Radio talk shows in the 1960s and 70s were much like TV talk shows today: it’s about ratings. I was both a radio talk show producer and host during that time and finding guests who would get listeners to both listen and call in was a big part of what we did every day.
One of the guests who could get a big audience to both listen and call was Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible.
Why do I bring him up now? Because of today’s date and something I read in C.S. Lewis’ famous Screwtape Letters.
Anton LaVey lived a colorful life. He was an author, circus and carnival performer, musician and occultist. To me, Anton was both hilarious and ridiculous. As an atheist at the time I did not believe in God or Satan. I thought Anton had started his Church of Satan a few years earlier as a gag, but he told me he and the church were legit.
According to the history of the Church of Satan, LaVey chose the night of April 30, 1966, exactly 50 years ago, to formally establish the church. LaVey said 1966 was “Year One, Anno Satanas–the first year of the reign of Satan.”
“We blended a formula of nine parts social respectability to one part outrage,’ says Anton LaVey. ‘We established a Church of Satan—something that would smash all concepts of what a ‘church’ was supposed to be. This was a temple of indulgence to openly defy the temples of abstinence that had been built up until then. We didn’t want it to be an unforgiving, unwelcoming place, but a place where you could go to have fun.’
And thus was initiated two revolutions which have carried over into today: 1) the integration of magic and logic, and 2) a religion based on self-indulgence, carnality (here and now instead of there and then), and pleasure instead of self-denial. Other ego-affirming, human potential programs like EST, drew from the ground-breaking attitudes and techniques of the Church of Satan.” (Church of Satan History: The Church of Satan)
One of the things I enjoyed doing as an atheist talk show host was upsetting Christians. Even though I didn’t believe in God or Satan, I must admit to enjoying how LaVey could get Christians boiling mad as they argued with him on the radio program.
Anton LaVey died in 1997. As I think back both to his life and his death and how he started the Church of Satan 50 years ago today, I’m reminded of what C.S. Lewis wrote in his insightful book Screwtape Letters. This is the section where Screwtape reveals the ‘Enemy’s’ (God’s) intentions —
“Now it may surprise you to learn that in His [the Enemy’s] efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself–creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.” (Screw tape Letters, C.S. Lewis, 1942)
Anton LaVey told me he believed in the reality of Satan and wanted to celebrate that reality. That’s why he started the Church of Satan 50 years ago. As C.S. Lewis points out brilliantly in the Screwtape Letters, Satan is real, however, Satan is not a being to celebrate.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:31-32
“The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.” Matthew 13:38-40
“Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.” John 8:43-45
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
“Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” Romans 16:19-20
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10
Amen and Amen
That “day” grows ever closer. May we all be ready for the “reality” that is both God’s judgment of Satan and those who belong to him … and the eternal salvation of those who belong to Jesus Christ.
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.