Re: If God isn't Benevolent Doesn't that make God and the Devil?
Yes, bb. The problem is that Kabbalah as such is much more than the texts Sefer Bahir, Sefer Raziel and Zohar. The medieval Christians who studied Ramban, ha-Kohen, de Leon and ARI knew that and were merely trying to understand the texts, not the system (that is the origin of “Christian Qabala”, a study of the concepts). In our own age, they were much akin to Scholem and not Ashlag (the former admitted as much).
Unfortunately in the late IXX and early XX century both Christian and liberal Judaism forgot that difference. So everyone up to Orlov really believes their work in in Kabbalah when (imho) it is merely influenced by some concepts underlying it and those only the ones of the classic texts listed above in their various (imho) bastardized translations.
If one is not a Hasid or a follower of Ashlag, it is contradictory to claim to be a Kabbalist … Christian Qablist, maybe. In this case Thomas’ often cited “one must be in the tradition” is valid. “Influenced by” or “studied academically” is really all the claims outside of the tradition are saying.