If you are wondering where I've been over the past few weeks, here is evidence I am still alive and kicking!
I've been researching and writing four lesson commentaries for a Regular Baptist Press Sunday School curriculum on Cults and World Religions. Because I am lacking in my understanding of these topics, the assignment has required a vast amount of time in research and development!
My first lesson is now complete (I think); and because Kabbalah is one of the fastest-growing trends among the Hollywood elites, our young people have not only heard of it, they are most likely acquainted with some of its teachings. Therefore, it would do us (in the older generation) well to have a working knowledge of this growing and dangerous mystical, new age Judaism.
NOTE: Because the entire lesson exceeds 3,000 words, I will post this in three parts. And feel free to make additions, corrections, deletions, or suggestions--I don't claim to know it all when it comes to Cults and World Religions!
KABBALAH: A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE Kabbalah (a form of Jewish mysticism) is rapidly becoming a popular and trendy choice among America’s elites. This growing medieval religion has attracted celebrities such as Roseanne Barr, Naomi Campbell, Jeff Goldblum, Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears. Because many of the religion’s adherents are well-known public figures, Kabbalah is growing in popularity with America’s young people. Therefore, it is vital that Christian young people are aware of its Gnostic and dualistic views—views that contradict God’s Word and demean His glory as the Creator and Redeemer of mankind.
I. A KABBALAH PRIMER:
Kabbalah is a form of Jewish mysticism with ancient roots that took shape in the medieval period and that has been revived in contemporary popular forms. “Kabbalah is a body of mystical and esoteric beliefs based on commentaries of the Torah, the first give books of Hebrew Scripture (Genesis to Deuteronomy). The term kabbalah comes from a Hebrew root word, kbl, which means ‘to receive.’” Kabbalah is often referred to as a “concealed wisdom” kept secret for centuries but now being revealed in an attempt to achieve unity with God. As it is practiced today, Kabbalah “discusses angels and demons, souls’ journeys after death, reincarnation, resurrection, and the goal of achieving messianic consciousness….” It would be helpful to understand that although Kabbalah is a form of Judaism, it differs greatly from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. While Orthodox Jews believe the Divine Law (as given to Moses on Mount Sinai) is immutable and binding for all times, and that the Old Testament is inspired (although greater authority is given to the Torah (Law), the first five books, than to the rest), Kabbalah would never make such a claim. Kabbalah adheres to traditional Judaism’s dietary laws, but views the Torah as a source of ethics which guides personal decision-making. Many scholars have traced Kabbalah to a first century form of Jewish mysticism called Merkabah, which involved speculations on God’s throne and how to reach it through inner human experience. Merkabah produced texts containing two ideas that would later be developed in Kabbalah religion: numerical value and significance of the Hebrew alphabet, and the ten sefiroth. In the 12th century, a Kabbalah text emerged in south France entitled “Book of Brightness.” This text contained the key tenets of the movement, and was instrumental in Kabbalah spreading to Spain in the 1200’s. This new school of religious thought flourished in Spain, though it was not welcomed by traditional rabbinic authorities. A kabbalist named Moses de Leon, over a period of 30 years, produced writings he attributed to a 2nd century rabbi, Simon bar Yochai. The collection came to be known as Sefer ha-zohar (Book of Splendor), known as Zohar—a foundational text and mystical commentary on the first five books of Moses. The most significant pre-modern expression of Kabbalah came from Isaac ben Solomon Luria (1534-1572), whose school was centered in Safed (modern Zefat in Israel) and whose ideas were recorded by followers. Recently, interest in Kabbalah has been revived, due in large part to Gershom Scholem, professor of Jewish mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prior to Scholem, Rabbi Abraham Kook (1865-1935) was the primary promoter of Kabbalah, and his writings seemed to initiate the movement’s resurgence. Today, the influential Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles is the center of the movement in America. Rabbi Philip Berg oversees the Centre, while his sons, Rabbi Yehuda Berg and Rabbi Michael Berg have been instrumental in propagating the Kabbalist mysticism through numerous articles and books. The Kabbalah Centre has 50 locations around the world, and has published millions of books in 20 languages.
II. WHAT KABBALISTS BELIEVE:
Kabbalah doctrine is difficult to decipher because of its roots in mysticism (mysticism is the belief that one can achieve direct consciousness of God or truth through meditation and intuition in an attempt to merge with a god or the ultimate source), and its highly complex and divergent interpretations. Yet there are several key and foundational doctrines which serve to guide the movement as a whole.
1) Kabbalah’s view of God: God is the Ein Sof (That Which Is Without Limit), and is unknowable and inaccessible to man. Because this god is unknowable, he chose to reveal his attributes through the Tree of Life, which represents his 10 emanations (commonly referred to as the Sefirot). This god’s light flows downward to man through this tree and through the Shekhinah, the divine feminine aspect of God. Kabbalists spiritually ascend through this descending light to realize unity with the divine (salvation). “Ein Sof pervades all creation, so that even a stone has divinity; all existence is pervaded by Deity.”
To summarize, according to Kabbalah, God is not a personal being. He is both unknowable and inaccessible, who has revealed himself through a mythical and magical Tree. Although this god is unknowable, all existence is pervaded by this Deity.
2) Kabbalah’s view of Man: Like many other false religions, Kabbalah teaches that man is divine and ultimately good. “Humans are vessels of Light, reconnecting with Light (an emanation of Ein Sof) through sharing.” When mankind behaves ethically, God’s blessings flow to the world through the Tree of Life. On the other hand, evil actions disrupt the union of the sefirot and empower demonic activity.
Adam and Eve are viewed as symbols of male and female energy, and as a metaphor for the ‘Primordial Vessel’ whose existence came before creation, thus encompassing all the souls of humanity to come. The Presence of the Serpent, considered a fragmenting force, was necessary for creation; otherwise, all would have remained united with God. This gave man the opportunity to earn the Light on his own.
Again, according to Kaballah, man is ultimately good. The problems in our world are attributed to evil forces rather than sinful men, thus negating the need for a Redeemer and Savior, and instituting a works-oriented religion that leaves God subservient to nature and man.
Labels: False Religions, Kabbalah, World Religions