When you hear the names "Satan" and "Lucifer," you may imagine they're the same entity; that both are the devil, the chief enemy of God, according to Christian and Jewish tradition. But actually, depending on the context, the names Satan and Lucifer don't always refer to the same entity. Satanists and Luciferians generally are two groups that have different philosophies.
The name Lucifer has also been associated with the planet Venus. It means "shining one" or "day star." In mystical belief, Lucifer is a literal and figurative bringer of light to the earth and humanity. In a more traditional sense, some Christians have identified Lucifer as the fallen angel -- Satan -- who wanted to be just as divine and powerful as God. One reason for this view is that the Catholic Church refers to Satan the Devil as Lucifer in the Latin Vulgate Bible, translated by Saint Jerome. But other Christians, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, say that in Scripture, the name Lucifer refers solely to a king of ancient Babylon.
The name Satan means "resister," and is the name given to the angel, according to Jewish and Christian thought, that resisted God by rebelling against Him and that influenced other angels and the humans Adam and Eve to do the same. Christians, Jews and others believe that Satan is a spirit entity, or spirit person, that still influences people to do bad things, and therefore is a major force behind the evils in the world.
The earliest days of the Luciferians trace back to the 13th century A.D. in Germany, where they were condemned by the Catholic Church as heretics who venerated Lucifer as the powerful angel who was unfairly treated by the Christian God when thrown out of heaven. In general, Luciferians champion the quality of light attributed to Lucifer, and some may worship Lucifer in a form of devotion that includes sun worship. They typically believe that Lucifer is the same as Satan but they worship only the positive side of Lucifer's character. By doing so, they celebrate Lucifer's light rather than his darkness.
Satanists have traditionally worshiped the spirit entity named Satan the Devil, and they celebrate everything he stands for, whether light or dark, against traditional Christianity. They also revere all demons or "devils" that act in harmony with Satan. However, there are some Satanists, such as members of the Church of Satan (based in New York City), who are atheists and do not believe Satan is a spirit person or entity. Rather, they believe he's a metaphor for a set of beliefs that center on the idea of self-worship and indulgence rather than restraint. They follow the teachings of Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, who wrote "The Satanic Bible," and they do not sacrifice animals or worship any deity, whether God or Satan.
- The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology; Rosemary Guiley
- Watchtower Online Library: Is Lucifer a Name That the Bible Uses for Satan?
- Watchtower Online Library: Satan
- New Advent: Catholic Encyclopedia - Lucifer
- Theological Society: Lucifer
- Google Definitions: Luciferian
- Google Definitions: Satanist
- Church of Satan: FAQs
- Witchcraft in Europe; Alan Charles Kors, Edward Peters; Page 115
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