Christian responses to "Satanism" and journalists who write about it
Commercial pressure leads Rapport to scrap column : Mail & Guardian Online: “Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport has scrapped writer Deon Maas’s column after his piece on satanism prejudiced the paper’s commercial interests, its editor said on Thursday. Following the appearance of the opinion piece on November 4, readers started an SMS campaign calling for a boycott of sales on Sunday, said editor Tim du Plessis in a statement.”
The controversy has spilled over into the blogosphere, but in the confusion the points made in the original article have been been lost.
In the original column Deon Maas wrote about a woman who was arrested for possession of heroin and cocaine, but found it disturbing that the police, after searching her bedroom, were now investigating her for Satanism, after finding Satanist documents written in blood, candles, human hair and more.
Maas notes that he had candles in his house, because of Eskom’s lack of planning, and wondered why no one had informed the investigating officer that the constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Maas said that he himself was not religious, and that if he were in the market for a religion, Satanism would seem like too much effort, slaughtering peaceful domestic animals, and rising after midnight to practise your faith.
Maas also observes that the Satanist ethic of do to others what they do to you or before they do it to you might not go down too well among those raised in religions with an ethic of turning the other cheek, but that it sounds to him like standard behaviour in the business world of Johannesburg.
So why the storm of protest, threats of boycotts etc.?
What should a Christian response to Satanism be?
In the Christian understanding Satan is an over-zealous public prosecutor who got fired for exceeding his powers. He was the prosecutor in the heavenly court (“satan” is a noun rather than a name, an office; it means “accuser” or “adversary” as does the Greek diavolos, from which the English word “devil” is derived).
Like many human prosecutors, Satan wanted to up the conviction rate, thought the judge (God) was too soft on criminals (sinners) and thought it better that the innocent should be punished than that the guilty should escape (sound familiar?) He brought accusations against the high priest Joshua, representing God’s people (Zechariah 3) which Christians see as typologically referring to Jesus (“Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua). Jesus was found guilty in the magistrate’s court (Annas and Caiaphas), and in the high court (Pilate), but in the supreme court of appeal (heaven) he was acquitted. Not only was the verdict reversed (guilty to innocent) but so was the sentence (death to resurrection). Satan not only lost his case but lost his job, and was thrown out of court (Revelation 12:7-12) and is going around looking for revenge.
Another image of Satan given in the Bible is of a concentration camp commandant. He has turned the whole world into a jail (Luke 11:14-26) but Jesus has come into the jail in the guise of a prisoner, tied up the chief warder, and smashed the gates, asks his followers to go around telling the prisoners that they are free.
That is a very brief and over-simplified account of the Christian understanding of Satan.
And if we look at things from that point of view, the last people Satan is going to be concerned with is Satanists. Far from trying to escape, the Satanists are in the prison voluntarily. Satan doesn’t have to worry about them at all.
No, where Satan is most active is among the Christians, and in the churches. He’s not worried about the volunteers, he’s worried about the conscripts who have deserted. It’s in the churches where we need to be concerned about satanic activity, because that is where Satan is most active. And the most characteristically satanic activity of all is the making of accusations, because Satan is, above all else, the Great Accuser.