I recently received the following comment from an adherent to the Satanist religion on the post Will Atheists Go to Hell? With his permission we’ll be having a public discourse, interacting with each other’s worldviews. First, I will post his entire comment. My reply will follow.
Sorry, but I feel I have to disagree with you that God is the one true way. Who’s to say that the Muslims or Jews aren’t correct, and you’re wrong? This is simply your belief, not truth, and I feel you should let your daughter decide for herself. There are many religions, each professing to be the only one with the path to Salvation. What if every Christian in the world is bound for eternal torment because the Sikhs were correct? Surely a forgiving God would understand that in a place with so many religions, it would be human nature to make mistakes and choose incorrectly? Would he send people to Hell for making a simple mistake? Or agnostics, who aren’t sure which deity to pledge their allegiance to? Or atheists, who simply try to make sense of things using logic which leads them (possibly mistakenly) to believe that there is no higher power? Again, if they’re wrong, it’s an honest mistake on their part. Surely a just God wouldn’t send people to a place of eternal punishment for using their supposedly God-given brains to try and understand things.
And for those in places like Chad, where Christianity has not arrived, yet the people may live perfectly good lives. You’re saying God would send them to Hell for an accident of birth? Something they can’t control? Think about it.
Thoughts of a LaVeyan Satanist.
Prsim, first of all, thank you for presenting your thoughts openly and civilly. I will endeavor to do likewise. Next, I would like to enlighten my readers as to the worldview that you hold as a practicing LaVeyan Satanist. Please feel free to correct me if I misrepresent your beliefs in any way.
Satanists do not worship Satan. They actually believe that such a being does not even exist. They don’t believe in the supernatural or a God of any kind. They are atheistic in the traditional sense. The focus of their religion is individualism and self-control. They advocate a ‘do unto others as they do unto you’ type of morality. Ultimately, the Church of Satan is focused on the worship of self. Man himself is deified. There is no salvation in Satanism for it doesn’t believe in an afterlife. The purpose of life is to live self-indulgently, to do whatever makes one feel good. To satisfy the desires of the carnal nature is the highest end for a Satanist.
Prism, with this worldview in mind, it is no surprise that both monotheistic and polytheistic faiths perplex you. They subscribe to everything that you are opposed to: a higher power, forms of self-denial, and life in the hereafter. To admit that these religions have any merit is to deny your own faith.
The main body of your comment basically concerns itself with the validity of God’s system of justice and mercy to save those who believe one way while condemning all others who believe differently. This quote, I believe sums up the heart of your problem with Christianity.
“Surely a forgiving God would understand that in a place with so many religions, it would be human nature to make mistakes and choose incorrectly? Would he send people to Hell for making a simple mistake? Or agnostics, who aren’t sure which deity to pledge their allegiance to? Or atheists, who simply try to make sense of things using logic which leads them (possibly mistakenly) to believe that there is no higher power?
I would like to concentrate the bulk of my response on this facet of your argument.
Foundational to God’s system of justice is that he rewards good and punishes evil. Obey God’s commandments and he will bestow blessings. Commit evil and he will pronounce curses. Simple enough, right? Just do good and God will be good to you. The problem is that the bible says no one does good, not a single one. None are righteous. All have wandered astray and gone their own way. Our first parents, Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and had the ability to fully obey God. They were duped by the wiles of Satan and fell into a state of sinfulness. They became slaves to desires that run contrary to the holiness of God. Adam’s fall is our fall. We are slaves to our passions. The curse of God is upon us for our unrighteousness. This is a problem for every man, woman and child on the whole face of the earth. God’s system of justice has doomed us all. The only solution to this dilemma is the mercy of God. Christianity is the only faith that resolves the tension between God’s obligation to his justice and his desire to be merciful.
This is how you (and many others) view Christianity’s one path to salvation. It’s like every single human being is a contestant on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ ( I know, I’m dating myself). but before us we don’t have three or four curtains to choose from but multitudes – as many curtains as there are religions in the world. Monty Hall (God) bids you to choose the right curtain that holds a grand prize beyond your imagining. Yet, he sternly warns, choose the wrong one and behind you’ll find a braying donkey mocking your loss of good fortune. Beads of sweat trickle down your forehead as you reason through a seemingly impossible decision. Your family in the audience confidently assures you that curtain number 1 is the right choice because that’s the one they all have chosen. Friends will persuade you that curtain number 3 holds the grand prize. Your wife whispers in your ear that curtain number 43 is the correct choice. The host entices you with cryptic hints, giving you a reason to pick from every curtain, but the enormity of this life-changing decision overwhelms you.
In the end any person faced with so many options will pick a particular curtain based on greatest desire. You may pick the one that your family favors in order to please them. Perhaps the hints attached to another door appeals to your sense of reason more than the others. So, let’s say you finally decide on door 21. Monty smirks and waves his hand. The curtain draws back and lo and behold, a pathetic donkey brays at you in derision. Monty says, “Oh I’m sorry, you’ve chosen the wrong door. No glorious grand prize for you. My condolences. Now away with you!”
Another scenario that unbelievers and some religious adherents would promote is this: you’re mulling over your pick when Monty suddenly turns and whispers in your ear, “Just pick one. You get the grand prize no matter which curtain you choose”. This is Universalism. A false teaching that purports, “All roads lead to God.”
Neither of these analogies comes close to accurately portraying God’s mercy and justice to a sinful world. This is where the controversial doctrine of election and predestination comes in handy from an apologetics standpoint. A person who doesn’t adhere to the historic, orthodox understanding of these doctrines will struggle to refute the first analogy’s crapshoot mentality if he truly trusts that man’s free will decision is the determining factor in salvation. Predestination and election in a nutshell teaches that before God laid the foundations of the world he foreknew, foreloved and chose (elected) a people for himself destined to inherit eternal life and reign with him in glory. These people are particular individuals, not a nameless, faceless group that accepts members based on fulfilling certain requirements. Such a concept contradicts the very definition of grace. If redemption is by merit it is no longer by grace.
Redemption unfolds in this manner: God the Father elects certain people to salvation through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. Jesus reconciles the Father’s chosen by fulfilling the righteousness of the Law of Moses that no sinful man can obey in mind, body or spirit. Jesus then dies on a cruel Roman cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all of god’s people, then rises from the dead to assure their salvation and resurrection from the dead. Jesus commissions believers to spread the good news of salvation by God’s grace through faith to all the nations. The Holy Spirit works the grace of God in the hearts of all his beloved chosen as they hear the gospel proclaimed. These people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, repent of all their sins and lovingly embrace the Savior, Jesus Christ. They live their lives in heartfelt gratitude to the mercy and grace shown to them.
If I may refer back to my game show analogy once again, biblical Christianity is like this: you are presented with a perplexing array of curtains to choose from. One is labeled Islam, another is labeled Judaism, another Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. etc. One is simply labeled ‘Jesus Christ’. To your eyes, every curtain is indistinguishable from one another. Not one stands out in your mind and heart. You may have little desire for any one of them. You are not compelled to make a choice. Or perhaps, some appeal to you more than others and are inclined to choose from a narrowed down list. Either way, you are not absolutely certain which curtain, if any, reveals the grand prize of eternal life. Mr. Hall earnestly warns you that your time is running out. Turning to the host you plead, I don’t know which one is right, please help me decide. I’m not perceptive enough to determine where the prize is located!
The host looks at you compassionately, digs deep down into his the pockets of his jacket and pulls out a pair of glasses. He leans over and gently places it on on the end of your nose, points to the endless row of curtains and softly whispers, “look again.” You’re startled at first because all you can see is a radiant, blinding light coming from the curtain labeled, Jesus Christ. It is so bright that it obscures your view of every other curtain. You gasp in awe and amazement. The choice has suddenly become obvious. Only one curtain has become precious in your sight. You are compelled to open it, knowing with absolute certainty that the grand prize lies behind it. Monty takes you by the hand and leads you from the audience onstage in front of the curtain labeled Jesus Christ. The curtain draws back and lo and behold, you have laid hold of the prize, and that only by the undeserved graciousness of the host.
I admit, the analogy isn’t a perfect one, however, I think it helps address your concerns about the justice and wisdom of God in allowing so many religious views to exist alongside the one true way of salvation in Christ. I begrudgingly admit that many today who label themselves Christians are actually practical deists. A deist is someone who may believe in one God who created the world and everything in it. This deity, though, then draws back and simply becomes an observer of all human activities. He leaves his works in the hands of man and will not, under any circumstance, interfere with his free moral agency to decide his own fate.
This is not the God of the bible. The testimony of Scripture informs us that God “does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What are you doing?'” (Dan 4:35) The Lord is intricately and intimately involved with his creation. He hasn’t left us to be master of our fate or the captain of our soul, as much as we are loathe to confess it in our fallen state. He is Lord of all our destinies. Ultimately it is God who works in his elect ‘to will and to work for his good pleasure‘ (Phi 2:13). Jesus stated “No man comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). The sovereignty and power of God overcomes unbelief and mis-guided belief, turning the evil heart of man away from sin and toward himself. Even the initial recognition, sorrow and guilt of sin and the consequent exercising of faith in Christ is a gift of grace through the secret workings of the Holy Spirit. When God draws someone he will come without fail, every single time. Nothing is left up to chance. You should take comfort that God is in control.
You may protest, ‘How can I take comfort if I might not be elect?’ The simple answer is, you probably won’t care. In the hardness of your heart you will outright reject the notion of election, the God of the bible and his Christ. You will continue on living to please your own desires until the day of your death. However, if you begin to feel the weight of sin crushing down upon you and suddenly the message of the cross appeals to you as a means to relieve that sense of guilt. If your desire is to bow your knee before the throne of Christ and confess his Lordship over you, then I advise to not delay in coming to him. The Savior turns away none that come to him by faith. Those who ask, receive. Those who seek, find. Those who knock will be ushered through the door.
Prism, in conclusion, I plead with you to seriously consider what I’ve written concerning the way of salvation. Jesus said the gate is narrow and the path hard that leads to eternal life and few find it. That may sound hopeless but I’ve plainly told you that Jesus himself is that gate. Enter on in through him and find the path to life and so be saved.
Turn from your Satanism, it is leading you down the broad path of destruction. The principles of this religious system asks you to embrace the very things God hates. It demands the worship of the creation (yourself) rather than the Creator. You may believe that Satan is not real, just a symbol of the human soul. There is a grain of truth in that lie. Jesus told the Jews that opposed his ministry “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
The human heart reflects the character and nature of the devil himself, who Jesus plainly teaches is a real entity. Satanism claims to be a religion of self worship. In light of Christ’s statement above, worshiping self is an act of worshiping Satan. By nature we all want to do the things the devil desires to do. Satan fell from grace because he desired to exalt his stars above the throne of God. His pride and vanity has sealed his fate. Our pride and vanity to do things our way will lead to a similar demise. I plead with you to spare yourself from the Lake of Fire, prepared for the devil and all his angels. Flee to Christ and escape God’s fierce wrath to come.
Please give serious consideration to these things.
Blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ
Well, there’s a problem with your assertion about God’s “justice”–Jesus made it very clear that God does not punish!
I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), but please allow me to share just one of the many points I make in it to explain why.
Take Matthew Ch 5, in which Jesus rejects the notion of “an eye for an eye” sort of punishment, as not going far enough! He then explains that we should return love for hate, good for evil, to turn the other cheek. But then he goes on to explain why–“so you can be children of God the Father,” to be “perfect” as He is! In other words, God was not simply informing of what his rules were for US, but through his Living Word Jesus, he was informing us of what He is really like! God doesn’t get back at people, not even to punish them to the same extent we hurt others! Instead, God, being perfect, rises above and returns love for sin, and only asks that we forgive others as he forgives us.
No matter what people think or say, God will end up having what He wants, which is people telling the Truth about God, His Son and the plan of salvation. This Truth can be ridiculed, denounced and ignored, but still every man WILL reap from what he sows.
The fact still remains that WHOSOEVER can be saved, but ONLY the whosoever that wants to obey the Holy Spirit to the end. All else will receive, instead of eternal life, eternal damnation. And if one thinks about it, a spirit, which we are, cannot ever really “die.” That is why it lasts forever, since we cannot ever completely “die.”
Thanks for listening,
Sorry, Pilgrim, but again I feel I have to disagree with you. You say that God will make himself known to us, but I say again, which God? (That is, if there is a God)
To use your analogy of a game show, you believe that the door with the Grand Prize behind it is the one labelled “Jesus Christ” but to other people, the light must seems to shine from another, else they would surely have chosen Christianity themselves. My point being, Sikhs believe that Sikhism is the one path to Salvation, Jews believing that beind the door marked “Judaism” there lies the Grand Prize, and so on. We cannot be sure that humans are guilty of Original Sin, as that belief too, is exclusive to Christianity. So therefore, it is still uncertain which religion is the correct one to choose, and for those born into a religion and raised that way, there is little chance of conversion to any other. Therefore if you are right, those people are still doomed to Hell for want of a sign from the true religion or deity to follow.
And if God truly does touch people and give them the opportunity for Salvation, then why does he not reach out to those who have never heard of Christianity and never will, and offer them that same chance at everlasting life?
Your argument, I am afraid to say, appears to be flawed in that God does not in fact offer all people the chance to go to heaven, so therefore I cannot consider Christianity to be the true path in life. I appreciate your concern for me, and thank you for it, but I cannot in good stead do as you ask. I would always doubt, and by your own admission that doubt, that failure to believe in God, would secure my admission through Hell’s gates as surely as my Satanism apparently does now.
Feel free to believe as you wish, and if you truly believe that Christianity is the path you must follow then do not allow my words to sway you from that path.
May you live a prosperous and fulfilling life.
Thoughts of a LaVeyan Satanist.
I was sorry to hear you’re closing down A Peculiar Pilgrim, Brandon – it’s been interesting to see how you and other Christians view life. So I realised that if i didn’t post this now, i’d never have a chance to. It’s merely a follow-on from my previous point, dealing with a claim made in your initial post, “Dialogue with a Satanist.” You claim that Universalism is false, as (supposedly) are all other religions, like Buddhism, Judaism, etc. To me, an adherent of one theistic religion claiming other theistic religions are “false” is patently ridiculous. Why must your religion be the “right” one? This seems like pure arrogance as all other religions have a similar claim to make. Why is yours any better than Paganism (Which, if you do some research, its apparent was Christianity’s template. For example, Christmas, the 25th December, was originally a Pagan tradition marking the Winter Solstice. Jesus was probably born in March) or the Greek, Norse or Egyptian religions?
They, after all, were around far longer than Christianity and all had their own deities. Why is your “God” better than, for example, “Zeus” “Odin” or “Osiris?” There is no evidence for any of them so you cannot claim in good faith (If you’ll excuse the pun) that they are false and your deity of choice is the one true one to follow. If you condemn all who follow a different religion to your good self then that, to me, seems to indicate a certain self-righteousness and self-elevation to the point at which you are judging other humans, which, by admission of your own religion, you have no right to do. If you tell someone they’re going to Hell , you judge them before God does, and if he does exist he would probably take offence at that, especially if you do it in his name, as you are then using your deity as an excuse to pass judgement on others.
(Please note that although this post is often quite frank, no offence was intended. I am merely attempting to get my point across in the plainest and most direct of manners that I am able, which unfortunately does not include sugar-coating my words.)
Thoughts of a LaVeyan Satanist.