This is the most shocking thing that I have ever seen come out of Zondervan. Their new small group series titled "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson actually promotes ritual magic. The curiculum is being released this month and may even be available now. This article is in reaction to the promo video that Zondervan released to promote the study. View the video and then I will explain what the issues are:
The video starts out with Mark drawing a circle around himself with chalk. He traces the circle three times in a clockwise fashion. This is not something anyone should emulate. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
"A magic circle is circle or sphere of space marked out by practitioners of many branches of ritual magic, which they generally believe will contain energy and form a sacred space, or will provide them a form of magical protection, or both. It may be marked physically, drawn in salt or chalk, for example, or merely visualized."
and later on:
"Some witchcraft traditions say that one must trace around the circle deosil (that is clockwise) three times."
I mention this from Wikipedia because it looks like whoever made the video or maybe even Mark himself did a little research as to how to draw a magic circle. If so, they may have gotten it from here.
Another more legitimate source confirms the use of chalk for the circle.
"It was the usual practice to draw or inscribe a magic circle on the floor of the chamber of practice prior to beginning the ritual, using charcoal or chalk." -Donald Tyson. The Magic Circle.
More from him later.
Honi the Circle Maker
At the 0:20 second mark we are introduced to Honi the Circle Maker. This is the story that changed Mark's prayer life. So was Honi a biblical disciple? Was he following some biblical practice? No. He was a Jewish miracle-worker in the first century BC. He is mentioned by Josephus (Antiquities 14.2.1 21) and in the Mishnah (Taanit 3:8). He prayed for rain and it rained. Later he was stoned to death because he refused to pronounce a curse on his fellow Jews. He seems innocuous enough other than the fact that he was known for drawing circles and praying in them. There is no precedent in the Bible for drawing circles and praying in them. If a prayer request is granted while you are using a circle it is not proof that this is an acceptable practice especially considering the occultic practices surounding this ritual. "Praying circles" around things is not a biblical practice either.
Walking the Circle
At the 0:38 second mark a map is shown with a pathway being marked out. This is also being done in a clockwise fashion. This is the same way that the circle was being drawn. Is it just a coincidence or might it have something to do with this:
"This is descriptive of the ceremony observed by the druids, of walking round their temples by the south, in the course of their directions, always keeping their temples on their right. This course (deiseal) was deemed propitious..."
What this is saying is that traveling around an area clockwise (like following the path of the sun) is deemed to bring good fortune. Buddist monks also do this around their temples. A prayer to the LORD is not made any more effective when made in a circle. This is a means of invoking a ritual, or some external means to invoke a diety.
Visualizing the Circle
Circles need not be physical drawings on the ground. At 0:48 We hear Mark say, "You can't just read the Bible. You need to start circling the promises." He talks about praying circles around your family members. This visualization of circles is not something taught among Christians, but it is taught in another group:
"To empower and bring the circle to life, it must be projected or cast on the astral level. This is done in the imagination, by a process of successive visualization, at the start of your rituals." -Donald Tyson. The Magic Circle.
The circle is a dead thing until you bring it to life with your visualization. It is not a stretch to see that what Mark is saying is that the Bible is a dead thing until you visualize it around yourself, your family, and your friends.
Circles Concentrate Power
At 1:02 Mark says:
"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, and if you draw the circle God will multiply the miracles in your life."
So praying circles will multiply miracles? It will concentrate God's power in your life? Sounds like something modern practitioners of magic believe:
"In modern times, practitioners generally cast magic circles to contain and concentrate the energy they believe to raise during a ritual."
At 1:51 once more we see the chalk drawn circle being completed three times. I am shocked that this is in the video, I can only pray that this is not taught in the books or videos.
At 2:07 Mark is praying inside the circle he has drawn, and the circuitous path in the city is completed.
This is one of the most insidious videos I have seen. The amount of deception and false teaching is unbelievable, but there it is. This is the most basic form of ritual magic. How come this video has more in common with Wiccan practice than following the Bible? How many Bible verses did you hear referenced or quoted? Go back through the video, there are none. Just because someone invokes God's name does not make it right. Here is one more quote from Mr. Tyson:
"There is no aspect of ritual occultism more ancient or more essential than the magic circle. Indeed, it is difficult to find systems of magic that do not use the circle in some form, and when they are found, they seem incomplete and naked. The magic circle is older than Solomon, older than Moses, and occurs throughout the world in all religions and systems of witchcraft and thaumaturgy. It divides, excludes, protects, attracts, focuses, and concentrates, as these functions are needed by the magician. It is used not merely for evocations, but for invocations, for charging of talismans, for scrying, for projecting accumulated occult energy, and even for meditation. A correct understanding of the circle, not only how to project it, but what it signifies symbolically, is the most basic knowledge any magician can possess, and no magician can be said to know anything of importance about magic who has not mastered the use of the circle." -The Magic Circle.
One last note. Mark Batterson may be decieved himself. As hard as it is to imagine he may not know what he is asking people to do. He may not have even heard of any of the things I have written here. If that is the case then I would encourage anyone who reads this to contact his church and bring this to his attention. Contact Zondervan and bring it to their attention as I have with this article, and I will through e-mails and phone calls. "The Circle Maker" should be pulled off the shelves. If you see it at a Christian bookstore or on a Christian site, warn them and inform them that this is not something anyone should be doing. Reference this article if you wish, but please do not buy "The Circle Maker". Not unless you want to have more in common with your local coven than the word of God.
Write to Zondervan authors or their estates in care of Zondervan. Your mail will be forwarded as soon as possible, but please note that the author might not be able to respond personally. Email email@example.com or send postal mail to:
ATTN: Author Care
5300 Patterson SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
National Community Church
205 F Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
I live in the Pacific Northwest, near Tacoma Washington. Please feel free to sign up, post a comment and participate. Thank you for stopping by.