Friday, August 5, 2016

What about Satan in Schools?

It can be taken as a proof of God’s providence that we often find just what we need just when we need it. This week’s article is a case in point. The next meeting of Quest Forums is taking place this Sunday, and the topic is going to be “Satan.” I wanted the article to tie in somehow, and was trying to decide what to write about, when this article came up in my Facebook feed.

“After School Satan Clubs”

If you intend to read it, I want to prepare you. You may be disturbed by it, and even angered, but that is not the best response. The best response, as Franklin Graham suggested in his own post on this matter, is prayer. He said, “Let’s pray for this man’s eyes to be opened to the truth of the Gospel and his own personal need of a Savior. Pray for his heart to be touched and softened by the working of God’s Holy Spirit. No one is beyond the reach of God’s love and mercy. Before he came to faith, the Apostle Paul was once the greatest enemy and persecutor of the church.” We need this reminder. It is so easy to get defensive that we forget to use the weapons of spiritual warfare the way they are intended (Ephesians 6:10–18).

If you haven’t read it, though, you probably want a summary. Put very briefly, there is a national effort underway to start “After School Satan Clubs” in schools across the country. The leaders of this movement want to engage in direct competition with similar Christian clubs, which gained the right to meet in schools in the last decade.

Understanding Satanism

Obviously, this is not great news. But we need to have an accurate understanding of why not, if we want to combat it. And that, in turn, requires an accurate understanding of what Satanists are and what goals they have. Satanists, at least the more thoughtful ones, do not actually worship Satan. They do not believe there is any such person. Rather, they believe that Satan is an idea, an ideal that represents rebellion from “all forms of tyranny over the human mind.” In their opinion, Christianity is the greatest such tyranny, and most of their efforts are aimed at frustrating ours.

Their religion is, therefore, largely satire. Their prayers and rites are not intended to conjure up the devil. They are meant to be offensive, a mocking of all forms of religious expression. Their true faith is in secular humanism, the belief that there is no God, the universe is random, and human intellect is the only source of truth.

These clubs are an extension of that purpose. It does not seem that the Satanists have any true intention for them to succeed. Rather, they apparently hope that the clubs will actually fail because of Christian outcry. That would give them the opening they want. You see, they don’t want to have clubs in schools. They want Christians to be forbidden to have clubs in schools.

This is really a First Amendment matter. Satanists object to Christians being able to discuss Christianity on government property. But the Supreme Court has determined that Christians cannot be forbidden from doing so simply on religious grounds, since that is an obvious curtailment of the right to free exercise of religion. Because the Satanists are so offended, however, they have decided to turn it back on us. They will themselves be objectionable, in the hope that schools will refuse to host them. Then they will cry foul and threaten lawsuits. And then the schools will, most likely, change their policies so that no clubs of any religious nature are permitted at all. And in that way, the Satanists will have won.

Satanist Inconsistencies

The thing I find interesting about Satanism, which this piece of news helps to highlight, is just how unperceptive it is. They do not believe in Satan, but they worship him. And I do not mean in their fake prayers and offerings. They worship him by doing his work. They are dedicated to stopping the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just as the devil is. I doubt he cares whether they believe in him. As long as they stay busy, he knows he is their god.

I also think any Satanist would gladly admit that he wants to stop the spread of the Gospel. Religion, so far as they are concerned, is manipulation. Religious figures trick the weak into fearing eternal suffering, and then use that fear to gain power for themselves. That makes faith that “tyranny over the human mind.” Obviously, one would have to be blind not to see how religions, including Christianity, have been used for precisely that purpose. But Satanists seem to be blind on their own part. What about the tyranny of the human mind? In the last century, we saw tens of millions of people shot, gassed, starved, frozen, beaten, and exiled by systems dedicated to the absolute authority of the human mind. In less than 100 years, secular humanism caused more death and destruction than religion had in all human history before it. We should be forgiven if we are not quick to turn to it as the answer for all our ills.

But that is illogical, they will say. Fascism and Communism are the worst forms of humanism, and it is not right to argue against an idea’s worst form. That is true. But it misses two points. For one, that critique goes both ways. If you want to argue against Christianity, know its purest form, not its caricatures. For the other, the 20th Century was not the result of the unfortunate misappropriation of humanist ideals. It was their natural outcome.

This is the ultimate problem with Satanism. It speaks of goodness, as though there were any such thing. They say they want “kids to be able to see multiple points of view, to reason things through, to have empathy and feelings of benevolence for their fellow human beings.” And those things sound good. They are good. But why are they good, and why is good preferable to evil? Satanism, or any naturalist system, cannot answer those questions. They assume a moral law, but a chaotic universe cannot produce a binding moral law. It cannot have real good or evil. It can, at most, have desire, and even that is hard to explain in a random universe. The thing about desire, though, is that it can mean anything. And without the accountability of the moral law, it can justify anything.

Humanism always comes around to that. You can do whatever you want, as long as you can explain it to yourself and no one has the power to stop you. Which actually begs the question: how is there anything wrong with religious figures using fear to dominate others? If there is no God, there are no constraints. And if there are no constraints, the strong cannot be blamed for crushing the weak. It is natural selection.

Answering Satanism

That is the logical conclusion of humanism. The most honest nihilists even admit it. The problem is that no one can live by it. The knowledge of good and evil is written in our hearts. And no one even really wants to overcome it. Not entirely. They need to be able to see a difference between what is nice and what is not so they can order their lives. It is a selective morality. Just enough to tell yourself you are a good person, not enough to feel bad about what you shouldn’t do. Problem is, we do not create morality. Whoever did ultimately has the right to determine what happens if we cannot stay in bounds.

There’s the threat. That is what Satanists hate. Do what I say, or go to hell. Maybe there is even something to it. But it is a small part. If judgment is a threat, it is because it is a consequence. It is not what I want to see happen, and it is certainly not what God wants to see happen. But He has created us with free will. You get to choose what happens. Turn to God through Christ, and He will accept you, because that is the criterion He has set. Prefer to stay in your own way, and God will not force you to come to Him when this life is done. You will go to where there is none of Him. If we tell you what that is, a place of no light, no companionship, no kindness or goodness, it is only because we want to help you avoid it. But Christianity is not even primarily about avoiding hell. It is about gaining heaven. And it is certainly not about religious leaders gaining power for themselves. You need only look at Jesus and the apostles to see how far that is from the purpose of our faith. Rather, when leaders are abusive, they corrupt Christianity rather than exemplifying it. In so doing, they store up judgment for themselves. May that at least be some small comfort.

Whenever stories like these come up, my first reaction is to laugh. People like the Satanists are so sure Christianity is so afraid of a challenge that we will fall into an obvious trap. But then my second reaction is sorrow, because too many Christians will oblige. They do not know their own faith well enough to be bold in the face of others, and that is a shame. It does tend to breed an attitude of unwillingness to allow dissension and different ideas.

I am of a mind with Thomas Jefferson and others who held that the path to truth is to give all claims an equal hearing, because the best will rise to the top. My disagreement with Satanism could not be more complete, but I am not terrified of it. Let them have their clubs. It is their right, just as it is ours. Then it is up to parents to choose wisely for their children, and it is up to us to do the work of showing what wisdom is and help them make the right choice. That has been the mission of Christianity for 2000 years. No need to give up on it now.

We should end where we began, though. Pray for the Satanists. They would not want that, many would be angered to hear you were doing it, but too bad. They should not be bothered that we intercede for them with a God they do not believe in. Maybe they aren’t. But they are bothered by receiving compassion instead of the anger they are trying to inspire. So that is why it is our best response. Offer them the pity Stephen offered Saul and the rest of his executioners (Acts7:54–60). Offer them the mercy Christ offered you. Our best hope is not for them to be defeated, but for them to see their error and turn to the Lord. The only one we should want to suffer is Satan and his kingdom. His unwitting subjects should receive our love rather than our scorn.

Thanks for checking out the Quest Forums blog! If you enjoyed this post, please consider following me here, on Twitter (@Quest_Forums), or on Facebook (“Quest Forums”). Links are in the sidebar. I am always looking for new questions and comments, so submit yours on any of these sites or by emailing And please, spread the word! The share buttons below are a great way to do that. I want to connect with as many people as possible, so if you know anyone with questions about the Bible, send them my way.

No comments:

Post a Comment