Growing up in the 90s, we heard lurid tales about the Church of Satan. Many of these stories were passed on from person-to-person – usually from a pastor to his congregation to friends and family, then neighbours to classmates and on to another pastor and his congregation.
It was a self-perpetuating and self-authenticating circle of narration, with each narrator embellishing the tale with his/her imaginative details. Of course, this chain of transmission wasn’t limited to Nigeria. It spread across several countries in Africa.
We were told that the Church of Satan founded by Anton LaVey in the US, mimics the Christian Church, but literally worships Satan and sacrifices humans to appease their horrific god along with involvement in cannibalism and vampirism.
Bill Gates, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Madonna Ciccone and other music stars or influential celebs were tagged as members, and many of us were warned to avoid being bewitched by their seductive charms.
In fact, I was told by a friend that Madonna had sex with Satan and has dedicated all her music albums to the prince of darkness. How he knew this with certainty boiled down to the authority of “someone who knew something.”
Just as we have people today who morbidly see the Illuminati or the New World Order behind every vice and world event, back then, Hollywood, degrading music, porn – even HIV – were all attributed to the bestial acts of the Church of Satan!
The current recrudescent panic about “satanic” vaccines, biochips, 666 mark or “invisible radiations being used to track people” which has filled the right-wing conspiracy lunatic fringe, is nothing new. Only the alleged culprits and minor details have switched over the years.
Those days, there were no Internet with which you could verify stories, you just had to take the word of “my pastor or my friend who knows someone abroad said…” as evidence.
To make it worse, some American Christian books which seemed to provide information on Satanism, circulating in Africa at the time, were by Rebecca Brown.
Her books contained sensational, hysteric and patently embellished tales which further accentuated the gross misinformation and urban legends being spread about Satanism in Nigeria.
Her books failed to rightly distinguish between the various orders of witchcraft (e.g. “white” witchcraft, Neopaganism and black witchcraft) and different satanic groups (e.g. the difference between traditional or theistic Satanism and LaVeyan Satanism) but dubiously lumped everything together, hence, many people ended up believing that the Church of Satan (CoS) fits the depictions conveyed in her paranoid-inducing books.
Again, many Christians were influenced by the world of make-believe (particularly Nollywood) which were ironically based on incorrect portrayals of the occult and spiritual warfare.
For instance, several scenes of satanists vanishing into thin air or turning into fish, snake or dog as a pastor holding a big Bible was confronting them, were a staple, even in Christian movies.
These were the “amunitions” that gave rise to certain scenarios in some Nigerian Christian books on spiritual warfare where you have agents of Satan running for the hills or instantly confessing to their evil deeds once the name of Jesus was mentioned by a pastor.
Many of these tales and thinking followed me into my adulthood until I began to research on the occult, and gain a biblical understanding of spiritual warfare. It was then I realized that much of these things do not always happen in such ways as depicted in those books – at least not physically.
Now, in the above tweets, you’ll notice a common pattern of approach by both Destined Charles and Femi-Fani Kayode: a hysteric, reactionary and “Nollywoody” back-and-forth Twitter war with a Satanist.
First of all, if they had known something about LaVeyan satanists, they would have known they are basically atheists. They don’t believe in the existence of God or Satan.
The CoS’s definition of Satan is of an archetypal force of balance existing in nature which they tap into and use it for their own selfish will. Of course, we know that’s just a philosophical euphemism to describe the powers of darkness, but it’s a more subtle system that requires wisdom and insight from the Christian.
Let me say it here that the LaVeyan satanism is an innocuous group which operates one of the lowest levels of demonic energy in Satanism. There are more powerful underground satanic covens where all kinds of debased, insidious and evil acts are being perpetrated, whilst the CoS is just an official, legal, self-identified organization. It doesn’t represent or speak for all of Satanism.
Spiritual warfare has to be fought with knowledge, not ignorance. Apostle Paul said, “I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” (1 Cor. 9:26).
That was from a man who preached in the core demonic cities of Europe in the first century. He wasn’t going from place to place binding and casting Greek or Roman gods like Jupiter, Hecate, Diana or Thor. Instead, he went forth to preach the gospel that liberates souls from their powers.
Yes, preaching the gospel is the rudimentary aspect of warfare. That is why our feet is to be shod with the equipment of the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:15). This is what we use to crush the heads of spiritual serpents and scorpions.
That’s why the devil hates it when you preach the gospel because you are symbolically crushing his head. But misinformed Christians want to directly take on big battles with satanists on the Internet without first starting from the base level of spiritual warfare.
Another thing to note is, spiritual warfare is not and should not be motivated by flesh – a desire to show off one’s power, to impress the audience or garner attention to self. It is not a war against flesh and blood; it involves a believer using spiritual weapons under the direction of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 10:4).
Any “spiritual” warfare that emanates from a personal life of falsehood, or a fleshy reaction to “fix” an opponent or a desire to retaliate against perceived disrespect, will make one a laughing stock before the enemy.
In instances where Christians directly addressed demon spirits working through human vessels or pronounced spiritual judgement on a physical enemy in the New Testament, it was to defend the Gospel of Christ, not self – the very carnal nature that empowers the enemy.
For example, when Elymas the sorcerer, was trying to prevent the Roman proconsul, Sergius Paulus from accepting the gospel and becoming saved, Paul pronounced judgement on him. But take note of what happened before he spoke:
“Then Saul, who is also Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, with you cease perverting the straight way of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time…” (Acts 13:9-11).
You can see that he was filled with the Holy Spirit at that moment. Therefore, his words were not the product of his own fleshy reaction to opposition, but represented God’s sovereign judgement on the sorcerer, uttered by the Holy Spirit. This proved the supremacy of Jesus over Satan, without any hysteric back-and-forth.
When you truly have the power of the Holy Spirit, you don’t need to stage any show. And you can’t go into war with the enemy with a memorized method devised by men solely inspired by emotion. It has to be backed up by the Word of God and directed by the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, here is another inconvenient truth. Some things are meant to stay here on earth until the very end. For instance, no amount of prayer can kill demons or banish the devil from this earth. He will always have his loyal followers at each generation of mankind.
From the book of Revelation itself, you can see that even after the Second Advent of Christ, after the Millennial reign, Satan will still marshal his armies together from various nations to wage war against the Lord’s people, and that will ultimately seal his eternal doom.
But until then – when all the enemies of God are stripped of their powers and sent to eternal perdition – you cannot render Satan and all his vessels “useless and powerless in Jesus’ name.”
I believe that the Church in Nigeria truly needs to receive some balanced, biblical teachings and unlearn some legends and shameful errors about the occult and spiritual warfare. Then, our approach to those involved in the occult, would be more measured, mature, spirit-filled and Christ-honouring.