Satanism

Overview

Belief in Satan worship is often viewed as an embarrassing throwback to the superstitions of another time. And "selling your soul to the Devil"? Nothing more than an overworked theme in literature and opera. To the contrary, Bob and Gretchen Passantino show how, in the midst of prevailing attitudes of skepticism and disbelief, Satanism has made unprecedented inroads into our society.

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Overview

Belief in Satan worship is often viewed as an embarrassing throwback to the superstitions of another time. And "selling your soul to the Devil"? Nothing more than an overworked theme in literature and opera. To the contrary, Bob and Gretchen Passantino show how, in the midst of prevailing attitudes of skepticism and disbelief, Satanism has made unprecedented inroads into our society.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Bob and Gretchen Passantino are the directors of Answers in Action, an organization dedicated to Christian discipleship and a Christian worldview. They have worked in cult apologetics for more than twenty years and are the authors of several books.

Alan W. Gomes (Ph D, Fuller Theological Seminary) is associate professor of historical theology and chairman of the department of theology at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.

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Read an Excerpt

Satanism


By Bob Passantino Gretchen Passantino

Zondervan

Copyright © 1995 Zondervan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-70451-0


Chapter One

Part 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."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Satanism by Bob Passantino Gretchen Passantino Copyright © 1995 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents
How to Use This Book 6
I. Introduction 7
II. History 13
III. Misconceptions About Satanism 45
IV. Theology 63
V. Witnessing Tips 79
VI. Selected Bibliography 81
VII. Parallel Comparison Chart 85
VIII. Glossary 89

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First Chapter

How to Use This Book
The Zondervan Guide to Cults and Religious Movements comprises sixteen volumes, treating many of the most important groups and belief systems confronting the Christian church today. This series distills the most important facts about each and presents a well-reasoned, cogent Christian response. The authors in this series are highly qualified, well-respected professional Christian apologists with considerable expertise on their topics.
We have designed the structure and layout to help you find the information you need as quickly as possible. All the volumes are written in outline form, which allows us to pack substantial content into a short book. With some exceptions, each book contains, first, an introduction to the cult, movement,
or belief system. The introduction gives a brief history of the group, its organizational structure, and vital statistics such as membership. Second, the theology section is arranged by doctrinal topic, such as God, Christ, sin, and salvation. The movement's position is set forth objectively, primarily from its own official writings. The group's teachings are then refuted point by point,
followed by an affirmative presentation of what the Bible says about the doctrine.
The third section is a discussion of witnessing tips. While each witnessing encounter must be handled individually and sensitively, this section provides some helpful general guidelines, including both dos and don'ts. The fourth section contains annotated bibliographies, listing works by the groups themselves and books written by Christians in response. Fifth, each book has a parallel comparison chart, with direct quotations from the cultic literature in the left column and the biblical refutation on the right. Some of the books conclude with a glossary.
One potential problem with a detailed outline is that it is easy to lose one's place in the overall structure. Therefore, we have provided graphical
'signposts' at the top of the odd numbered pages. Functioning like a 'you are here' map in a shopping mall, these graphics show your place in the outline,
including the sections that come before and after your current position.
(Those familiar with modern computer software will note immediately the resemblance to a 'drop-down' menu bar, where the second-level choices vary depending on the currently selected main menu item.) In the theology section we have also used 'icons' in the margins to make clear at a glance whether the material is being presented from the cultic or Christian viewpoint. For example,
in the Mormonism volume the sections presenting the Mormon position are indicated with a picture resembling the angel Moroni in the margin; the biblical view is shown by a drawing of the Bible.
We hope you will find these books useful as you seek 'to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have' (1
Peter 3:15).
---Alan W. Gomes, Ph.D.
Series Editor
Part 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.'1
2. Most satanists, such as Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor
LaVey, are strict materialistic iconoclasts who worship themselves2
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.3 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.4
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 Beelzebul5 (Matt. 10:25),
'the evil one' (Matt. 5:37), and one of the evil or unclean spirits (Matt.
12:45; Mark 6:7)
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