home
RSS
February 17th, 2014
10:29 AM ET

A faithful death: Why a snake handler refused treatment

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - In the close-knit town of Middlesboro, Kentucky, almost everyone knew what was happening inside the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church - including Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.

Despite a Kentucky law that prohibits snake-handling at religious events, Sharpe said he "made a decision not to involve this police department in somebody's church service."

"I'm not going to tell you that I didn't know what was going on. This is a small town," Sharpe said. "But we're not going to bust into anybody's church on Sunday morning."

The trouble at Full Gospel Tabernacle began on Saturday night, when Pastor Jamie Coots, whose serpent-handling religious rituals made him a reality TV star, died after a rattlesnake sunk its fangs into his right hand.

Coots was a third-generation serpent handler and aspired to one day pass the practice, and his church, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

MORE ON CNN: Reality show snake-handling preacher dies - of snakebite

Despite Coots' death, Sharpe said he will not enforce Kentucky's ban against using serpents in religious services.

"The Middlesboro police have their priorities and the State Police have theirs. If they want to come in and investigate that or any other church, they are quite welcome."

A National Geographic show featured Coots and cast handling copperheads, rattlers and cottonmouths. The channel's website shows a picture of Coots, goateed, with a fedora covering his bald head.

"Even after losing half of his finger to a snake bite and seeing others die from bites during services," Coots "still believes he must take up serpents and follow the Holiness faith," the website says.

Coots belonged to a small circle of Pentecostal Holiness pastors who take this passage from the Bible's Gospel of Mark literally:  “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Since those words are said to be spoken by Jesus, pastors like Coots take them as divine commandments. But there are other spiritual reasons to handle serpents, practitioners say, often describing the dangerous rituals as a mental and emotional rush, as if they were touching the hand of God.

"They almost always use drug metaphors, like 'higher than any high you can experience," said  Paul Williamson, a professor of psychology at Henderson State University in Arkansas who studies serpent handlers.

At the same time, they are extremely careful with the serpents, Williamson said, only allowing those who live sin-free lives and have been "annointed" by the Holy Spirit to handle the snakes. "There's death in that box," pastors often warn the congregation before services start.

"Because serpent handling is not a practice that occurs in the mainstream, people tend to look at it as anomalous and strange, " said Williamson. "But to them, it's really no different from a Catholic who takes Communion. It's a powerful and immediate experience of God that gives meaning and purpose to their lives."

Williamson estimates there are at most 2,000 people who belong to the few hundred churches, centered in Appalachia, that practice serpent handling. Most of the churches, like Coots', are fairly small, with less than 50 worshippers.

Faith in the divine played a role on Coots' death Saturday night, Sharpe said.

"He was very open about his beliefs, that if he was bitten, he did not want medical treatment." Coots had been bitten by a snake a half-dozen times before and recovered.

Williamson said Coots and other snake-handlers generally seek medical treatment for other ailments. "But when it comes to serpent-handling, it requires a belief in God and obedience to the commands of Jesus. If something does happen, they trust God with the consequences."

Sharpe said his department and an ambulance crew responded to a call at the church Saturday night but Coots and his family had already gone home. When they arrived at the Coots home, the pastor was unconscious and "in pretty bad shape."

Medical professionals stayed at Coots' house for half an hour, telling the family about the consequences of not seeking treatment, the police chief said, as family, friends and church members came and went. But the Coots family was adamant that God alone would heal the pastor, if it was divine will.

"Certainly, they were not aware of the danger," Sharpe said. "We have to offer this treatment, but we can't force them to take it."

Coots was far from the first serpent-handler to die from a snakebite. Mack Wolford, one of the tradition's most famous practitioners, was killed by a bite in 2012. His father died in 1983 from the same cause.

The police chief said he knew Coots fairly well and spoke with the pastor several times about being bitten by serpents.

It is not illegal to keep poisonous snakes in Kentucky, but it requires permits from the state Fish and Wildlife Department. Coots' permits were up-to-date, Sharpe said. "He was pretty meticulous."

"They were well aware of what they were doing, that they were handling dangerous snakes and could get bit. Please understand that these are not ignorant people but people with beliefs just a little outside the mainstream."

In February 2013, Coots was given one year of probation for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes. The state banned snake-handling in 1947 after five people died within a two-year span, the National Geographic Channel says on the show site.

He was previously arrested in 2008 for keeping 74 snakes in his home, according to the channel.

(CNN's Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.)

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Death • Prayer

soundoff (1,211 Responses)
  1. Doris

    I'm writing a song to go along with this video. I'm borrowing bits from:

    Send in the Clowns
    Who Let the Dogs Out?, and
    the theme from Snakes on a Plane

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05GAeQ45YxU

    February 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
    • doobzz

      Swaggart's Greatest Hits. What a whiny little coward he is.

      "Ahhh have sinnnnnnned!" LOL.

      February 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  2. Vic

    [
    Coots belonged to a small circle of Pentecostal Holiness pastors who take this passage from the Bible's Gospel of Mark literally: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
    ]

    I DO NOT subscribe to that.

    What some people fail to understand is that God Himself decides these things and NOT THEM.

    Matthew 4:7
    "7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”"

    Luke 4:12
    "12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”"

    Acts 15:10
    "10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?"

    All Scripture Is From:

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

    http://www.biblegateway.com/

    February 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
    • Madtown

      God Himself decides these things
      ----
      Ok, but what God decides is not laid out in the bible. The bible is the work of humans. It's a best-effort guess as to how God operates.

      February 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
    • SeaVik

      All Christians are just as delusional as this guy. It is only because it is your particular delusion that it doesn't seem crazy to you.

      February 17, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
  3. thefinisher1

    If non-belief is indeed real and all faiths are wrong, why doesn't non-belief show up and prove to mankind God doesn't exist? Is non-belief not logical and rational like atheists proclaim it to be? If we exist without a creator, why doesn't the proof just appear? Why all this confusion that leads to thousands of religions? Why do atheists believe different things when atheism is correct? How can it be correct when atheists make up their own beliefs? Is your atheism just stupid or plain silly?

    February 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Try again after you mature a bit and learn what atheism is.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Asking questions is immature? I'm guessing your atheism is very weak if you are afraid of questions.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • ausphor

          thefin...
          Which of the gods do you want atheists to prove doesn't exist, those in the Theogony or the Vedas, be specific? Would you believe these gods do not exist if the majority of humans agree they are myths or continue to believe no matter what the evidence indicated? That is the problem with blind faith, get bitten by the snake and reality overrides faith and the fool dies.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          The fundamental problem with you "finisher" is that you don't understand what atheism is. Take some time, grow up, get educated and then come back and argue your case.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • hotairace

      Here we go, back to square zero . . .

      Believers claim that gods exist. The onus is on them to prove their claim. Atheists have looked for evidence but have found none. In any other domain, such claims would have been discarded but religion gets a free pass.

      Bottom Line: Believers have not produced any evidence for their claims and it is impossible to prove a negative. The rational view is to remain skeptic – gods might exist but it appears the probability is very low, virtually zero.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        I have looked for evidence that atheists are correct and have found nothing. Atheists are so egoistic that they don't want to admit it.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm |
        • hotairace

          Please provide evidence that believers are correct.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • Creationists say the darndest things

          I have looked for evidence that theists are correct and have found nothing. Theists are so egoistic that they don't want to admit it.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          I can admit I can't provide evidence. Atheists are the only ones on the planet that have not admitted they can't either and rely on faith. Atheism=stupidity.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • hotairace

          So, all you wanted to do was start a fight, only to be forced to concede you have nothing, in what, 6 posts? Nice work.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Wrong. I admit I can't provide proof. Atheists are like children and won't admit they can't either. Atheism breeds the worst kind of ego.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • hotairace

          One more time, azzhole. Atheists have nothing to prove. Believers have made an extraordinary claim and the default position is to remain skeptical until evidence is provided. Why do you believe what you believe? Are you pretending to know things you do not?

          February 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          So you know you can't be wrong? Oh wait! That makes total sense! Deny that you don't have faith to feel superior! Classic stupidity, man. You don't know you're right so you could be wrong. Prove to the world you're right. Oh wait. You can't. Time to grow up kid.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • hotairace

          Where did I absolutely deny the existence of any gods? Where did I say I couldn't be wrong? All I asked for is evidence which you, like all Babble Humpers, have failed to provide. So, I say, gods might exist but the probability is very low, and decreasing given the amount of time believers have been flailing about trying to make the irrational rational and how science provides better answers with real evidence, peer-reviewed under the scientific method.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
        • ausphor

          Ah! Our not so friendly or intelligent atheist hunter has appeared with its new handle.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
        • wadesworld242

          The poster who said atheists are arrogant is absolutely right.

          Atheists absolutely believe there is no God. They believe they are right and anyone believing in religion believes a book of "fairy tales." Don't give me the "I didn't say I was right" argument. Yes you did, over and over again. The billions in this world who believe in religion are ignorant morons.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
        • hotairace

          All believers have to do to make atheists shut up, after admitting we are wrong, is to provide definitive evidence to support their claims. Please proceed with the presentation of your evidence.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
        • maanirantel

          Finisher: As a believer, I would say that, separate and apart from your specific position here, you are not exactly doing whatever faith you believe in very much good by expressing your position in such a combative, demeaning fashion. To put it somewhat simplistically, instead of "atheism=stupidity" (which is hopelessly "unfriendly"), I would say that atheism simply equals a lack of connection to the God that you and I believe in (whatever our respective faiths). That does not make atheists "stupid" any more than I would agree that our belief in God makes US "ignorant" or any of the other equally combative and demeaning words some of them use about us.

          February 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
    • bostontola

      "If non-belief is indeed real and all faiths are wrong"

      Don't we only differ by 1 faith? Most people that believe, believe their faith is the true faith and all others are false. There are 1000s of them. You think 1 out of thousands is true, I think 0 out of thousands is true, that's not that different.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        Atheists believe the same. what you believe is right and all others are wrong. Atheism breeds stupidity.

        February 17, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • bostontola

          Actually, there has been extensive IQ testing of believers and atheists. It is a fact, atheism does not lead to stupidity.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        I'm sensing Salero Jr here has gotten on Mommy's computer again.

        February 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
    • iustician

      There is only 1 god Allah, and Muhammad is his profit. The father, the son, the holy ghost, Jesus is the son of God. Zeus is the king of the Gods. Jupiter is the patron god of Rome. Rah is the sun god of the Nile. Do you see how crazy that ALL sounds? Religion has been a part of mankind long before we came out of the caves. Why? Because of death, people fear death, and the unknown. It takes courage to accept that there is no god, it takes courage to be an atheist and accept that whatever existence you have on this planet, that's it forever. Be courageous and drop your religious artificiality. You can still live a moral life, a life that is clean, and productive, without the irrationality of religion. Science my friends, trutch in science will set you free.

      February 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm |
    • iustician

      There is only 1 god Allah, and Muhammad is his profit. The father, the son, the holy ghost, Jesus is the son of God. Zeus is the king of the Gods. Jupiter is the patron god of Rome. Rah is the sun god of the Nile. Do you see how crazy that ALL sounds? Religion has been a part of mankind long before we came out of the caves. Why? Because of death, people fear death, and the unknown. It takes courage to accept that there is no god, it takes courage to be an atheist and accept that whatever existence you have on this planet, that's it forever. Be courageous and drop your religious artificiality. You can still live a moral life, a life that is clean, and productive, without the irrationality of religion. Science my friends, truth in science will set you free.

      February 17, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
    • justme1n1

      Just so you know, I am of the opinion that your post is deliberately bait and switch. But, I will reply just the same.
      First, we have a basic set of answers, all of us, which are; yes, no and maybe.
      Theist make claims that there is a god. Atheists do not accept these claims, which would mean; No to theist claims. (no) being the only attribute to theist claims from atheist. Since theist can not provide evidence to support their claims, atheist are unable to change their answer to a yes. Where an agnostic will most likely say maybe. For you to require evidence for someone whom states no to a claim, is beyond foolish. The individual whom makes the claim has the burden of proof. You can not scapegoat this mandatory requirement.

      February 17, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
    • dashvader

      Religious texts are typically written in such a way making it impossible to prove or disprove their deities' existence. However, as no evidence has ever been found supporting the existence of a deity, it must be assumed that none exist.

      February 17, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
  4. caesaro

    The irony of a con artist selling snake oil and gets bitten by a snake when these con artists actually are like snakes targeting the blind sheep with their venom.

    February 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
  5. wadesworld242

    Some questions for the atheists from a non-snake handling Christian:

    If we're all here because of some happy accident, why do you bother to live? Why do you bother to have children?

    If there's no meaning to life, why do you bother to be nice to your neighbor? Why not just grab all you can get? For that matter, why endure the daily struggles of this thing called life? We just happened to evolve, so if we disappear, surely something else will evolve to take our place.

    What's reasoning for trying to be a good person? Emotions after all, are just chemical reactions in a brain that accidentally happened to evolve the way it did. If you have no belief in religion there's absolutely no reason to try to be good. Why would you?

    February 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
    • doobzz

      Is the threat of punishment from an angry deity the only thing that keeps you from doing all of those things?

      February 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
      • theophileo

        Although some are certainly motivated by a healthy fear of condemnation ofr their sins, repentance is ultimately driven by a desire to do the will of God. You come to know the truth when God reveals the truth to you, and He only reveals it to you when you seek to do His will. This is how faith works.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • doobzz

          I don't need to repent to a deity for anything. That wasn't the point.

          The OP is asking why a non believer bothers to treat others as one wishes to be treated. I simply asked if the OP would abandon the golden rule if the threat of eternal punishment was gone.

          In other words, there is no deity required to treat others as you want to be treated. The idea that non believers have nothing to care about, nothing to live for and no reason to treat their fellow humans decently is a lie perpetrated by those who wish to keep people in bondage to the myth of a loving, yet just deity.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • theophileo

          "I simply asked if the OP would abandon the golden rule if the threat of eternal punishment was gone. "
          -----
          If God doesn't exist, then you are nothing more than a hindrance to me obtaining food, or a mate, and you must die. All morality is relative to the individual. There are no courts among monkeys.

          If God does exist, then there is a standard of morality. And we will all be held accountable for our violations of it.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • dashvader

          Actually, plenty of non-human species have some form of government that punishes wrongdoers, especially among monkeys and apes.

          February 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
        • theophileo

          dashvader,
          You DO know that a porpoise will eat it's young, right?

          February 18, 2014 at 7:25 am |
        • igaftr

          theo
          "then you are nothing more than a hindrance to me obtaining food, or a mate, and you must die. All morality is relative to the individual. There are no courts among monkeys."

          ARe you seriously that ignorant that you actually believe that? Start with the studies done by Jane Goodall, and then continue with a HUGE variety of other animal studies that PROVE animals have morals, they use tools, build societies and cultures, have their own languages ( such as the prarie dogs...simple little rodents right?...no they have a VERY extensive language..they watch out for each other, care for each other, co-operate and share, defend and yes...love...all without any gods.

          You are VASTLY mistaken about the animal world, and yes , sometimes their behavior baffles us...ours should be more baffling as man is the only one that specifically will hunt down and murder his own kind for reasons OTHER than mating rights or survival. In that way the animals are MORE moral than humans.

          February 18, 2014 at 8:38 am |
    • Apple Bush

      wadesworld242. you are WARPED!

      February 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
    • bostontola

      wade,
      Your questions reveal more about you than atheists. You imply that you would not be moral if it weren't for god and His punishment. That is sad.

      Meaning and purpose come from evolution. A paramecium has a purpose when it doggedly swims up a glucose gradient, the purpose is to feed itself. The paramecium with more drive out competes the ones with less drive.

      Humans have elaborated on those meanings and purposes beyond genetics with culture. There are many, just like there are many religions. Groups of people out compete individuals, period. We (and other apes, social animals) have developed rules that make us more effective and hence more competi.tive. This has been going on for so long, it is not part of our conscious selves, it is deep down in instinct. That is why it feels so innate.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
    • hotairace

      Why do you believe there is no to life? Because of some book that has been shown to be a pile of crap, with not a shred of evidence for any of its supernatural claims?

      February 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      "If we're all here because of some happy accident, why do you bother to live? Why do you bother to have children?"

      Not sure I would use the term "happy accident" (dad swears I was on purpose). Why do I bother? Beacuse the experience is different than the reality. "Love" may be a chemical reaction in my brain, but it doesn't change how it feels when I do.

      Knowing how a rainbow is generated doesn't take away from the beauty of it, it just adds another layer of understanding. It works both ways too – If you believe in heaven, why not strangle your children as soon as they're born? Sure, you might go to hell for it, but you would guaranteeing their eternity...

      February 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
    • dandintac

      Wade,

      I can't believe anyone would actually think like this. It blows me away. No purpose without your God-belief? Really? Because I find that terribly sad for you.

      I have never had more purpose in my life–indeed, I would say that when I was a believer, I had less purpose. So if you found out tomorrow, that without a doubt, there is no god. Somehow it was proven. Would you just abandon your family? Abandon your friends? Leave your spouse? Quit your job? Give up on your career? Give up on any causes you may have? Stop donating to any charities? Lose all interest in investment or political participation? Loose any interest in learning and education? Self-development? Would music and art cease to mean anything to you? Vacations?

      Would all of the great landmarks in your life suddenly become meaningless? The first Christmas you can remember? Your first day in school? When your baby brother or sister were born? Your first kiss? Your first date? The senior prom? the time your Little League team won the trophy? Your first date? The time when your high school team took the state penant? Graduation? College? Your first job? Getting married? Holding your first newborn baby in your hands? All of this–no meaning to you, no purpose to you, if there is no God-being?

      Wade, you are making me cry! A 50-year old adult!

      If you really think like this–PLEASE–for the sake of everyone you love and hold dear, get some counseling!

      I'll start you off though. Life is absolutely more precious when you realize it's limited. When you believe that, and understand that this is the only life you're going to get, you'll find that your life becomes very precious indeed.

      February 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
  6. Heaven Sent

    Standing on the shore throwing rocks at Jesus will not change reality. You are on the wrong side of the track marks. I can't reach the litter box so I just put my dinner plate down. The stones of the atheist will drop and not make a splash.

    Amen.

    February 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
    • Truth Be Told

      Amen, Heaven Sent. Throwing rocks at a hillside will move it no more than His divine will. The rocks of the atheists will roll back over them at the reckoning. Amen.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
      • the0g0to0the0t

        You two need a little alone time maybe?

        February 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
      • igaftr

        you do realize that this particular version of heaven sent is a poser, showing heaven sent to be an absolute lunatic, right?
        Read the posts again...notice the middle sentence is always a crazy cat lady?
        Nice to see you agree with a lunatic though.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
      • Heaven Sent

        Amen Truth Be Told. The atheists com on these articles to spew the lies of satan. Christians must defend the Holy Father. The FBI returned my couch cushion so I don't have to sit on the meat loaf. Keep your trust in God and spend eternity in His glow.

        Amen.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • igaftr

          Thanks for another example HS...odd, it isn't very subtle, but so many believers jump right in to preach with the choir, and pat you on the back...they don't seem to notice the lunacy, maybe because they are used to reading it in ther bible.

          February 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
        • Heaven Sent

          Just as many atheists. No one reads.

          February 17, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
  7. Heaven Sent

    I know you atheists are still stealing my handle tommy-tom *cough* whatever you changed your name to. Been kicked off any more blogs for running off the Christians? I keep the flea and tick shampoo in the shower now. The Lord gave you all the tools you need for eternal happiness. Use them.

    Amen.

    February 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
  8. averagejoe7six

    What is an "act of faith" to one that has designed reality? Could I ever surprise such a being? Does it seem feasible to ask a mortal to do something when the one asking has created a universe?!?

    Can anyone reconcile God's ability to see into the future and then asking for "acts of faith"? God should already know any outcome, so why's God asking us to do anything?

    I know why. Doesn't exist.

    February 17, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
    • theophileo

      Jonathan Edwards wrote a great book on this called "The Freedom of the Will." Martin Luther also has written on the topic, with "The Bondage of the Will."

      Both are great reads if you're really curious about it.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
      • sam stone

        why should we care what people who agree with you wrote, thephileo?

        February 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • ausphor

          sam
          He is a saint, just ask him?

          February 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • theophileo

          All believers are saints. Read the Bible, not papist doctrine.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • sam stone

          so, thephilateo, why should we care what he wrote?

          February 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
        • theophileo

          Well, if you're an American, Jonathan Edwards played a MAJOR role in American History, so you should be aware of who he was and what he did. If you're in the least bit interested in philosphy, then his views on the human condition should be required reading. And if you stand on either side of the theological debate, then you should be aware of his arguments for the existence of God before you make any stance that is antagonistic to the existence of God.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • sam stone

          he also played a role in early 1970's folk-rock

          have you listened to The Atheist Experience?

          If not, why not?

          Do you not care to hear their side?

          February 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  9. averagejoe7six

    This should be a circus act. Notice they don't perform acts like the regrowth of limbs on a vet, or making the sun go dim @ noon. Y'know something "wow-a-rrific".

    Always some mundane trick.

    February 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Heaven Sent

    The Lord made it simple for all of us to get to heaven. Follow his word, given to us as a gift from heaven. I keep my pool cue from the honeymoon as a souvenir. The Devil (who is satan) feeds on those who turn their backs to God.

    Amen.

    February 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • bootyfunk

      what kind of pool cue you got?

      February 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
      • Heaven Sent

        Focused on the wrong thing, typical atheist. The Lord grants happiness to those that believe. The name has worn off the pool cue at this point but I have lots of produce. You stand on a quick sand foundation and soon you will be suffocated.

        Amen.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • bootyfunk

          where do you get your produce? do you like broccoli?

          February 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • Heaven Sent

          Matthew 15:28

          Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

          I did find some broccoli under the couch but the kittens had chewed on it. The corn was fine.

          Believe now or suffer for eternity.

          Amen.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • Truth Be Told

      Amen, Heaven Sent. When my husband sayeth "get in here woman", I know it's a cue to follow him as I do Him. The only difference is we do not have a pool. No matter our situation, we need to ready to obey. Amen.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
      • Heaven Sent

        I baptized my children in our plastic pool behind the trailer. I felt God's presence as the water and leaves washed over their tiny faces. My 12-year-old daughter's first marriage took place in that very pool. Prideful atheists scoff at the true word of God and will drown in their own egos.

        Amen.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
  11. lean6

    Just consider all of the many religions in this world, claiming that their's is the only religion that will get you into Heaven. That means that even in death, you'll have to assume your place within a 1 percent "wealth" situation.

    February 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
    • theophileo

      Truth by definition is exclusive.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
      • bootyfunk

        how so?

        February 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • theophileo

          Because if something is found to be true, then it's negative is by definition, false. Something cannot be both "A" and "non-A" at the same time, that's the law of non-contradiction.

          A truth claims that since "A" is true, then everything that is not "A" is false.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • sam stone

          "Something cannot be both "A" and "non-A" at the same time, that's the law of non-contradiction"

          Yet you hold that both free will the pre-destination are true

          Dance around logic much?

          February 17, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
        • theophileo

          That's not "contradiction," it's called "concurrence." This is seminary 101 stuff. Look up R.C. Sprouls's "Essential Truths of the Christian Faith."

          February 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • sam stone

          "look up rationalization"

          logic 101 stuff

          February 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
        • sam stone

          calling them truths don't make them so

          February 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
        • ausphor

          theo...
          Does free will not allow each individual determine what is truth for themselves, what makes you the determiner of the only truth? I doubt you could even get your fellow Christians agree to what is the truth, let alone the other religions in the world.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • theophileo

          "Does free will not allow each individual determine what is truth for themselves"
          ----–
          No, that's Post Modernism which doesn't work in the real world, no matter what college professors try to get you to believe. If you and I are sitting on a park bench together, and I tell you that I believe that we are actually sitting on a green chicken, the sincerity of my belief doesn't make that the truth.

          The truth is what the truth is, and your belief in it or lack of belief in it has no weight to make it true or to force it to be untrue.

          Truth is truth.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • sam stone

          "The truth is what the truth is, and your belief in it or lack of belief in it has no weight to make it true or to force it to be untrue."

          back atcha, larry

          you are equating disagreement about a park bench versus a green chicken with questioning of the existence or the nature of an invisible, undetectable god?

          you are sure dancing around to justify your silly beliefs

          must be hard seeing god as such a pr1ck

          February 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
        • ausphor

          theo...
          No that is not the truth, truth like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no matter how much you want to impose your view of truth on everyone else. Arrogant and pompous as ever Saint Lof A.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • theophileo

          "you are sure dancing around to justify your silly beliefs"
          ------–
          Interesting... Now prove to me that consciousness exists... What about love?
          And don't say they are merely chemical reactions that we can observe, because if I put those chemicals into a bowl, I can't say that the bowl is now aware of me and loves me... Nope, there is no objective proofs of the existence of those outside of observing their effects... They're invisible, and yet they exist.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
        • theophileo

          ausphor
          So if I said that I believe that you are actually a one legged elephant, am I wrong?

          February 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm |
        • theophileo

          "truth like beauty is in the eye of the beholder"
          ------
          I'm sorry, but truth is not relative, and you KNOW it isn't. If you really felt that truth was relative, then the next time you eat out, and the bill comes, and let's say it's $24, tell them that you believe you should only pay $5. See how far that gets you.

          Post Modernism doesn't work in the real world.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • ausphor

          theo...
          Post modernism, whatever the hell that is, doesn't work, but the bible does? The guy died because he believed that the venom of a snake would not kill him because that was his truth, oops. Larry your truth seems to be that some deity will forgive all your transgressions against man and nature, oops, no eternity, no hell, suck it up pal you are just star stuff and will remain so when we are finally rid of you.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      "Just consider all of the many religions in this world, claiming that their's is the only religion that will get you into Heaven."

      This is a carrot/stick arrangement you'll mostly only find in the Abrahamic religions. In most other religions, your behavior/beliefs have nothing to do with your afterlife. Most of the time, it's your job or the manner of your death that would determine your afterlife.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
  12. bootyfunk

    he refused treatment because he is in a cult. religious brain-washing is bad for you. it causes you to do all kinds of stupid and dangerous things, such as dancing with poisonous snakes and refusing treatment because gawd is going to save you. sad that people can be so warped by religion.

    February 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
  13. Heaven Sent

    These atheists ignore the word of the Almighty God. They will be surprised to find the fires of hell are waiting for them. My 12-year-old daughter had her wedding reception at the Denny's. Follow the Word of the Lord or enjoy your scorched body for eternity.

    Amen.

    February 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • bostontola

      Love me or burn for eternity. That is an exceptionally poor sales pitch in the 21st century. It is the whole hell thing that absolutely convinces me that that religion is hogwash.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
      • Heaven Sent

        Prideful atheists, thinking themselves to be mini-gods. You are jealous of Jesus for being the one true God of man. I moved the kittens to the freezer so they won't smell as bad. It is time for you to start your walk with Jesus.

        Amen.

        February 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
        • bostontola

          Talk about prideful, you presume to know what is going on in my mind, what motivates me. What do you call a person that accuses others of what they themselves do?

          February 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • rogerthat2014

          bostontola,

          Seriously you can't be Shirley?

          February 17, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • bostontola

          rogerthat,
          I am serious. And please call me Shirley.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • Truth Be Told

      Amen Heaven Sent. Trust in the Lord and the stale crust will become the Grand Slam breakfast. Amen.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      A genuine POE or just a troll? You decide...

      February 17, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
  14. MadeFromDirt

    This is another example of the dangers of false doctrine, and how one mistake leads to more, with worse consequences down the line. As explained by my brother apologists in earlier comments here, it is a mistake to apply the passage in Mark to believers who are not direct witnesses to the risen Christ and not present at the time of Pentecost. Coots never had any special power with snakes above what any handler can learn and perform. Snake handling is not a spiritual gift, and he was in error to put himself in front of his congregation like he held some special privilege from God, showing off purported favor, boasting of his own works, emphasizing benefits from God rather than the Truth of God and the Gospel. And he was in error to tempt fate, playing games with God. And now in the end, he has become a target for mockery, for deniers to point to and scoff and blaspheme against God.

    Throughout Scripture, God provides ample warnings about these kinds of errors and their consequences.

    February 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • SeaVik

      Newsflash: Your doctrine is just as false.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
      • bootyfunk

        but they never see it.
        "mind is the real way! our religion is true!"
        that's what they all say.

        February 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      "like he held some special privilege from God, showing off purported favor, boasting of his own works"

      Oh, so that's why the snake bit him. And here I thought it was because he picked up a poisonous snake and annoyed it...

      February 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
      • MadeFromDirt

        neverbeenhappier, you have a habit of seeing words that aren't there.

        February 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Sorry about your origins btw. I myself am made from star dust.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • theophileo

        There's no such thing as a poisonous snake... Venomous on the other hand...

        February 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          The words are pretty much synonymous, so yes there would be poisonous snakes.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • theophileo

          No, "poisonous" refers to that toxin produced by plants, "venom" refers to that toxin produced by animals and insects. So, it's bad grammar.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          I guess it depends on what you're reading.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • otoh2

          theo,

          1ven·om
          noun \ˈve-nəm\

          : poisonous matter normally secreted by some animals (as snakes, scorpions, or bees) and transmitted to prey or an enemy chiefly by biting or stinging; broadly : material that is poisonous

          You could say that all venom is poisonous, but not all poison is venomous - that would be going pretty far out, though.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
        • doobzz

          Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

          Psalms 58:4 KJV

          February 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
        • theophileo

          Psalm 58:4, NASB
          They have venom like the venom of a serpent;
          Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear...

          February 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
        • doobzz

          I see. So one bible says one thing, and another bible says another thing. One bible is wrong, but the other is right. Yet both are the word of god?

          Is this another one of those pesky translational errors that we're all supposed to figure out on our own?

          February 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • theophileo

          "I see. So one bible says one thing, and another bible says another thing. One bible is wrong, but the other is right. Yet both are the word of god?

          Is this another one of those pesky translational errors that we're all supposed to figure out on our own?"
          ------
          The meaning of the passage is the same. It's just bad English grammar. But then again, we don't speak with "thee" and "thou" in our vernacular today either, but does that change the meaning of what it's trying to say? No, it just means that it's not grammatically aligned with modern vernacular.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
        • doobzz

          So how do we know when it's a grammar mistake, when it's a translational error, when it's a contextual error, when it's "internal clues", when it's a cultural anomaly, or when it's just plain wrong? Why is the holy word of your deity so confusing?

          February 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Doobzz, the nature of language is such that it is always open to conflicting interpretations. We have an entire branch of government devoted to interpreting the Consttution and laws passed by Congress, and those are written in English and only a couple hundred years old at the most, not thousands of years ago from a different language and culture.

          But anyway, God makes the big picture of the Gospel perfectly clear in Scripture. If you want to determine if an interpretation or doctrine is true there is a simple test: Does it affirm the absolute sovereignty and eternal perfection of our Creator, or does it elevate the status of man and man's deeds to levels where God's Holiness and Will and the atoning work of Christ are diminished? If the issue is about something immaterial to that question, like the meaning of venom vs. poison, it's only a curiosity and not something over which believers should separate themselves.

          February 21, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
    • theophileo

      MadeFromDirt,
      Well stated.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
      • MadeFromDirt

        Thank you theophileo. Let us keep fighting the good fight.

        February 21, 2014 at 7:27 pm |
    • rogerthat2014

      It's mind boggling isn't it? The Bible is so clearly written, how could anyone misinterpret it?

      February 17, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
      • MadeFromDirt

        Rogerthat, see my reply to doobzz above.

        February 21, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          Mostly from not having studied it..but only a cursory reading....missing the context....and some, mostly unknowingly, will read it as if it were written by Americans orginally..with American culture..rather than Jewish and Middle eastern cultures of the Bible times

          February 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
    • bootyfunk

      the bible is a book of fairy tales, not to be taken seriously.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      "Mark to believers who are not direct witnesses to the risen Christ and not present at the time of Pentecost"

      Then why would you consider Paul an apostle? He didn't directly witness anything and yet christians seem to quote him more than anyone else.

      February 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
      • doobzz

        Well, he had that close encounter in the desert.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
  15. averagejoe7six

    "They were well aware of what they were doing, that they were handling dangerous snakes and could get bit. Please understand that these are not ignorant people but people with beliefs just a little outside the mainstream."

    Even if I were faithful, why would God participate in cheap parlor tricks and not do something awesome like talk to an athiest and change them into a believer? Wouldn't that be miracle enough? To change somebody like Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins into the faithful?? It wouldn't change me, BUT ........ it'd be something to take notice of.

    February 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
    • averagejoe7six

      On 2nd thought, changing people's minds is not all that awesome.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
      • MadeFromDirt

        Averagejoe, Maher and Dawkins are no less lost than anyone else apart from God's grace, and it is a miracle that God changes the heart and mind of anyone, to bring them into His Kingdom. Without God's grace, none would be saved.

        February 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • averagejoe7six

          You sound like you know. But do you really? Because why does God pick & choose people? "This person will hear the word. But I will keep this one ignorant." Is that godly? Sounds rather unfair, especially since "the naughty place" is where I'll end up. Can you get god to enlighten us on the reason behind those untra, sucky rules? Oh, and while your at it, get him to atone for creating sin, then having the cosmic balls to blame his creations.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • bootyfunk

          and that is not lost at all.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Averagejoe, it is encouraging to see that you recognize your need for enlightenment. Admitting that you are lost in the darkness and need answers and help from God is one of the early baby steps toward salvation. Perhaps God is preparing to open your eyes and mind. Based on your questions, you admit God exists but you hate Him, so I will reply to you accordingly, albeit briefly as possible because these big truths are off the topic of snake handlers.

          All the answers to your questions are found in Scripture. God is an infinite, self-existing Creator with absolute sovereignty over matter, space, and time. He created this universe and man to further His own glory, and He does only and all that pleases Him.

          Sin by definition is anything contrary to God. God did not create sin, His purity prohibits any tolerance of sin in His eternal presence, and His perfect righteousness requires Him to punish sin. God created Adam in His image, meaning with an eternal soul and freewill among other things, and eventually Adam chose to turn against God. As an eternal creature, Adam's sin has eternal consequences. Because of God's Holiness, part of the consequences of Adam's sin is that all men are born in sin. But because of God's love for man created in His image, by His grace the punishment we deserve has been borne by Christ Jesus, and by faith we can stand before the judgment throne protected by Christ's righteousness.

          Do you hate God because He has not saved you? We all have sinned against our Creator and we all deserve punishment, and there is none higher than God to appeal for "fairness". Do you hate God because He created you to be born into a fallen nature? He has given you your existence, and despite your fallen nature, He has given you His love and His promises and His way of redemption. Do you hate God because He does not choose to save all sinners? Saving all sinners would be inconsistent with the exercise of God's perfect justice, just as punishing all sinners would be inconsistent with God's grace and mercy. Do you hate God because He created Adam with the capacity to choose to sin and He knew that Adam would choose to sin and that all other men would be born into a fallen nature? You are looking at the situation from our fallen perspective, not from God's perspective where our freewill is the same freewill that allows us to choose who on this earth to love (or not), and is the same freewill that seeks to repent from sin when our eyes are opened by God to His truth, and is the same freewill that will choose to praise and serve Him in our glorified bodies made clean by Christ forever.

          February 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
        • hotairace

          Now, where is that definitive proof that god exists. . .

          February 17, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Hotairace, the short answer is that the definitive proof of God is your existence, and all that is around you. God in His love gave you life and senses to experience His creation, but your sin makes you deaf, blind, and numb to His truth.

          February 17, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
        • hotairace

          So, in summary you don't actually have a proof, or even a single bit of factual, verifiable, objective and independent evidence for your unproven claims. Thank You. Please continue to enjoy your delusions.

          February 17, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Hotairace, I don't expect you to see the abundant evidence, because sin has corrupted your mind and soul so much that you don't consider even yourself to be factual, verifiable, objective, or independent. Which is perfectly logical, because if you believe you just happened to happen, how could you have any value at all?

          February 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • hotairace

          Ignoring your silly opening sentence, pretending that you know what I think. . .

          Where's your evidence for a soul? What do you mean by value?

          Do I think I contribute to society and have some value, yes. At the very least, I contribute by paying taxes, contributing to charities (via richarddawkins.net of course), helping people as I can and not being a burden by inappropriately taking advantages of social programs or ever being in jail.

          Why do need to believe in an alleged but as yet unproven supernatural buddy to have value, regardless of how you define value?

          February 18, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Hotairace, by performing civic good works the satisfaction you feel is your conscience, proof of your soul, and it is telling you that you have more value and purpose than a random collection of atoms. But bondage in sin prohibits the greatest satisfaction that can only come from serving our Holy Creator.

          February 19, 2014 at 2:23 am |
  16. rickcor2014

    This is called evolution at work. The weak are weeded out. I would remove all laws against this kind of practice. That way we can keep their population small, and less likely to spread their defective genes around.

    February 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      Well looking at the girth of the bible belt it's a good bet that the rapture will be caused by diabetes...

      February 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
  17. Salero21

    Idolatry like atheism is Total stupidity. Idolatry both leads to and comes from misinterpretations and misguided minds. This like the drunkard church in the drunkard nation or the church of the drunkards in the nation of the drunkards is Total stupidity. And Total stupidity cost lives.

    February 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
    • SeaVik

      Thanks for reminding us what total stupidity looks like.

      February 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
      • Salero21

        Take a look at a mirror, you should be able to see it! 😉

        February 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • SeaVik

          I find your posts to be impressively well-thought-out and insightful. We are all lucky that you’ve chosen to share your wisdom with us.

          February 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
        • sam stone

          one click, you could be on your knees, pleasing the savior, salero....take breath mints

          February 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
    • Salero21

      Salero21 is Total stupidity. Salero21 is proof of a misguided mind. This like the drunkard church in the drunkard nation or the church of the drunkards in the nation of the drunkards is Total stupidity. And Total stupidity cost lives.

      February 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
      • Salero21

        Obviously WordPress does not prevents moniker stealing, but that's one more piece of Evidence of the Total stupidity of atheism. And of the perverted character of atheists who are pathologically dishonest and compulsive liars.

        Or it could be one from the drunkard church in the drunkard nation or as they call it in the fatherland the church of the drunkards in the nation of the drunkards. Worst yet, one of the snake handlers! 😀 😀 😉 Either way they're just about the same the only difference is a .01 percentile, because the church of the drunkards or the drunkard church is 999.99% stupidity. However atheism is Total stupidity.

        February 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • SeaVik

          The way you craft your message is so powerful. I wish I could learn to communicate with such impact. Thank you again.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
      • Salero21

        However truthprevails the lying dishones atheist forgot that WordPress will tell on him!! 😀 😀 😀 HAHAHA!! Truthprevail is a perverted dishonest compulsive lying atheist!! That's just what I've been saying all along and this is just one more proof!! 😉

        February 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Oh please stop your whining...it's very unbecoming of you! You attack me and I wasn't even around...such an immature, cowardice thing to do.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          And exactly what do you mean that word press told on me?? If you think I'm the person using your alias and adding to it, you are far more delusional and a much big ASS than I originally thought!
          I can't imagine being you...having so much hate for people you don't have the slightest clue about.
          Grow up please.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • Yoda

      Mmmm. The trolling is weak with this one.

      February 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
      • doobzz

        As it always is.

        February 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
    • jardary

      I can assure you that there are no atheists picking up and playing with rattlesnakes without a supply of anti-venom on hand. They certainly aren't doing it to prove how atheist they are.

      Some may be picking up rattlesnakes because they are biologists, but if they happen to get bit, they will seek medical attention (as they should).

      February 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  18. SeaVik

    "Please understand that these are not ignorant people but people with beliefs just a little outside the mainstream."

    I guess the word "ignorant" doesn't mean what I though it meant.

    February 17, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
    • neverbeenhappieratheist

      ignorant: lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

      If these folks are aware of the snakes venom and the possibility of being killed by them, then they are not ignorant. Stupid yes, ignorant, no.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • SeaVik

        They believe, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them"

        That's ignorant.

        February 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • igaftr

      seavik
      "I guess the word "ignorant" doesn't mean what I though it meant."
      Hilarious
      along the same lines as " I keep putting off my procrastinating" or " I have a touch of insomnia but it is nothing to lose sleep over"
      thanks for the laugh.

      February 17, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
  19. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    The snake-handlers live by faith. It's sad to see that their faith is so often weak even after years of the practice.

    Seriously- I don't know if there is a right way to read the Bible and discern divine commands from it. Clearly these people don't know how. Even if they did, the commands are from the God of their imagination.

    The sheriff is a fool. Would he intervene if a church's religious practices involved Russian roulette? Would he intervene if a non-Christian church that he was not in sympathy with handled snakes?

    February 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
    • davidws76

      Misinterpretation of Scripture and misplaced faith caused this tragedy!

      This passage of Scripture (Mark 16:17-18) that this Pentecostal preacher and others are basing the practice of “Snake Handling” on is taken OUT OF CONTEXT and MISUNDERSTOOD by them.

      These miracles of God’s protection were signs from God given ONLY in the times of the Apostles, in order to show that these men were Jesus’ disciples and so that people would believe them when they proclaimed the Good News of Salvation by trusting in Christ Jesus as their Savior (John 3:16).

      These miracles, among others, were ONLY necessary at that time, because they did not yet have the completed New Testament to verify God’s message of salvation in Christ to mankind (1 Corinthians 13:10).

      However, this Bible verse, Mark 16:18, is NOT telling these disciples, or us, to go out and intentionally “handle poisonous snakes” nor intentionally “drink poison.” This passage is telling those disciples that IF these things should happen to them during that period, God would protect them.

      Paul did NOT expect to be bitten by a snake as he was gathering firewood. But when he was accidentally bitten, God protected him (Acts 28:3-6). Paul did NOT intentionally gather up deadly snakes to handle them in order to show people that God would protect him. THIS WOULD BE TEMPTING GOD! (Matthew 4:5-7).

      It is extremely unfortunate that Pastor Jamie Coots, Pastor Mack Wolford, as well as his father, died from snake bites. They needn’t have died, if only they would have NOT taken these passages of scripture OUT OF CONTEXT, according to their teachings. The way to interpret Scripture is to compare it with other passages of Scripture, and read it in context with the rest of the Bible.
      ============================================

      The following examples are excerpts from an Online Exposition of the Bible on these verses that support my statements above:

      Mark 16:18
      They shall take up serpents
      so the Apostle Paul had a viper, which fastened and hung on his hand, which he shook off, without receiving any harm from it, ( Acts 28:3-6 ) .
      And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
      not that they were hereby warranted to drink poison, to show what power they had; but should they accidentally drink it, or rather should they be forced to it by their enemies in order to destroy them, they should find no hurt by it: and Papias F24 reports of Barsabas, surnamed Justus, who was put up with Matthias for the apostleship, ( Acts 1:23 ) , that he drank a poisonous draught, and by the grace of the Lord, received no hurt: and the Jews themselves report F25, that
      "a son of R. Joshua ben Levi, swallowed something hurtful; and one came and whispered to him in the name of Jesus, the son of Pandira (so they call our Lord), and he did well."
      http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/mark-16-18.html

      Matthew 4:7
      Jesus saith unto him, it is written again
      Christ takes no notice of the false and wrong citation of scripture made by the devil, nor of any misapplication of it; but mildly replies, by opposing another passage of scripture to him, ( Deuteronomy 6:16 )
      ye shall not tempt the Lord your God,
      thereby tacitly showing, that he had produced scripture to a very wrong purpose, since that could never contradict itself; and also, that for a person to neglect the ordinary means of safety, and to expect, that as God can, so he will, preserve without the use of such means, is a tempting him. The Hebrew word (wont) "tempt", as Manasseh ben F6 Israel observes, is always taken in an ill part, and is to be understood of such who would try the power, goodness, or will of God. And which, as it is not fitting it should be done by any man, so not by himself; and perhaps he hereby intimates too, that he himself was God; and therefore as it was not right in him to tempt God the Father, by taking such a step as Satan solicited him to; nor would it be right in any other; so it was iniquitous in the devil to tempt him who was God over all, blessed for ever.
      http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/matthew-4-7.html

      February 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        I read all of your copy and paste scripture.

        February 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
  20. neverbeenhappieratheist

    I believe there is little difference between the adrenaline rush of base jumping or sky diving and the endorphine high believers get from their rituals of faith. When believers say "I have personal proof of God!" this is exactly what I believe they are deciphering as some connection with a higher power and in reality is is your bodies own chemical reaction to stimulus. This chemical reaction feels good and is extremely addictive as the numbers of religious testify. These snake handlers just take it that one extra step in their quest for a religious high and just like the junkies on the street, you are going to have some casualties.

    February 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      It looks like you are trying to explain the spiritual, with the physical.

      I'm not just a chemical reaction responding to stimulus. There is more to life than meets the eye.

      February 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
      • bostontola

        I believe the spiritual is physical. I believe we are electrochemical machines interacting with other ones and the environment, with perhaps a pinch of quantum behavior thrown in.

        February 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

          February 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • bostontola

          Dalahast,
          Too soon to tell for sure, but all objective evidence points my way.

          February 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I can't deny my spiritual nature. Nor my material nature. I strive to understand both.

          February 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • theophileo

      I don't remember any adrenaline ruses connected to my faith... That's not what it's about. If you've cheated on your wife, and in sincerity of sorry, you come to her and confess your wrongs, is that supposed to give you an adrenaline rush? No, it's the most painful thing that you could do in a marriage... And THATS what the Christian life is.

      February 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
      • theophileo

        (sincerity of sorrow)

        February 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I can understand to an outsider it may appear that we are just reacting to stimulus.

        If we are just chemical reactions reacting to stimulus: isn't their belief just a chemical reaction, too? They just have a negative one?

        February 17, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
        • the0g0to0the0t

          It's not a negative belief (at least in my case), it's a lack of belief.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Dalahäst

          You view it as a bad thing, though, right. Like we are having an adverse reaction to the stimuli. While you are having the ideal reaction to the stimuli (from your point of view).

          February 17, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • neverbeenhappieratheist

        If you can't see what i'm talking about then maybe you have never been to Church on Sunday. Christians would come from 30 miles away some weeks to hear a certain pastor in my old home town. Why? Because they wanted to be moved, they wanted to feel the "holy spirit" being directed by those powerful speakers who tell you things you want to hear like death isn't the end, you get to see dead loved ones again, and anything bad you have done and feel guilty for, throw that burden on God and you will be forgiven, "sigh" what a relief, and yet you don't see how all sorts of chemicals might be produced by our bodies during those moments. How a person might get addicted to hearing about how wonderful they are and that a unversal creator knows them and loves them, "aww, isn't that nice". The religious profiteers are well skilled ear ticklers and they will tell their parishioners just what they want to hear to keep them coming back each sunday. They dole out their addictive substance telling the people what they want to hear while picking their pockets to keep the scam going. I was a pastor for 10 years back in Ohio and I can attest to the fact that behind the scenes it was almost always all business. It was a constant funding campaign and almost felt like we were in a non-stop cycle of running for an election where we had to get the most people in the seats each sunday. We told ourselves that we were obsessed over the numbers only because we wanted a measuring stick to show our parishioners progress but what it came down to were monetary challenges we were pushing to meet. The better the speakers that you could attract the more seats you could fill and the more money you could guilt. And the people keep coming every sunday for that little spiritual hit, that pat on the back and the message they want to hear "You are special, any bad deeds weren't your fault as you can blame them on Satan, and you get to live for eternity at the universal creators side, all for just a fiver..."

        February 17, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • theophileo

          "Because they wanted to be moved, they wanted to feel the "holy spirit"
          -----–
          Then they went to church for the wrong reasons...

          February 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • theophileo

          You know that does remind me of Jonathan Edwards though... One of the greatest minds ever produced in America, and certainly one of the greatest preachers. He knew that emotionalism was a problem within Christendom, and to combat that, even though he wrote powerful sermons, he read them word for word in a monotone voice that would put most people to sleep today. And yet still, people were moved to fainting from sheer terror over their sinfulness. THAT is what America needs. Terror over one's sinfulness, not a massaging of one's conscience by someone who tells them that they're really not THAT bad of a person. THAT kind of sermon comes from hell, not from God. The law of God drives men to repentance when they see how they have offended the God who created them.

          February 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "Then they went to church for the wrong reasons..."

          I'm glad you are here to be their judge then, or might this just be another example of No true Scotsman...?

          I'll agree that most religious persons like yourself tend to obfuscate their reasons for attendance with claims of piety. It is not so unusual for addicts to lie about their addictions...

          February 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "sheer terror over their sinfulness."

          I hear you, nothing loosens the purse strings quite like a bit of divine fear and fire.

          February 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • doobzz

          "Then they went to church for the wrong reasons..."

          Ah, yes, the old "they aren't/weren't True Christians™".

          February 17, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
        • theophileo

          "I'm glad you are here to be their judge then"
          ------
          Paul tells us that we are supposed to judge those who claim to be brothers in the church. Iron sharpens iron, and the chastening of a brother leads him to repentance.

          ""Then they went to church for the wrong reasons..."
          Ah, yes, the old "they aren't/weren't True Christians™".
          --------
          Read my post, I didn't say that. I said they were going for the wrong reasons. If someone wants an emotional feeling, then they need ride a roller coaster, church is not the place for that. Sure, church is a place for joy, but not so that you can get an emotional charge... That's NOT what Jesus came to do. He couldn't care LESS about our feelings.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          "That's NOT what Jesus came to do. He couldn't care LESS about our feelings."

          If he couldn't care less about our feelings, why make us with a chemical in the brain that seems to effect our morality. A spritz up the nose and you are more generous and trusting, wouldn't that indicate that our generosity may be chemical in nature and has nothing to do with a supposed "soul"? The following video talks about the science behind how humans experience morality.

          http://www.wimp.com/trustmorality/

          February 17, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
        • theophileo

          He couldn't care less about our emotions because that is not what drive men to repentance. It is their understanding that they have committed crimes against their Creator.

          And of COURSE there are artificial stimulants to emotions, and pretty much anything else... That's actually a good analogy of sin. Sin occurs when we attempt to satisfy our God-given desires in a prohibited way.

          God gives us a se.xual desire, and that's a good thing, but when we attempt to satisfy that in prohibited ways such as with abominations like ho.mose.xuality, or s.ex before marriage, that becomes sinful.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Except oxytocin isn't an artificial stimulant, it is a mammalian neurohypophysial hormone (secreted by the posterior pituitary gland) that acts primarily as a neuromodulator in the brain. So there goes your argument.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          There was a time when being left handed was considered sinful. That is how sinful being gay is. That is how sinful s e x before marriage is. There is no in born sin. There was no original Adam that ate a cursed apple. That entire premise is laughable. I am as infected with original sin as I am with girl cooties.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • doobzz

          "Read my post, I didn't say that."

          Actually, you did. If they are going to church for the wrong reasons, they aren't being True Christians™, because a True Christians™ would know what Jesus wants really, really wants like you do, right?

          "He couldn't care LESS about our feelings." Glad you're a True Christians™ and can tell us what Jesus cares about.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • theophileo

          neverbeenhappieratheist,
          So, you think that because there's a chemical in our brain linked to emotion, that our emotions are somehow now one of God's higher priorities? If that was ice, I sure wouldn't stand on it.

          OK, you want to know what God's att.itutdes on our emotions are? Look it up in the Bible, but I'll tell you right now, you're not going to find anything.

          What God addresses are those things that pertain to the glory of God and man's salvation. Emotions just aren't a part of that.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • sam stone

          thephileo: whether under this name or the prior one, you remain a pompous a-s-s

          February 17, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • sam stone

          "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

          love isn't an emotion?

          February 17, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • theophileo

          "thephileo: whether under this name or the prior one, you remain a pompous a-s-s"
          -------
          Why is that exactly?

          And for the record, I am "Lawrence of Arabia," but I couldn't sign up as that because believe it or not, the name was already taken...

          "Theo Phileo" is Greek for "One who loves God"

          February 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
      • SeaVik

        What does that post have to do with Christianity?

        February 17, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • theophileo

          It's about repentance. We are filthy, wretched sinners. We have openly and willingly disregarded the God who made us and have held our relationship with Him in contempt. We then come to our senses, and out of a desire to honor Him, and enter into a covenant with Him to glorify Him, we repent.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
        • SeaVik

          My point is, making mistakes and owning up to them is not unique to Christianity. That's just called being human. You can spin the human experience in a way to make it have something to do with your god or your religion, but that's completely unnecesary.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • sam stone

          "We are filthy, wretched sinners."

          Sin is a man made religious conscept that only applies to members of that religion

          "We have openly and willingly disregarded the God who made us and have held our relationship with Him in contempt"

          Get off your knees and try to be a man, slave boy

          February 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • theophileo

          "Get off your knees and try to be a man, slave boy"
          ------
          We are both slaves... I am a slave to Christ, a dulas. You are a slave to sin. And we each serve our masters with a willing heart.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
        • sam stone

          free will and an omniscient god are mutually exclusive

          time to throw in some empty proxy warnings about hell

          February 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.