There is this familiar and oft-quoted excerpt from a poem, “Outwitted”, by Edwin Markham;
“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In !”
Is it possible to cause a rebellious heretic to change his heart and mind with nothing but love? Of all the people to attempt to win with love, the rebellious heretic is the most difficult. It seems good on the surface, a Christian thing to do, roping a rebellious heretic with a circle of love and taking him in. In fact, professing Christians often quote the excerpt as if it is a noble example of true Christianity. But I’m not certain that it was Christianity that Markham determined to win his rebellious heretic to.
Before writing his poem, Markham became a mystic under the influence of Thomas Lake Harris. Harris, who had contact with spirit entities such as “The Lily Queen”, was the leader of a small religious cult. As a winemaker, he claimed that his wine was filled with “divine breath” and thus free from noxious properties including the effects of alcohol. Markham also became a Mason. His first wife divorced him over his adulterous affair. To my knowledge he never practiced Christianity. So exactly what he meant by his poem we may never know.
There is some circle drawing going on in Christianity today that appears to be based on the same fanciful notion that Markham wrote about. Popular pastor and author Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church (and other professing Christians) has been teaching an imaginative salvation plan called Kingdom Circles. It is a method of inclusion whereby false religions and cults are accepted into Christianity without renouncing their sin or heresy. The plan involves a large circle with a number of small circles on its perimeter. The large circle supposedly represents the Kingdom of God, and the smaller circles represent false religions and cults. The portion of the small circles that fall inside of the large one is considered light, and the portion on the outside of the large circle is darkness. Thus, a Muslim has his dark portion in the kingdom of Satan with his light portion in the kingdom of God. Of course, this defies the Word of God, but that does not matter to the circle makers. They drew circles and took them in.
One of Warren’s associates and collaborating authors Dr. Mehmet Oz practices Reiki. During a workshop with her husband, Dr. Oz’s wife conducted a Reiki experience that went as follows.
“She followed with a couple of similar exercises, then finished with what for me was the day’s highlight: the hatsurei-ho meditation, this time for hundreds. The energy in that cavernous room at the Javits Convention Center shifted palpably as Mrs. Oz led the crowd through progressive relaxation, envisioning a golden light all around, drawing the light inside and then breathing it back out into the space around us, adding our own energy with each exhalation. There was no need to explain what Reiki was—everyone felt it, even without touch.”
Oz then told the crowd, “Go in wellness, knowing you have brought light into the world.” Of course, Christ Jesus is the One who brought light into the world. I’m not certain whether or not the actual application of Kingdom Circles involves breathing in golden light and exhaling it into the small circles.
Ed Young, Texas pastor of a mega church, believed that putting a king-size bed on top of the church building and remaining in it with his wife for a week would accomplish something significant. Having failed with the rooftop experiment (as the result of sunburn), he put the bed on the stage of his church. On Sunday morning, there he sat with his wife on the edge and taught sex education. It appears that he has drawn a circle around the sexual philosophy and focus of the world system and took it in.
In a book written by Mark Batterson called, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, Batterson insist that one can draw a circle around various issues and desires, and God will intervene mightily. In the context of the mental sphere, you could only do such a thing with your imagination. In that sense, you wouldn’t need prayer for anything except asking God to bless your imaginative grasping for help and benefits. I prefer the scriptural method of praying directly to God through Christ for His help with my needs and problems.
There was a period when churches believed that lifting up Jesus Christ, preaching and teaching the truth, and simply being God’s unique and godly people, would draw individuals to the meetings. That method began to gradually disappear when gimmicks to draw crowds became popular. Ministers thought that eating their lunch on top of the church building would draw people to Christ. Other churches put on pew-packing contests and large prizes were given to the one who could fill the most pews with the most people. The gimmickry grew in proportion with the mimicry of truth and godliness. In spite of copious and polemic warnings by men of God who knew the consequences of such shenanigans, they continued to work at increasing the numeral value of church attendance until it became the primary focus. A rancid pragmatism developed that many churches now use to justify whatever it takes to get people through the doors. They drew a circle around secular marketing techniques and took them in.
Is love truly the motivation of the present paradigm of circle drawing? Let’s consider the ramifications. Numerous churches and even denominations have drawn circles around rebellious heretics, New Age teachers, gurus, and mystics, Muslims, and other cults and false religions, secularists, and many other sinners. Not only did they take them in, but they have even set them before congregations to present their heresies. I remember a time when most ministers would not accept vain honor and glory. It appears that now they draw a circle around the accolades and adoration of the masses and take it in. They grovel in it as if it is a godly benefit. They have also drawn circles around much of the world system’s entertainment methods and musical genres and have taken them in. Preachers now perform rather than preach under the anointing. They appear more as entertainment icons, stand up comedians, and secular motivational speakers, rather than men of God. They have no brokenness or contriteness, no passion for truth or sincerity, and no anointing. Their churches musical offerings are more like secular music concerts. So much carnality is involved one has to wonder if it is possible for participants to worship God in Spirit and truth. The truth is that those churches have drawn a circle around the spirit of the world, and have taken it in.
They insist that it is all about love. The claim is that their quality and quantity of God’s love compels them to break through traditional barriers in order to “reach people”. It is possible to love people so that they cannot deny your authenticity as a Christian and that you love them. In fact, it is God’s command that we love people. John 3:16 is probably the most recognized verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world…” I know from experience that love allows us to reach the hearts of sinners with the message of the Gospel. However, no one has more love than Christ. Although He loved them immeasurably, He spoke the unvarnished truth to rebellious heretics.
The churches and denominations today may have indeed encircled and taken in the ones that stand opposed to Christ and His lordship. However, they have not converted them. In fact, few if any sinners are being converted in their meetings. Instead, much that was once outside of Christianity is now inside. They have made their churches habitations of demons and darkness. That is certainly not what love is supposed to do. It is not how the power of love operates. Love is supposed to change our world, not include it. God’s love is too powerful for evil to dwell in it. Love converts, not condones. God’s love offers us a Savior, not a sanctuary for our sin. God still speaks through His Son today.
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26)
It is not circles that they need, but “sonship”. God offers that blessing for those who make a straight line to His throne in repentant prayer.