Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"The Occult Revival: Satan Returns"

While innocently searching the web looking for candles and candle holders with themes like "baphomet", "setian", etc, I happened upon what I at first assumed was a clever photoshopping job.

It looked, I thought, very much like a legit Time Magazine cover, with some sort of crudely "Satanic" looking drawing and the headline: "The Occult Revival." The subtitle did not disappoint either: "Satan Returns."

Turns out, it was no joke. At least not intentionally.

Inside the June 19, 1972 issue of Time, the cover story is given the title: "The Occult: A Substitute Faith." Subtle. Very subtle.

This bit of early 70's upscale yellow journalism proceeds to describe a friendly suburban get-together: an army officer, his wife, a computer programmer (they had computers back then?), a store clerk, a dog trainer and a university student (psychology major), meet up at a "comfortable split-level home, which stands amid the tidy landscaping of a housing development in Louisville", and after exchanging a few pleansantries, they "all troop downstairs to a vinyl floored recreation room."

It sounds innocent enough until we are told that "the hour is midnight", and that these good folks are now "gathered solemnly before a black draped altar." On the wall above the altar is, quite naturally, "a chartreuse goat-image superimposed on a purple pentagram." One can almost hear the Church Lady: "Well, isn't that special? And just who might we be worshipping tonight?? Hmmmmm???"

1972 was the same year that the low-low budget cult movie Blood Sabbath was released. It was also a full three years after the members of the Birmingham based heavy blues band Earth (lead vocalist: Ozzy Osbourne) decided to change their name to Black Sabbath (inspired by the 1963 Mario Bava/Boris Karloff movie of the same title that was playing across the street from their rehearsal studio). And it would still be another 14 years before Dana Carvey first introduced his "Church Lady" character to the world on Saturday Night Live.

It was also 320 years after the original publication of Thomas Brooks' little classic Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices:
To his most dear and precious ones, the sons and daughters of the Most High God, over whom the Holy Spirit has made him a Watchman.

Beloved in our dearest Lord,

Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan's devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter. It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my best to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the great deceiver; which I have endeavored to do in the following discourse, according to that measure of grace which I have received from the Lord. God once accepted a handful of meal for a sacrifice (Lev. 2:2; 5:12), and a small quantity of goat's hair for an oblation; and I know that you have not so "learned the Father," as to despise "the day of small things" (Zech. 4:10).

Beloved, Satan being fallen from light to darkness, from felicity to misery, from heaven to hell, from an angel to a devil, is so full of malice and envy that he will leave no means unattempted, whereby he may make all others eternally miserable with himself; he being shut out of heaven, and shut up "under the chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6), makes use of all his power and skill to bring all the sons of men into the same condition and condemnation with himself. Satan has cast such sinful seed into our souls, that now he can no sooner tempt, but we are ready to assent; he can no sooner have a plot upon us, but he makes a conquest of us. If he does but show men a little of the beauty and finery of the world, how ready are they to fall down and worship him! Whatever sin the heart of man is most prone to, that the devil will help forward.

If David is proud of his people, Satan will provoke him to number them, that he may be yet prouder (2 Sam. 24). If Peter is slavishly fearful, Satan will put him upon rebuking and denying of Christ, to save his own skin (Matt. 16:22; 26:69-75). If Ahab's prophets are given to flatter, the devil will immediately become a lying spirit in the mouths of four hundred of them, and they shall flatter Ahab to his ruin (2 Kings 22). If Judas will be a traitor, Satan will quickly enter into his heart, and make him sell his master for money, which some heathen would never have done (John 13:2). If Ananias will lie for advantage, Satan will fill his heart that he may lie, with a witness, to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men's temptations to their conditions and inclinations. If they be in prosperity, he will tempt them to deny God (Proverbs 30:9); if they be in adversity, he will tempt them to distrust God; if their knowledge be weak, he will tempt them to have low thoughts of God; if their conscience be tender, he will tempt to scrupulosity; if large, to carnal security; if bold-spirited, he will tempt to presumption; if timorous, to desperation; if flexible, to inconstancy; if stiff, to impenitency.

From the power, malice and skill of Satan--proceeds all the soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems and machinations, which are in the world. Several devices he has to draw souls to sin, and several plots he has to keep souls from all holy and heavenly services, and several stratagems he has to keep souls in a mourning, staggering, doubting and questioning condition.

He has several devices to destroy the great and honorable, the wise and learned, the blind and ignorant, the rich and the poor, the real and the nominal Christians.
At one time, he will restrain from tempting, that we may think ourselves secure, and neglect our watch. At another time he will seem to flee, that he may make us proud of the victory. At one time he will fix men's eyes on others' sins than their own, that he may puff them up. At another time he may fix their eyes more on others' graces than their own, that he may discourage them. A man may as well count the stars, and number the sands of the sea, as reckon up all the Devices of Satan; yet those which are most considerable, and by which he does most mischief to the precious souls of men, are in the following treatise discovered, and the Remedies against them prescribed.

Beloved, I think it necessary to give you and the world a faithful account of the reasons moving me to appear in print, in these days, wherein we may say, there was never more writing and yet never less practicing, and they are these that follow:

Reason 1. Because Satan has a greater influence upon men, and higher advantages over them than they think he has--and the knowledge of his high advantage is the highway to disappoint him, and to render the soul strong in resisting, and happy in conquering.

Reason 2. Your importunity, and the importunity of many other "precious sons of Zion" (Lam. 4:2), has after much striving with God, my own heart, and others, made a conquest of me, and forced me to do that at last, which at first was not a little contrary to my inclination and resolution.
Reason 3. The strange opposition that I met with from Satan, in the study of this following discourse, has put an edge upon my spirit, knowing that Satan strives mightily to keep those things from seeing the light, that tend eminently to shake and break his kingdom of darkness, and to lift up the kingdom and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the souls and lives of the men.

Reason 4. Its exceeding usefulness to all sorts, ranks and conditions of men in the world. Here you have salve for every sore, and a plaster for every wound, and a remedy against every disease, especially against those that tend most to the undoing of souls, and the ruin of the State.

Reason 5. I know not of any one or other that have written of this subject; all that ever I have seen have only touched upon this theme, which has been no small provocation to me, to attempt to do something this way, that others, that have better heads and hearts, may be the more stirred to improve their talents in a further discovery of Satan's Devices, and in making known of such choice Remedies, as may enable the souls of men to triumph over all his plots and stratagems.

Reason 6. I have many precious friends in several countries, who are desirous that my pen may reach them, now that my voice cannot. I have formerly been, by the help of the mighty God of Jacob, a weak instrument of good to them, and cannot but hope and believe that the Lord will also bless these labors to them; they being, in part, the fruit of their desires and prayers.

Reason 7. Lastly, Not knowing how soon my hour-glass may be out, and how soon I may be cut off by a hand of death from all opportunities of doing further service for Christ or your souls in this world, I was willing to sow a little handful of spiritual seed among you; that so, when I put off this earthly tabernacle, my love to you, and that dear remembrance of you, which I have in my soul, may strongly engage your minds and spirits to make this book your companion, and under all external or internal changes, to make use of this heavenly salve, which I hope will, by the blessing of the Lord, be as effectual for the healing of all your wounds, as their looking up to the bronze serpent was effectual to heal theirs--who were bit and stung with fiery serpents. I shall leave this book with you as a legacy of my dearest love, desiring the Lord to make it a far greater and sweeter legacy than all those carnal legacies that are left by the high and mighty ones of the earth to their nearest and dearest relations.

Beloved, I would not have affection carry my pen too much beyond my intention. Therefore, only give me leave to signify my desires for you, and my desires to you, and I shall draw to a close,

My desires for you are, "that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:16-19) "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (Col. 1:10-12) "That you do no evil." (2 Cor. 13:7); "That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment." "That you may approve things that are excellent, that you may be sincere, and without offence until the day of Christ." (Phil. 1:27, 4:1) That "our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power." "That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 1:11, 12) And that you may be eminent in sanctity, sanctity being Zion's glory (Psalm 93:5); that your hearts may be kept upright, your judgments sound, and your lives unblamable. That as you are now "my joy", so in the day of Christ you may be "my crown"; that I may see my labors in your lives; that your lives may not be earthly, when the things you hear are heavenly; but that it may be "as becomes the gospel" (Phil. 1:9, 10).

That as the fish which live in the salt sea yet are fresh, so you, though you live in an ungodly world, may yet be godly and loving; that you may, like the bee, suck honey out of every flower; that you may shine in a sea of troubles, as the pearl shines in the sky, though it grows in the sea; that in all your trials you may shine like the stone in Thracia, which neither burns in the fire nor sinks in the water; that you may be like the heavens, excellent in substance and beautiful in appearance; that so you may meet me with joy in that day wherein Christ shall say to his Father, "Lo, here am I, and the children that you have given me" (Is. 8:18).

My desires to you are--That you would make it your business to study Christ, his Word, your own hearts, Satan's plots, and eternity--more than ever. That you would endeavor more to be inwardly sincere than outwardly glorious; to live, than to have a mere name to live. That you would labor with all your might to be thankful under mercies, and faithful in your places, and humble under divine appearances, and fruitful under precious ordinances. That as your means and mercies are greater than others--so your account before God may not prove a worse than others. That you would pray for me, who am not worthy to be named among the saints, that I may be a precious instrument in the hand of Christ to bring in many souls unto him, and to build up those who are brought in, in their most holy faith; and "that utterance may be given to me, that I may make known all the will of God" (Eph. 6:19); that I may be sincere, faithful, frequent, fervent and constant in the work of the Lord, and that my labor be not in vain in the Lord; that my labors may be accepted in the Lord and his saints, and I may daily see the travail of my soul.

But, above all, pray for me--that I may more and more find the power and sweet of those things upon my own heart, that I give out to you and others; that my soul may be so visited with strength from on high, that I may live up fully and constantly to those truths that I hold forth to the world; and that I may be both in life and doctrine "a burning and a shining light," that so, when the Lord Jesus shall appear, "I may receive a crown of glory which he shall give to me in that day, and not only to me, but to all who love his appearing." (John 5:35 and 2 Tim. 1:8).

For a close, remember this, that your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well- doing, and heaven shall make amends for all!

I shall now take leave of you, when my heart has by my hand subscribed, that I am, your loving pastor under Christ, according to all pastoral affections and engagements in our dearest Lord,

Thomas Brooks

[If you think some of the art work in this post is pretty crazy, check out where I found it!!]

3 comments:

Mary said...

Even more radical than the pictures are the essays at the "Guardian Angel" site. An extended essay entitled "Yoga - the Devil's Plan?" points out to the christian the evils, dangers, and flawed doctrine of yoga. Amusing exchange follows.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I kept expecting to find evidence that the whole site was a hoax. But it all appears to be in deadly earnest!

Diana said...

I remember researching this stuff years ago, and after all this hue and cry, someone published a book titled "Satanic Panic" that debunked every single piece of this sensationalism.

I think most of it was a bizarre reaction to Rosemary's Baby.