The ALEPH course
- or not-the-Alpha-course

This material pertains to a sketch of a draft of an idea for a series of talks about Christianity. The intention is to present Christianity as an intellectually respectable faith.

The course doesn't have a name yet. I'm calling it "Aleph" to suggest a vague relationship with the Alpha course, but to avoid any suggestion of opposition, which I believe would be inappropriate.


( This material was prepared by Alan Creak, who appears as "I" in the material below but would otherwise prefer to remain anonymous. )

Snapshots -


This is a very condensed summary of topics. Further information can be found by clicking links, which point to PDF documents which we shall be discussing in the Chaplaincy Network meetings. Links called "talk" are further PDF documents which approximate to the script for the talk presented to the meeting. As the talk is significantly ad-libbed, any resemblance between talk and document is not guaranteed !

What it's about - comments on the construction of the course. ( talk )

  1. VALUES. ( talk )

    NOT ethics; NOT rules.
    Do we need values ?
    Alternative : futility, despair.
    Where do values come from ?
    Us ? Philosophy ? If so, we can change them tomorrow.
    Science ? No.
    No lasting values without God.

  2. GOD ?talk )

    No conclusive arguments. No unambiguous evidence.
    Source of values. Good or bad ?
    Creator ? Controller ? Warlord ? Remote ? Servant ? Lover ?
    Pantheon ? Pantheism ?
    Duality. Satan ?
    Hypothesis -> test. Hypothesis = religion.

  3. CHRISTIANITY ?talk )

    Why ? ( All I have. ) Why not ? No a priori evidence. Empirically it works.
    Other religions. Are they true ? I don't know.
    What is it ? Don't ask, or observe, a Christian; we're very bad at it.
    Personal God; God loves us
    God is good ? - pain. Something more important ?
    Love; free will.

  4. EVIDENCE. ( talk )

    Need evidence of existence now.
    2000-year old account not directly relevant if none now.
    Do you have the right equipment ?
    No unambiguous evidence : burglarology.
    Changed lives; personal testimonies.
    Faith ? - no proof.

  5. SOURCES. ( talk )

    The Bible : Text is reliable. Is it true ? Inspired or human ? Prophecy works in hindsight.
    The church : Galileo, evolution. Not reliable; eternal values change. ( Women priests. )
    Theology : Not convincing, not accessible.
    Christians : Some are convincing.
    Holy Spirit : personal experience.
    - and then : Bible an anchor, church a family, theology a ?

  6. THE CHURCH. ( talk )

    Existence, still.
    Variety, unity.
    Schism, excesses.
    Relation of church and society.
    Love one another.
    One, holy, catholic, and apostolic church ?

  7. JESUS. ( talk )

    God ? Son of God ? ( What does it mean ? ) Human ? ( An example for us. )
    Christ : the anointed.
    New teaching or selection ?
    Love God, neighbours, one another, enemies.
    His mission to Jews. Why Christians ?
    Christians and Jews. ( and Muslims ? )

  8. DOCTRINE. ( talk )

    Trinity; virgin birth; resurrection; heaven and hell; Mary; sin; atonement; rewards and punishments.
    Divisive ? Therefore bad ?
    Rights, equality.
    Can we be right ? Not our job - believe, seek. Called to love, not to be right.

  9. MEETING GOD. ( talk )

    Private and public actions.
    Servant. No coercion.
    Prayer. Why should it work ? How does it work ?
    Worship and praise : forms of service.
    Miracles ?

  10. IMPLICATIONS. ( talk )

    Love - not power.
    Eternal life ? - now.
    Mission : evangelism, social service, political action.
    We're different -> different forms, beliefs. Accept.

Alan Creak,
April, 1999.