Faith and Christianity, Mind

Why I am not a Circle Maker….

Since nobody reads my blog I think I will just air my thoughts to myself on this topic.

Or those of you who are sincerely following God’s path and have such a passion for prayer and the best for everyone in your lives and are following this method please don’t take offense. And seriously, either pray for me to be enlightened, or consider drawing a circle around these articles and praying yourselves for the proper understanding of our historic reformed faith, based on God’s word, the Bible, and how it is clearly explained in our Confessions of Faith and Catechisms.

Since our pastor and our church are clearly going full throttle into the Circle, I may be forced to actually read the book itself to have a credible witness. But with all the popularity and publicity it has gathered, let me balance and preface my perspective with two articles that present the watchman’s concern.

Praying Circles 21 September 2015 Gary Gilley (Volume 21, Issue 5 Sep/Oct 2015)

The Circle Maker May 27, 2013  Tim Challies (Known for his book reviews)

As these articles are both a couple of years old in their warnings, one can surmise that they have not had much effect, and it is surprising that our church is 5 years behind the trend.

BTW if you don’t believe the extent that The Circle Maker has gone to, read this summary of 100 Battteresonism’s The Circle Maker Quotes …it’s interesting that although these are all positive, people are quoting not the Bible but Batterson.

Let me start with one very true fact that is in the book. When you read Gary’s article you will see it. “It all begins with me”…or “Let it begin with me”. This is both a true thought and desire of the heart to go the correct way in our faith. But it is missing one critical element….it actually all begins with God. You might see this if you read John 6 carefully. Jesus repeats himself to make this point:

John 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

So whether you are a Circle Maker or not only God can draw you into the circle. We can’t do this on our own.

It is also true that many are in the fold of Christ and that none are lost. We can illustrate this with these words:

Joh 6:39  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Joh 6:40  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Later we read:

Joh 10:14  I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

Joh 10:15  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Joh 10:16  And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

One other observation from the story of two men Jesus taught to certain people….

And note we all have to be careful of this whether we trust in our Circle Making or even if we are proud we are not one of those chalk holders. It is interesting this example is actually about praying…(maybe Batterson, used it, but I couldn’t confirm a reference where he did.)

Luk 18:9  And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Luk 18:10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Luk 18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Luk 18:12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luk 18:13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luk 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

BTW There is another example of a man who saw himself guilty and turned to Christ alone for mercy.

Luk 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

Luk 23:40  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

Luk 23:41  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

Luk 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

Luk 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

So bottom line is whether you put yourself in the Circle or choose to stay out, the Bible tells us to have an attitude of repentance and to humbly see ourselves in light of God’s mercy.

It might be said that we have long forgotten to celebrate our unity which the founders of the Reformation rekindled, substituting whatever is new and exciting. But personally just reading and understanding the Bible and basic historic doctrines is enough to bring my to my knees.

I recently read this quote on a eulogy.

True ecumenical unity is clearly defined in the Scriptures. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4: 4-6) Thus followers of Christ who place their faith solely in the one triune God and His written Word, as did the Lord and the Apostles after Him (Sola Scriptura), are one in body, in Spirit, and in truth.

They are saved before the all-Holy God by grace alone (Sola Gratia), through faith alone (Sola Fide), and in Christ alone (Solo Christo), and all glory and praise is to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria). Through the centuries, these five biblical principles or “solas” have helped the persecuted church hold fast to the simplicity of the Gospel. True ecumenism is fellowship or working together in adherence to these “solas” which maintain the foundation of true unity in the Lord. To the degree to which these key basic biblical standards are embraced, true unity will be evident. Tribute Michael de Semylen

Perhaps I will draw a Circle and Pray, that we recover this old path, and step into the Circle and “let it begin with me”!

Jer 6:16  Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

Jer 6:17  Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.

BTW I put some quotes from the articles above into the first comment page.

2 thoughts on “Why I am not a Circle Maker….”

  1. Seems strange to comment on my own post, but I thought I would separate these from the main point I made. Here are some quotes from the two articles mentioned. At least on the surface you can see the concerns. because of the overwhelming popularity of the book, it might be best to read these in context and draw your own conclusions before stepping out of the Circle ⭕️.

    Praying Circles 21 September 2015 Gary Gilley (Volume 21, Issue 5 Sep/Oct 2015)

    The very fact that a church leader and author is attempting to instruct fellow believers how to practice the Christian life, especially in a vital area such as prayer, based on an extra-biblical myth rather than Scripture, should be all a discerning believer needs to know to walk away from his teachings on the subject.

    The Circle Maker is much like The Prayer of Jabez. Both promise miracles if we will but follow little known and obscure prayers found in the past. Despite the fact that these prayers are not taught or mandated in Scripture, and not even drawn from Scripture as in the case with Honi, a unique system of prayer is based on these stories.

    Following prosperity methods, He adds that drawing a circle and stepping into it in prayer are the keys to getting what we want from God. Batterson often promises that by drawing circles around what we want will lead to miracles and fulfilled dreams (e.g. p. 16). After all, “God said it, I’ve circled it, and that settles it” (p. 94).

    Batterson obviously embraces the theology behind the prosperity gospel which is that visualization plus faith plus verbalization lead to miracles. At one point he tells his readers to record their vision (visualization), have faith and verbalize (pp. 184-185).

    Batterson is even willing to mistranslate Scripture to make his point. The most blatant example is Habakkuk 2:1, in which the author inserts “circle” into the verse to support his theology, translating, “I will stand upon my watch, and station me within a circle” (p. 159).

    [(((BTW I looked up the verse: Habakkuk 2:1  I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

    Old John Gill writes about this chapter…
    This chapter contains an answer from the Lord to the expostulations, pleadings, and reasonings of the prophet, in the name of the people. The preparation of the prophet to receive this answer is described, Hab 2:1 then follows the answer itself, in which he is bid to write and make plain the vision he had, that it might be easily read, Hab 2:2 and a promise is made, that vision should still be continued to the appointed time, at which time the Messiah would come; and this the righteous man, in opposition to the vain and proud man, is encouraged to live in the faith of, Hab 2:3 and then the destruction of the enemies of the people of God is threatened for their pride, ambition, covetousness, oppression, and murder, Hab 2:5 which would be unavoidable, Hab 2:13 and issue in the spread of the knowledge of the glory of God in the world, Hab 2:14 and also the ruin of other enemies is threatened, for drawing men into apostasy, and for their violence and idolatry, Hab 2:15 upon which would follow an universal silence in the earth, Hab 2:20.

    Writing the “Circle” into this verse is clever, but in light of the context, it’s implying that Batterson is getting his own prophetic revelation to our current times perhaps.)))]

    Walking on water is a miracle, the purchase of a piece of property that was hard to get is not. Batterson does not distinguish between the two. Despite these obvious issues, on the back cover of the book it is boldly stated:

    In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark Batterson shares powerful insights from the true legend of Honi the circle maker, a first-century Jewish sage whose bold prayer ended a drought and saved a generation. Drawing inspiration from his own experiences as a circle maker, Batterson will teach you how to pray in a new way by drawing prayer circles around your dreams, your family, your problems and most importantly, God’s promises. In the process, you’ll discover this simple yet life changing truth.

    Much of Batterson’s understanding about how God directs us is based upon the idea that the Lord will speak to us directly apart from Scripture. Batterson assures us that we should expect God to prompt us regularly, giving us revelations which carry the full weight of His promises. It is these subjective promises that we can claim, not just biblical promises.

    Given the obvious problems with the exaggerated claims of Batterson and the clearly unbiblical basis and assertions in reference to prayer circles, what is the attraction? Apparently, the incredible promises given coupled with such little effort (praying inside a drawn circle or walking around the object of one’s desires while praying) are just too much to resist. After all Batterson tells his readers, “The Circle Maker will show you how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams, and seize God-ordained opportunities. You’ll learn how to draw prayer circles around your family, your job, your problems, and your goals” (p. 16). In a YouTube video Batterson adds, “You can’t just read the Bible, you need to start praying circles around the promises.”[2] I guess such an offer is just too good to refuse for many Christians. Of course, those who actually analyze Batterson’s promises in light of Scripture, especially that the basis of prayer circles is an ancient myth and not the authoritative Word of God, will see through the deception.

    Even among Christian leaders who take solid theological stands, and who are well-respected within conservative circles we are finding a strange acceptance of a practice found nowhere in Scripture.

    Unfortunately, however, prayer circles can be found in many pagan religions. American Indians, Muslims, Hindus and Mormons all practice prayer circles. [7] And even Wiccans use circles in their practice of magic. [8] This is not an accusation that those using prayer circles are participating in witchcraft or pagan religions. It is to say that there is nothing distinctively Christian about prayer circles. As a matter of fact, there is nothing Christian about them at all since they do not stem from Scripture.

    Biblical Prayer

    To hear all the praise being poured out on Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and prayer circles, the unaware child of God might swear that this kind of prayer is what Jesus practiced and taught His disciples. But this is not true. As a matter of fact, circle prayers are not mentioned in the Bible at all. David did not write a psalm about them, Jesus did not mention them, and the epistles, while calling on us to pray without ceasing, are silent on the subject. Paul, in his marvelous New Testament prayers (e.g. Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9-14) ignores them. At no time or place in all of the Word of God are we commanded, told to examine, follow as a model, or use circles for our prayers.

    The Circle Maker May 27, 2013  Tim Challies (Known for his book reviews)

    I didn’t know what The Circle Maker was about until I began to read it. Neither did I know anything about Mark Batterson, its author. I knew the book only as a Christian bestseller and its author only as a name that often appears in my inbox as people ask if I know anything about him or have read his books. “My pastor gave everyone in the church a copy of this book. Have you reviewed it?” Finally I read it.

    The book has been widely-praised and has received hundreds of positive reviews, but surely people have simply failed to understand that Batterson has committed a grave error.

    He anticipates the critique that what he advocates is a kind of “name it, claim it” theology and insists it is not. He says, for example, “Before you write this off as some ‘name it, claim it’ scheme, let me remind you that God cannot be bribed or blackmailed. God doesn’t do miracles to satisfy our selfish whims. God does miracles for one reason and one reason alone: to spell His glory. We just happen to be the beneficiaries.” I think he doth protest too much for what he teaches is very nearly indistinguishable. While he may not suggest praying for a bundle of cash or a fancy new car, there is no reason in the book why we would not do this. “I have no idea what your financial situation is, but I do know this. If you give beyond your ability, God will bless you beyond your ability. God wants to bless you thirty-, sixty-, hundredfold.” That sounds just too familiar.

    When I had finished reading The Circle Maker I found myself reflecting on why a book like this one is so attractive. Why do people love it so much more than a more realistic, biblical book on prayer? What makes it resonate so deeply?

    Batterson promises miracles, yet as he does this he defines down miracles, making a miracle any answer to prayer.

    Second, he makes direct communication from God the normative experience for the Christian.

    Third, he often takes Scripture far beyond its context which allows him to make promises the Bible does not actually make.

    He regularly claims Old Testament promises that were clearly meant for a particular people at a particular time as if they were written specifically for him. He looks to Revelation 3:8 and uses it to speak of opened and closed doors as they relate to knowing and doing the will of God. He writes about the spiritual value of the Daniel diet. To be frank, he utterly and consistently butchers Scripture; the Christian reading with an open Bible will soon have to see that so many of Batterson’s claims cannot be supported.

    [(((BTW We are probabally a month or two until Pastor Dilday gets to Rev 3:8 in his class, but a quick look at the verse:
    Rev 3:7  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

    Rev 3:8  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

    Rev 3:9  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

    Again Old John Gill writes:
    behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; or “which no man can shut”, as read the Alexandrian copy, and others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions. This “open door” may design an uncommon opportunity of preaching the Gospel; and a very great freedom of mind in the preachers of it, and great attention in the hearers, whose hearts will be opened to observe, receive, and embrace it; and a very large gathering in of souls to Christ, and his churches; much and frequent preaching of the word with great success, which it will not be in the power of any creature to stop or hinder: now will the abundance of the sea, the forces of the Gentiles flow in, and the nation of the Jews shall be born at once,

    And note this is the 4th time in the letters to the churches that Satan is mentioned v9, you can read Gill’s commentary on that on your own.))]

    He trumpets the value of visualizing what you want as a means to obtaining it: “When you dream, your mind forms a mental image that becomes both a picture of and a map to your destiny. That picture of the future is one dimension of faith, and the way you frame it is by circling it in prayer.” The Bible gives us no reason to believe that God consistently relates proximity to power or that there is value in visualization (though you may note that New Age teachers often make both of those claims).

    The Circle Maker is a mess. I admire Batterson’s desire to pray boldly and love his call to more prayer, better prayer, more audacious prayer. Yet so much of what he teaches is sub-biblical, extra-biblical or just plain unbiblical. With hundreds of good books on prayer available to us there is absolutely no reason to spend as much as one minute or one dime on this one.


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