The Circle Maker is not the first book I have studied by Pastor Batterson; nor is it the last. I have noticed that each book I’ve studied introduce subtle teachings that are extra-Biblical. Often they sound religious or spiritual, but they are not Biblical because chapter and verse cannot be given for them. At other times these teachings are scientific or psychological, but, again, not Biblical.
But also [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines – destructive heresies – even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them.
– 2Peter 2:1
In the reading of Pastor Mark Batterson’s book Primal, I became aware quite early on of concepts that had subtly and stealthily come into his teachings that I knew the Bible warned against. The Bible is stern on the actions to be taken in such cases:
12 “If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying, 13 ‘Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods”’—which you have not known— 14 then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it…
– Deuteronomy 13:12-15 (New King James Version)
Innocent though it seemed, the increasing emphasis within Primal on the role of imagination this new reformation Pastor Batterson was eager to accomplish, manifested itself in ways that were completely extra-biblical. One such practice was called imaginative meditation. More startling, however, were the methods used to enter into this imaginative meditation: “[truths] that can only be induced by right brain-imagination” and “the only way to get truth into your soul [is] via alpha waves.” (pp 79-80 Primal). In order to “think with your soul” you must first slow down your brain. To enter this alpha wave state, Batterson says there are “spiritual exercises” one can perform.
As you read through the following spiritual exercise be aware of two facts: that no place in the Bible do instructions allude to its use; and that the Catholic mystic, St. Ignatius Loyola, who instituted these exercises, received his instructions in visions from the Virgin Mary. The following excerpt is from Pastor Batterson’s book Primal.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught his followers a spiritual exercise called imaginative meditation (emphasis in original). He encouraged them to enter the gospel stories. Imagine the sights and sounds and smells. Move from the role of spectator to that of participant. Instead of reading about the crucifixion, play a role. Imagine what Mary must have felt as the man she rocked to sleep as a little baby was hanging half naked on the cross. Take the place of the thieves on either side of Jesus as they faced the same fate but for very different reasons. Play the part of Simon, who carried the cross down the Via Dolorosa. What was Barabbas, the murderer who was set free, doing while Jesus was crucified in his place? Ignatius even encouraged discussions with characters in the story, especially Jesus.
What would happen if you tried this exercise? I suggest that you do. (emphasis mine) And then meditate on how the experience impacts you. It will not only reveal something about God, it will also reveal something about yourself. (pp.79-80 Primal)
These are mystical exercises and they are unbiblical.
Scripture has a number of comments that address these previously discussed “spiritual exercises.” Visions or “encounters with God” recorded in Scripture were not achieved through any self-induced methods or “spiritual exercises” but through the divine intervention of a sovereign God (Genesis 15;1; Genesis 20:3; Genesis 31:24; I Kings 3:5; Daniel 10:1) In Jeremiah’s time there were many people roaming around as prophets and having visions saying God had spoken to them. There is a difference between someone receiving a vision or revelation from the Lord and conjuring up one from his own imagination:
“And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.”
– Jeremiah 14:14
“Have you not seen a futile vision, and have you not spoken false divination? You say, `The LORD says,’ but I have not spoken.”
– Ezekiel 13:7
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
– Genesis 6:5
Nowhere does the Bible encourage anyone to visualize, to see the future or the past, to converse with a “supposed” Jesus or to fantasize about imaginary scenes by putting words in the apostle’s or any other person’s mouth. Jesus is the Truth – He does not deal in works of fiction or figments of our imaginations. Imaginative works, however, have always been found in the occult.
Have you ever given serious thought to the consequences of imagining “Jesus”?
We are told by some to visualize Jesus as we pray. When those into imagery and visualization believe that the “Jesus” being imaged in their mind is not just an image, but the real Jesus, even going so far as to dialogue and touch Him, then they have opened the door to counterfeit “spirit guides.’ You might think you’re focusing on Jesus. You might have a real spiritual experience. But, when you create Jesus in your mind, He is not the historic Jesus of the Bible. He is the Jesus of your imagination, and the Bible warns about “another Jesus ( 2 Corinthians 11:4). Many through these techniques have testified that the Jesus they encountered was not the resurrected Christ, but another Jesus, a counterfeit, “an angel of light” impersonating the Jesus of the Bible. How can Jesus who is at the right hand of the Father in heaven come down and make a personal appearance to each of us materially? If each of us visualize Jesus, we would all probably have a different picture of what He looks like in our minds: one 5’6”, one 5’8”; one hazel-eyed, one brown-eyed. Which one has the right Jesus, the real one? None of us! We probably would make Him into some image of the pictures we saw. As soon as we have created a “Jesus” with our own minds, we are no different than all those in the Bible who imagined what a “god” might look like and then fashioned one. http://www.letusreason.org/NAM22.htm
ALPHA WAVES AND THE OCCULT
Other highly qualified discernment leaders have strongly condemned praying with imagination and warned against its ties to the occult.
“Praying with the imagination,” by the way, is another term for creative visualization, a powerful occult technique that ushers the visualizer into the spirit realm. Contemplative techniques have divorced the practitioner from the objective Word of God, leading one into the subjective arena of the imagination and feelings. Mysticism and the Coming One World Religion; The Berean Call, 2017
Deceased author Ray Yungen, who so thoroughly researched the subject of Contemplative Spirituality in his highly acclaimed book A Time of Departing, connects the subject of alpha waves and witchcraft:
When I hear a Christian talking like this [about alpha waves], it creates a very deep concern within me for that person because I know what is meant by “alpha.” In Laurie Cabot’s book, Power of the Witch, alpha is a term she uses extensively to mean meditation or the silence. In fact, she makes no secret of it but confides:
“The science of Witchcraft” is based on our ability to enter an altered state of consciousness we call “alpha.” Here we also may experience out-of-the-body sensations and psychokinesis, or receive mystical, visionary information that does not come through the five senses…
Cabot continues her explanation of the alpha state by emphasizing that: Alpha is the springboard for all psychic and magical workings. It is the heart of Witchcraft. . . (Yungen, pp 176-177).
I seriously doubt that Pastor Batterson is knowingly promoting witchcraft. What I am saying is that the origins of this practice are not Biblical and that their roots must be checked so that no one, unknowingly, is deceived by any angel of light. The Lord wants us to stay within the confines of the Bible out of His love and to keep us safe. His eyesight is better than ours and He alone sees things in their true light.
BATTERSON, MARK. Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. Multnomah Books, 2010.
“Visualization.” Letusreason.org, Let Us Reason Ministries, http://www.letusreason.org/NAM22.htm.
McMahon, T.A. “Mysticism and the Coming World Religion.” Https://Www.thebereancall.org, 1 Oct. 2016, http://www.thebereancall.org/content/mysticism-and-coming-world-religion-part-one-0.
Yungen, Ray. A Time of Departing: How a Universal Spirituality Is Changing the Face of Christianity. Lighthouse Trails Pub., 2006.
For General questions or comments, please click here
I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Michelle Arrington, Hannah Hall, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, Tracy Yoder, and J.P.Wilhelm. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.