And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15)
1. Types of Satanism
||“Contemporary Satanism is a form of religious belief and expression holding to the worship of Satan, whether Satan is defined as a supernatural person, a deity, a devil, a supernatural force, a natural force, an innate human force, or, most commonly, the self.”(1)
||Most Satanists, such as Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey, worship themselves and use the term “Satan” to symbolize their rejection of Christianity, which they believe is self-sacrificing, self-debasing, self-denying, oppressive, and powerless. These Satanists do not believe in the existence of any spiritual being; they believe in the power of the self. “We don’t worship Satan, we worship ourselves using the metaphorical representation of the qualities of Satan.”(2)
||Some Satanists believe in spiritual power, and are interested in harnessing it for self-advancement. They are sometimes unsure of whether God or Satan exist, but use this spiritual power anyway.
||Some Satanists believe in competing spiritual forces, whether personal (God vs. Satan) or impersonal (good vs. evil). They choose to use the negative spiritual force.
||A few Satanists (usually self-styled teenagers or mentally aberrant adults) believe what the Bible says about God and Satan, but choose allegiance to Satan.
2. Key Facts
||Some teach that there are millions of secret Satanists participating in a widespread conspiracy reaching into the highest levels of church, government, law enforcement, and education. Such conspiracy theories are undocumented and sensationalistic.
||While only a guess at best, careful researchers estimate that the number of people who would describe themselves as Satanists is somewhat fewer than 6,000 worldwide.
||The vast majority of Satanists are self-styled. They practice their faith alone or with a few others. Very few join a public Satanic church like LaVey’s Church of Satan or Aquino’s Temple Sect.
||Mail-order catalog and newsletter lists provide some continuity among Satanists, as well as the books of LaVey such as The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals.
||Most Satanists are male, young (13-30), practice their faith privately while leading “normal” lives, and view other religions as narrow. Most view traditional ethical norms as depriving the rights of individuals, and practice Satanism because it appears to work for them.
3. Biblical Background
||Satan is a fallen angel. He rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven with a great number of angels, and was sentenced to hell (Luke 10:18; 2 Peter 2:4). He is the prince of fallen angels (demons) (Matthew 12:24).
||Satan has sophisticated powers to delude, tempt, and accuse people (Genesis 3:1-5; John 8:44; Ephesians 2:2, 6:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 2:18, 3:5; Revelation 12:10). He is the adversary of God, the works of God, and the people of God (Zechariah 3:1; Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 4:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8).
||As a finite creature without divine powers or attributes, he has infinitely less power than almighty God (James 4:7; 1 John 4:4).
||His final doom in the lake of fire is settled (2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:10).
||Early Church (AD 100-400) – Those who desired to become members of the church were required to renounce the Devil and all his ways. Heretics were called “weeds of the devil” by Ignatious. Exorcisms were performed. Apparently, Satan-worship did not exist, although Christians believed that anyone who opposed God was serving the Devil.
||Early Middle Ages (AD 400-1000) – The church of this period denounced Islam as “devilish.” Folklore began to develop in society, characterizing Satan as an evil buffoon, and spreading tales of ghosts, monsters, trolls, elves, and leprechauns. The church began to develop a theology of demonism.
||Medieval Scholastic Period (AD 1000-1490) – Scholars began to grapple with issues of Satan and free will.
||Great Witch Hunts (1490s – 1840s) – Some began to believe that demons had sexual relations with humans. Crusades took place to “free” the Holy Land from Muslim rule. Satanism and witchcraft were confused. In the early Reformation period, an intense period of witch-hunting began, leading to high rates of conviction and execution. This grew through the Enlightenment period. It is estimated that sixty to one hundred thousand witches were executed.
||Aliester Crowley (1875-1947) – A self-styled occultist, magician, drug addict, and sexual deviant. He taught the rejection of Christianity, the elevation of self, and the use of magic to reach one’s goals.
||Gerald Gardner – Developed a witchcraft system that borrowed ideas, types, ceremonies, incantations, and images from different religious and magical systems, such as the ceremonial focus of a circle containing an altar, the use of pentagrams and triangles, incense, etc.
||Anton Szandor LaVey: The High Priest of Satanism – Beginning in the 1950s, LaVey met with like-minded individuals, hoping to throw off the chains of conformity and religious oppression, and embrace the only alternative: the freedom of fully realized human potential. The Satanic creed was composed by LaVey:
||Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
||Satan represents vital existence rather than spiritual pipe dreams.
||Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
||Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates.
||Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
||Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
||Satan represents man as just another animal – sometimes better, more often worse than those who walk on all fours – who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all.
||Satan represents all the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
||Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.(3)
5. Misconceptions About Satanism
||Satanism and witchcraft – Satanism is not witchcraft. Contemporary witchcraft is generally pacifistic, nature-worshiping, often vegetarian, and is forbidden in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:9-14).
||LaVey and the Church of Satan – They do not wish to form a structured Satanic system. Contrary to what many believe, they prohibit harming children, killing non-human animals except for food or self-defense, and making unwelcome sexual advances.
||Verbal Content and Subliminal Messages – Studies have failed to demonstrate any correlation between subliminal messages and listeners’ behaviors or beliefs.
||Corporate Myths – No major American corporation has appeared in any public form espousing Satanism, or admitting support or financial contributions to any Satanic group. “The most enduring myth is that the president of Proctor and Gamble appeared on the Phil Donahue television program and admitted he was a member of the Church of Satan and supported the church financially. There is not a shred of evidence for this, and Christians who propagate such stories damage the credibility of legitimate warnings regarding false belief.”(4)
6. Crime Among Satanists
||Satanists do not publicly advocate criminal activity. However, Satanists advocate antinomianism (freedom from the law). LaVey said, “When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.”
||Drug dealing and drug use are common among teenage Satanists. Teenagers involved in Satanism have been known to commit suicide, or create suicide pacts. Some criminals use Satanic symbols or rituals in the commission of crimes.
||Unsubstantiated stories of Satanic ritual abuse have become popular in the past decade. There is no proof of Satanic Ritual Abuse taking place on a wide scale.
7. Witnessing to Satanists
||Remember that Satanism is not a traditional religion. Most Satanists are atheists. Focus on arguments for the existence of God, and challenge them to rationally define their own worldview.
||If a Satanist acknowledges the existence of God, they may feel that they are beyond redemption. Remind them of the reality of Christ’s sacrifice.
||Remember that among most self-taught teenage Satanists, Satanism is more a symptom of problems than a religious rejection of belief. Most teenage Satanists use drugs and need substance abuse intervention.
||Satanists are interested in self-centeredness, self-indulgence, and self-gratification. Explain that Christianity is the only path to self-fulfillment (Matthew 6:33; 16:26).
||Challenge their understanding of the Bible. Clarify for them what the Bible really teaches.
||Don’t take offense at Satanists’ mockery and rejection of your beliefs.
1Bob Passantino and Gretchan Passantino, When the Devil Dares Your Kids (Ann Arbor, Mich: Servant Books, 1991) 34.
2Quoted by Blance Barton, The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey (Los Angeles: Feral House, 1990) 205.
3Anton Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible (New York: Avon Books, 1969) 25.
4 Bob Passantino and Gretchen Passantino, Satanism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) 50.