Monday, January 4, 2010

Paganism And Satanism A Religious Scholar Point Of View

Paganism And Satanism A Religious Scholar Point Of View Cover Paganism and Satanism: A Religion Major's Point of View

There is much discussion about the role of Satanism in various communities. Many Christians assume that all religions that do not worship the Abrahamic God are officially Satanic. Since Pagans generally do not worship the Abrahamic God, then they are, according to the Christians in question, Satanists. Pagans in the world of Religious scholars, however, are defined as being anyone that is not Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, or Hindu.1 However, most Pagans repeat the same phrase to these allegations as they have been repeating for years: "I don't even believe in Satan, so how could I be a Satanist?" This seems especially true, given that Satanism is an actual religion as practiced by the Church of Satan.

Anton LeVay founded the Church of Satan circa 1966. 2 It has been touted as a farce, a parody, a series of lies, and the "best thing to happen to Satan since the Mormons."3 However, a controversy lies in whether Satanism as practiced by the Church of Satan is a sect of Christianity or a kind of Paganism.

I am going out on a limb, and am probably making myself rather unpopular in the Pagan community to say that Satanism is a kind of Paganism. And this is why: Christianity and all of its sects operate under the basic assumption that God is in His Heaven and He sent His son to earth as Jesus. Jesus was crucified and died with our sins and came back to life after three days. Jesus, His ascended Spirit, and God the Father function as the Holy Trinity. The Bible is the Word of this God and all of the statements in it are His Holy Laws. However, Satanism may use some of these characters in its workings, but it does not use them in the same manner. It certainly does not observe the same Laws.4

If one asks any Protestant Christian, he will find that the answer to what a "true" Christian is, is a person who has admitted to being a sinner and who absolves himself to Christ, devoting himself to the love of Christ and the fact that Christ died for his sins.5 If one asks a Catholic the same question, he will be told that a "true" Christian is one who attends mass regularly, holds God and His Son to be true, and Mary is a Saint. He takes communion when he is at church and he does good deeds with the thought of God in mind.6 Islam involves many of these same principles, but in Islam Mohammed is the true Prophet who speaks the Word of God and Mecca is the Holy Land.7 Judaism does not recognize that the Son of God has come to earth yet, and is still awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. God's Word is Law and His Son does not enter into the theological equation, as the New Testament of Christ is not observed. Buddhism has nothing to do with any of this, and espouses the words of the Buddha. The Four Golden Truths must be acknowledged and practiced and the highest state of being is Enlightenment. The way to Enlightenment involves specific mantras and trantras and the recognition and acceptance that there is no unchangeable, permanent self or "soul."8 Hinduism is also occupied with enlightenment, although instead of Nirvana it is called Moksha. The three primary deities of Hinduism are Shiva, Vishnu, and Devi. Generally, a person will focus primarily on one of these gods, and the focus of worship may change several times over the course of a life. The Gods are the end-all and be-all of Hindu theology and come in a variety of incarnations.9 The Church of Satan, however, does not include any of these ideologies.

Regarding specifically the Christian "Satan," there is much debate about what, exactly, Satan is. However, there is little problem with accepting one basic assertion: Satan is the manifestation of total free will. God granted His children Free Will so that they could make decisions for themselves and God could be certain of their devotion to Him. This creates a paradox: If God has created Free Will that means that people are able to act against His Will. If He controls all things, then how can people truly disobey Him? Satan tempts them; that's the answer. The first instance of Satan is the Serpent of Genesis. God decreed to Adam and Eve that they were not to eat of the Fruit of Knowledge. Knowledge is power and it would give them too much awareness. The serpent, as Free Will, enticed Eve with a seductive call to power and knowledge. Eve was drawn into the trap and chose to trust the serpent instead of God. She ate the fruit and she loved the power this choice had given her.10 She called her husband over and he, too, was drawn in by the seduction of power and knowledge. The serpent operated completely opposite God in all ways and he drew God's children into his web. Adam and Eve both had an option: Trust in God the Father and abstain from eating the fruit or seize their power of resistance and do what they wanted despite God's warnings. They chose to disobey; their Free Will, in the form of the serpent enabled this to happen. Because they disobeyed God's rule, they were cast out of Eden and forced to suffer. Satan is a recurring theme in the Bible, constantly tempting people away from God's Law and encouraging them to seek total and complete Free Will.

This does not, of course, mean that all Pagans are Satanists, and some Satanists may very well object to being Pagans, but given the terminology it only makes sense.

Suggested ebooks:

Rodolfo Amadeo Lanciani - Pagan And Christian Rome
Alfred Thompson - Magic And Mystery A Popular History
Gregory Price Grieve - Imagining A Virtual Religious Community Neo Pagans On The Internet