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KingsGambit
02-16-2014, 10:54 AM
This topic is in the news right now because a pastor who handled snakes on a reality show died of a snakebite this weekend, http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/16/us/snake-salvation-pastor-bite/index.html?sr=fb021614pastorbitten130p and it also seems relevant because there has been a discussion in another thread about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.

Putting aside the question of authenticity for a moment and just assuming for the sake of the argument that it is authentic (not my personal opinion), I have a hard time seeing how these verses justify snake handling during church services. I have heard that these services tend not to involve poison drinking (which would be a consistent implication of taking the entire passage as prescriptive in this way, see Mark 16:18). Is this actually the case? If so, why don't they? Also, why are the verses taken as a prescriptive directive when they seem to be a description of what will happen to believers such as Paul? Also, why wouldn't this be seen as an example of testing God such as when the devil tried to tempt Jesus to jump off the tower?

Outis
02-16-2014, 11:47 AM
To my mind, your last question is the most relevant. However, the way they phrase it is that they are not testing God, they are testing their own faith (an assessment I disagree with, but work with it for a moment). Even if we assume their assessment is true, what is the only possible conclusion to draw from someone who does this? They are _boasting_ of the quality or quantity of their faith, in direct disagreement of faith being "a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."

KingsGambit
02-16-2014, 12:07 PM
To my mind, your last question is the most relevant. However, the way they phrase it is that they are not testing God, they are testing their own faith (an assessment I disagree with, but work with it for a moment). Even if we assume their assessment is true, what is the only possible conclusion to draw from someone who does this? They are _boasting_ of the quality or quantity of their faith, in direct disagreement of faith being "a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."

Well put.

Cow Poke
02-16-2014, 01:08 PM
To my mind, your last question is the most relevant. However, the way they phrase it is that they are not testing God, they are testing their own faith (an assessment I disagree with, but work with it for a moment). Even if we assume their assessment is true, what is the only possible conclusion to draw from someone who does this? They are _boasting_ of the quality or quantity of their faith, in direct disagreement of faith being "a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."

Well, yeah, that.

Cow Poke
02-16-2014, 01:09 PM
It's one thing to trust God to protect us from snakes, if bitten -- it's yet another to grab said snakes and wave them in our faces.

seanD
02-16-2014, 06:31 PM
Jesus cleared up the issue in Matthew 4:5-7. Interestingly, Jesus didn't say Satan was misinterpreting the Psalm passage in a literal sense.

Raphael
02-16-2014, 06:53 PM
Oddly enough my father has a not too dissimiliar snake handling story to Paul's one. Like Paul he was bitten by accident by a pretty toxic snake, and had no ill effects.

The Story: one day my dad saw a boomslang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomslang) near where my brothers were playing. he carefully but his foot (in a hiking boot) on the snake, then he carefully ran his fingers up it's body so he could grasp it just behind it's head.
Now while a boomslang has some of the most toxic venom around, it is a back fanged snake so most bites to humans are non fatal as no venom gets in, so my dad figured he was pretty safe. however, unbeknownst to him the snake had curled around under his boot and in sliding his fingers down it's body he proceeded to shove his index finger down it's throat. The snake could not help but get a decent bite and inject a huge amount of venom. Now there is an antivenin for boomslangs, but my dad is deadly allergic to horse serum, so it would probably have killed him faster than the snake bite.
He removed the snake from his finger, and squeezed his finger managing to squeeze out most, if not all of the poison and had no side effects.

SO to him that verse in question has a great deal of personal application

HOWEVER, there is no way he plans on trying to repeat the process ever again.

Cow Poke
02-16-2014, 06:56 PM
Oddly enough my father has a not too dissimiliar snake handling story to Paul's one. Like Paul he was bitten by accident by a pretty toxic snake, and had no ill effects.

The Story: one day my dad saw a boomslang (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomslang) near where my brothers were playing. he carefully but his foot (in a hiking boot) on the snake, then he carefully ran his fingers up it's body so he could grasp it just behind it's head.
Now while a boomslang has some of the most toxic venom around, it is a back fanged snake so most bites to humans are non fatal as no venom gets in, so my dad figured he was pretty safe. however, unbeknownst to him the snake had curled around under his boot and in sliding his fingers down it's body he proceeded to shove his index finger down it's throat. The snake could not help but get a decent bite and inject a huge amount of venom. Now there is an antivenin for boomslangs, but my dad is deadly allergic to horse serum, so it would probably have killed him faster than the snake bite.
He removed the snake from his finger, and squeezed his finger managing to squeeze out most, if not all of the poison and had no side effects.

SO to him that verse in question has a great deal of personal application

HOWEVER, there is no way he plans on trying to repeat the process ever again.

Yeah!

Outis
02-16-2014, 07:12 PM
SO to him that verse in question has a great deal of personal application

I can see that.


HOWEVER, there is no way he plans on trying to repeat the process ever again.

I can also see that. Definitely!

Pentecost
02-17-2014, 10:39 AM
Snake handling is in theory a form of Pentecostalism, we've been known to take gifts to the extremes before. Tongues "preaching" being one. I'm not saying it's justified, but the mindset of testing one's faith can be very common in our circles. But it is illegal and is unnecessary for worship, so they should abandon that ritual.

Outis
02-17-2014, 10:48 AM
Snake handling is in theory a form of Pentecostalism, we've been known to take gifts to the extremes before. Tongues "preaching" being one. I'm not saying it's justified, but the mindset of testing one's faith can be very common in our circles. But it is illegal and is unnecessary for worship, so they should abandon that ritual.

Even as a non-Christian, I would posit that snake handling isn't just an extreme form of Pentecostalism, but an aberrant or heretical form. Over-emphasis on one particular doctrinal segment--to the point where that doctrine becomes a "proof" for salvation, or at least for annointing--is dangerous in any faith. And that's completely disregarding the physical danger.

Pentecost
02-17-2014, 11:02 AM
I admit I know little of the group, if snake handling is truly considered a prerequisite to salvation as a minority of Pentecostals consider the gifts of tongues then they are indeed aberrant.

If on the other hand they consider it to be an indicator of the Baptism of the Spirit (an a jointing of power) they are making a similar claim as mainstream Pentecostalism but with less evidence to support themselves.

Outis
02-17-2014, 11:19 AM
From the practitioners I know (only three, and perhaps not representative), there is a LOT of unspoken, and some explicitly spoken, pressure to participate. Comments along the line of "This is how you know you have faith in God" and questions along the line of "Don't you believe God will protect you" are not uncommon.

Raphael
02-17-2014, 12:06 PM
From the practitioners I know (only three, and perhaps not representative), there is a LOT of unspoken, and some explicitly spoken, pressure to participate. Comments along the line of "This is how you know you have faith in God" and questions along the line of "Don't you believe God will protect you" are not uncommon.

The joys of peer pressure.

Sparko
02-17-2014, 01:09 PM
Even as a non-Christian, I would posit that snake handling isn't just an extreme form of Pentecostalism, but an aberrant or heretical form. Over-emphasis on one particular doctrinal segment--to the point where that doctrine becomes a "proof" for salvation, or at least for annointing--is dangerous in any faith. And that's completely disregarding the physical danger.most of the snake handlers come from where I did, the appalachians, and they are definitely unorthodox pentacostals. Most elevate the "gifts of the spirit" above everything and place too much emphasis on stuff like miracles and snake handling. They routinely roll around on the floor speaking in tongues and basically looking like they are having epileptic fits. Most of these pentacostals are also non-trinitarian.

rogue06
02-21-2014, 07:18 PM
A recent "Coffee with Jesus" deals with this: https://www.facebook.com/RadioFreeBabylon/photos/a.680531388641074.1073741826.167938346567050/796319897062222/?type=1&theater

Years ago when I was young my pastor told us that when Mark said that "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" it was intended to be taken idiomatically and meant that believers will be able to overcome opposition and withstand attacks upon their character respectively. Was anyone else taught that?

Cow Poke
02-22-2014, 10:52 AM
A recent "Coffee with Jesus" deals with this: https://www.facebook.com/RadioFreeBabylon/photos/a.680531388641074.1073741826.167938346567050/796319897062222/?type=1&theater

Years ago when I was young my pastor told us that when Mark said that "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" it was intended to be taken idiomatically and meant that believers will be able to overcome opposition and withstand attacks upon their character respectively. Was anyone else taught that?

yeah

Goulette
02-22-2014, 01:37 PM
Something tells me that at some point in church history, some people will get into a boat, plant themselves in deep water and a half mile away from shore, and proceed to jump overboard in a hopeless attempt to walk on water.

To test their faith of course.

Christianbookworm
02-24-2014, 04:31 PM
They handle venomous snakes? No problem holding a nonvenomous snake! :tongue:

Outis
02-24-2014, 04:32 PM
They handle venomous snakes? No problem holding a nonvenomous snake! :tongue:

A non-venomous snake can still give you a nasty bite.

Anybody remember the old joke about "Where is the back door?"

Christianbookworm
02-24-2014, 04:35 PM
Isn't holding a snake a technique thing? Not a faith thing. God didn't promise that...