Satan and Satanism by M. F. Unger and I. Hexham Satan (Heb. satan, +quot;adversary+quot;).
Satan and Satanism
by M. F. Unger and I. Hexham
Satan (Heb. satan, "adversary"). The devil, a high angelic creature
who, before the creation of the human race, rebelled against the Creator
and became the chief antagonist of God and man. Theologians to a large
extent have refused to apply the far-reaching prophecies of Isa. 14:12-14
and Ezek. 28:12-15 to Satan under the contention that they are addressed
solely to the king of Babylon in the first instance and to the king of Tyre
in the second. Others contend that this interpretation is unwarranted for
two reasons. First, it fails to take into account the fact that these
prophecies far transcend any earthly ruler and, second, it ignores the
close connections Satan has in Scripture with the government of the satanic
world system (Dan. 10:13; Eph. 6:12) of which both ancient Babylon and Tyre
were an inseparable part. In their full scope these passages paint Satan's
past career as "Lucifer" and as "the Anointed Cherub" in his prefall
splendor. They portray as well his apostasy in drawing with him a great
multitude of lesser celestial creatures (Rev. 12:4), making him "the Evil
One" or "the Tempter."
These fallen angels (demons) fit into two classes: those that are free
and those that are bound. The former roam the heavenlies with their
prince-leader Satan (Matt. 12:24) and as his emissaries are so numerous as
to make Satan's power practically ubiquitous. The angels (demons) that are
bound are evidently guilty of more heinous wickedness and are incarcerated
in Tartarus (II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). Many theologians connect these
imprisoned demons with fallen angels who cohabited with mortal women (Gen.
Satan caused the fall of the human race as "the Serpent" (Gen. 3). His
judgment was predicted in Eden (vs. 15), and this was accomplished at the
cross (John 12:31-33). As created, his power was second only to God (Ezek.
28:11-16). He is nevertheless only a creature, limited, and permitted to
have power by divine omnipotence and omniscience.
The biblical doctrine of Satan is not a copying of Persian dualism as
some scholars unsoundly allege. Although Satan, even after his judgment in
the cross (Col. 2:15), continues to reign as a usurper (II Cor. 4:4), and
works in tempting and accusing men (Rev. 12:10), he is to be ousted from
the heavenlies (vss. 7-12) as well as the earth (5:1- 19:16), and is to be
confined to the abyss for a thousand years (20:1-3).
When released from the abyss at the end of the thousand years, he will
make one last mad attempt to lead his armies against God (Rev. 20:8-9).
This will result in his final doom when he is cast into the lake of fire
(vs. 10), which has been prepared for him and his wicked angelic
accomplices (Matt. 25:41). This will be the one place where evil angels
and unsaved men will be kept and quarantined so that the rest of God's
sinless universe will not be corrupted in the eternal state.
Satan's present work is widespread and destructive. God permits his
evil activity for the time being. Demons must do Satan's bidding. The
unsaved are largely under Satan's authority, and he rules them through the
evil world system over which he is head and of which the unregenerate are a
part (Isa. 14:12-17; II Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13).
As far as the saved are concerned, Satan is in continued conflict with
them. (Eph. 6:11-18), tempts them, and seeks to corrupt and destroy their
testimony, and even their physical life (I Cor. 5:5; I John 5:16). Satanic
and demonic fury were unleashed against the incarnate Christ. The power of
a sinless humanity called forth special satanic temptation of our Lord
(Matt. 4:1-11). The full glow of light manifested in the earthly life of
him who was "the light of the world" (John 8:12) exposed the darkness of
the powers of evil. This is the explanation of the unprecedented outburst
of demonism that is described in the Gospel narratives. It was because God
anointed Jesus of Nazareth "with the Holy Spirit and with power" that he
"went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil"
SATANISM AND WITCHCRAFT
Worship of Satan and the use of sorcery with evil intent, has become to
be known as Satanism or the practice of Witchcraft. Today, many groups
(especially teenagers and young adults) claim to be neopagans who belong to
such movements. These groups, along with practitioners of ritual magic,
are often conceived as belonging to a vast underground movement with its
roots in antiquity. In fact, the neopagan movement consists of a large
number of small, diverse groups who share the common belief that they are
inheritors of ancient religious traditions. Some of these groups are
violently anti-Christian, but others claim to be the true inheritors of
Gnostic Christianity. The traditions to which they appeal in their
attempts to legitimate themselves vary greatly. Some claim to be a revival
of Druidism, others of Greek religions, or of ancient Egyptian mysteries.
Many simply claim to belong to what they call WICCA, which they assert is
the ancient Witchcraft religion of Europe. A few groups claim to be
satanists who worship the devil of the Christian traditions.
In the new Pagans' understanding to the world, Christians have distorted
humanity's development by emphasizing the dominance of the intellect over
other aspects of the human psyche. Christians, they claim, demand that
humans subordinate themselves, their emotions, and will to God. The new
Pagans argue that humans must live in harmony with nature. Such a harmony
represents a cosmic orientation which they claim brings man in contact with
the cosmic powers of the universe.
For the new Pagans, religion is a practical activity carried out through
ritual and ceremonial act to align the participants with the cosmic order
and thus release the mystical power within them. The exact rituals,
techniques, and beliefs of the new Pagan groups vary greatly. But all are
concerned with a quest for power and the desire that humans control their
The roots of the new Paganism lie in the romantic movement of the
nineteenth century and the desire to exalt feelings and imagination over
the intellect. Thus the poetry of William Blake is often very important to
members of such groups. Contrary to their claims, the history of these
Pagan movements is relatively short. Rather than representing long
historical traditions the majority represent groups only a few decades old.
One of the most important figures in the growth of modern Paganism is
Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-75), who called himself Eliphas Levi. An
ex-Roman Catholic seminarian, he claimed to be an occult initiate and wrote
many books that purported to reveal ancient mysteries and occult law. He
drew upon theories of magic and the kabbalah, which is an ancient system of
In Britain, the growth of modern Paganism was encouraged by the
foundation of the Order of the Golden Dawn in 1888. This is the most
famous of many esoteric groups that grew out of nineteenth century
romanticism. The movement's influence extends to the work of such figures
as the poet W.B. Yeats and the notorious black magician Alistair Crowley.
Most ritual magic and satanistic groups trace their origins to these
The majority of Witchcraft groups have a different and less bizarre
history. In England the work of historian Margaret Murray, who claimed to
have discovered evidence of a pre-Reformation Witchcraft religion, and
Gerald Gardiner, the proprietor of a Witchcraft museum on the Isle of Man,
provides the basis for most WICCA groups. Although these authors give
Witchcraft an apparently respectable history, their works have not stood
the test of time. They are in fact refuted by competent historians.
Today, Witchcraft groups are usually based upon the journalistic writings
of self- proclaimed Witches who propound a religion based upon the concept
of a Mother Goddess. During the 1970s this movement was greatly reinforced
by the writings of some religiously inclined feminists.
Although groups like that of the infamous Manson family are obviously
highly dangerous, the majority of Witchcraft and ritual magic appear to be
relatively innocuous. In attempting to assess such groups it is extremely
important to consider carefully their specific claims. Some self-
proclaimed "white magic" groups appear to be little more than ill-informed
people with vague religious sentiments. Others that practice ritual magic
may be more articulate but are still essentially harmless. There remains,
however, a small number of social deviants who are psychologically
disturbed and potentially socially harmful. It is important to realize,
however, that the vast majority of people involved in the neo-Pagan
movement repudiate and strongly denounce such deviants. Although a
rejection of traditional Christianity, the neopagan movement seems to be
essentially no more harmful than many other religious groups which also
stand outside the Christian tradition.
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