...in the form of devil worship cults, reports the mass media. But if there is a devil, and if he has returned, where has he been all these years?
In recent years, the topic of Satan and evil spirits has increasingly become the theme of books, movies, and TV programs around the world. Popular books such as Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth and The Exorcist have sparked the interest of millions of readers everywhere. Chilling movies such as "The Other" and "Rosemary's Baby" (in which a woman has a baby by a demon) have been box office attractions, topped now by "The Exorcist." One major international airline is even offering a fourteen-day psychic package tour of England, complete with a banquet dinner sponsored by the Spiritualist Association of Britain. In Italy, black magic is thriving, as thousands of soothsayers, clairvoyants, and astrologers continue to do a booming business. According to the French publication Lectures Pour Tous (May 1971), "a distinct renewal of sorcery and Satanism" is occurring among Frenchmen. And in West Germany, traditional land of witches, spells, and hexes, upwards of some 10,000 people are actively engaged in this neocultism. Some devil worship groups have even incorporated themselves into regular, full-fledged churches boasting memberships ranging into the thousands. Of course, most people become acquainted with devil worship through sensational newspaper accounts detailing grisly cult-related slayings — some involving such macabre atrocities as cannibalism and human sacrifice. Isn't it time we found out why this phenomenon continues to exist in our modern world? Is it because a literal devil has returned under the guise of the cults which bear his name?
First, understand what Satanism is — and what the general beliefs of its followers are. The PLAIN TRUTH recently sent several staff correspondents to interview Anton Szandor La Vey, founder of the San Francisco-based First Satanic Church. La Vey's organization is perhaps the best-known devil worship group, claiming a worldwide membership of well over 20,000. Its teachings reflect the beliefs of many other Satanists. Here are its most significant teachings: No literal devil. Contrary to what one might expect, most devil worshippers don't believe in a literal devil — that is, in a devil as opposed to a Creator God. Instead, they feel that the conventional Satan and the God of organized Christianity are actually one and the same being. They feel obligated, therefore, to worship this being, since he, as they see it, is both creator and ruler of society. "He is the lord of this world," says Anton La Vey, "so we might as well recognize him and give him his due." No afterlife. Most Satanists tend to discount the idea of any afterlife. They show particular contempt for such theological teachings as heaven, hell, and other concepts pertaining to reward or punishment for conduct in this life. As Anton La Vey explained, "We emphasize the 'here and now' — not the unreal, intangible hereafter."
Spurn Organized Religion
"Christianity," says Anton La Vey, "is nothing more than a diabolical plot which was designed to keep mankind entrapped for several thousand years until a better mousetrap could be invented." His words mirror the way most devil worshippers view the religious establishment. Most Satanist cult traditions and rites mock the dogmas of conventional theology. Members of the First Satanic Church, for example, are admonished to learn and indulge in the "seven deadly sins of Christianity" — namely lust, greed, gluttony, envy, jealousy, pride, and slothfulness. They are also urged to read and study La Vey's self-created Satanic Bible, which is a sort of upside-down satire of the Gospels, containing such passages as "if someone hits you on one cheek — smash him on the other." Satanic Church leaders also poke fun at the conventional "Satan image" during cult rituals when they dress up in red and black garb, complete with horns, tail, and pitchfork. "Do your own thing." The philosophy of gratifying the physical senses through whatever means is a major part of most Satanist groups. Cult members regularly indulge in illicit sex, drug usage, and other forms of permissive behavior as a normal part of cult-related activity. Of course, there are a few twisted individuals who "do their own thing" by committing heinous criminal atrocities under the guise of devil worship. It is these few who usually receive sensational coverage in the mass media when their acts of horror are finally uncovered. But the majority of Satanists appear as normal people who want nothing to do with these few psychotic murderers. But again we ask, why does such a bizarre phenomenon as devil worship continue to thrive in our 20th century world?
"The Devil's Appeal"
Actually, devil worship exists today because of its appeal to a certain fringe segment of the population. It satisfies two basic desires for this minority. The first is the opportunity for thrills and excitement. The permissiveness of devil worship offers its members the chance to have a good time. For some, the lure is sex. For others, it is drugs. Then there are those who are just looking for the chance to indulge in something unique and bizarre. The opportunity to poke fun at established religion has a special appeal also. Many have grown up in the churches of organized Christianity and are personally acquainted with how disillusioning and unrelated traditional religion has become. Many take great pleasure, therefore, in ridiculing the hypocrisy and stiffness of conventional theology. The second desire is the need for some form of religion. Man's need for religion is as basic to his nature as his desire for food and water. People need to believe in something — and to join with others who believe in essentially the same thing. Satanism offers its members the opportunity to "do their own thing" under the guise of religion. "Devil worship is a religion," contends Anton La Vey. "It's just that our name is unconventional." Of course, since most devil worshippers don't believe in an afterlife, they generally don't take their cult's confused "theological" concepts too seriously.
The Way Most Christians View It
Most church people shudder at the thought of a group of people voluntarily serving the devil — that is, the devil they picture in their minds. In the minds of most religiously oriented people, the devil is symbolic of all that is evil. This devil is a sort of half-human, half-animal creature with horns, tail, and cloven hoof. Armed with his trusty pitchfork and commanding countless legions of subservient evil spirits, this devil is supposedly busy at work persuading millions of hapless humans to sell their souls to him. Among his other alleged duties is "lord of the underworld" — caretaker of the souls of the wicked dead — custodian of the nether reaches of hell. Satanism is the chief tool of this devil, according to many in the religious establishment. And every time reports of growing devil worship crop up, the concept of this devil is reinforced in their minds — a concept which somehow they have associated with the book they claim to be the source of their beliefs — the Holy Bible. Now consider the concept of the devil as viewed by many in the more secular stratum of society, particularly educators, scientists, and philosophers. Satanism, as well as traditional dogma, is viewed as a modern-day exercise in medieval futility. The idea of a supernatural God or devil is, to them, a story-bookish concept direct from the pages of science fiction. So each time reports of devil worship come to the surface, the "devil is a myth" concept becomes ever more deeply etched in their minds.
A Clever Smokescreen
This brings us to the crux of the whole matter. The importance of Satanism lies not in its impact on the relatively few involved in devil worship, but on the majority in the mainstream of society itself. That is, Satanism directly reinforces a number of fallacious assumptions in the minds of all individuals. It reinforces, among the more secular members of the population, the assumption that the supernatural is fiction, and hence, the devil is pure myth. Among the religiously inclined, it reinforces the belief that the devil portrayed by Satanism is indeed the real devil. (Apparently it never enters most people's minds that the real devil might be an alternative to what they have always been taught or led to believe.) Actually, there does exist a literal devil — a devil most people know nothing about. Uncovering his identity is possible only through divine revelation — and by the only source of that knowledge which man cannot otherwise discover for himself. That source is the Holy Bible. Yet, down through history, mankind has tended to either reject, ignore, or misinterpret this precious storehouse of knowledge. And in so doing, he has discarded the only source by which the supernatural may be accurately judged. The result has been the proliferation of all sorts of confusing ideas about the devil — especially about his appearance. In reality, the devil of devil worship is a counterfeit devised by the real devil himself. And Satanism is nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up what this real devil has been up to all these years! That is the truth of your Bible!
Will the Real Devil Please Stand Up?
Nowhere does Scripture depict the devil as having horns, pitchfork, and goatee. Neither does it describe him as a being who periodically flees the scene only to come back in the form of the cults which bear his name. Rather, the written word of God reveals a being of far greater subtlety who has deceived all of society — the whole world. He is referred to in II Corinthians 4:4 as "the god of this world." Other passages picture him as "... the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world..." (Revelation 12:9, The Living Bible). The devil described in the Bible is a being of superior, yet distorted, mind power capable of injecting twisted thoughts and impulses into unsuspecting human minds. Ephesians 2:2 labels him "the prince of the power of the air." It is this devil who has influenced man to build a totally false society from bottom to top — including its religions, education, philosophies, and speculative sciences. Satanist cults are but another distorted creation of this real devil, a creation he has devised to cover up the fact that his entire society is false. But mankind, blinded to the truth of God's word, has been essentially unaware of just how far-reaching Satan's influence in the guidance of human affairs has been. Had man — individually and collectively — not rejected what God told him, he would have understood the devil's role in the development of human' governments, religions, and philosophies — in the proliferation of wars, armed conflicts, and countless other human catastrophes. Man would have known that Satan has been here all the time, deceiving humans into believing that he doesn't exist — or into accepting false characterizations about him. Man would have known that Satan has weaved his subtle web of deception much more effectively through the mainstreams of established society than through the smokescreen of so-called Satanism. The truth is: Satan has deceived "the whole world" (Revelation 12:9), not just Satanists and devil worshippers. That includes this world's philosophers, educators, scientists — yes, even its theologians. They too, under Satan's influence, have either rejected or misunderstood the real truth of God. The result has been a deceived humanity — a deception God has allowed (not caused). Why? Because Almighty God will not force mankind to accept his truth. God has allowed humans the freedom of choice. But man has chosen to reject the revealed word of God.
One Last Great Deception
Because modern man continues to spurn God's truth, he is unaware that the stage is currently being set on the world scene for an unprecedented performance of literal Satanic miracles — in the name of Christianity! These miracles, specifically foretold in the pages of your Bible, will be astounding. In fact, one great false religious leader yet to appear on the scene will utilize the very power of the devil himself (II Thessalonians 2:9). His remarkable front-page spectaculars will have a profound impact on people from all walks of life. Since the world of science will be unable to explain them, scientists will be dumbfounded. Religious leaders and laymen alike will think these clever miracles are of God because they have never really understood the scriptures that warn of Satan's power and ability to perform them. In fact, so astounding will these miracles be, that even world political figures will be misled. As shocking as it might sound, biblical prophecy indicates that this great false religious leader — described in the scriptures as the "false prophet" (Revelation 16:13) — will set himself up as the world's divine "emissary of peace." He will seek to locate his headquarters in Jerusalem — the religious hub of the world — where he will view himself not only as the implementer of Middle East peace, but also of world peace. Miracles will play a major role in convincing both the Christian and non-Christian worlds of his claims. Such startling occurrences will enable this false prophet to, among other things: amalgamate the religious commitment of vast segments of humanity, integrate the world's system of trade and commerce with religion, and above all else, suppress the real truth of the source of his power — and the identity of the evil spirit inspiring him — Satan himself. The point is: Satan hasn't come back. He never left. He's been here all the time. But now he is preparing the world for his greatest masterpiece of deception. This coming deception is one you can personally avoid.- The truth is available. But you must act on it. We invite you to read our free booklets The Occult Explosion: What Does It Mean? and Did God Create a Devil?