Monday, June 24, 2013

Discerning The Circle Maker's advertising techniques and how they match Genesis 3

Just two days ago, I published a piece about the book, The Circle Maker, written by Mark Batterson and released in 2012. I'd left the issue alone until then, choosing not to do a book review or a discernment essay on it because it seemed so obvious that this was something Christians should not be involved in. But at the end of 2012 it became clear that Batterson's concept of casting a circle to claim God's promises to unleash our dreams was saturating even the most stalwart bastions of the faith, when the organizers and participant of the True Woman conference including Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Joni Earicksen Tada, promoted it. These are elder woman who should be leading us women into a deeper faith, not into occult and pagan practices that originate from outside the bible. I was pretty shocked.

Many other fine essays exist on the internet that show you in biblical terms why Batterson's circle making is unwise and even dangerous, including a review by pastor and Christian book reviewer Tim Challies. In the piece I linked to above, there is a set of links at the bottom to some of those writings.

So I developed a piece from an angle that demonstrated in pictures that the practice Batterson promotes is not new and it is not Christian.

However I'd like to write about it one more time, this time as a discernment piece to unpack the way he presented it. Something that Mr Batterson said sticks in my craw, and though I'd planned a piece today examining an uplifting verse from Matthew, I am switching to get this down first. It's like what Jude said,

"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

I am contending. Hopefully this will help someone be discerning, not just of The Circle Maker but in general and armed for the future by unpacking the techniques used to attract people to the book and its premise, and how they are the same that satan used in the Garden against Eve.

See, in his promotional video and in the book's advertising blurb, Mr Batterson said:

"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"

This is how successful advertisers always begin their pitch.

It is how satan began his pitch. He approached Eve and made her doubt what she knew, so she would be open to hearing a solution to a problem she didn't know she had.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

Then satan, taking a cue from Ron Popeil, said, 'but wait, there's more!' And satan presented to her a solution to her problem she didn't know she even had until satan pointed it out.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Eve wanted to fill the lack that she now understands she has in her life,

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate", (Genesis 3:6a)

And like all false doctrine, it spreads quickly, corrupting others right away.

"and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6b)

So there was Eve, the only sinless woman to ever live and she dwelled in utter perfection. The air temperature was perfect. Her surroundings were beautiful. Her body was perfect inside and out. The animals were perfect. She was never hungry or cold or angry or had any ache whatsoever. She had perfect harmony with her husband and perfect unity with God.

And yet satan was able to convince Eve that somewhere out there, there's more. He told her that her life lacked something, and she believed it. Taking the fruit, she ate, rationalizing all the way. Now read Mr Batterson's pitch again:

"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"

I mourn daily that so many Christians forgo the praise that is due the Lord and forget how glorious a life we are actually living. Though we do not dwell in perfection like Eve did, we have perfection inside us.

First, let's stop a moment and thing of how full our lives really are. We have been saved by grace. This is monumental! As Dr MacArthur preached, we should be "adoring God for our eternal inheritance." When did we become discontent with the universe's most glorious act, the salvation of a sinner to the holy breast of God!?

But wait, there's more! God dwells inside us!! Wow! What a gift!

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." (Romans 8:9)

Jesus Himself deemed that He would send us a comforter, teacher, friend, and guide. Jesus said,

"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you."... (John 16:7). "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26).

But wait, there's more! If all that wasn't enough, we have the opportunity to pray to Him, and He listens. Have we become inured to the fact that God is God, He who calls Himself I AM, will listen to our petitions and pleas? Far from being disinterested or inattentive, Jesus is monumentally interested in bringing about Good for our sakes. He didn't save us just to wander off and sit on another planet contemplating His navel. He is involved with His people. He accepts praise and worship, and He ordains good for us. He listens to our prayers!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26).

But wait, there's more!

Jesus sent the Spirit to inspire men to write His words down, so that we could always have its wisdom and comfort to guide us also. The Spirit makes the words come alive and since they are eternal and come from the holy place, the words in the bible are eternally good.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16).

There is so much more, too. We are justified, sanctified, have the privilege of prayer, have the incredible word, have the daily opportunity to serve Jesus, have treasures stored up in heaven, have an eternity awaiting us in glory...and yet satan comes along and says-

"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"

My answer is no. No, I don't sense there is far more to prayer. I trust that there is and I trust the Lord to take care of things whether I "sense" it or not. No, I do not sense there is far more to God's vision for my life, I know there is. I trust Him to unfold it in His timing and in His way. No, I do not sense there are more experiences to have, I know that there are. I trust the Lord to bring me along in sanctification whether I 'feel' it or not. I trust the promises in the bible about what my daily life will be like.

I trust what God hath said.

I get sad when adults are so undiscerning. I get upset undiscerning adults taint the children.

Jesus is very protective of the children. They are the means by which the successive generations carry the faith. (Joel 1:3).

"It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." (Luke 17:2)

"but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

And yet on August 6, 2013, The Circle Maker for Kids will be released. An undiscerning generation will be teaching the next generation to rely on sensing, personal experience, and wiccan circle casting for their worship.

Within two years of the original book's release, do you see how quickly we have been made merchandise of? For kids, for students, the daily journal, the curriculum, prayer challenge, it goes on and on.


Do you see the original book's cover in hardback, 'the solution to 10,000 problems"? Did you know there were 10,000 problems that Mark Batterson can help you solve? I thought the bible was the solution to 10,000 problems!

A classic advertising technique- you have a problem, and here is the solution. My prophet's heart cries out, why, o why, aren't the bible's solutions good enough for people?

The blurb says "The Circle Maker will help you bring your God-given dreams into being through tenacious prayers that honor God and make the impossible come true."

You...your... my prayers will make my dreams come true...let's cut the middle part from the sentence and just say what is really his truth: "The Circle Maker will ... make the impossible come true."

It is God who answers prayer a God who does the impossible. Not my prayers, not my faith in my prayers not my method of prayer, and not my tenacity.

Jesus, please come soon and save the children from this ruinous generation!

Below I've pasted "Efficient Advertising Techniques". Be aware when you are being sold a bill of goods and being made merchandise out of. It begins with a question, and intimating you have a problem you didn't know you had.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Advertising techniques can be of many kinds. All creative advertisers use some of the following techniques and tricks to grab the potential consumer's attention and turn it to sales."

Arouse Curiosity
"Nothing works better than this technique. Humans, by nature are always drawn towards the unknown, or in this case something new and advanced. Arousing curiosity with words, prints, images or visuals will definitely make an impact. On an average, an individual spends less than 5 seconds to go through an entire ad. If your subject does not arouse curiosity immediately, it is a lost opportunity. A well-crafted ad should be eye-catching, and difficult to ignore."

"Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer?"

Hath God really said?

Promise a Benefit
"Most brands are associated with some pre-defined character, and they need to be re-emphasized with every new service advertised. The headline must promise a benefit for the consumer, because in most instances it is the headline that sells the product more than the copy, images or the celebrity. Advertisements should also carry general information about the service center address, phone numbers, credit cards that the business accepts, and the name of a person to ask for when calling for more information."

"In this powerful booklet, excerpted from THE CIRCLE MAKER, Batterson helps you uncover your heart's deepest desires and God-given dreams and unleash them through the kind of audacious prayer that God delights to answer."

Emotional Appeal
"Many advertisers attract attention by pulling at the heart stings and triggering emotions. An emotional response is by far the most powerful reason for making decisions. Emotional and rational thoughts are interdependent, as the ability to decide rationally is determined by issues that drive the emotions. We get more attracted to products and services that make us feel good and safe. The concept of emotional appeal are best seen in insurance ads made world over, and also companies that associate their sales with social upliftment causes."

"How big is your God? Bigger than a positive MRI or a negative evaluation? Bigger than your secret sin or secret dream? Is He big enough to heal your marriage or your child?"

Children
"In most houses, children have a say in every big or small purchase made. Most parents just give in to the tantrums, a fact well-known to the advertisers. Out of ten commercials one sees through any medium, 8 have children featured in them who are generally a little more perfect than the target audience. These perfect children then go on to become role-models that have to emulated by other children."

"The Circle Maker for Kids: Basing this story on his adult bestseller The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson shares the ancient Jewish legend of Honi the Rainmaker with children to teach them about the power of prayer. Ages 4-8."

11 comments:

  1. Elizabeth,

    You said, "But wait, there's more! If all that wasn't enough, we have the opportunity to pray to Him, and He listens. ... Far from being disinterested or inattentive, Jesus is monumentally interested in bringing about Good for our sakes. ... He is involved with His people. ... He listens to our prayers!"

    And now the Lord is using you to lift my spirit today, with His glorious truth!

    Contrast that to Mr. Batterson: "Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing?"

    But wait, there's more... God has the answer for him: James 4:3

    And no geometric figure drawing ritual will fix that. Repentance will, though.

    Elizabeth, aren't you glad we don't have to undergo rituals to call on our Savior!!!???

    -carolyn

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    Replies
    1. Carolyn, James 4:3 is a GREAT verse to apply here! Thanks.

      I'm still awed by the basic facts of salvation, and do not lust for more. I'm full as it is, each day taking little bites of the large elephant that is the truth. He is with us till the end of the age, perfectly bringing about our good. No, there is no more because He has already given it ALL to us!

      Yes, I am so glad we don't have to do rituals...my husband was Catholic and all I saw when I attended church with him was a cycle of sadness, empty ritual, and despair. And that was before I was even saved.

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  2. Thank you, Elizabeth for this eye opening information. I have never heard of the circle maker as I stay out of most self help books. I am doing the True Woman 101 at our church and will make sure they see this connection. I will not be drawing any circles and will not let that happen in my church if I can do anything about it!

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    Replies
    1. Yay, good for you, Lily! Keep praying tot he Spirit to reveal and bust up any deceptions in us that are starting to take root. He will do it! And our vision will stay clear.

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  3. I was just thinking about this saturday night (Gods awesome gifts of salvation and His Word, and how so many think thats not enough). Thanks for another great post. Did your husband ever become a believer?
    Jennifer

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    Replies
    1. No he did not. He was a lapsed Catholic and attended church only when we were in town to satisfy his parents, both of whom eventually died in the false faith.

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    2. I am sorry to hear that.
      Jennifer

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  4. I keep thinking of John 4:24, where it says: "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

    Matthew Henry's Commentary says: "The way of worship which Christ has instituted is rational and intellectual, and refined from those external rites and ceremonies with which the Old-Testament worship was both clouded and clogged. This is called true worship, in opposition to that which was typical."

    "If we do not worship God, who is a spirit, in the spirit, we neither give him the glory due to his name, and so do not perform the act of worship, nor can we hope to obtain his favour and acceptance, and so we miss of the end of worship."

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous, thanks for the excellent verse and wonderful commentary. I think it perfectly applies here.

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  5. Well done, Prophetess! I hope to read more of your thoughtful writing.

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    1. Hi Marlene, and welcome. I appreciate that you stopped by!

      I'm working on a piece for today that examines what a culture that has been handed over by God looks like (Romans 1:18-32)

      I have the gift of prophecy, but I don't call myself a prophetess, only that I exhort the word of God to people to remind them of His sovereignty and to live up to the standards He set forth. But I have no new revelations, unless it is that I'm just a sinner doing my best to glorify God! :)

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