I had never heard the word indifferentism before I became serious about becoming Catholic.
What was never a concern before, has now become a concern, maybe because I had an indifferentist streak that has been replaced by a a deep sense that what seems inessential, or secondary, is in fact not inessential and if omitted starts to unravel even the primary things. Anyway, when I think of how I was led to a richer, fuller, deeper Catholic faith, I see how it took place in stages and I still think there can be merit in using an Alpha Course to help seekers come to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now that I’m Catholic I do not think in terms so much of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ–of course I love Him, but that’s not my “lingo” anymore. I am more likely to think of the Holy Trinity–The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, not as some theological concept, but the dynamic love of the Tri-Personal God.
But I digress. Laurence England has a critique of Alpha on his blog That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill. It’s worth reading, and my endorsement of Alpha for use in attracting seekers does not mean I think Catholic Churches should throw everything else for a Protestant-ized kind of worship! God forbid!
Only that I have seen so, so many former Catholics who left the Church because they were never taught was was going on, nor were they helped to truly encounter Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. So, they thought they had to leave to “find Jesus” in a Protestant Church.
Priests should be made aware that Alpha has been successful only in creating more Protestants with few ties to bind them to a particular Church, denomination or ‘ecclesial community’. Alpha might create more Christians but it won’t create more Catholics. Nor will it provide Catholics with a deepening of their Catholic faith or identity. It will not teach Catholics to love the Mass. Content on the Sacraments is negligible. Catholic priests and bishops should be made aware that Alpha is designed from beginning to end to teach those who come to the course as enquirers that there is really no reason to be a Catholic or an Anglican or a Protestant Evangelical either and whatever floats your boat really…its all about you and Jesus (and the speaking in tongues gift-giving Holy Spirit) and that’s really more or less it. The Church is those who believe in Christ and you can find that Salvation anywhere in any Christian community. That’s why the Alpha course is run by Methodists, Anglicans, Evangelicals etc and now Catholics. This, however, is not the faith of the Catholic Church.
Laurence cites the Evangelium Course as a better way to reach people for the Catholic Church. We did the Evangelium Course as our catechesis for entering the Church. It is a good program. However, where Alpha can be life-changing for people are the opportunities at a few junctures of the course for ministry and prayer, for inviting Jesus into one’s life. So, it’s not only learning about Jesus, about prayer, or in the case of Evangelium, about the Church, about sacraments and so on—-it’s more hands on, providing opportunities for people to have a life-altering experience of God.
I dunno. I’m remembering days when I appreciated the Alpha Course, but I was a Protestant then. Perhaps if I did one now, I would be horrified?