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By Bob Passantino Gretchen Passantino
ZondervanCopyright © 1995 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePart I: Introduction
A glow of new light is borne out of the night and Lucifer is risen, once more to proclaim: "This is the age of Satan! Satan Rules the Earth!" (Anton Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible, 23).
[God] having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (The Holy Bible, Col. 2:15).
I. What Is Satanism?
A. The Difficulty of Classifying Satanists
1. Contemporary satanists defy easy classification. This is partly because of the independent nature of satanism and partly because of satanists' desire for secrecy.
2. If satanists could be characterized in one term, it would be "self-serving." That is, one's own needs, desires, beliefs, and goals are supreme. Consequently, it is to be expected that satanism could have almost as many definitions as practitioners.
B. The Worship of "Satan" the Common Factor
1. "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."
2. Most satanists, such as Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey, are strict materialistic iconoclasts who worship themselves and use the term "Satan" to symbolize their rejection of Christianity, which they define as self-sacrificing, self-debasing, self-denying, oppressive, and powerless. These satanists do not believe in the existence of any spiritual being, Satan or God; they believe in the power of the self.
3. Some satanists (usually self-styled teenage satanists who make up their own system) are not sure whether either God or Satan exists, but they practice their system as though Satan were a powerful spirit being who can give the worshiper power for self-indulgence. These satanists would agree that "Whatever the truth is, this works."
4. Some satanists believe that spiritual power exists, but this power is not directed by any personal entities, spirit or material. This power is available to anyone who learns how to harness it. These satanists practice using this power for self-advancement, not for selfless acts of goodness toward others.
5. Some satanists believe that competing, equal spiritual forces exist (whether personal-God and Satan, or impersonal-good and bad), either of which can be used by humans to achieve power goals. This religious view is known as a form of dualism. These satanists have chosen to use the negative, destructive, or self-indulgent spiritual force.
6. A few satanists (usually self-styled teenage satanists or mentally aberrant adults) believe what the Bible says about God and Satan, but have chosen allegiance to Satan in this life even though they believe that thereby they may be condemned to eternal punishment after death.
C. Satan as Defined in the Bible
1. The Hebrew word from which we get the English term Satan comes from a root that means one who opposes or accuses. While the Greek sometimes transliterates the Hebrew term, forming satanas (Mark 1:13; Luke 22:3), the corresponding Greek term is diabolos (John 6:70; 8:44), and the English term is devil.
2. In addition to being used as the name of the chief fallen angel (Luke 10:18), the Hebrew term is used in the Bible to refer (a) to a human opponent, as in 2 Samuel 19:22; (b) as one sent by God to block one's way, as in Numbers 22:22; and (c) as an evil adversary, as in Zechariah 3:1-2.
3. Demon, from the Greek daimon, or "spiritual power," is often popularly synonymous with devil (Greek version of Isa. 65:11; Matt. 8:31).
4. Other less frequently used terms include Beelzebul (Matt. 10:25), "the evil one" (Matt. 5:37), and one of the evil or unclean spirits (Matt. 12:45; Mark 6:7).
II. Statistics Regarding Contemporary Satanism
Because satanism is largely a solitary, secretive, and self-oriented religion, accurate, precise statistics are impossible to obtain. However, we can give general information about proportionate participation.
A. The False Rumors of Widespread Conspiracies
1. It is not true that there are millions of secret satanists participating in a widespread, nearly invincible, nearly undetectable conspiracy reaching into the highest levels of church, government, law enforcement, and education. Such conspiracy theories are sensationalistic, undocumented, and propagation of such theories is irresponsible. Additionally, they are generally presented within a worldview that attributes more power to Satan and his workers than does the Bible. 2. There are three main reasons for the continuing popularity of this myth.
a. Well-meaning Christians fail to test such a rumor since it seems to be compatible with a biblical interpretation concerning the rise of false belief in the last days. (The Bible nowhere says that such a rise in false belief will be nearly invincible or undetectable.)
b. Public satanists such as LaVey and Temple of Set founder Michael Aquino may allow higher statistics to be attributed to their groups as pseudo-evidence of the power and popularity of their churches. c. Secular media and others substitute ratings-building sensationalism for careful journalistic investigation.
B. What Satanism Is Not
Contemporary satanism is not a harmless pastime of "losers" who are already disaffected from society.
1. It is not true that only psychotic serial killers, suicidal teenagers, or losers "fall" for satanism and therefore it can be dismissed as a self-defeating social anomaly.
2. Public satanists such as LaVey and Aquino promote a religious self-indulgence that appeals to many who have rejected Christianity and are looking for self-fulfillment.
3. While the number of teenagers who practice self-styled satanism for more than a few months or years is small, those who at least dabble in self-styled satanism are numerous and their activities and beliefs frequently affect others.
4. From a Christian perspective, whether few or many worship Satan, and whether few or many are mentally unsound, anyone who worships Satan (however defined and for however long) needs the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.
C. Evidence for the Prevalence of Satanism
1. While precise statistics are inherently unobtainable, the consensus of careful researchers is that the total number of people who would describe themselves as satanists is somewhat fewer than 6,000 worldwide.
2. The vast majority of satanists are self-styled (i.e., they put together their own system).
a. Most self-styled satanists practice their faith alone or with a small group (many times no more than twelve others).
b. These small groups generally exist for a few months or so. c. Very few last longer, and those that do generally join a public satanic church such as LaVey's Church of Satan. 3. Of the public satanic churches, LaVey's Church of Satan is the most well-known, followed by Aquino's Temple of Set and then other small groups that have managed to garner some media attention.
4. Smaller satanic groups include the Church of Satanic Brotherhood, Ordo Templi Satanas, Order of the Black Ram, Shrine of the Little Mother, Church of S.A.T.A.N., Thee Church of Satan, Order of Baal, the Satanic Church, Thee Orthodox Satanic Church, and the Church of Satanic Liberation. 5. Mail-order catalog and newsletter lists provide some continuity among most satanists, as do the books of LaVey such as The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals.
D. Generalizations Derived from Satanic Demographics
1. Most satanists are male.
2. Most are young (ages thirteen to thirty). 3. Most practice their satanism privately and live in the "real" world of employment and normal social relationships most of the time. 4. Most view Christianity or any other traditional religion as narrow, defeatist, self-abasing, and devoid of power.
5. Most view traditional ethical norms as depriving the individual of self-gratification and as denying the "rights" of the individual for the "rights" of the society.
6. Most, like LaVey, practice satanism because it appears to "work" for them. LaVey attributes the success of satanism to this appeal to pragmatism: "It makes sense, therefore it might enrich their lives."
Excerpted from Satanism by Bob Passantino Gretchen Passantino Copyright © 1995 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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