The Omega Course
In 1977, Charles Marnham created The Alpha Course to introduce some basic aspects of the Christian faith to people in his church. From its humble beginnings in Brompton, it has now reached over 27 million people across 169 countries.
The course focuses on drawing people into what CS Lewis called "mere Christianity". In contrast, The Omega Course is a Decentering Practice that offers the way out. While both cover broadly the same material, The Omega Course introduces the rich and antagonistic theological ecosystem that exists within the Christian tradition. An ecosystem made up of numerous interpretations and interactions. In this way, The Omega Course focuses on helping participants encounter the diversity of thought within the tradition, deepen their own reflections and wrestle with their past and present views.
Ultimately The Omega Course draws participants into an experience of what Bonhoeffer called "Religionless Christianity". A dissident expression that shakes the very foundations upon which the edifice of Contemporary Christianity is built.
Religionless Christianity is hard to locate as it exists largely under the radar of the institution. Yet it can be found thriving among socially engaged para-institutional parishes, enacted in grass-roots clusters of disobedient priests, promoted in the writings of insurrectionary thinkers and kept alive in the work of militant activists who, from the perspective of the Contemporary Church, look like enemies of the faith.
Unlike The Alpha Course, the conversation is not directed to a conclusion in which people are encouraged to embrace the “right” doctrinal answer. Disagreements are encouraged, and the passionate exchange of ideas is affirmed. By the end of the course, people experience firsthand that Christianity is not a singular, monolithic, unchanging belief system but a fluid tradition that is always interrogating itself.
Ultimately it seeks to reveal the subversive spirit of Christianity. One that overturns distinctions between sacred and secular, transcends the conflict between theism and atheism, and moves, quite literally, towards a church beyond belief.
Peter can run all day workshops designed to help you plan and run decentering practices. If you'd like to find out more; click the button at the top of the page.