The dangerous success of the Alpha course
THERE is no doubt about it: the Alpha Course is a great financial success for its promoters. The Daily Telegraph reports, “The parish church which invented the Alpha Bible course has doubled its income in a year from £2.3 million to £4.7 million. Holy Trinity Brompton, West London, is now the highest earning parish in the Church of England. . . The 10-week Alpha course, which introduces adults to Christianity, has generated an income of £1.8 million in books and videos, as well as donations of £2 million from the converted.”
While these facts no doubt cause a glow of satisfaction among Alpha Course enthusiasts, they cause dismay among those who know the erroneous nature of the material, including it charismatic teaching. For more information on the nature of the course, see The Alpha Course Examined. Teaching which leads people to believe that they are converted, when they are yet utter strangers to the new birth, is indeed dangerous and its attractiveness, popularity and success make it all the more dangerous.
Inconsistent thinking on religious and moral issues
WITH the advent of satellite television, more people than ever, especially on Sabbaths, are engrossed with the activities of 22 grown men whose main function in life is to chase a football round a field. It shows that they are not living to the glory of God, nor giving thought to the realities of eternity and the necessity of preparing for it.
It is of no importance to us who is coach of the England team at any given time. Yet, the curious affair of the resignation of Glen Hoddle, the most recent England coach, has something to tell us about the inconsistent way people think about religious and moral issues. He was quoted in The Times as saying, “You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and a half-decent brain. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.”
No one who knows the Bible should have any difficulty in dismissing this as dangerous nonsense. Karma is a Hindu concept. Neither karma nor reincarnation have any connection with Christianity although, incredibly, Hoddle is described as “a born-again Christian”.
The disciples of Jesus asked Him about the man born blind. “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.” The man’s disability blindness had no connection with the sins of his past.
But one wonders why such pressure was applied, with even the Prime Minister joining in, to bring Hoddle to resign, when his opinions can scarcely be said to affect his work. Yet we have been told time and again that the immorality of government ministers is no reason for calling on them to resign, because these sins do not affect, it is said, the way they carry out their duties. When a minister breaks his marriage vows, for example, it is passed off as of no importance. But how can we accept ministers as trustworthy in their official duties when they have proved themselves untrustworthy in marriage, that closest of human relationships?
Yet we need not expect consistency in these matters when the nation ignores the only basis for consistent moral judgements the Bible. Hoddle’s views are clearly objectionable. But it is also objectionable to have government ministers running the country who are untrustworthy in their private lives.
The slide towards euthanasia in Britain
THE system governing euthanasia in Holland is often held up by euthanasia campaigners as a model which could be used in the UK. The system was established when a Rotterdam court in 1981 laid down certain guidelines. Two of these are: the death request must be voluntary; and the patient must have been given alternatives to euthanasia and time to consider these alternatives. Also, each such death must be reported to higher authorities.
Recent research claims that, in fact, one in five “assisted deaths” in Holland are being carried out without the patient’s permission, and in 1995 almost two thirds of cases of euthanasia went unreported. Also, euthanasia is not being confined to cases of “last resort” but is sometimes used as an alternative to palliative care (to make the patient more comfortable and give him relief).
The refusal by some Dutch doctors to abide by the rules is a loud warning to this country. The British Medical Association is drawing up guidelines on when doctors can withhold or withdraw treatment from patients who are in the process of dying. The category of patients being considered are those likely to die within three months but who need treatment to keep them alive, and includes patients with severe strokes and those with Alzheimer’s disease.
In our godless society human life is being devalued increasingly, and the sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” has largely been lost sight of. It also seems to us that euthanasia campaigners are being given more place than ever by the media. We fear that we are sliding into a situation where euthanasia will be permitted under some form of legislation. We must seek that the Lord in His merciful providence would prevent such a situation arising, but we must also make our voice heard loudly and clearly on this issue.