Saturday, June 22, 2013

(Updated) Showing in pictures how "The Circle Maker" practice is occult/Wiccan

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

In 2012, Mark Batterson released his latest book. It is called "The Circle Maker": and the blurb says:
"The Circle Maker, 'Drawing prayer circles around our dreams isn't just a mechanism whereby we accomplish great things for God. It's a mechanism whereby God accomplishes great things in us.' Do you ever sense that there's far more to prayer, and to God's vision for your life, than what you're experiencing? It's time you learned from the legend of Honi the Circle Maker---a man bold enough to draw a circle in the sand and not budge from inside it until God answered his prayers for his people. What impossibly big dream is God calling you to draw a prayer circle around? Sharing inspiring stories from his own experiences as a circle maker, Mark Batterson will help 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."
Chalk prayer circles have caught on in the Christian world, just as many other new techniques and methods for experiencing God have caught on. At the September 2012 Indianapolis True Woman Conference headed up by titans in the female evangelical world, Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Joni Eareckson Tada, those and other well-known conference speakers repeatedly urged women to pray inside a drawn or made circle, and they did so themselves.

There are so many unbiblical influences affecting the evangelical world, and some of them are so unbiblical they do not bear scrutiny. That was my stance, and was the Sola Sisters' stance as well. They wrote this week of chalk circles:

"I have never bothered to address the problems with the book The Circle Maker, because the whole concept of "circle making" was simply so patently pagan and ridiculous on the face of it that I assumed it would be obvious to any Christian how unbiblical this book was."

Me, too, Sister.

And yet, the influence is mounting, so the situation must be addressed. They wrote,

"Sadly however, I am getting more and more emails from people saying that their church leaders are recommending The Circle Maker, doing a Bible study with it, passing it out, etc."

Me, too, Sister.

I am getting questions about prayer circles and chalk circles and the Circle Maker book and people are generally asking "It is OK to pray inside a chalk circle?"

Christian blogger Jamie McMullen attended the 2012 True Woman conference via simulcast and also wondered about why there was such heavy pressure to pray inside a circle. The emphasis at the Conference was a bit different than Batterson's in that the women said that revival should start with ourselves, and that is what should be prayed for inside the circle. McMullen's essay on the event is here. Her concern arose from the fact that despite the shift in emphasis by the women, chalk circles originate from an unbiblical message:
"Instead of calling people to revival, Mr. Batterson promotes a prosperity message that is centered on praying for God to make your hopes and dreams to come true by praying in a chalk circle or circling the promises in scripture. In his book and website, Mark Batterson, sites as his examples, Gipsy Smith and Honi the circle maker, a Jewish legend in the Talmud; who drew a circle on the ground and sat in it until God answered his prayer for rain."
Here is Wikipedia's explanation of who Honi was:

"During the 1st century BC, a variety of religious movements and splinter groups developed amongst the Jews in Judea. A number of individuals claimed to be miracle workers in the tradition of Elijah and Elisha, the ancient Jewish prophets. The Talmud provides some examples of such Jewish miracle workers, one of whom is Honi ha-Ma'agel, who was famous for his ability to successfully pray for rain."

Honi's appearance was in the first century BC, during the intertestamental period. Here is an explanation of this period:

"The intertestamental period is a term used to refer to a period of time between the writings of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament texts. Traditionally, it is considered to be a roughly four hundred year period, spanning the ministry of Malachi (c. 420 BC), the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the appearance of John the Baptist in the early 1st century AD, almost the same period as the Second Temple period (530 BC to 70 AD). It is known by members of the Protestant community as the "400 Silent Years""

Note with diligent concentration, please, that Honi was not a biblical character. Note again that he appeared during the time when God was deliberately NOT SPEAKING. He spoke through no prophet and had performed no miracle during this time. And yet it is on this non-biblical character and this extra-biblical legend during this silent time Mr Batterson bases his entire theology and method in "The Circle Maker."

And Christians are eating it up. Below, Conference speakers DeMoss, and others praying at True Woman Indianapolis 2012
From DeMoss Revive Our Hearts website
From DeMoss's website Revive Our Hearts, we read a transcript of some of the things that were said at the 2012 True Woman conference:

Holly Elliff: I loved that during the conference around the auditorium and in various places there were circles.

Holly: And those circles were symbolic because they represented the fact that every woman wanted to put herself there, draw a circle around her own life and say, “God, what do You want to do in me?”

Nancy (conf): And as you pass by those in the days ahead, I want to encourage you, if there is room, to just step inside one of those circles.

Joni Eareckson Tada: Because all the speakers had an opportunity to stand in it. And of course, I had an opportunity to wheel inside that circle. May revival begin with me.

Woman at the Conference,
From DeMoss Revive Our Hearts website
True Woman simulcast participant Jamie McMullen's concern led her to research this circle making and praying, and also to contact the conference organizers to ask if they were aware of the deep occult and pagan origins of this circle making. She wrote, "I received an email back promptly assuring me these circles are to help us visualize our commitment to God as well as give an outward showing to God that we are repentant and want revival to start with us. Then the representative stated: “No occult connections”.

However they are severely deluded as to the occult connections. The pagan connections is the point of this essay. Sola Sisters, Jamie McMullen, and Pastor Swofford did a superb job of showing why chalk circles are not biblically supported, using bible verses, and I urge you to read their essays to see why. All the links are in one place down below.

Therefore, I am taking this issue from the occult angle. Interestingly, after three hours' research last night I came across Pastor Jason Swofford's work which exactly confirmed my own research as far as why and how the practice varied from the bible, and for that I'm grateful. He is pastor of the Myers Road Baptist Church in WA and his research on prayer/chalk circles can be read here. He has two essays and  a video.

Mark Batterson says in his promotional video, that we should - "Learn how to pray in a new way." "Dream big". "You can't just read the bible. You need to start circling the promises." "Your job is not to crunch numbers and make sure the will of God adds up. Your job is to draw circles in the sand. If you draw the circle, God will multiply the miracles in your life."

The Gnostic always ties in what you do with your spiritual success. "If you do this...God will do this...". That is one way to tell if you are being fed a Gnostic technique.

Secondly, run fast and far from anyone who says they have come up with "a new way" to do anything regarding Christianity. God delivered His word once for all to the saints. (Jude 1:3). Moreover, Jesus was very specific when He taught us how to pray. (Matthew 6:5-15.) In Matthew 6:9 Jesus said “Pray, then, in this way". It is not possible to get any clearer about how to pray. For Batterson to declare he is teaching us a new way directly goes against what Jesus said in the canonized and complete revelation we know as the bible.

I believe in the power of photos so I gathered photographs from different eras and different cultures and different religions which depict people praying inside a sacred circle. Looking at the pictures it is clear that chalk circle praying is pagan.
Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker,
demonstrating how to cast a circle

This is not a "new" thing, despite Batterson's advertising it as such. As a matter of fact, ritual circle making is as old as the hills, and has always been unbiblical. I ask you, is Batterson's making a chalk circle above any different from the Wiccan making a prayer circle below? Both are making a space they claim is sacred, as opposed to the space inches away outside the circle that is common. This sacred space keeps evil away, they both claim. Both claim that it is a bubble that has power and will draw down promises from on high to the benefit of the petitioner.

The man below is a Wiccan, showing how to "cast a prayer circle". You can see he is a Wiccan, I placed an arrow atop his shrine that points to his pentacle. In Wiccan circle casting we are told that we cast a circle "to direct your energy (read – make your thoughts materialize –) ...and to create a concentrated flow of energy and direct it into the informational system of the Universe. In other words, casting a circle ensures you achieve the result faster and do it safer." This description matches Batterson's concept completely.
In Batterson's The Circle Maker, he promises that if read his book, "we will claim God-given promises." He also states that "if you draw prayer circles, God will answer those prayers." Both the Wiccan and Batterson say the same thing- draw a circle, pray to a higher power, and get results.

This is witchcraft.

Speaking of magic, Wikipedia explains what a "magic circle is. "A solomonic magic circle with a triangle of conjuration in the east. This would be drawn on the ground, and the operator would stand within the protection of the circle while a spirit was conjured into the triangle." Wikipedia, Magic Circle

That explanation is no different from Revive Our Hearts' email response noted above, that we should stand inside a circle, visualize, and call on the Spirit for what we want. No. Different.

This is conjuring.

"A prayer circle in Hinduism is a Mandala. "a mandala is a circle used in prayer. It is a kind of diagram. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction."

Did you catch that "focusing attention" reason of the mandala's use in Hinduism? The same thing the Christian prayer circle was said to promote, "to visualize our commitment."

The photos below are explained thus: In Hinduism, Human beings with their  finite instruments of knowledge, cannot conceive of the formless Infinite. So the use of images aids concentration. Last month, we had performed a ‘Graha shanthi homa’ in our home. As part of the prayers to the Sun God, a beautiful mandala was drawn on the floor in front of the puja room.
Source
Source

Native Americans pray inside a medicine wheel.
Indigenous Cultural Education Center - ICEC
In the photo below, Native American Sacred Wheel (Shaman), "Paul Davids by the Medicine Wheel that overlooks Boynton Canyon, Sedona, where Rahelio explains the wheel's sacred mysteries and powers for prayer."

Druids prayed inside a sacred circle -

Here is a Mystic praying in a circle-

Photo Laura Briedis
Participant at True Woman conference
 Here are Buddhists praying at a circle-
The most potent objection to sacred circles in my opinion is their origin from Wicca. In Witchcraft we learn how to cast a circle, something in the photo way above I'd posted.

Below, a Witch coven in the 1940s.

Prayer labyrinths are also similar to chalk circles.
 Above, people walk the Saffron Walden turf labyrinth in Essex England.
From GotQuestions link above: A prayer labyrinth is a labyrinth used to facilitate prayer, meditation, spiritual transformation, and/or global unity.

The Bible is sufficient to make the Christian holy, wise, and completely proficient for his work in this world (2 Timothy 3:15-17). To say that, in order to find real power, we must add mysticism or tradition to the Bible is to denigrate God’s Word and the Spirit’s work through it.

Historically, labyrinths were rooted in paganism and incorporated by Catholicism. Now they are promoted by the Emergent Church and others who seek an open spirituality apart from the Bible. Paul’s warning to the church should suffice to keep us focused on Jesus and avoid empty ritual: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
Discernment tips:

1. Whenever someone says they have a NEW way of doing Christianity, run. This includes a new way to fast, a new way to pray, a new way to experience God, a new way to do church ... I say run, because Jesus outlined what to do via the Spirit in the bible. It is all there before us. There are no new ways. There is only THE way.
2. Whenever someone discounts the bible implicitly or explicitly, run. Mr Batterson had said, "You can't just read the bible. You need to start circling the promises." He has added a work, and this implicitly says the bible isn't enough.
3. Ritual/Idol/Activity - Whenever someone says you have to perform some activity to get God's notice, run.
4. Gnosticism always implies the author has either a secret knowledge or a hierarchy to get closer to God and is revealing it for the first time now. Batterson said if you perform circle casting, the following will occur- "the CLOSER you get to God the BIGGER your dreams get." I don't know how much closer we can get to God than having Him INSIDE us.
5. Beware of people who use personal examples and not the bible to "prove" their new method works.

The bad news..."The Circle Maker for Kids" is being released on August 6.

God condemns idolatry:
"Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with l-ust on their naked bodies." (Isaiah 57:8)

Sorceries have always been condemned in the bible and we are told that even at the end during the Tribulation they will have been going strong:

"nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts." (Revelation 9:21)

I hope you can see by now that despite Batteson's claim that this circle praying isn't a ritual, it is. I hope you can see by now that despite the True Woman conference people saying it has no link to the occult, they are wrong. I hope you have read enough to see that if the book or bible study is presented at your church, you can refuse on solid grounds. It never originated from the bible, and therefore is not profitable for us.

Here are more links to read thoughtful and biblical explanations as to why, when it comes to praying inside a circle, you should leave the practice alone and stick to Matthew 6.

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

Jason Swofford, Myers Road Baptist Church in WA--
Mark Batterson is promoting ritual magic
The Circle Maker Exposed: One Long Comment From The Circle Maker Addressed
The Circle Maker Exposed

Sola Sisters--
Nancy Leigh DeMoss Endorsing Chalk Circles? Mercy.

Tim Challies:
The Circle Maker book review

Jamie McMullen, Christian blogger, The Velvet Covered Brick
Prayer Circles

21 comments:

  1. The pictures you posted of Christian women praying in circles was really distressing to me. It just looks SO wrong. What people will do for show, crazy!

    Robin

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    1. Hi Robin,

      I know, doesn't it?! When you see them doing it, especially compared to the pagans doing it, the picture really hammers it home!

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  2. wow.... you really do your *homework* day after day, Elizabeth! Thanks so much for studying this out & presenting it to us. So often, I'm unaware of the "latest" in what the newest fad is that's being peddled to Christians! Bizarre! And shame on most Christians for not even realizing that they're just trying to peddle more merchandise to us.

    Can honestly say the very first time I heard of this book/theory (here at this site, I think) ~ my first impression was that does not sound Christian!! I knew of the connection between wiccans & "circles" (have read up on it, not practiced it)

    A certain online writer suggested we be cautious even when we bring home "round wreaths" for door decorations -- as often times wiccans pray over these wreaths.

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    1. Thanks! Homework is my middle name, lol!

      I think one difference between wreaths and chalk prayer circles is that in the chalk circles the author is promoting that they have something to do with God. A wreath is a just a wreath, unless someone tries to say, for example, that hanging it on the door will bring miracles or God's blessings or something, like Batterson says a chalk circle prayer will.

      I agree, on the face of it even to the most casual observer, the practice seems not Christian. Which was why I was shocked Joni Earicksen Tada was involved in it. Where was her discernment? Hopefully now that she's away from the emotion and context of the event and with some perspective, the Lord hopefully has revealed to her that this is not an acceptable practice. Same for the rest of the ladies.

      Delete
  3. Someone at church recommended the book, but it just seemed really weird, the idea that God would want us to "do" some special thing to get more attention to our prayers did not seem right...(I come from a very legalistic background so am all too familiar with doing more and more, and there is never enough that we can do on our own). Thanks for shedding some more light on the subject!

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    1. Hi Lea,

      I agree, it is pretty weird for someone to tell us to "do" something extra. The Spirit is definitely keeping your discernment tuned up, and I'm so glad for that. :)

      Delete
  4. Elizabeth,
    I always look forward to checking your blog. I feel like we have the same mindset about biblical things and I can relate to so much that you write about and your leanings. I get the whole new age infiltration of the Church. I watched it happen to my old church. I didn't realize what was going on for a while but the Lord opened my eyes and we left. (Incidentally, right before we formally left that church, I discovered, by "accident" that the pastor was getting his sermons from the internet - piecing together articles and plagiarizing. Unfortunately the elder that we informed apparently thought it was an offense that could be overlooked.) We actually attended Batterson's church a few times as we looked for a new church. He seemed to be trying to put forth a biblical message, at least more biblical than my last church, but I could see that he was influenced in an "emerging" direction. Thank God for pastors like John Macarthur - whose sermons cut life a knife to the heart of truth and who are so faithful to the word of God. And I'm thankful to have found your interesting and informative blog.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind encouragement. That's amazing that you were at Mr Batterson's church. I am so troubled by the lack of simple discernment in people...especially pastors like him who should know better. Dr MacArthur says the #1 problem in the church is lack of discernment, and I believe we are seeing the second generation of emergents now coming up and really overtaking and planting bad seeds. So sorry to hear about your former pastor plagiarizing sermons, and even worse that the elder didn't think it was an issue. I was very thankful that it was handled in such a biblical and God-honoring way at my church. Again, that elder;s lack of discernment is troubling. It will be wonderful when we all worship Jesus in one accord, As Paul urged in Romans 15:6 for this side of the veil, and as we read in Zephaniah 3:9 says we WILL do on the other side-

      For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

      Glory!

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  5. Elizabeth,
    One just wonders how bad things will get in the Church. When people like Joni(!) can be deceived? I have so admired Joni since I was a teen and read her first book. I feel if Joni could read your blog she would say, oh no, I didn't realize! As for Mark Batterson, he has such a great platform. His church is (or was) a couple blocks from Capitol Hill in DC. When we attended it was still the "theater church" set in the movie theater at Union Station. He had this interesting mix of attendees - young families and 20-somethings, probably many Hill staffers, and the homeless, who frequented Union Station. It's just a shame the direction that he's going.

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  6. Sola Sisters have it right, "Mercy!".

    Eph 4:14 says, As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming

    While not surprising, these recent apostasy related goings on are getting rather surreal. Especially when all these well known Christian leaders are falling into these pits.

    2 Cor 6:14-18

    Matthew 6:7, exchange "chalk circles" for "meaningless repetition"

    Ezekiel 44:23

    Psalms 78:58 For they provoked Him with their high places And aroused His jealousy with their graven images.

    1 Cor 10:22

    1 Cor 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an IDOLATER, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler -not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders ? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES .

    Oh yes, Elizabeth, and your analysis in the other post connecting this issue to Genesis 3, spot on.

    -carolyn

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  7. Bull.....that is my opinion. I could rant and rave about other things we do when we pray that could seem wrong.....

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    1. Anonymous, thank you for the thoughtfully laid out scriptural stance you took when seeking to add value to the conversation.

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  8. It breaks my heart that apparently no longer is The Word enough.!!.

    "....to deceive, if possible,[and it appears it is] even the elect."

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  9. So.... that pic of the woman participant at the conference is sitting in a prayer circle playing Words with Friends? So God is now obligated to give her a 7 letter, triple word bonus on this turn and she's not leaving that circle until she gets it?

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  10. I used to live in Gainesville, Fl. A circle was built just off public land near a park but I have a feeling that was fudged. It was a circle with a bunch of huge rocks. Almost like Stonehenge. It was definitely pagan. Several of us went over and protested. Would you believe, after having been there for many years, one day it just mysteriously fell down? How about that?

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  11. I don't understand why it's being so well received I'm church's in Canada as well as the States, if it's not shining the white light of Jesus it's not of or from Jesus.
    I pray that Jesus will bring his truth to this questionable practice. Matthew 6:1-18 Jesus teaches us how to pray. It is written in Red Letters, His Holy Word. It says nothing about drawing a circle and stepping into it and demanding answer to prayers. Just how desperate have some churches become to get the dollar bills come through their doors?

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  12. I just attended a Bible study using Priscilla Shirer's Gideon... She was standing in a circle the whole time and at the end she prayed for revival to start within her then to all the other women. She then instructed everyone to make their own prayer circles at home, with chalk, your children's toys, or their books... It was lesson one... Ahhhh! Definitely not going back and am surely going to Bring thus up with my pastor. I Don't think he is aware. During The whole video I was thinking "her circle is missing a pentagram, this is crazy". I see her in that conference picture above, praying and Now it makes sense. Thank you for this post. Not only satanists pray in circles but Hindu and buddhist, which i was not aware of before.

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    1. Thanks for that analysis. I wasn't aware that Mrs Shirer had gone so far down the road...so sad to see the lack of discernment in the ones who are supposed to be leading us. Thanks so much for preparing to bring this up with your pastor, too. :) The Lord is our mediator and He isn't standing in a circle and He doesn't tell us to, either. We have full access and the full power of the Spirit when we pray. Circle or not...

      Delete
  13. A friend and pastor's wife recommended the book to me to have a more fruitful prayer life. I was doing a road trip with another friend and picked up the book for our vacation reading. I read a small portion of the book, turned out the light, and placed the book on the nightstand....the book literally with an invisible force was thrown off the nightstand immediately. I woke my friend immediately to pray with me...I told her that something was demonically wrong with the book and that I was not to read it. We prayed and went to sleep and returned the book the following day to the bookstore. The book did produce a "supernatural" encounter but not the kind any believer would desire. I would highly recommend avoiding such books and practices/rituals that invite such demonic powers & presences and encourage repentance for those of us who unknowingly read or participated in such things.

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  14. Thanks Elizabeth for this well thought out and reasoned post, you have really made the link quite clear. The reason I came across your site was that in the weekly email bulletin our paster took a quote (which didn't even mention the circle practise) from this book and it just seemed odd to me. After research I now know why! Thanks again - Matthew

    Also just let you know of a small typo Isaiah 5:8 should be Isaiah 57:8

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    1. Hi Matthew,

      Thank you for taking the time to research what the Spirit prompted in you! I'm glad you found anything here helpful. And thank you for letting me know about the wrong address in Isaiah. I drop numbers all the time when I type, argh. Thanks again :)

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