By Kerby Anderson
Does Satan exist? Apparently a lot of American Christians don’t think that he does. A recent George Barna survey found that four of ten Christians (40 percent) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two of ten Christians (19 percent) said that they “agree somewhat” with the perspective. That means a clear majority of self-described Christians do not believe that Satan is a real person.
It is worth noting that these same Christians seem to have internal contradictions in their worldview. For example, a majority of the Christians surveyed believe that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces, such a demons or evil spirits. And about half of those Christians who believed that Satan is merely a symbol of evil nevertheless agreed that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces.
These and other statistics from the latest Barna survey should not be too surprising. As I document in my new book, A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare, both Christians and non-Christians have some false beliefs about Satan, angels, and demons. Part of the reason for these inaccurate views is due to the media. After all, Hollywood is probably not the best source for biblically accurate views on the supernatural. Another reason is that often we hear wrong comments about God and angels and heaven at funerals. Well-meaning people say some pretty strange things. We don’t correct them, because a funeral is about the last place you want to split theological hairs.
This latest survey illustrates why we need to have good Bible teaching from the pulpit, in our Sunday School classes, and in our homes. A person whose perspective of the spiritual world is primarily influenced by the media is going to have a biblically inaccurate worldview. They may believe that Jesus was the Son of God but not believe that Satan is a real person. We need to show them that if Jesus was indeed the Son of God, then we must also believe that Satan exists because Jesus taught that he exists and was tempted by him in the wilderness.
It is time for us to get back to teaching foundational theology in our churches and in our homes. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.