the Bible, yet all these types of change happen in the New Age movement too; they do not mean the person is saved.  One will invariably search official Alpha testimonies in vain for the hallmarks of true conversion – such as genuine humility, or a reverence and godly fear of the Almighty, or a real desire to be forgiven by people they have trespassed against, or a profound gratitude for Calvary, or a deep shame for their past lives, or a serious conviction of their sinful nature.

The next time readers come across a seemingly impressive Alpha testimony (or one from Toronto/Pensacola, for Alpha is spreading the selfsame spirit), we urge them to ask (a) if the above, biblical, hallmarks are present, and (b) if the enemy is really incapable of producing the changes seen – given that New Agers experience precisely the same healings, transformations, restorations and so on.

There is much more we could say to prove our assertion.[39]  Please warn as many elders as you can before they accept Alpha.[40]  (They will listen far more readily if they have not yet taken it onboard.  Why is this?  Partly because they will lose a lot less ‘face’ if they reject Alpha before encouraging their Fellowships down the involved road of running a Course, but also because we have found that the powerful spirit behind Alpha blinds people to the truth once they have caught ‘it’.)  There is still time for many churches, especially outside the UK, to be kept from this nightmare.

The Lord enabled us to produce this article.  May He deliver many souls through it.  Those who have already received the Alpha spirit need to renounce it utterly and repent of it thoroughly.  For more information on this, please see Part 5 of our ‘Overview’ volume.  God bless you. 


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[1] For details, see the first two articles in the series ‘The Powers Behind the Alpha Course’ available on our web site (

[2] For details, see the second article in the series ‘The Powers Behind the Alpha Course’ available on our web site (

[3] Our handful of minor modifications merely bring the list into line with other descriptions of New Age initiation, such as The Clear White Light by ‘Master’ Subramuniya.

[4] See (as at 07:Apr:1999).

[5] Please see the ‘Better Than Rubies’ section of our website ( for more information on this book and on its outlets worldwide.

[6] Telling Others, (Kingsway Publications, 2001), pp86 & 122.

[7] UK Focus, Jan ’99, pp4-5; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., The God Who Changes Lives, Vol 2, (Alpha Publications, 2001), p158.  Please note that all references to newspapers, whether secular or otherwise, refer to UK editions.  Also, all emphases in quotations are our own.

[8] Alpha News, Nov ’98 – Feb ’99, p15; UK Focus, Mar ’99, p2.

[9] Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p78; Alpha News, Nov ’97 – Feb ’98, p7.

[10] Telling Others, p152; Alpha News, Jul – Oct 2002, p9.

[11] Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p132; Alpha News, Nov ’98 – Feb ’99, p15.

[12] UK Focus, Mar ’99, p2; Alpha News, Nov ’98 – Feb ’99, p15.

[13] Telling Others, p123; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, pp223-224.  



[14] Gumbel promotes the unbiblical idea of physical “sympathy pains” (e.g. in Telling Others, p156, and in Talk 13).

[15] Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, pp114-121; Ibid., p149.

[16] Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’99, p6; UK Focus, Jan ’99, p6.

[17] Alpha News, Jun – Oct ’97, p9; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p113.

[18] Telling Others, p123; UK Focus, Dec ’98, p5.

[19] Alpha News, Jun – Oct ’97, p9; Telling Others, pp123-4.

[20] Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’99, p6; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, pp222-223.

[21] Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, p13; Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, p7.

[22] UK Focus, Dec ’98, p5 (copyright The Express, 1998); Alpha News, Nov ’97 – Feb ’98, pp12-13.

[23] Neil Richardson, A Tale of Two Cities: Nicky Gumbel and the Alpha Course, (CWM, 2000), p16 (taken from Alpha News #8, Dec ’95, p24); Also testimony given by Gumbel in Talk 8, Edn. 2.1.

[24] Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, pp12-13; Alpha News, Jul – Oct 2000, p36.

[25] UK Focus, Mar ’99, p2; Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p38.

[26] Alpha News, Jul – Oct ’98, p15; Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, p13.

[27] Elsdon-Dew, Ed., op. cit., Vol 2, p111-2; Alpha News, Nov ’97 – Feb ’98, pp12-13.

[28] We supply several other examples in Part 5 of our book.

[29] Questions of Life, (Kingsway Communications, 2001), p113.

[30] Questions of Life, p123.



[31] “A woman … says she cannot bring herself to ‘snort like a pig and bark like a dog’ on a Church of England course … Angie Golding, 50, claims she was denied confirmation unless she signed up for the Alpha course, which she says is a ‘brainwashing’ exercise where participants … make animal noises and then fall over. Mark Elsdon-Dew of HTB, Holy Trinity Brompton, said the Alpha course … ‘[A]ffects different people in different ways’” [The Times, 11:May:1996].  Note that Elsdon-Dew did not deny this woman’s claims about the farmyard manifestations.  Note also that all the references to Alpha manifestations in the article you are reading post-date this clipping by at least a year, and in many cases 4 or 5 years – i.e. after ‘Toronto’ supposedly ended.

[32] Alpha News, Mar – Jun 2001, p20.

[33] UK Focus, Jan ’99, pp4-5.



[34] The British ‘celebrity’ Geri Halliwell has published a book promoting yoga after attending Alpha at HTB.  The book, Just For The Record, (Ebury Press, 2002), even includes Geri’s thanks to “Pippa and Nicky” on the last page.  (Nicky Gumbel’s wife is called Pippa.)  Halliwell’s video, also released in 2002, is called “Geri Body Yoga”.  The advert claims “yoga is for everybody”.

[35] See Part 2 of our book for details.

[36] See, for instance, the chapter entitled “God as the Beloved” in the New Age book tellingly called The Alpha Point, (BKISL, 1999), by Anthony Strano.

[37] For details of the many differences, see our series of three articles entitled “Chapter and Verse on Alpha’s Jesus” – freely available from the ‘Better Than Rubies’ section of our website (

[38] Alpha News, Mar – Jun ’98, pp12-13.  Note the resulting ‘me-centred’ mantra instead of God-directed praise.

[39] Part 5 of our book offers a fuller treatment of many issues raised in this article.

[40] Electronic copies of the article you are reading can be freely obtained from the ‘Better Than Rubies’ section of our website (  If this article has blessed you, and you would like to bless our ministry back, that would be wonderful.  The website gives details for this too.  Thank you.




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© 2003 Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,  Bayith Ministries  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), and that proper reference is made to the title and authors.  Website owners are encouraged to link to this page, and limited quotations from it may be freely used, but you must not incorporate this article into your own website without our written consent.  Thank you and bless you.