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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2005
I think several of these reviews have been a bit unfair. It is clear from the blurb relating to this course that this is a book written to complement the Alpha course (a course designed to learn about Christianity) so I am a bit dismayed by people complaining that it only talks about Christianity!
The content covered is:-
Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?
Who is Jesus?
Why did Jesus die?
How can I be sure of my faith?
Why and how should I read the Bible?
Why and how do I pray?
How does God guide us?
Who is the Holy Spirit?
What does the Holy Spirit do?
How can I be filled with the 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?
I think this book gives a good basic overview of the arguments for Christianity and I would particularly recommend the Alpha course to anyone who wants to find out more.
There have been comments about denominational bias, but the course is run by most Christian/Catholic denominations, so it should be easy enough to find a church running the course that fits comfortably with your opinion of what a Church should be like.
I became a Christian after attending this course three years ago and never looked back, but am constantly reading other books on the subject (I would particularly recommend Philip Yancey, CS Lewis and Alister McGrath) but this was a great starting point.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 1998
The book addresses key questions relevant both to Christians and non-Christians in a direct, uncomplicated and doctrinally sound manner. It aims to set out the evidence regarding Jesus, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, the Church and several other central issues, in a non-denominational manner. Its chapters, which form the basis of the Alpha course, are set in a logical sequence which comes together to postulate a strong message. The book's style is very approachable; it is humorous and topical without being irreverent; there is no arcane phraseology or obscure theology. And it is short! I found it intriguing and fulfilling, an excellent introduction to faith and to further inquiry.
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29 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2003
Humour and contemporary examples are used in this accompaniment to the successful Alpha course. The first three chapters are very convincing in Nicky Gumbels' attempt to persuade others about the truth of Christianity. As a former barrister he could leave any atheist lost for words with his well thought out defense.
He concentrates on the kind of life that is open to those who accept Jesus. And has a realistic vision of how one can always change for the better. His outline of Christian behavior is refreshing and his easy style builds rapport with the reader.
It is true that Nicky Gumbel is emphasizing the more ‘charismatic’ side of Christianity. He devotes more time to the gifts of the Holy Spirit than any other section of the book, justifying this with the notion that it has become something of a forgotten paraclete even within the established Churches. This was a little frustrating as he merely skims through the more obvious and deeper virtues of Charity, Faith and Hope.
His reluctance to discuss ecumenical differences is also obvious but as he points out himself that is not what he is trying to achieve with this book. He speaks affectionately of other denominations, even quoting theologians from within them.
After reading the book I felt the author had given a fairly simplified but nontheless true picture of Christianity.
Since it is aimed at those returning to or just discovering their faith a straight forward introduction to the facts would be the most appropriate course to get started with.
Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis is a far more intriguing read and would be a nice book to look at after reading this one.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2000
I have given this book to many non-christian friends to read. It has proved a very valuble tool in encouraging them to come to church with me. Not too intense but just right for someone who is searching.
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on 17 January 2013
I have been recommended to learn more about the Alpha Course as I am a returned Church goer and everything is so different. I will be joining an Alpha Course, so this was a taster to give me an idea of what it's all about. Arrived in good condition and on time.
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on 15 December 2012
This book accompanies the well known Alpha course. Useful to have around if you miss a week or want to know what's coming up next. Nicky Gumbel's stories and illustrations make this an easy introduction to the Christian faith.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2002
This book isn't really any substitute for the Alpha Course, as an essential element of the course is not the teaching given in the videos (largely repeated here) but in the meals before the videos and the discussion groups, not to mention the "Holy Spirit weekend", when non-Christians get to know the church members. On the other hand the book does give people who can't spare the time to attend the course the option of getting to know what it is about.
As for the content, it is very heavily focussed on the Holy Spirit and Holy Spirit gifts (although the New Testament distinction between the giving of the Spirit in John 20 and the giving of the gifts in Acts 2 is not explained). Gumbel argues that the neglect of the Spirit today justifies spending more time on the Spirit than on Jesus or God (in fact in terms of chapters the Spirit has more than Jesus and God together). The focus on the Spirit is extended into chapters promoting speaking in tongues and healing.
Not a great deal of emphasis is given to the Trinity (which only has about ten oblique references but another Gumbel book, 'Searching Issues' has a chapter entitled The Trinity: Unbiblical, Unbelievable & Irrelevant? and this is often distributed at Alpha Courses as a separate booklet to those who have questions. The Devil gets a chapter of his own (Ch.8) and is identified as a fallen angel by reference to Isaiah 14:12.
One big hole in the book is the question of what happens after death. There is one reference to "resurrection", and one to man's eventual destination being "heaven", but no discussion of whether this means after resurrection and rapture or immediately after death. Maybe this doesn't matter, or maybe this reflects a variety of opinions in the Anglican Church, but it's still surprising that a book this long doesn't discuss the most basic 'Question of Life' that there is.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2012
Still around after nearly 20 years, it retains it's overbalanced view on tongues which I now leave out altogether, and it's standard orthodoxy which today reads as fundamentalism in todays world. It's a pity such a wonderful tool is afraid to open up scriptures to challenge and modern conceptualization.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 November 2014
As a presentation of the gospel, Alpha falls woefully short. See Chris Hand's article at and his book "Falling Short?"

If you are a Christian looking for something to give to a friend steer well clear of this. If you are not a Christian, this will confuse you.

Consider what this book misses out or gets wrong:

- God. There is no discussion about the character of God. It tells us time and again that God is loving. Of course, that is about the most important truth we can know about God! But the writer talks very little about his righteousness and holiness. Crucially he does not tell us about his authority - that God is Lord of All! Or that he is our Creator, Sustainer, good, etc. The gospel starts with a right view of God (Acts 17:22ff).

- Jesus. This book has only one page on Jesus' teaching! One page on his works! One page on his character! If you don't tell people about Jesus, how can you expect people to fall in love with Him?

- Grace. I can't find a mention of the word in the book - I may have missed it.

- Repentance. Repentance is more than admitting you've done wrong in your life. Because he doesn't seem to understand repentance, the writer fails to understand that it is the key to spirit filling (Acts 2:38).

- Spirit. If we get very little about Jesus, by contrast, we get three whole chapters on the Spirit, and parts of several more! But filling with the Spirit is hopelessly confused with speaking in tongues. But we are not told the really key truths we really need to know about Him, namely, that He is God! And that He is holy. And that He is intimately connected to the Word of God (John 6:63). And that He helps us to battle the flesh (Gal 5, Rom 8) and to obey God's law (Rom 8:4).
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2002
Having only manged to watch some of the TV series since it was on so late at night. I bought the Book, which is absolutly fantastic. It gives a real insight into the Christian faith and offers a way to forefill what is missing in life. It is packed with real life examples and quotes. From someone [Nicky Gumble] who wasn't a Christian a first and who was a real non-beliver he really has been able to change lives with the faith.
I would recomend this to all people who are intreasted weather as just dabbling or not sure in Christianity to those who already are Christians.
Its not just a way of life.
Peter Fosdike
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