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Temptation of Jesus

(See also Exorcisms, click here).

“Satan,” According To Harperʼs Bible Dictionary

(In Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3:1-2) Satan is depicted as a member of Godʼs court whose basic duty it was to “accuse” human beings before God. He is clearly not at this point an enemy of God and the leader of the demonic forces of evil, as he becomes later… It should be noted that ‘the serpent’ of Genesis 3 is never in the O[ld] T[estament] identified as Satan.

It is during the late postexilic period (after ca. 200 B.C.) and in the intertestamental literature that one first finds the development of the idea of Satan that is assumed in the New Testament writings. Probably under the influence of Persian ideology, there developed in Hebrew thought the idea of a dualism rampant in the created order—a dualism of good versus evil. There existed already the idea that God had a heavenly host, a group of messengers to carry out his work and orders. The Persians also believed in a ruler over the powers of evil, who had many servants in this realm known as demons. The Hebrews could easily understand and assimilate such thinking into their already existing ideas, but they had not yet developed any idea of a major being as a leader of the forces of evil…

Satan and his cohorts then came to represent the powers of evil in the universe and were even known in Jesusʼ time as the Kingdom of Satan, against which Jesus had come to fight and to establish the Kingdom of God…

Former Satanists Who Became Evangelical Christians & The “Satanic Panic” of The 1980s

The testimonies of “former Satanists who became evangelical Christians” have raised questions even among fellow Christians. Take Mike Warnke, the “former Satan worshiper” whose “autobiography,” The Satan Seller, became a Christian best seller. Two Christians interviewed numerous people from Warnkeʼs past and soon discovered that he had had a long history of being a “storyteller” and the tales in his book conflicted seriously with what other people said Warnke was doing at that time in his life. I recommend the book those Christians wrote, Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke by Hertenstein and Trott.

Presumably it was those same reporters (working for the Christian magazine, Cornerstone) who investigated Lauren Stratfordʼs claims in her Christian best seller, Satanʼs Underground. “They turned up so many contradictions that it became clear that little if anything in the book could be trusted as the literal truth. In fact not even the authorʼs name was real, it was Laurel Rose Wilson, and she came from a strict Christian family and only began claiming she had been the victim of a satanic cult in 1985, when two sensational cases surfaced in the national news. Though she displays scars on her body, claiming they were inflicted during rituals by satanic-cult members, the reporters state that they found witnesses who had seen her inflict the wounds herself. At one point she claimed to be blind, but it was discovered that she could see. There was no medical evidence that she had ever been pregnant (which was significant because Ms. Wilson claimed that two of her own babies had been sacrificed in snuff films). The publishers withdrew Satanʼs Underground from publication in January 1990.” (Laurence Gonzales, “Satanic Panic”)

Another “Satan seller” is Dr. Rebecca Brown. Her tales of “Satanic cult abuse” (He Came To Set The Captives Free) were published by Jack Chick, who specializes in publishing mini-comic books portraying demons and hellfire. “Dr. Rebecca Brown” was originally “an Indiana physician named Ruth Bailey, who had her license removed by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana for a number of reasons. Among the boardʼs seventeen findings are: Bailey knowingly misdiagnosed serious illnesses, including brain tumors and leukemia, as ‘caused by demons, devils, and other evil spirits;’ she told her patients that doctors at Ball Memorial Hospital and St. Johnʼs Medical Center were ‘demons, devils, and other evil spirits’ themselves; and she falsified patient charts and hospital records. The boardʼs report states: ‘Dr. Bailey also addicted numerous patients to controlled substances which required them to suffer withdrawal and undergo detoxification, and that she self-medicated herself with non-therapeutic amounts of Demerol which she injected on an hourly basis.’ A psychiatrist appointed by the board to diagnose Bailey described her as ‘suffering from acute personality disorders including demonic delusions and/or paranoid schizophrenia.’ Refusing to appear before the board, Bailey moved to California, changed her name to Rebecca Brown, and began working with Jack Chick.” (David Alexander, “Giving the Devil More Than His Due: For Occult Crime ‘Experts’ and the Media, Anti-Satanist Hysteria Has Become A Growth Industry,” The Humanist, March/April 1990) Jack Chick recently stopped publishing Brownʼs books, “We used to publish her books. Then the Lord told us he didnʼt want us to put ʻem out anymore.” (Jack Chick, speaking to Dwayne Walker in 1997)

Even the editors of Christianity Today praised a book in which well-documented research showed that the problem with the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s was that “rumor was prevailing over truth, and people, particularly Christians, are too believing.” The Christian book reviewer cited a case in a megachurch in Chicago where one man was “disfellowshipped” because a female in the congregation “freaked out” whenever she saw him on Sunday mornings, claiming he was a “Satanic cult leader” who had “ritually abused her.” “The man was not allowed to face his accuser, nor would they discuss with the man any specific dates or events of alleged crimes. Though the man denied the allegations, and the elders and pastor of the church saw no evidence of sin in the manʼs life, they felt compelled to protect the accuser.” The review continued, “To date there has been no investigation that has substantiated the claims of alleged Satanic abuse survivors. Recovered ‘memories’ are the only evidence any specialist will offer…Well-meaning but uncritical therapists have validated, if not helped to construct, vile fantasies that foment a terror of Satan rather than confidence in God…In periods of rising concern over actual child abuse and sexual immorality the historical tendency has been to find scapegoats for social ills. A despised segment of society is depicted as the perpetrator of a villainous conspiracy. Romans accused the early Christians of wearing black robes, secretly meeting in caves, and performing animal and baby mutilation. In the Middle Ages, the scapegoat was the Jews. In America of the 1830s and 40s, kidnapping and murder of children were said to be the work of the Catholics. A best-selling book of the time, The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, chronicled the atrocities committed by priests and nuns at a particular convent. That account sparked myriad copycat claims by other young women.” (Susan Bergman, “Rumors from Hell,” Christianity Today, Vol. 38, No. 3, March, 1994—a review of Jeffrey S. Victorʼs, Satanic Panic)

The modern “Satanic cult hysteria” only began in 1981 with the publication of the best-seller, Michelle Remembers. “Prior to 1981 there were no reports of ‘satanic-cult torture and murder.’ We have none on record, and I challenge you to find any in the psychiatric or scientific literature.” So says F.B.I. Special Agent Kenneth Lanning (who has a masterʼs degree in behavioral science and whose published work on the sexual victimization of children is well-known in the law-enforcement and psychology fields). There are indeed practicing “Satanists” in America, but the F.B.I. has been studying ritual criminal behavior for many years and has not found evidence of any organized “satanic menace.” According to Lanning, “I started out believing this stuff [about ritual murders by organized satanic-cults]. I mean, I had been dealing with bizarre crimes for many years and I knew from experience that almost anything is possible… But I canʼt find one documented case [of satanic-cult victimization], and Iʼve been looking for seven years or more. I personally have investigated some 300 cases—and there is not a shred of evidence of a crime.” He mentioned how psychiatric patients [and/or people who undergo hypnosis to “recover memories”] are the ones claiming such crimes took place, but when the alleged crime scene is investigated there is never a trace of blood or bone, though the F.B.I. has many means to detect even the faintest traces of splashed blood, and whole lawns and farm fields have been dug up in search of bones and bone fragments though none were found.

Satan-mongers inflate statistics, claiming that “according to the F.B.I., two million children are missing each year.” “Itʼs wrong,” said Lanning. The Justice Department (Juvenile Justice Bulletin, January 1989) reported that between 52 and 58 children were kidnapped and murdered by non-family members in 1988. The “Cult Crime Network” claims that “50,000 human sacrifices” are being performed each year by “satanic cults.” But there are only 20,000 murders, total in the U.S. each year, and that figure accounts for all the gang, drug, domestic, and “regular” murders in the country.

People do commit strange crimes. Some may even be committing human sacrifice in the name of Satan. But there is absolutely no evidence of any widespread, organized satanic movement. At one conference on satanism in America in 1989 the same photo of a boy whose death was “linked to satanism” was dragged out by just about everyone interviewed by a reporter covering the conference, implying that was the one and only corpse in the U.S. that could be traced to satanic-cult activity, and it was the result of an isolated incident that could not be connected in any way with an organized group.

As Lanning sums things up, “The fact is that more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, and Muhammad than has ever been committed in the name of Satan.” [Kenneth Lanning, “Satanic, Occult, Ritualistic Crime: A Law Enforcement Perspective,” The Police Chief (Fall 1989)]


Some Christians like to pretend that the majority of the United States is comprised of “Satanists.” That way they can excuse the fact that Christianity doesnʼt work.

Fredric Rice (featured at

Devils Devils Everywhere, So Throw A Pot Of Ink!

The Father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, saw “Satan” lurking everywhere and once boasted about throwing an inkpot at old Split-foot himself. (The following quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther):

Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them.

In my country, upon a mountain called Polterberg, there is a pool. If one throws a stone into it, instantly a storm arises and the whole surrounding countryside is overwhelmed by it. This lake is full of demons; Satan holds them captive there.

Demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightning and thunder, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds.

How often have not the demons called “Nix,” drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, With fearful consequences.

I myself saw and touched at Dessay, a child that had no human parents, but had proceeded from the Devil. He was twelve years old, and, in outward form, exactly resembled ordinary children.

A large number of deaf, crippled and blind people are afflicted solely through the malice of the demon. And one must in no wise doubt that plagues, fevers and every sort of evil come from him.

Our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devilʼs spells.

As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil.

Satan produces all the maladies that afflict mankind for he is the prince of death.

(Who needs modern medicine or sanitation practices? What we really need, according to Luther, are more exorcists to heal “all the maladies which afflict mankind.” Yet even the “apple” of “Godʼs eye,” the ancient Hebrews, did not enjoy unparalleled good health judging by the lengthy number of illnesses mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy. And what about Luther and Calvinʼs devilishly recurring stomach and bowel problems? Dare I suggest that the early invention of Ex-lax and Pepto-Bismol might have proven more helpful to mankind than some of Luther and Calvinʼs teachings?—E.T.B.)

I would have no compassion on a witch; I would burn them all. (Luther, Table Talk)

When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children. (Luther, Commentary on Galatians)

The heathen writes that the Comet may arise from natural causes; but God creates not one that does not foretoken a sure calamity. (Luther, Advent Sermon)

Martin Luther

[For further quotations like those above, see Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil]

The long list of “doorways,” or entry points for demons, make daily life awkward for some Christians. Members of one North London Church have to avoid, among other things, Care Bears (because they do rituals for healing without invoking the name of Christ), the film E.T., Cabbage Patch Dolls (because they encourage people to treat toys as human), figurines of unicorns (mythological), and frogs (“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, an out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet;” Rev.16:13). One woman owned a china tea set, passed down in the family as an heirloom; she was persuaded to smash it by another church member, who noticed there was a Chinese dragon in the pattern. A woman who looked after the church childcare was found to be teaching the children relaxation exercises; she was thrown out. All these things, the church elders suppose, might bring demonic influence into the congregationʼs lives.

Gareth J. Medway, Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism
(New York University Press, 2001)

Some people believe in the Devil. So do I, in a way. He could be nothing more than one of Godʼs staff members, the one who on Judgment Day will take the fall for war, famine, tooth decay, etc. (In fact, “Armageddon” is probably Aramaic for “reshuffling the cabinet.”) He could be just random badness, the absence of goodness: evil doesnʼt have to unionize to be effective. I just do not believe that old Splitfoot has a hot line to everyoneʼs id and makes us go all steamy with evil thoughts when the fancy strikes him.

James Lileks, “The Devil, You Say,” Fresh Lies

Anybody who listens to rock albums backwards deserves to hear a message from Satan.

Brad Stine

Christians say multitudes of people are already in hell for “not having accepted Jesus”or for “falling away” after having tasted salvation (see the Book of Hebrews), or for petty offenses like adopting “unorthodox creeds” such as Unitarianism instead of Trinitarianism, or for being descended from two folks in “Eden” who ate “forbidden fruit,” an offense to which God reacted quickly, not allowing them to eat the fruit of eternal life and staining the souls of their childrenʼs children forever with “original sin.”
(“Original sin” is not a Jewish concept by the way, but a Christian one, thanks to St. Augustine who also came up with the concept of “infant damnation” as a corollary.)

Keeping in mind the shortness of Godʼs temper in the Bible, how He punished human beings without waiting very long, compare that with the fact that God continues to give “Satan” a free pass, letting Satan remain “the prince of this world,” a being who has allegedly offended God since before creation, and in more than just petty ways, like attempting a direct overthrow of heaven (or so goes the myth).

How did the Devilʼs name get pushed to the last page of Godʼs “Must Remember to Chain Up in Hell List,” instead of the first? According to Christians, a vast multitude of human beings are already roasting in hell. So why does God show so much long suffering toward the Devil—a being who presumably knew better about good/evil, God and the truth, long before anyone else? Yet this same God has demonstrated far less relative patience with us lowly mortal humans who arenʼt “in the know” concerning nearly as many things as Devil is, and who couldnʼt have offended God nearly as badly as Satan, i.e., how do you compare taking a bite out of a piece of fruit with a full scale attack on heaven?

Also, some verses in the Bible state that God Himself sent lying spirits, plagues, curses, and also set up temptations to humanity, which raises the question, what if God had something to do with Satan being tempted to “fall” in the first place?

And is “evil” really the perfect device for polishing human beings such that God “in his wisdom” had to keep the Devil around to “polish” humanityʼs souls? If so, then why is Satan called “evil” and not “Godʼs Course Scrubbing Pad and Soul Polisher that really Gets the Rust Out?” Heck, why not make Satan a saint since God apparently “needs” Satan to stick around doing “Satanic” things, inspiring and doing enough “evil” for His “Divine Plan” to work correctly?

With Godʼs temper flared so easily, it does seem that the Devil would have pissed the Lord off supremely by now, and wound up roasting like a chestnut on Godʼs open fire, or chained to the edge of a black hole for eons, and not allowed any further contact with any other parts of Godʼs creation. But instead God “needs” him around? Hmmm. Maybe God Himself needs a scapegoat? Or maybe Judeo-Christian theological God-talk evolved during the time of inter-testamental Judaism (a time when they began elevating “Satan” to the god of this world) and Christian times, and they discovered that a theological scapegoat was needed to keep their Biblical Godʼs hands looking relatively clean.

Sharon Mooney (edited by E.T.B.)

The Christian Bible says the most injurious things about Satan, but we never hear his side. We have none but the evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the verdict.

And who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?

We may not pay him reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order. Not only that, but Satan hasnʼt a single salaried helper, while the Opposition employs a million.

Mark Twain

May The Higher Power Win

I cannot find either Satan or Him
In this troubled heart.
Nor have I found a concrete way
To tell the two apart.

Through the myths, I hear the legends.
Through the songs I hear the praise.
Through “Glory God” and “Satan Rules”
I still hear but one phrase.

Have mercy on my troubled soul,
Whoever bids the lot.
And may the Higher Power win,
If itʼs a soul I got.

Norbert Thiemann

Dyslexic Christians Sell Their Souls to “Santa.”

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