Spiritism, as defined by its founder, Allen Kardec, is “a science dedicated to the relationship between incorporeal beings and human beings.” Kardec was a French educator whose real name was Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail. Kardec codified the Kardecist Spiritualism Doctrine, the aim of which was to study spirits—their origin, nature, destiny, and relation to the corporeal world. Spiritism became a popular movement and is now represented in 35 countries. Kardec also wrote The Spirits’ Book in an attempt to show how Spiritism differs from spiritualism.
The main idea of Spiritism is that immortal spirits travel from one body to another over several lifetimes in order to improve themselves morally and intellectually. While this belief sounds similar to reincarnation, it is different in that, according to Spiritism, spirits cannot come back as animals or any lower life form. The migration of the spirit is always forward, and spirits always inhabit human bodies. Spiritists believe that this explains the differences in temperament and intellect in human beings. Spiritism also claims that disembodied spirits can have benevolent or maleficent effects on the living and that humans can communicate with spirits through séances and mediums. Spiritism came into favor in the 19th century, alongside modernism, and is compatible with that philosophy on several fronts, most notably the belief that man can continually improve by way of rational thought. Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife were famous spiritists.
Spiritism is not a religion but rather a philosophy and “way of life,” according to spiritists. There are no ministers, and group meetings consist of sharing ideas about spirits, how they may or may not be moving in the world, the results of those movements, etc. Spiritists value scientific research over worship or rule-following, though they affirm moral living and rational intellectual pursuits.
The Bible clearly forbids Spiritism. God’s people are to make no attempt to contact spirits. Séances and necromancy are occult activities forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Galatians 5:20; 2 Chronicles 33:6). The fact that Spiritism places the occult under a veil of “science” makes no difference. The Bible tells us that the spirit world is off-limits to us, for our own protection. The spirits with which Spiritism has to do are not human; the Bible says that the spirits of men face judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27), and there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that spirits return to the land of the living for any reason or in any form. We know that Satan is a deceiver (John 8:44). The rational conclusion, from Scripture, is that any contact spiritists have with the “souls of the departed” is actually contact with demons in disguise (Revelation 12:9). Spiritism is not compatible with the Bible and is spiritually dangerous. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).