Professing Themselves to Be Wise: The Foolishness of Baphomet and the Satanic Temple
The Satanic Temple of Detroit made the news recently with their unveiling of a Baphomet statue, a goat-headed idol the Knights of the Templar were accused of worshiping. Though they refer to themselves as a Satanic Temple, the members of the temple do not believe in an actual, supernatural Satan. Rather, as their website states, they believe “Satan is symbolic of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds.”
Their promotional materials advertised the unveiling as “a night of chaos, noise, and debauchery…, a hedonistic celebration introducing the controversial Baphomet monument accompanied by provocative performances and installations.” The unveiling is part of a larger effort to have the statue displayed at the state capitol in either Arkansas or Oklahoma alongside a monument of the Ten Commandments.
Why do they want to display this statue? As they note, the statue is controversial, and that is the reason they want to unveil it. They know that it is offensive to traditional religious believers, especially Christians. Their desire is to offend Christians and encourage them to keep their religious beliefs out of the public square. If Christians refuse, then the Satanic Temple will work to get their own offensive material on the same level as Christian beliefs, as evidenced by their distribution of Satanic children’s coloring books in the public schools in Florida last year.
So what is it that the Satanic Temple wants to promote? They want to “participate in public affairs where the issues might benefit from rational, Satanic insights…and encourage critical thinking.” In other words, unlike those dumb people in traditional (i.e., supernatural) religions, the members of the Satanic Temple are intelligent, critical, and rational. As I’ve noted before, atheists like those in the Satanic Temple love to trumpet their supposedly superior intellects. Yet with their incredible critical thinking skills they fail to see the irony of their actions.
They want to display the statue in order to promote chaos—which is the opposite of promoting rational thinking. They also want to display the statue in order to offend other people. It’s the equivalent of a ten year old boy repeatedly poking his sister for the sole purpose of annoying her and getting a rise out of her. And we all know that ten year old boys who poke their sisters are renowned for their “rational…insights” and “critical thinking.”
In reality, the Satanic Temple provides the perfect picture of those who deny God: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Rom 1:22-23). These supposedly enlightened individuals believe it is better to celebrate a grotesque figure and work to anger other people than it is to serve a loving, benevolent, all-wise Creator and lay down their lives for the good of others. Why? Not because it matches with rational thinking but because it matches with their sinful desires. They do do not want to recognize the true Sovereign because the are defending “personal sovereignty.” Serving the true God would require repentance. It would mean no longer living for themselves but living for God and others. And they would rather act like fools than release their claim to be their own gods. Repentance is their real issue with Christianity—not reason.
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An increased focus on occult practices and false religions is foretold in prophetic passages of the Bible (See 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thess.2:9-12; Rev. 9:20-21). Today, not only are we seeing many of these developments in non-Christian sectors of society, but disturbingly, even professing Christian congregations are accommodating their beliefs and practices to occult-based worldviews. Some churches even blindly endorse a wide range of occultic practices and rituals.
A brief look at what is happening in many contemporary churches across America will provide some evidence for this unsettling trend. Several key points are worth noting:
1. Many congregations appear to have uncritically absorbed, promoted and sometimes endorsed occult themes and practices from popular books and movies:
2. Also, in their aggressive efforts to promote an unbiblical ecumenism or universalist message, many professing Christian chuches have downplayed the serious differences between core Christian doctrines and occultic teachings.
For example, the contemporaey emphasis on “spiritual” practices as opposed to “doctrine” (sound teaching) has marked a recent “it’s-all-good” ecumenical trend. See the following examples:
3. Churches that profess to be Christian, yet accepting of Wiccan rituals or meditative techniques from Eastern religious traditions, ignore the clear testimony from the Bible about the dangerous potential of unstable alliances and the need for standing apart from idolatrous worship. Both the Old and New Testaments unambiguously condemn occult associations and practices (See Dt. 18:9-14; 2 Ki. 21:3&6; 23:24; 2 Chr. 33:5-6; Dan. 2:27-28; Acts 19:18-20; Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Thess. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; Rev. 22:15). Learning about Wiccan worldviews,the use of mantras in Hindu devotion, Spiritualist seances or mandalas in Tantric Buddhism may be useful for evangelistic, missionary or apologetic purposes,but to embrace these things as valid Christian doctrines/ practices is erroneous, blasphemous and disobedient to God’s word.
4. Finally, even though many Christian denominations do not necessarily subscribe to the early Reformation cry of sola scriptura (by scripture alone), nevertheless, their own historic writings and recent doctrinal commitments acknowledge the incompatibility between Christian practice and occult experimentation. For example, here are some clear written excerpts about the dangers of occult involvement from recent handbooks of Christian denominations:
1. Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)– “Sinful practices which are made prominent and condemned in these scriptures include homosexuality, adultery, worldly attitudes (such as hatred, envy, jealousy), corrupt communication (such as gossip, angry outbursts, filthy words), stealing, murder, drunkenness and witchcraft. Witchcraft has to do with the practices of the occult, which are forbidden by God and lead to the worship of Satan” (2013).
2. Free Methodist Church — “Occult practices, such as spiritism, witchcraft and astrology must be avoided” (2007, 58).
3. Church of the Nazarene — Christians should avoid “…such social evils as violence, sensuality, pornography, profanity, and the occult, as portrayed by and through the commercial entertainment industry in its many forms…” (2013, 48).
4. Wesleyan Church — Basic Principles: “To seek only the leading of the Holy Spirit and to abstain from all forms of spiritism, such as the occult, witchcraft, astrology and other similar practices.
Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:20-14; Acts 19:18-19; Gal. 5:19-20. ” (2012, 24).
5. Missionary Church — “The Scriptures are also clear in their warnings and admonitions to God’s people concerning relations with Satan, demons, and occult practices…” (2013, 60).
Christ’s Great Commission commands all followers of Jesus to spread the good news to all the world (Mt. 28:18-20), and this command entails associating with people who do not understand or embrace the Christian faith, whether Hindu, Wiccan or Atheist. However, the same Christians are alao commanded to stand apart from false teachings and occult endorsement (Lev. 11:44; Rom. 12:1-2; Col. 3:5-11; 1 Pet. 1:14-17; 2 John 10-11; Jude 3-4; Rev. 18:4-5).When professing Christian churches put a stamp of approval on the occult, they violate both commands of practical holiness and personal evangelism.
References and Helpful Resources
Abanes, Richard. Harry Potter: The Menace Behind the Magick (Michigan: Horizon Books, 2001).
Barnhouse, Donald Grey. The Invisible War. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.
Boa, Kenneth. “Warfare Spirituality: Warfare with the Flesh and the World” in Conformed to His Image:Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001).
Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Satan. Chicago: Moody, 1942.
Church of God, Beliefs: “Moral Purity” (2013) at http://www.churchofgod.org/practical-commitments/moral-purity
Constitution of the Missionary Church. Fort Wayne, Indiana: Denominational Office, 2013.
Discipline of the Wesleyan Church 2012. Wesleyan Publishing House: Indianapolis, Indiana, 2012.
Edwards, Catherine. “Wicca Infiltrates the Churches” http://www.confessingumc.org/news-events/wicca-infiltrates-the-churches/ (Reprinted with permission of Insight. News World Communications, Inc., 19tey, John. Sermon LXXVII, “Of Evil Angels” in Sermons, vol 2: The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A. M., (New York:The Methodist Book Concern, 1788), pgs. 145-146.
Free Methodist Church of North America, 2007 Book of Discipline. The Free Methodist Publishing House: Indianapolis, Indiana, 2008.
Manual/ 2013-2017: Church of the Nazarene. Nazarene Publishing House: Kansas City, Missouri, 2013.
Unger, Merrill F. Demons in the World Today (Carol Stream, Illinois:Tyndale House, 1972).