LATER HISTORY: 100 CE TO NOW
Topics covered in this essay:
Much of the attention of the early church was spent in trying to firm up theological
beliefs on the exact nature of God, Jesus, Satan, salvation, Heaven, Hell, etc. The early
church writers debated:
|whether Satan's fall occurred before the creation of the world, while Adam and Eve
were in Eden, or after the fall.|
|the precise cause of Satan's rebellion.|
|whether angels lusted after human women, and whether this lust was the cause or a result
of their fall.|
|whether or not Satan, his demons and unsaved humans would all be eventually saved.|
Clement of Alexander (circa 150-213 CE) was the first
post-Biblical major Christian writer to claim
that the gods of other religions were demons: "The verdict of the prophets is
that the gods of all the nations are images of demons." 1
This teaching contradicted the general belief in the Roman Empire that the gods of all
religions and nations were universal, and differed only y having various local
names and certain minor
differences in their characteristics.
In the development of religions, the gods of the old religion
often became the demons of the new faith. This was seen above when Zoroastrianism was
founded. It was seen again in the Middle Ages when many of the attributes of the Greek God
Pan were adsorbed by Satan: "goat-hoofs, horns and unremitting lust; sometimes
also a goat head and an attendant throng of satyrs," who became demons.
Pan was the horned God of the Greeks, and is also seen as the horned consort of the
Goddess among the Wiccans. Later, he was given additional attributes: "a long
serpentine tail with a heart-shaped tip, long claw-like fingernails, the leathery wings of
bats, and a trident." 3
Saint Augustine (354-430 CE) invented a new type of demon - a
kind of sexual tormentor. Incubi were male fallen angels who sexually attacked women at
night time and brought them immense sexual pleasure. Succubae were female fallen angels
who coupled with men during their sleep. Their existence was confirmed by Thomas Aquinas
(1225-1274). Aquinas also believed that the devil is the cause of sin, and "was
probably the very highest angel who, through pride, fell immediately after creation,
seducing those who followed him to become his subjects."
The Roman church's Fourth Lateran Council of 1215
determined that: "The devil and the demons were also created by God; at the
moment of their creation, they were not evil; they became so through their own sins, and
ever since they have busied themselves with the temptation of men."
The church taught that pastimes and spirituality outside of
orthodox Christianity are a form of Satan worship. This included astrology, ceremonial
magick, divination, pagan and rituals of other religions, etc. 5
Once other religious faiths are considered as forms of Satan worship, then the worse
excesses of religious intolerance and genocide can follow. The church exterminated the
Cathars as devil worshipers in the 13th Century, and killed off the Knights Templar in the
14th century. Other non-conforming religious groups were similarly targeted and wiped out.
Religious dualism, originating with the Zoroastrians, and
filtered through Judaism, reached its logical conclusion in Christianity. If God has
innumerable angels as messengers, and a visible church of believers, it was reasoned that
Satan must have demons as helpers and an invisible assembly of Satan worshipers. And so,
the church imagined the existence of an entire network of people who had sold their soul
to Satan, worshiped him, and dedicated their life to harming and killing other people.
With the exception of some mentally ill individuals, no such network existed.
In the 14th century, Nicholas Eymerich, a Dominican, wrote a
tract called "Directorium Inquisitorum", or the "Handbook of
the Inquisitors." He described three forms of Devil worship:
|Latria: praising Satan and flagellating oneself|
|Dulia: "combining the names of demons
with those of the blessed"|
|"curious practices, including the use of the magic circle
and other necromancies such as love potions, magical philters and talismans."
Near the end of the 15th century, two Dominicans by the name of
Henry Kraemer and Jacques Sprenger wrote a book: "Malleus Maleficorum"
or "Witches' Hammer." It became the legal
reference book of the Witch burning times. The book was inspired by a combination of
hatred of women, fear of sexuality and religious superstition. Hundreds of thousands of
innocent people were accused of Satan worship, tortured until they confessed, and burned
at the stake. Although the Inquisition is generally associated with the witch
burnings, it was the civil courts who were responsible for most trials.
The Inquisitors prosecuted this activity with the greatest thoroughness;
they feared that if even one Satanist were left alive, the church would be in danger.
Their rationale for the torture/murder of heretics was very simple: their victims were
destined for eternal torment in Hell because of their beliefs. By torturing them until
they recanted their faith and accepted Christianity, they had a chance to attain heaven.
And then, of course, the church burned them alive so that they could not revert to their
original heresy. A few hours or days of pain on earth was a great bargain if it avoided
eternal torture in Hell. For 3 centuries, western Europe was caught in an orgy of demonic
superstition. The last European heretic was burned alive at the stake in Poland
From some clerics' hatred of women and fear of human sexuality
came the belief that every newborn was possessed by an indwelling demon. The church
regularly exorcised babies at the time of baptism with the following ritual:
"I exorcise you unclean spirit in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Come out and leave this servant of God
[infant's name]. Accursed and damned spirit, hear the command of God himself, he who
walked upon the sea and extended his right hand to Peter as he was sinking. Therefore,
accursed devil, acknowledge your condemnation...and depart from this servant of God
[infant's name]...Never dare, accursed devil, to violate the sign of the holy cross which
we place upon his/her forehead. Through Christ our Lord."
When the Church of England split from Roman Catholicism, they
abandoned the baptism-exorcism ritual. The Protestant churches also rejected it at the
time of the Reformation. The Protestant churches continued to kill religious
heretics. The main difference was that they used less torture and adopted a less
painful method of execution --
they hung their victims instead of burning them alive.
The church taught that Satan can appear as an angel of light.
Thus the Inquisition might charge a person with Satan worship if they claimed to have had
an angelic vision. Joan of Arc was so charged, as an "invoker of demons,"
and burned at the stake. She was later recognized as a saint.
The Witch-Heretic burning times came to a halt, late in the 18th
century. The rationale of the Inquisition still matched church belief - that by forcing
heretics to recant their faith, they might avoid eternal torture in Hell. But people
simply grew to understand that whatever demonic-inspired religious activity there was in
western Europe in the 15th to the 18th century, it was mostly within the church itself,
and not in any supposed Satan worshipers. The church suffered a major loss of credibility.
In the 19th century, some theologians began to question the
existence of Satan. They concluded that: "Jesus and his disciples drew their
demonology from the common life of the period rather than from Scripture, so that the
concept of Satan is not a permanent element in Christian doctrine."
In 1972, the Catholic church abandoned the office of Exorcist.
Any priest can now approach his bishop for permission to cast out demons. The church
now views demon
possession as being primarily caused by a force "lurking within all individuals,"
not a living entity attacking from outside. 7 With the rise
in the public's faith in the mental health professions, exorcisms have become
less common. They still continue at some level, because accidental deaths during amateur
Christian exorcisms by both Protestants and Roman Catholics are reported at the rate of
about one a year in North America.
Belief in the existence of Satan as a living entity remains
active in the Roman Catholic church. "Although Satan remained the tempter, faith
and prayer would deliver us from evil, and through a constant awareness and charity, and
the seeking after justice and individual holiness one can defeat the devil."
Satan is also regarded as an all-evil devil by Fundamentalist and other Evangelical
Christians. Many of the latter see the Christian believer as permanently engaged in
"Spiritual Warfare," fighting off continual attacks by Satan and his demons, who
seek to dominate, manipulate, tempt and control.
Two socially destructive movements related to belief in Satanism became
widespread in the 1980's:
|Allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse: (SRA)
This involved a return to the beliefs of the Middle Ages: the conviction that Satanists
were secretly organized on a local, county, state/province, national and international
level. They were kidnapping or otherwise obtaining tens of thousands of infants and
children for human sacrifice each year in North America. The initial trigger for this
civil panic was the publishing of a book, "Michelle Remembers" which
alleged to be a documentary account of a young girl's abuse at the hands of Satanists. The
book has since been investigated by three groups and found to be a fraud. But other
similar books followed, and a whole SRA industry grew up during the 1980's, reached a peak
in the early 1990's and is now in decline. The complete absence of hard evidence of any
criminal activity has led to credibility problems. There are many indicators that SRA does not exist, or exists at an extremely low level. The main
driving force behind the SRA panic was the belief in the accuracy of recovered
memories which has since subsided.|
|Allegations of Ritual Abuse in Day Care
Centers: This involved the belief that children in some day care centers were being
sexually abused; some within a ritual setting. There was a parallel belief that children
were being kidnapped by adults and abused in a home setting. The first case was in Bakersfield CA; the second in Manhattan Beach CA (McMartin Preschool). Dozens of other cases arose throughout North
America. The driving force behind these cases appears to be the accidental implantation of
false memories by police officers, social workers and child psychologists. It was not
realized at the time how easy it is for an investigator to implant
memories in young children, simply by asking repeated and/or direct questions.
Hundreds of innocent adults were found guilty of crimes that probably never happened, and
were given long jail sentences. Many of these cases have since been reviewed and
Religious Satanists do exist. But they
generally do not recognize the existence of, nor worship the Christian devil. Most
recognize Satan as a pre-Christian pagan force, and have a code of behavior that promotes
"indulgence... vital existence... undefiled wisdom... kindness to those who
deserve it... vengeance.. responsibility to the responsible... physical, mental or
emotional gratification." 9 There is no credible evidence that
adult religious Satanists engage in significant criminal activity. Some teenage and youth
"dabblers" into Satanism do engage in graffiti and minor vandalism, but they
have little or no connection with religious Satanists.
Wiccans and other Neopagans are often confused with devil worshipers. There total
about 250,000 in the United States. They follow a nature based religion, not unlike Native American spirituality. Neopagans worship a God and a
Goddess, but do not recognize the existence of an all-evil deity such as the Christian
A great deal of religious intolerance
is generated by a key belief of some Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations -
that the gods and goddesses of non-Christian religions are in fact demonic entities. It is
difficult for a believer to accept the legitimacy of Buddhism, Hinduism, Neopaganism and hundreds of
other religions, if he/she believes that the deities of those religions are demons
controlled by Satan. This is particularly true if the believer has sensed what they
believe to be Satanic oppression in their own lives. Also, misunderstandings occur when
North American society has two very different definitions of Satanism:
|Common conservative Christian definition: any
non-Judeo-Christian religion, from Buddhism to Hinduism to Zoroastrianism. There are about
3 billion Satanists in the world.|
|Conventional definition: a specific religion
which worships the Christian devil, Satan. There are a few tens of thousands of Satanists
in the world.|
- Saint Clement, "Exorcism to the Greeks," quoted in G. Messandé, op.
cit. (Page 262)
- B.G. Walker, "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets," Harper
& Row, San Francisco, CA, (1983), Page 765 to 766.
- Charles Panati, "Sacred Origins of Profound Things," Penguin, New
York NY (1996), Page 374
- S.B. Ferguson et al, "New Dictionary of Theology," InterVaristy
Press, Downers Grove, IL, (1988), Page 196 to 198.
- B.G. Walker, op. cit., Page 895 to 896
- G. Messandé, op. cit., Page 279
- Richard Owen, "Satan gets a facelift," The Australian, 1999-JAN-26
- R.C. Broderick, Ed., "The Catholic Encyclopedia", Thomas Nelson,
Nashville, TN, (1987), Page 542.
- A.S. LaVey, "The Satanic Bible," Avon, New York, NY, (1969), Page 25.
This book outlines the beliefs of the Church of Satan, which is probably the largest
Satanic group in North America.
Copyright ©1998 to 2001 incl. by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2001-NOV-12
Author: B.A. Robinson