While much variety exists in how Satanism is defined, it is generally understood as a religious movement in which Satan is worshiped. The modern Church of Satan began with a man named Anton LaVey who wrote the Satanic Bible and founded the Church of Satan in 1966.
The Church of Satan holds to "The Nine Satanic Statements" found in the Satanic Bible. These include the belief that, "Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence," and, "Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek." Many of these beliefs are clear "opposites" or contrasts from biblical principles.
In addition, the Church of Satan accepts "The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth." These ethical applications include practices such as, "If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy," and, "Acknowledge the power of magic."
The Church of Satan, surprisingly, also holds to a list of "The Nine Satanic Sins." These include general categories such as stupidity, self-deceit, and lack of perspective.
The leadership of the modern Church of Satan includes a Council of Nine who serves as the organization's ruling body, led by a high priest or priestess. Other leaders exist as well, with many leaders taking titles such as priest/priestess, magister/magistra.
The Church of Satan is certainly the best known of the Satanist organizations, due to LaVey's influence. However, it is only one example of one branch of Satanism. LaVey's organization holds to, and made popular, atheistic Satanism: they reject a literal being called Satan, let alone any type of god-figure. The other branch of Satanism is called theistic Satanism, which acknowledges the existence of Satan, though they do not always describe Satan as he is found in the Bible. For example, the Temple of Set worships a being they interchangeably call Satan or Set, who was the "Prince of Darkness" in ancient Egyptian religion. Not all Satanist organizations are fully theistic or atheistic. The Temple of Set leaves that decision up to their members, as do other "churches" or orders.
The symbol of Satanism is usually considered an upside down five-pointed star. This symbol allows one to see the head of a goat and has long been associated with paganism in general. The Satanic Bible uses this image on its cover enshrined in a circle. However, a five-pointed star inside of a circle with one point upward (called a pentagram) does not have the same meaning and is generally considered a symbol of Wicca (witchcraft) instead.
Regardless of variations between various forms of modern Satanism, all forms reject worship of the God of the Bible. Instead of turning from sin and embracing the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ, Satanism embraces sin and rejects God's forgiveness. Those who follow the practices of Satanism fit Peter's description in 2 Peter 2:14-15, "They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray."
Clearly, Satanism stands in complete contrast with biblical Christianity. Those who follow Jesus reject the practices of Satanism and seek to pray for and evangelize those influenced by Satanism's practices and teachings. The goal is to help as many as possible receive eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
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