Children of Lucifer explores the historical origins of Satanism, the "anti-religion" that adopts Satan, the Judeo-Christian representative of evil, as an object of veneration. Ruben van Luijk traces its development from a concept invented by the Christian church to demonize its internal and external competitors, to a positive (anti-)religious identity embraced to varying degrees by groups in the modern West. Van Luijk offers a comprehensive intellectual history of this long and unpredictable trajectory; a story that involves Romantic poets, radical anarchists, eccentric esotericists, Decadent writers, and schismatic exorcists, among others, culminating in the establishment of the Church of Satan by carnival entertainer Anton Szandor LaVey. Yet, he argues, this story is more than just a collection of colorful characters and unlikely historical episodes. The emergence of new attitudes towards Satan proves to be intimately linked to the Western Revolution-the ideological struggle for emancipation that transformed the West and is epitomized by the American and French Revolutions.
It is also closely connected to secularization, that other exceptional historical process during which western culture spontaneously renounced its traditional gods in order to enter into a self-imposed state of religious indecision. Children of Lucifer, thus, makes the case that the emergence of Satanism presents a shadow history of the evolution of modern civilization as we know it.