The Alpha Course Analysis
A Critical Evaluation (Based on 'Questions of Life' Chapters 4-10)
By: K. B. Napier
Page 60 and 61, Gumbel's charismatic mind confuses Christ standing at the door, with the 'offer' of salvation. I have come across this error many times, in a variety of theological settings. Referring to the famous Holman Hunt painting of Jesus standing and knocking at a door - based on Revelation 3:20 - Gumbel says that Jesus waits until we open the door before He can 'come in' (to save us). But Christ is no slave. Nor does He 'wait' like a lackey whilst we make our choice! He saves whom He has already chosen. The text in Revelation is NOT about unbelievers at all - it is about Believers allowing Christ full access to their lives - but, textual misinterpretation is part of charismatic thinking and theology.
Page 65 should be read closely by all charismatics. But, post-Toronto charismatics reject what it says. Basically, Gumbel states (correctly) that spiritual fruit 'grows' and "do not occur overnight." Yet, the exact opposite is now taught by charismatics! They claim that God gives the fruit immediately to anyone who has been 'blessed' by the Toronto movement, even if the person 'blessed' has not previously bothered to live a life of holiness or righteousness! As Gumbel says, "...fruit takes time to grow...over a period of time other people will notice that we are more loving..." etc., etc. Charismatics take note! Yet the same Gumbel approves of the Toronto Blessing and its wild claims to instant fruit.
On several pages, such as 70-73, Gumbel keeps saying that the Bible is very popular, and he uses the word 'precious'. But the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. A recent survey says that most Christians rarely read their Bibles. Many do not look at them at all! Vast numbers buy Bibles - but not for their proper use. So they remain gathering dust on shelves. How, then, is the Bible 'precious' to them? And how many of the millions sold are the AV Bible? How many are corrupt-source Bibles?
I find it sad that Gumbel has a potentially excellent book - yet he destroys it with seeds of heresy and impossible theology. On page 74, he says that if Jesus is our Lord, then we would have the same attitude toward scripture as He had. I agree wholeheartedly with that. And I wish that charismatics agreed, too - but the Toronto movement denies the primacy of scripture. Gumbel, by his silence on the subject, condones this denial. Then, same page, he speaks lovingly and approvingly of Vatican 2 and the Roman Catholic position on scripture, which states scripture is 'without error'....even though Rome places its own authority above that of scripture!
Billy Graham is also spoken of with approval, pages 75-6, yet Graham is now apostate, denying his earlier life and beliefs, in favour of Romanistic lies. Then, in his mixed-up fashion, Gumbel says, "...we must of course give due weight to what church leaders and others say, provided it does not conflict with the revealed word of God." Correct! Even so, charismatics deny this truth and place scripture below experiences and extra-Biblical revelations. On page 79 Gumbel uses charismatic 'sugary-goo' talk, when he refers to the Bible as God's 'love letter'! In what sense is it a love letter? To whom? Someone said (and it is true) that almost all the Bible contains warnings and judgement!! But, 'love, love, love' pours from the lips (but not the heart and soul) of charismatics. The reason is that if they concentrate on 'love' they can 'bridge' all kinds of perverse beliefs and practices. Indeed, they say that we must forget our 'differences' (i.e. the truth as set out in scriptural doctrine) and major on 'loving each other'. This is definitely not scriptural talk, but is meaningless waffle and weak theology.
Page 80: "What happens when God speaks? First, he brings faith to those who are not yet Christians." (Quoting Romans 10:17). Another error. Only those who are saved can have faith in God. Gumbel misinterprets this text by not comparing with other texts that refer to faith. Faith is that trust and confidence that comes from knowing God personally and the salvation He has given us through Jesus Christ. Faith is also other things - but its foundation is always salvation. Because charismatics believe as Gumbel does, they develop all kinds of strategies to 'draw people in' to the 'church'. They repeat what God says (to Believers) and then expect that to 'save' unbelievers.
On reading the Bible, Gumbel unhesitatingly commends the unsaved and the saved to read notes: "You might find it a help to use Bible reading notes which are available at most Christian book shops." Sounds reasonable? Some years ago my own publications were banned from a local Christian book shop. Why? Because the MP for the area did not like what I had said. Yet, others wanted to read the material! Later, the same shop refused to accept our literature because it was anti-charismatic - but it sells books by Quakers, charismatics, apostate Anglicans, Roman Catholics, etc. Some who have bought Bible study notes from that shop have said they are suspect and contain many errors (although some notes are genuine). So, what worth is Gumbel's advice, if all notes are treated as being of equal value?
Moody is quoted (page 85) - he said that the Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change lives. Many folk disagree strongly with Moody's methods and some of his beliefs (I do). Here his belief is wrong, for the Bible itself tells us it is good for reproof, teaching, etc. That is, it imparts knowledge. The Bible itself does not change lives - it is God's word, and belief in God's word leads to a change in lives, through the Holy Spirit and founded on election. Moody was quoted by Gumbel because he is very close to charismatic thinking.
Those who 'enjoy' the Toronto experience say that before it came along they were 'dry' spiritually. This is most interesting, for Gumbel goes on to say, page 85: "If we stay close to Jesus Christ through His word, we will not dry up or lose our spiritual vitality. It is not enough to have great spiritual experiences...". Charismatics place their recent experiences above the authority of scripture. One can easily tell that this book was written before the Toronto Blessing came! What has happened with the Alpha Course, is that this pre-Toronto book has been interpreted and used in a post-Toronto fashion.
Gumbel thinks that anything said 'to' God is 'prayer' (page 87), even the utterances of small boys who are only repeating something told them by their parents. Yet, scripture tells us that God does not listen to the prayers of the ungodly - those who are unsaved - of any age. Charismatics love their 'prayer' meetings and whip up enthusiasm through fluent and thoroughly unbiblical prayers of 'prayer warriors'. They ask for unbiblical things and treat God as though He were lower than themselves.
Without realising it, Gumbel cuts the legs from under charismatics and their false 'tongues' - page 88: "(Prayer is) a relationship rather than a ritual. It is not a torrent of mechanical and mindless words. Jesus said, 'Do not keep babbling like pagans.' " Listen to the 'tongues' of charismatics - and you will hear this torrent of mindless words, the babbling of pagans. The Alpha Course teaches people how to speak in a torrent of mindless words - and the tuition is itself mindless!
Page 89 sees a further development of this mindlessness: "...the Aramaic word for which the nearest translation is 'Daddy' or 'Dear Father'." I have actually heard charismatics refer to God as 'Daddy', or 'Dad' and I recoil, as I am appalled by this abuse of God's holy name. The Aramaic does NOT translate as 'Daddy', because no such word exists in Aramaic!! 'Dear Father' is close enough. It is far more accurate to say that the Aramaic expresses a unique closeness or bond between a father and his child: a closeness that allows the child to refer to his father with intimacy and loving trust. God is our Father, but He is also Almighty God, King of Kings and the Creator. There is no warrant, or Biblical precedent, that allows us to call Him 'Daddy'! Only charismatic degradation of God and His power can invent such a term.
This lesser attitude toward scripture is found on the same page: "In a throwaway line in Genesis...." Where does Gumbel get this from? It must come from his own low view of scripture! There are no 'throwaway lines' in scripture - every word is God-given for a reason. Can you see that if charismatics think some words in scripture are 'throwaway lines', then that is exactly what they will do with them - throw them away! And that is what they have done, by modifying or amending or rejecting various passages or concepts.
Page 91: "...prayer not only changes us but it also changes situations." Wrong again! Prayer cannot of itself change anything. Prayer is commanded by God. He knows what we want and what we will say - yet He commands that we pray to Him. Prayer, then, is mainly an act of obedience. If something we pray about comes to pass, it is NOT because the prayer had power - but because we were obedient and prayed to God as He led us to pray - and when such prayer is 'successful', it is because He has already ordained the answer, before we ask. In the same way, God demands that the Gospel is preached by mortal men - yet, salvation itself is a gift of God and He elects those who will be saved. Why preach if it is all ordained? Because God says so! So, prayer itself does not change anything - God does. But the charismatic perversion of prayer is used greatly, and many unbiblical requests and statements are said. The idea is that if prayer changes things, we can demand anything we wish, and it will happen. In an effort to support his statements, Gumbel quotes Clifford Longley, Religious Affairs correspondent of The Times...but Longley is a Roman Catholic!
A 'pattern of prayer' is suggested (although Gumbel says we must not use formulae), using a mnemonic, 'ACTS': Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. So many churches and Believers use this kind of approach! Anglican priests use formulae all the time as a substitute for true prayer. Preachers use formulae when preaching, so that they can 'get across everything'. If these folk were really praying or preaching from God and to God, they would not use a formula - they would speak as God leads. But, 'balance' is sought after - a little bit of this and a little bit of that, as if to please everyone.
Page 97, Gumbel starts to show the oddness in charismaticism. He begins to interpret the Lord's Prayer and says that the first line, 'Your kingdom come', "includes praying for people to be converted, healed, set free from evil, filled with the Spirit and given the gifts of the Spirit, in order that we may together serve and obey the King." It says no such thing! It is simply an acknowledgement that God's spiritual kingdom will come to pass. Gumbel, then, has 'spiritualised' the text to fit charismatic thinking. Spiritualising is to give a text a meaning it does not have. Of course, if charismatics think it does mean what Gumbel says (which they do), then it gives them an excuse to do whatever they wish.
Another misconception without Biblical warrant, page 101: "As well as praying alone, it is important to pray with other people. This could be in a small group or two or three...It can be very hard praying aloud in front of other people...Nevertheless, it is worth persevering since there is great power in praying together (Acts 2:5)." Nonsense! Christ tells us to pray alone. The examples of praying together are times when people prayed with 'one mind'. No prayer meeting - with very few exceptions - I haveever attended fits this requirement. There are times to pray together, but they are rare. (See BTM Article on Prayer Meetings). Communal prayer meetings are a means of control for leaders. Such prayers are either trivial or vague. Others are inappropriate or even unbiblical. Gumbel has not given reasons to 'pray together' on a regular basis. It is superstitious to think that people praying together generate more 'power'. As for myself, I hardly ever pray corporately, for sound Biblical reasons.
Page 106: "Many are hungry for life and are attracted to people and churches where they see the life of the Spirit of God." Specifically, he refers to charismatic churches. More recently, he refers to churches where the Toronto Blessing has infiltrated! Sadly, many have mistaken its zeal and unusual phenomena for the Holy Spirit and His work. Some see this as Gumbel sees it - as a hunger for true spiritual life. This might be the case at times, but I see it in a rather different light. Those who flocked to 'Toronto' churches did so not out of a hunger for truth - but out of curiosity and a need to lose the shackles placed upon them by orthodox churches. They wanted all the excitement without the responsibility of faith. And that is what they got. They did not really care that what they got was unbiblical, or that it did not square with theological examination...because they did not care before they joined the charismatic circle! So, they were not looking for the life of the Spirit of God - they just wanted a diversion, something not so boring.
The errors abound - page 106: "It is possible to be a talented musician, writer or artist without being filled with the Spirit. But when the Spirit of God fills people for these tasks their work often takes on a new dimension." These talents are somehow enhanced, and are likened to 'gifts'. But that is not the Biblical definition of a spiritual gift. A spiritual gift is NOT an enhanced 'natural' talent. It is something completely outside of our own experience and capability. The misinterpretation of this fact leads many in charismatic churches to view their 'talents' as being 'gifts'. That is how we can have completely ungodly things, such as 'spirit-filled' rock musicians. It is just an excuse to do whatever we wish - call it 'spirit filled' or a 'gift' and everything is fine!
A very serious error is found on page 118, which is the outline of a heresy: "In the spiritual realm, when the Spirit of God and the spirit of a man or woman come together, a new spiritual being is created." To Gumbel, this is what is meant by being 'born again'.
It could be that he is using his words unwisely here, but I do not think so. The above statement tells us that the Holy Spirit - God - 'mingles' Himself with human spirits to produce new creatures. God is totally separate from His creation. He cannot mix Himself with humans. Even Jesus Christ was wholly God and wholly Man - His Godhood did not mix with his Manhood, but co-existed with Man. If we say that God mixed Himself with the human spirit, then we are saying we are as God (which is what Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland have said). That is, we ARE God.
In scripture a new creature is created when God quickens the spirit of a man. Then, the man's spirit is alive to God, through Jesus Christ. What Gumbel says is heresy. As I have said elsewhere, it is these sections on the Holy Spirit that determine the worth, or not, of this book and of the Course. Clearly, what we have just looked at is heresy. It is this heresy that is being taught to students on the Alpha Course.
Gumbel uses some very unfortunate terms when describing the preacher, Billy Bray: "His words, his tones and his looks had magnetic power. He was charged with divine electricity." They may be unfortunate - but they are terms used in Toronto Blessing circles today! Thus physical manifestations are interpreted as being spiritual occurrences. At first sight (if we listen to Gumbel), Bray has occult, not divine, power. This is certainly the case in charismatic churches where similar effects are found. Several other Toronto-style effects are also mentioned in the next few pages.
Page 124: "All prayer should be led by the Spirit. Without His help prayer can easily become lifeless and dull." No - all TRUE prayer is given by God, prompted by God, through the Holy Spirit. He does not just 'lead', like some modern 'worship leader'! He does not simply 'help' us - He gives us the words and the heart to say them. Not through false 'tongues', either! What makes prayers 'lifeless and dull' are normal prayer meetings and prayers that are not instigated by God. Gumbel then says, page 125, that "...the Spirit of God is the best interpreter of what God has said (i.e. in His word)." Again, superficially, this sounds all right. But, in the charismatic sense, it is not what it seems. It means that charismatics rely on external 'spiritual' meanings for Biblical texts. Thus they come up with absurdity and heresy! Whilst it is certainly true that the Holy Spirit determines the correct interpretation out of several, it is also the case that the words themselves have meanings, and that these are determined by the languages used.
So, our first task when reading the Bible is to discover what the actual words mean. THEN, we interpret which meaning applies in each text. Mainly, such interpretations are clear without special prompting. There are times when we have to ask the Spirit to show us the interpretation - but it is never wild or disconnected from the meanings of the words or the context. The statement by Gumbel is really a call to a 'free-for-all' attitude toward scripture. Charismatics stand by their own specially-given 'revelations' or 'interpretations' even though they have no basis whatever in scripture. They do so because they claim they have been 'led by the Spirit' to make their interpretations and so they warn that no man can say otherwise. What rubbish!
Page 126: a repeated error: "The Bible is the story of God's love for us." The unbeliever, Malcolm Muggeridge is quoted in this respect! Page 127, contains the typical charismatic/ecumenical call to 'unity'! Ephesians 4:3 is quoted - re keeping the unity - but it is left at that. We are specifically told in scripture that such unity is only possible in truth of doctrine. But Gumbel conveniently omits that part. Page 128 says it is 'not important' if we are Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, etc. - what is important is that we have the 'Spirit of God'. The fact that he cites Roman Catholics as having this Spirit is enough to show that Gumbel does not really understand what it means. There are a few saved Roman Catholics - but these must leave the Catholic fold. Gumbel is not speaking about the few who are saved, but, rather, the countless many who are part of the 'renewal' or charismatic movements. Thus their 'unity' is in the falsity of charismatic doctrines and experiences.
Page 129, Gumbel mentions a number of 'gifts' and includes apostles, teachers, etc., without mentioning that these are also known as 'offices' (not 'officers'). It is open to question whether or not these offices are also 'gifts' in the usual sense. "Spiritual gifts include natural talents which have been transformed by the Holy Spirit." Wrong. If this were correct, then human ability and not God becomes the basis for spiritual gifts. The German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann is quoted in support: "In principle every human potentiality and capacity can become charismatic..." But he fails to define what this 'principle' is. If it is not in scripture (which it is not), then there is no 'principle' worth talking about. By using these humanly-devised 'principles' charismatics leave scripture behind and invent their own definitions and spiritual boundaries, so that the true Biblical position is lost in the haze.
Page 129: "There is an urgent need for the gifts to be exercised. One of the major problems in the church at large is that so few are exercising their gifts." Who says so? What is the scriptural evidence? There is none! If there is an 'urgent need' then God will provide. Anything else is human invention. Gumbel elicits the advice of a 'church growth expert' in support.
Page 130 sees the hint of dominion theory: "The church cannot operate in maximum effectiveness until each person is playing his or her part." Again - who says so? People grow spiritually at their own pace, as determined by God. Many times we do not obey and so we are rebellious - but this does not mean we are hindering God's work. Today, charismatics are urged to all pull together, believing exactly the same things (externally) as defined by their leaders (not scripture), and they must all display relevant spiritual gifts and phenomena. Otherwise they are labelled unspiritual or backsliders. Under this pressure everyone pretends to display gifts and enthusiasm!They are told that if they all pull together, they shall overcome Satan and demons and usher in a brave new world, by being hyper-spiritual beings (that is, charismatics: Manifested Sons of God heresy)
The sheer force of this super-spirituality shall then save everyone in the world and only then shall Jesus return in triumph! To summarise - God failed in His plan to save everyone, so we must help Him, by getting rid of every trace of sin in the world and amongst ourselves. As we do this we become super-beings, like gods. These things are necessary before Jesus can return. If we do not do these things we will delay His return. Therefore, it is up to us to get rid of sin in the world, to save souls and to bring in the time when Jesus can return! This is even worse than formal Arminianism.
David Watson (page 130) is quoted as saying that the Church will not be effective until every member does something: Thus, "The church will only operate with maximum effectiveness when every person is using his or her gifts." In charismatic terms, everyone must 'do' something, and everyone must join in the teaching, preaching, pastoring functions. No calling from God and no gifting for these purposes. Just do it!
In this way, the 'church' is seen (as we have shown previously) as an institution and not as the organic Body of Christ with living members, and salvation and all other spiritual results will be brought in by our own works.
Gumbel says that God gives us all gifts and that we must use them, page 130. This is true - but we must see this from the charismatic point of view. That is, we can claim any gifts we want, and we must use them constantly. A few questions need to be asked: (a) Is the gift genuinely of God - or of Satan, or of self? (b) Is God calling us to use this or that gift at any particular time? Gifts are given for specific reasons - not for our own leisure-time arbitrary use.
Same page - Gumbel says "...it should be natural for the family of God to grow. Again, this is the work of the Spirit." The first phrase opposes the second phrase! Firstly, why is it 'natural' for the family of God to grow? Who says so? The Bible does not quite agree - it says that the family of God will be added to when God decides souls will be added - there is no such thing in scripture as an arithmetic (or, as charismatics claim, exponential) addition of souls. The number saved will be very, very small - a 'remnant' throughout all ages. In some ages the growth will be seen to be very slow, if not almost non-existent (although there will always be a witness, no matter how small). There cannot, then, be 'natural' growth if the Holy Spirit is the One Who adds to the Church! But, to charismatics, growth is a function of activity. That is, the more they do, the more they expect the numbers to grow. They completely disregard the will of God. Charismatics say that we are in the last days - but they ignore what God says in His word about the last days - that there will be mass apostasy and very few will be faithful, or be saved.
Believing himself to be correct, Gumbel says on page 131: "When we experience the Spirit of God we want to tell others. As we do, the family grows. The Christian family should never be static. It should be continually growing and drawing in new people...." Again - who says so? This is not Biblical law, but a human theory of works. Whilst there will always be a witness in every age, there is no reason to assume that just telling others will mean they will be added to the Church. If we believe in election, then such a doctrine is without force or meaning. It is up to preachers to preach the Gospel - when told to do so by God - and up to every individual to witness - when told to do so by God. Not all the time and not to everybody. And it is up to God to draw in whom He will, and to save whom He will.
Last page of this chapter, 132, says that 'not every Christian is filled with the Spirit.' Behind this is the idea of a second-blessing, or the idea of super-spiritual Christians, and it must be rejected. Charismatics have convinced many Christians that they know the meaning of being 'filled with' the Spirit when, in fact, the meaning of such a phrase and similar phrases is not fully understood! But, it suits charismatics to 'know' when others do not!
Finally, page 132, Gumbel asks "If you do not have a thirst for more of the Spirit's fullness why not pray for such a thirst...when we thirst and ask, God will give us the 'free gift of the water of life'." What on earth does that mean? Read that sentence again - it is contradictory! First he says if we do NOT have a thirst, we should ask for a thirst. Then he says that when we thirst God will give us the 'water of life'. Well, if we do NOT thirst in the first place, we would need a thirst in order to ask for quenching of that thirst! In reality, we will remain without a thirst until the Holy Spirit cares to place such a desire in our hearts. We cannot just 'get it'. If we do not care for such a thirst we are hardly likely to ask for it, are we? Also, the 'free gift' refers to salvation, not the Spirit. Every Christian is given his measure of gifts and even the desire to serve by God. Without God first moving the heart, the person will remain as he is. Again, Gumbel is advocating a charismatic, mechanistic and completely unbiblical approach to God.
Gumbel says, pages 133-4, that every Christian ought to be filled with the Spirit (in the charismatic sense). Firstly, who says so? Secondly, it all depends on how he defines this 'filling'. He makes an unqualified statement without any scriptural backing. Thus, page 135, he refers to 'Believers' in Ephesus who had not heard of the Holy Spirit, and so Paul placed hands on them. However - this passage is unclear theologically - does it mean they were unsaved to begin with and only knew the 'baptism of John', as did others? In that case, Paul would have preached the Gospel to them first and then they would have received the Spirit - that is, they were saved. Gumbel is, once more, being typically charismatic, by applying definite meanings to texts which are ambiguous in isolation!
Page 136 presents further dangerous material, which introduces various manifestations Gumbel assumes are of the Holy Spirit. It is true that when some are faced with Almighty God in a powerful way, even Believers might shake...but we must never assume shaking is therefore always proof that God is behind it!
Second paragraph - it is assumed that because the Apostles saw something that resembled fire (Pentecost), "Physical heat sometimes accompanies the filling of the Spirit...." In the light of the spectacular and obviously evil state of many in Toronto Blessing meetings, such a claim must be taken very cautiously, if not rejected. There is also a big danger in equating physical experiences with spiritual realities. Read the BTM Article on Evan Roberts frightening observations on this kind of phenomena.
Page 136: "The love of Christ is wide enough to reach every person in the world...It is deep enough to reach us however far we have fallen." Throughout the book, Gumbel does not make it clear who exactly he is talking to - saved or unsaved. Even so, we have already shown that the love of Christ is NOT for everyone. Also, God sometimes 'gives us over' if we continually disobey - so He does not always reach us 'however far we have fallen.' (See Isaiah!).
Because God's love surpasses knowledge (page 137) many charismatics despise Biblical knowledge. It is unlikely that Gumbel goes that far, but he does not fight it, either. What Gumbel sees as a second blessing - the filling of the Spirit, resulting in renewed love for Jesus, is likely to be the cessation of self, and not a second blessing or extra experience at all. An event like this will have definite psychological effects, such as a tremendous feeling of 'release'. The upsurge of extra love is bound to follow, for self has been removed and God merely does what He intended anyway. Whatever the case - feelings must always be rooted in truth. Feelings that deny scripture in any way are not of God.
Page 138: quoting from a letter to The Times concerning emotion in churches: "...if the congregation are moved by the glory of God in worship, the audience are accused of emotionalism (?)". Charismatics get away with murder! They do whatever they like and put it all down to a legitimate response to the 'glory of God'. I must ask: What is meant by the 'glory of God'? I have witnessed horrific and vile events being called the 'glory of God'! What is meant by 'worship'? Some rather awful and sinful things hide under this banner. And how are people 'moved'? In accord with scripture? And what is meant by 'emotionalism'? True emotion? Or the disgusting parodies witnessed in Toronto Blessing meetings, where people let go their inhibitions and do what they like?
Referring to 'tongues', Gumbel again gets it
wrong. He acknowledges that
the word means 'languages', but then goes on to suggest that it 'may be an angelic language', quoting 1 Corinthians 13:1.
Virtually all charismatics believe in this angelic language. But
the word in scripture has definite meanings, and they inevitably mean
human/foreign languages. The verse referred to by Gumbel does NOT mean
there is an angelic language at all (see BTM
Article on Tongues). Far from it!
He then gives an example of a Russian girl who was spoken to in 'tongues'. In this case, the one giving her the message did not know she was speaking in Russian. The message? "My dear child"! Frankly, I see that as a very trite thing for Almighty God to say, for it has no real meaning. I tend to view it with suspicion. It is known that demons can speak any language under the sun - including long-dead ones. They can cause people to speak in 'tongues', who then think it is of God. This happened in Toronto Blessing meetings on a large scale. Time and again, discernment is the key. Apart from that, I reject the idea that God will impart such messages without reason to people who have hitherto been living unrighteously, and who later entrench themselves deeper in charismaticism and error. The effect of tongues on Roman Catholics is to convince them that their religion is right and so they adore Mary more, love the mass more, etc. This is the work of demons, not God, and it proves the source of the tongues. I also reject the general claim that tongues have been a 'great blessing' to charismatics - especially as most of them claim to use tongues privately and for their own pleasure, which is against scripture.
Charismatics accept without question, or any kind of test, that tongues and other phenomena are from God, no matter how bizarre or unscriptural. The section in the Alpha Course on tongues is a prime example, and it opens people up to demonic activity. That these phenomena are accepted without question is suggested on page 140: "...for many, both in the New Testament and in Christian experience, it (i.e. receiving tongues) accompanies an experience of the Holy Spirit....the more obviously supernatural activity of the Spirit." Note how Gumbel makes a direct link between what is found in scripture (and is therefore absolutely true) and what is experienced by 'Christians', thus providing 'credibility by association'. Note also how he says this is 'obviously' of the Holy Spirit.
Firstly, we need to establish whether or not those receiving this 'gift' really are 'Christians'. I doubt many claims from charismatics to be Christian, because charismatic preaching is deliberately Arminian (i.e. we choose salvation and God). Thus they are 'saved' in their own eyes, and not according to the criteria set forth by God in scripture. That 'many' supposedly receive genuine gifts is questionable, if not a lie. The only 'proof' to back up Gumbel's claim are his own definitions and suppositions!
Secondly, although I do not think Gumbel intended it that way, to link Biblical text with what we ourselves do, as a form of support, can often be illegitimate and misleading. There is no proof whatever that what Gumbel sees in people is the same as what he reads about in scripture. If anything, we should ignore his observation and attempts at linkage, because we have already seen that he accepts the existence of 'angelic' languages. Once we accept something we cannot verify in any way, especially not from scripture, then we are on dangerous ground, and charlatans can get away with anything they like. This is exactly what has happened in charismatic circles, and why 'old style' Pentecostalists distance themselves from what is going on - even though charismaticism was born from its womb.
Thirdly, in these days of apostasy, NOTHING is 'obviously' of the Holy Spirit! There are now so many lies and heresies in the churches, we dare not accept something at face value (not that we should do so at any time, anyway). Gumbel sees so much being of the Spirit - but I view exactly the same things and only see error, blasphemy and lies! So, who is correct? The kind of easy talk Gumbel uses to validate charismatic phenomena, and which fluently links Biblical text with modern activity is false. The words he uses are meant to reinforce the 'authority' Gumbel supposedly places on these things...words such as 'obviously' and 'it accompanies'. Another ploy used by charismatics is to quote the commendations of 'top' leaders in the churches. All of this is very similar to the standard persuasion technique used by bad academics! Because they do not have proper and valid arguments, they infuse their talk with words that make people feel stupid, or out of line if they dare to question them!
Page 140: "It (i.e. tongues) is a form of prayer...". Once again - who says so? This definition is certainly not found in scripture! Gumbel then misinterprets Paul, when he says that those who speak in tongues speak to God and not to men (1 Corinthians 14:2. See BTM article). He continues to find false support in this text by adding that tongues "builds up the individual". Paul's intent in this text is judgement, and is not a commendation to do it! Gumbel then divides this 'personal' gift from those that edify the whole church - but scripture tells us that ALL gifts are for the edification of the Church!
Basing his interpretation on his wrong supposition concerning the nature and use of tongues, Gumbel goes on to say that: "The benefit of tongues is that it is a form of prayer which transcends the limitation of human language.". Then, "This seems to be what Paul means when he says, 'For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.' (1 Corinthians 14:14)." As the saying goes, Gumbel is up the creek without a paddle! He is completely wrong, and is being led by his charismaticism, not by scripture. Scripture does not say tongues transcend normal language. And his reference to Paul is again of Paul judging wrong activity - it is NOT a commendation to speak in some kind of 'angelic' language! That is why Paul says that his mind would be 'unfruitful'. Paul did not indulge in modern-style tongues. Some claim that they resort to tongues when they are anxious and run out of words to express themselves. Sorry, but that is bunkum! When we are told that the Spirit expresses what we cannot say, God means that He knows our distress and will uphold us spiritually. He does NOT mean we can indulge in an orgy of gobbledygook and call it 'tongues'!
And what of this, page 140-1? "This is where the gift of tongues can be of great help. It enables us to express to God what we really feel in our spirits without going through the process of translating it into English. (Hence Paul says, 'My mind is unfruitful'). It is not mindless; it is unfruitful because it is not going through the process of translation into an intelligible language." Gumbel once worked as a barrister. He is an intelligent man, yet he comes up with this kind of rubbish, which is sheer guesswork. It is not theological or Biblical. We can only put it down to deception acting upon his soul. How does he know he is praising God better, if he is using an unknown, untranslatable, angelic language? If it cannot be translated - how does he know it is angelic at all? And how does he know it is the language of good angels, and not of bad angels?
In the Alpha Course, students are encouraged to 'begin' talking in 'tongues'; by saying anything that comes to their mouths, no matter how silly it sounds (like children pretending). They are told that this string of nonsense will 'develop' into a spiritual tongue, which is the gift! Perhaps the question is too obvious, but - how do they know the difference between the 'pretend' nonsense and the actual 'tongue'?? And, who says that what they finally use is a tongue at all, if it cannot be translated? Ah, say charismatics - but we have others who translate ('interpret') for us! Yes - but how do you know the interpreter is telling you the truth? How does the interpreter know he or she is telling the truth? There is no way of verifying such a tongue, because no one understands it...only angels and God! This is very convenient for charismatics, who can then utter as much gibberish as they wish! They come away from their experience and meetings praising God for the joy they have received, and so the lie continues. So, throughout the world, modern charismatics spend endless hours messing about with unknowable words, yet claiming to be 'edified' by them! How do they know they are being edified, if they do not understand what is said? The absurdities just mount up, like garbage on a rubbish tip. Charismatics ought to listen to themselves, and hear their claims as others hear them - as being complete nonsense.
Another question - why is it of 'great help' to express something to God without translation? It takes just as long to utter gobbledygook as it does to utter real words - so what's the problem? No - it is all just an excuse to 'play the fool' and to reinforce our own lies and deception. Bear in mind that Kurt Koch, who has worked extensively with those oppressed and possessed by the occult, has discovered that many have been overtaken by demons at the exact point at which they receive 'tongues'. Another point is when they are 'slain in the Spirit' (another deception without scriptural warrant).
Page 141 - 'tongues' (the false variety, that is) is said to help in 'praise and worship'. Gumbel is of course referring to charismatic ideas of praise and worship (see BTM Outline on 'worship'), which are extreme and often blasphemous. Gumbel is wrong to say that language is 'limited' as though God short-changed humanity! God gave us words to use, and they are adequate for our time on this earth. Nothing in scripture suggests otherwise. Sometimes, we suffer frustration because we do not have a wide vocabulary - but that is rectified by learning new words. How do we know 'tongues' gives us new words and sentiments, if we have no way to verify their authenticity or meaning? It is on record that in many cases supposed 'tongues' utter erroneous interpretations.... the 'tongues' have been actual foreign languages and the utterances have been curses or voodoo charms, etc.! At other times, the 'tongue' has uttered blasphemies against God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit.
Page 141: Speaking in tongues comes "particularly when we are filled with the Spirit." With repetition I again ask - who says so? Also: "(tongues) can be of great help when praying under pressure." Nothing in scripture supports this claim, and the same questions (above) remain. Gumbel gives an example of a man who looked after his dying wife - a sad situation. The man "asked for and instantly received the gift of tongues and all the things that he had pushed down in his life seemed to pour out. He told me afterwards what a relief it had been to be able to unburden all those things." Same kind of question - how did he know he was expressing his inner turmoil in words? How did he know hidden things in his life were pouring out? The fact that he said he felt better afterwards indicates that all he had experienced was a way of 'letting off steam'. Nothing supernatural about that! In psychological terms the gobbledygook enabled him to release his built-up emotions, not his words.
In the Toronto Blessing many were surprised when some of the most avid adherents were men and women who were known for their control, and who were professionals in working life. This does not surprise me at all, but is quite in keeping with someone who is psychologically repressed. When men and women are expected to always be aloof and controlled, they have to push down their natural inclinations. So, when an opportunity arises to shed this constant control, they seize upon it gladly. In Christian circles, we are urged to be 'sober' etc. But in the Toronto Blessing leaders themselves joined in and compelled members to throw off all inhibitions. The claim that 'God' required this and that it was the way He chose to bless people, made the process very easy. At last, they could now do what they liked, encouraged by their leaders and by 'God' Himself! Not only were they told God expected them to do it - but He was also blessing them for doing it! It was a golden opportunity, so they complied willingly...and thereby made complete fools of themselves - not 'fools for Christ' sake'- just fools.
Page 142 teaches error when praying for others. We are told that tongues enable us to pray for others even if we do not see or hear from them for some time. In other words - we know nothing of their circumstances and have no real prompting by God to pray! 'Tongues', however, help us to 'cover up' this deficiency. After all - if we do not know what we are saying, we can convince ourselves that we are praying in great depth, even if all we are doing is uttering nonsense words! This hapless way of 'praying' is not prayer at all, but is the usual misguided notion of prayer we come to expect from folk who do not understand scripture.
Page 142 - another claim is that tongues have "indirect effects" that can be "very great". (Of course - if something is 'indirect', it cannot be proved!). The example of a (woman's!) 'ministry' was used to prove the claim. But let me put forward further objections, or, rather, serious things to consider: if the effects are 'indirect' - how do we know the effects are the result of tongues? If we do not know the effects are truly the result of tongues - how do we know the effects are 'great'? Also, given that there are many cases of demon presence in tongues situations, it is highly possible that what we attribute to God and to tongues is actually attributable to demons. Why should Satan use this method of seducing people? Surely, it is counterproductive to him? No - think about it. If Satan can make us believe something is from God, and he also gives us a few 'fruit' of that 'gift', will we not be convinced it IS of God? And will we not be eager to try out even more phenomena? And will we not automatically attribute everything that follows to God? Of course we will! God does not bless a ministry if it is not of Him, or if the theology behind it is in great error, or if it teaches heresy.
The real purpose is given by Gumbel: "It was also the gateway for her to receive other gifts of the Spirit..." Or, as Koch says, it is a gate being opened to allow demons easy entry! Demons are more than willing to impart various 'gifts' and good effects, if the end result is the destruction of the soul, or the ruin of true spiritual life.
Page 143, Gumbel again completely goes haywire by misinterpreting Paul's instruction concerning tongues. Remember that Paul was remonstrating with the Corinthians about their lack of discernment and their excesses. He was telling them off about their misuse of tongues - NOT encouraging them to do what charismatics say. Same page - "...the gift of tongues is a blessing from God." Risking monotony - who says so? It is not a 'blessing' - it is just a modus operandi, something to be used to reach others. It is not a blessing to the user, except as a proof of God at work.
Page 144, Gumbel says tongues is available to all Christians. This contradicts scripture, which says God gives to each Christian the gifts He wishes to give. We do not all have the same gifts, but get whatever God wishes to give, in support of the work He calls us to. It is a charismatic fallacy (based on wrong interpretation) that we can simply demand this or that gift, including tongues. "...it is a very helpful gift. If you would like to receive it, there is no reason why you should not." What a mix of gullibility and arrogance! 'Helpful' to whom? To us? It is not supposed to 'help' us with our own efforts - it is a direct way of reaching foreigners, that's all (and rarely seen today)!
The error goes on: "Like all the gifts of God, we have to co-operate with His Spirit." That is, we receive the gifts only if we want them. Once more this is evidence of Arminianism and is consistent with the idea that we can choose God and salvation. Gumbel is saying, then, that God is prevented from giving us gifts which He intended to give us from the dawn of time! God has to have our 'co-operation' before He can do it! That makes the charismatic 'God' a mere puppet, at their beck and call. This is also consistent with Roman Catholic claims that clergy can 'call down' Jesus in the mass, Who 'must obey'. God gives His gifts as He pleases, not as we demand.
Gumbel then tells us, same page, of how at first he denied the existence of all the gifts and so did not practise tongues after he had asked for them. Rather, he kept his mouth shut. Then, at a later meeting, he noticed a "new radiance" about people who had 'received' tongues. I refer to this 'radiance' as the 'glazed eye syndrome', because charismatics go into an instant replay mode when asked about their experiences! Their eyes literally glaze over as they repeat the lies they believe in. Gumbel mistakes this for the joy of the Lord! After noticing this 'radiance' he experienced tongues after going through the very mechanistic and false method advised by the group...they told him to utter anything other than English or any other known language - then tongues would somehow be given. In other words, they told him to do what is advised in the Alpha Course - speak gibberish and God will use that as a base. He will add His own 'angelic' language to it and finally you get true 'tongues'!! This clearly proves the occult and psychological foundation for 'tongues' as devised and encouraged by charismatics. God says much about the true root or foundation of things. He does not ask us to first lay a foundation and then He will put something on top of it! Rather, in Corinthians we are told specifically that no other foundation can be laid, other than that which is already laid - Jesus Christ Himself. Anything else is a lie.
Then, page 145, Gumbel again misinterprets Biblical text as a way of proving his case. The text, Luke 11:9-13 is about good things from God. That is, if we ask good things of God, He shall not give us evil. This has nothing to do with gifts, for it is used to declare the goodness of God toward His people, nothing more. Gumbel continues to misuse the text as he moves to page 146. He goes on to give a mechanistic view of Gods grace, by suggesting that if we do this, God does that. This is basically what is behind 'name it and claim it', or the Prosperity/Faith Movement. Such a claim is based on what we can do to get something from God. It is mechanistic, because it says that if we follow certain steps, we will automatically receive whatever we are asking for.
Charismatics miss the whole point - God gives us whatever He wishes to give us; He only gives to us when we ask IF we 'ask aright' - that is, if what we ask for has already been allotted to us and God has prompted us to ask for it. But the major prerequisite is that our heart is right and we are living holy and righteous lives. Nothing is automatic with God! Even in the Old Testament, God promises rewards and blessings to those who obey - but by obedience He did not mean mere mechanistic doing of this or that rite, sacrifice, etc. He wanted their hearts to be right before Him. It is this element that is missing in charismatics, who want all the blessings and the 'effects', but without repentance and true heart desire.
So, the advice given by Gumbel - to just ask for what you want - is wrong, as is his use of Biblical text. Same page - he says that New Testament and experience often go together. This is also incorrect, for Gumbel is referring to charismatic experience, which is extra to New Testament teaching and experience! He then gives a 'formula' to eliminate any barriers to receiving from God. Perhaps he did not mean the list he gives to be used mechanistically but, people being people, they only want a 'quick fix' so they will repeat what he says, as though it were a formula. He suggests that we should seek forgiveness for anything that may be a barrier. This is 'shot in the dark' stuff. It says that if we do not have any particular prick of conscience or a specific prompting from the Holy Spirit to repent, we should just repent anyway of any hidden sins! Be assured - God DOES tell us what to repent of. We are not called to repent willy-nilly. This is sheer superstition.
We are told to go on seeking until we find. Often, we ask for something and it is refused. God does this because we ask for something we ought not to have. He also refuses if it is not in our best interests. But mainly He refuses because He did not wish to give it to us in the first place - it is not in His will. His very silence is a clue to us to shut up! But if we continue, we sin and we lay ourselves open to a deceiving spirit. Evil spirits are roaming the world to see who they may devour! If they witness a man or woman pleading with God to give them something as false as charismatic style 'tongues', then they will delight in giving their own version. Indeed, they will give any false 'gift', because, once given, the person will be convinced it is from God - after all, did they not plead with Him? Thus reception of a 'gift' is seen to be an answer to their prayer.
Same page - Gumbel repeats the error which he was taught concerning tongues: "Open your mouth and start to praise God in any language but English or any language known to you....Believe that what you receive is from God. Don't let anyone tell you that you made it up. (It is most unlikely that you have)." Alpha students are told the same thing - whatever you get, accept it is from God, without question! The added encouragement - not to listen to the suggestion that you made it all up - is given because that is what faithful Christians warn charismatics about. Thus Gumbel and Alpha teachers deny Christians the right and duty to test the spirits. They teach you to utter gibberish and to call it a gift of God. They do not even hint at the fact, or even the possibility, that demons are waiting nearby to fill you with their own evils. The same ploy is used throughout charismaticism - just accept everything without question. In this is the danger and the heresy, and, often, the blasphemy.
A further indication that tongues are invented by the user (or given by demons). Same page: "Persevere. Languages take time to develop. Most of us start with a very limited vocabulary. Gradually it develops. Tongues is like that. It takes time to develop the gift. But don't give up." If only Gumbel realised it, this is positive proof that his tongues are not of God! Nowhere in scripture are Biblical tongues said to be incomplete. Nowhere does Paul tell us to persevere because we are only given a partial gift. But here we have another twist to the idea that we can demand whatever we wish - here we are told that God has given us an incomplete (and therefore an imperfect) gift and that we must complete the task and 'help Him out'! What nonsense: we begin with a 'limited vocabulary' - no Biblical text to prove the case, just assumption. However, Demonic gifts and effects do take time. Demonic activities are imperfect, because they are bad copies of the real thing. If God gives a man the gift of tongues, then he will speak whatever God wishes him to say, perfectly. Gumbel's advice is clear proof that charismatic 'tongues' are invented by men or by demons. He is telling us that God gives us a basic set of 'Mechano' and if we wish it to become more elaborate, we can buy more Mechano and build things for ourselves.
The danger of this section cannot be over-emphasised! To follow Gumbel at this juncture is to open one's self up to all kinds of demonic attack and oppression. His 'gift of tongues' is not of God, and his description of them is unbiblical.
Gumbel quotes C S Lewis concerning errors about the existence of demons, page 152: "One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." This certainly applies to charismatics, for they have an excessive interest in demons. Note the Dominion/Restorationist movements, and how charismatics see demons under every bed and cast out many that are not even there! Gumbel gives examples of this excessive interest, but confines himself to occult movements such as spiritualism, etc. Why? Many within the Toronto Blessing movement admit they are 'channels' for the Spirit. That is, they are the mediums (channels) spoken of by Gumbel! So many charismatic activities are spiritualistic, which is why faithful Christians are so uncomfortable in their presence and in their church services.
Page 153, Gumbel inadvertently describes charismatics by quoting (NIV) 2 Corinthians 4:4, "The god of this age (the devil) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." God says that when Believers stray far away from Him and reject His word, we must treat them as though they were unbelievers. Charismatics cannot see the true light of the Gospel because of their unbelief. Gumbel correctly says, "So long as we are going along Satan's path and our eyes are blinded, we will probably be almost totally unaware of his tactics." Charismatics pointedly refuse the Truth, and even curse and oppose Christians who show them that Truth. It is a fact that those infected by the Toronto Blessing are totally unaware they are deluded.
Speaking of Satan's tactics, page 156: "He condemns us and makes us feel guilty - not for any particular sin, but with a general and vague feeling of guilt. In contrast, when the Holy Spirit draws attention to a sin, he identifies it so that we can turn from it." This is noteworthy. BTM and myself have constantly warned people about charismatic error and about the vileness of the Toronto Blessing. I now do the same concerning the Alpha Course. In my arguments I refer to specific sins and errors. In return, charismatics have ignored those specific charges and have not bothered to respond to them. Instead, they charge me with vague, general or unsubstantiated complaints. Now read what Gumbel says above!! Needless to say I do not place any worth on these vague, sinful and reactionary charges.
A further example of the heretical Dominion theology is on page 159: "The cross was a great victory over Satan and his minions, and we now live in the time of the mopping-up operations....it is vital to realise the strength of the position we are in, due to the victory of Jesus on the cross for us." I remind the reader that the book was written before the onset of the Toronto movement. Therefore, this statement by Gumbel is only a seed of what followed. Now, many charismatic leaders claim Jesus failed in part on the cross, and so we must finish the job for Him...what Gumbel calls 'mopping up'. Small words, but with intense and underlying meanings.
Part of our defence system against Satan is to read our Bibles and ingest as much truth as we can (page 159). Correct. Otherwise we cannot recognise Satan's attacks and lies. Correct again. Now read and hear current charismatic theology which states we are now in 'post-Biblical times' and that God is teaching us via 'extra-Biblical' prophecies and experiences! Front-line Toronto-style preachers (such as Rodney Howard Browne) tell us not to check our Bibles, or to test the Toronto movement, its teachings, or its manifestations - because we will not find them in the Bible! In fact, they taunt and scoff at faithful preachers who check the movement against scripture, calling them 'religious devils' or 'heresy hunters'! It is interesting how much of what Gumbel warns against can be turned upon charismatics themselves.
Page 160, Gumbel says "One aspect of faith has been defined as 'taking a promise of God and daring to believe it.' " This is only slightly off mark, but sufficient to make us go astray. It links with a statement before that - "Faith is the opposite of cynicism and scepticism which wreak havoc in many lives." In a charismatic context, this does not refer to unbelief in God, but unbelief in what is attributed to Him. Today, that means the Toronto Blessing, etc. Thus to reject the Toronto Blessing and similar beliefs is to reject God. To be cynical and sceptical about the movement is to be cynical and sceptical about God. To oppose the Movement's leaders, is to oppose God. Can you see the fundamental change in emphasis? The shift is toward belief in men and a disbelief in God's word. Thus, the definition of 'faith' above is to dare to believe in what other men tell us is from God! It is a fact that charismatic leaders insist that what they say is tantamount to what God says - even when they are wrong.
To accompany his worship of Hort, the unbelieving translator of the RV, Gumbel now adds the name of Hort's accomplice, Westcott! Whilst he quotes a true saying given by Westcott, his use of the man's work is dangerous. That is, because a man might give one truth, we follow everything else he says. Overall in this chapter, Gumbel tends to minimise the real power of evil and of Satan, giving a sense of security to charismatics and to others. This complies with the charismatic notion that we are triumphant asBelievers and can vanquish Satan whenever we wish. Thus charismatics 'pray down' demons who 'hold cities'. They laugh in the faces of demons and tell them how powerful Christians are in Jesus! (re 'Manifested Sons of God' heresy). God help these deluded souls!!
To continue with the Part 3 select this link A-00061 Part 3.
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