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Who is Satan?

Satanic Figures Across Multiple Religions

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Satan appears within multiple belief systems. Unfortunately, there is a common presumption that all of these Satanic figures must indeed be the same being, despite the fact that each religion has its own very unique perspective and description of him.

In addition, some people equate Satan with different figures in still more religions. To learn more about some of these figures, check out "Beings Associated with Satan."

Judaism

In Hebrew, satan means adversary. The satan of the Old Testament is a description, not a proper name (and thus why I do not capitalize it here). This is a figure that works with God's full permission, tempting believers to doubt their faith, separating the true believers from those who just pay lip service.

Christianity

The Christian view of Satan is a very tangled web. The name only appears in the New Testament a handful of times. The most well known is the scene in Matthew where he tempts Jesus to turn away from God and worship him instead. While one could certainly read this as Satan setting himself up as a rival to God (as Christians commonly understand him to be doing), it is just as easy to read this as Satan carrying out his Old Testament role of tempter and tester of faith.

Despite his brief Biblical appearances, Satan evolved into a truly malevolent and evil creature in the minds of Christians, a former angel rebelling against God who tortures the souls of everyone not saved through Jesus. He is twisted, corrupted, sadistic, sinful and corporeal, the complete opposite of spirituality and goodness.

Part of the Christian perception of Satan comes from equating a number of other Biblical figures with Satan, including Lucifer, the dragon, the serpent, Beelzebub, and Leviathan, as well as the prince of the air and the prince of this world.

Devil Worshippers

This is the common name given by Satanists to those who worship the Christian version of Satan, viewing him as a lord of evil and wanton destruction. Devil worshippers generally fall into two categories: teens who embrace Satan as a form of rebellion and sociopaths who end up in prison after committing crimes in the name of Satan.

Very few such people actually exist, although Christian-influenced communities periodically suffer hysterias in which members become convinced that large numbers of Devil Worshippers are organizing against them.

Islam

Muslims have two terms for their Satanic figure. The first is Iblis, which is his proper name (just as Christians use Satan or Lucifer). The second is shaitan, which is a noun or an adjective, describing any being that rebels against God. Ergo, there is one Iblis, and he is a shaitan, but there are other shaitans as well.

In Islam, God created three intelligent races: the angels, jinn, and humans. The angels had no free will, always following God, but the other two did. When God commanded the angels and jinn to bow down before Adam, the jinn Iblis alone refused.

The Baha'i Faith

For Baha'is, Satan represents humanity's own lower nature and demanding ego, which distracts us from knowing God. He is not an independent being at all.

LaVeyan Satanism (The Church of Satan)

LaVeyan Satanists do not believe in a literal Satanic being but instead use the name as a metaphor for humanity's true nature, which should be embraced, and what they call the Dark Force. Satan is not evil, but he does represent a variety of things branded as evil by the traditional religions and societies (particularly those influenced by traditional Christianity), including sexuality, pleasure, lust, cultural taboos, fertility, ego, pride, accomplishment, success, materialism, and hedonism.

Joy of Satan Ministries

Joy of Satan Ministries is one of many theistic Satanic groups. Like many theistic Satanists, JoS followers are generally polytheists, viewing Satan as one of many deities. Satan is the bringer of knowledge, and his desire is for his creations, humanity, to elevate itself through knowledge and understanding. He also represents such notions as strength, power, justice and freedom.

While Satan is considered a deity within the JoS, the deities themselves are understood to be highly evolved, unaging, humanoid extra-terrestrials who created humanity as slave labor. Some of these aliens, called Nephilim, sired children with humans and struggled against the tyrannical regime.

Raelian Movement

According to the Raelians, Satan is one of the Elohim, the race of aliens that created humanity. While most of the Elohim want humanity to develop and grow, Satan considers them a threat, is against the genetic experiments that created them, and believes they should be destroyed. He is blamed for some of the catastrophes that the Bible blames on God such as the Great Flood that destroys everyone save Noah and his family.

The Raelian Satan is not necessarily evil. While he works toward the destruction of humanity, he does so with the belief that only evil can ultimately come from humanity.

Heaven's Gate

According to members of Heaven's Gate, Satan is a being that has partially gone through the process of reaching the Next Level, which is the goal of believers. However, before fully completing this transformation and gaining acceptance into the Kingdom of Heaven, Satan and other "fallen angels" decided to re-embrace material existence and encouraged others to do so. As elevated beings, they can possess human bodies just as the aliens of the Kingdom of Heaven can.

The Raelian Satan is not necessarily evil. While he works toward the destruction of humanity, he does so with the belief that only evil can ultimately come from humanity.

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