'Experiencing' Alpha : Finding and Embodying the Spirit and Being Transformed--Empowerment and Control in a ('Charismatic') Christian Worldview
This article analyses the Alpha Course, the 15-session evangelising programme designed by Holy Trinity Brompton. It argues that it is a popular form of evangelism influenced by the 'charismatic' movement, which aims to initiate participants into a particular religious 'experience'. It further argues that the course aims to stimulate participants to locate themselves, psychologically and socially, within a 'charismatic' worldview. The article aims to examine, phenomenologically, the Alpha 'experience', through an ethnographic analysis of the course and in particular its Holy Spirit weekend. The article relates Alpha to the wider beliefs and practices of the 'charismatic' movement and religious experience and assesses what it means for contemporary Christianity. It seeks to show that the initial 'experience' gained on the Alpha Course is continued within 'charismatic' experience in church meetings and services and looks at the personal empowerment and social control that may be at work.
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