Wednesday, January 09, 2013

More on Alpha: Questions of Life

Questions of Life
By Nicky Gumbel
Alpha North America, Deerfield IL, 2007
207 pages

Nicky Gumbel first wrote this book in 1993 to accompany the handful of Alpha courses then up and running, based on the original offering at Holy Trinity Brompton. Called "the Alpha course in book form," Questions of Life has now sold over 15 million copies worldwide and introduced millions of people to Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.

The introduction states that in the book Nicky Gumbel provides answers to "the hunger and growing hope in every human heart that somewhere, somehow, there may be found a contemporary answer to the timeless question, 'What is truth and how and where can we discover it?'" Questions of Life is structured like the Alpha course itself, in fifteen chapters that present answers to faith questions:
Is there more to life than this?
Who is Jesus?
Why did Jesus die?
How can we have faith?
Why and how do I pray?
Why and how should I read the Bible?
How does God guide us?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
What does the Holy Spirit do?
How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit?
How can I resist evil?
Why and how should I tell others?
Does God heal today?
What about the church?
How can I make the most of the rest of my life?

In the book, and the Alpha course, Gumbel adheres to Christian orthodoxy, and does not attempt to describe any of the historic or current theological debates or breadth of belief regarding, for example, the Atonement - the saving work of Christ on the cross. Gumbel speaks throughout the "why did Jesus die" chapter in terms of the penal substitution theory of the Atonement ("only the blood of Christ, our substitute, can take away our sin"). There is no acknowledgement that the moral influence and Christus victor models of the Atonement have been equally legitimate views of Christ's death.

However, Questions of Life remains a resource for new believers (and, perhaps, some longstanding "cultural Christians") that introduces the core beliefs of the Christian faith in an accessible, relevant way.

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