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  #1  
Old Sep 17, '13, 9:24 pm
SextusEmpiricus SextusEmpiricus is offline
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Lightbulb Snake Salvation

I recently watched a program on the National Geographic Channel on a Pentecostal group that handles snakes (or serpents). I am curious as to what other groups think about this branch of Christianity, or if it is even considered part of the "Body of Christ"?
Key to understanding this culture are a pair of verses from the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Source: CNN
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  #2  
Old Sep 17, '13, 9:38 pm
Christ is Risen Christ is Risen is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

I would read Salvation on Snake Mountain by Dennis Covington. It describes his personal journey into this community, both to study the group, and discover his own Appalachian heritage.

From what I remember, most of the characters are hardscrabble types, who suffer from poverty, violence, and other negative aspects of Appalachian life. They find empowerment in their lives by handling deadly animals in God's name. They also tend to be snake lovers (not surprising) who take great pride in the reptiles they catch, care for, and use in their worship services.

From a doctrinal standpoint, what I remember is that they tend to be a Bible-based Evangelical style church, lots of speaking in tongues, healings, dancing in the aisles, giving into to the euphoria of the service..........then the snakes come out at the climax of some services, but not all. It is all depends on how the Spirit moves them on any given night. I also remember specifically that the group Dennis Covington was in contact with baptized only in the name of Jesus, not the Trinity.
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  #3  
Old Sep 17, '13, 9:45 pm
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Skadi Skadi is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SextusEmpiricus View Post
I recently watched a program on the National Geographic Channel on a Pentecostal group that handles snakes (or serpents). I am curious as to what other groups think about this branch of Christianity, or if it is even considered part of the "Body of Christ"?
Key to understanding this culture are a pair of verses from the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Source: CNN
We watched a movie on this in high school (In business law of all classes) and I guess the idea is that the bible says true disciples of Christ can handle snakes and not be bit. What I find funny is that the founder was actually killed by one of his snakes during a service.
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  #4  
Old Sep 17, '13, 11:25 pm
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Jon S Jon S is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

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Originally Posted by Skadi View Post
We watched a movie on this in high school (In business law of all classes) and I guess the idea is that the bible says true disciples of Christ can handle snakes and not be bit. What I find funny is that the founder was actually killed by one of his snakes during a service.
He must not have had a real faith then.
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  #5  
Old Sep 18, '13, 3:22 am
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Skadi Skadi is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

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Originally Posted by Jon S View Post
He must not have had a real faith then.
Exactly, either he was not a true disciple of Jesus (in which case why follow him) or he was just wrong in the first place. Either way i dont know why people would continue to follow it, i mean honestly that undermines the whole thing. But when religion becomes involved people just seam to do these mental gymnastics to make themselves feel comfortable and protect their egos.
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  #6  
Old Sep 18, '13, 5:47 am
jtexas jtexas is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

The passage refered to does not imply that we should go around looking for snakes to pick up..."the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and a SOUND MIND."
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  #7  
Old Sep 18, '13, 6:18 am
Starrsmother Starrsmother is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SextusEmpiricus View Post
I recently watched a program on the National Geographic Channel on a Pentecostal group that handles snakes (or serpents). I am curious as to what other groups think about this branch of Christianity, or if it is even considered part of the "Body of Christ"?
Key to understanding this culture are a pair of verses from the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Source: CNN


I'm from Texas where we have rattlesnake round-ups. Lots of people can and do handle venomous snakes--as part of their worship service and for a living. In both cases, some people get bit and some luck out and don't. I have never considered someone's ability to not be bit while handling a snake as proof of anything--least of all a proof of God's blessings. Part of it is an awareness of how the snake's tiny little brain works--just like when you see someone "hypnotize" a cobra. For me, my favorite way of handling a snake is with a hoe!
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  #8  
Old Sep 18, '13, 7:10 am
manualman manualman is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Example 4,958 of why I'm sure glad that Jesus didn't just leave us with a bible and no authoritative help in figuring out what it means.
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  #9  
Old Sep 18, '13, 7:34 am
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Sailor Kenshin Sailor Kenshin is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christ is Risen View Post
I would read Salvation on Snake Mountain by Dennis Covington. It describes his personal journey into this community, both to study the group, and discover his own Appalachian heritage.

From what I remember, most of the characters are hardscrabble types, who suffer from poverty, violence, and other negative aspects of Appalachian life. They find empowerment in their lives by handling deadly animals in God's name. They also tend to be snake lovers (not surprising) who take great pride in the reptiles they catch, care for, and use in their worship services.

From a doctrinal standpoint, what I remember is that they tend to be a Bible-based Evangelical style church, lots of speaking in tongues, healings, dancing in the aisles, giving into to the euphoria of the service..........then the snakes come out at the climax of some services, but not all. It is all depends on how the Spirit moves them on any given night. I also remember specifically that the group Dennis Covington was in contact with baptized only in the name of Jesus, not the Trinity.
Because personal accounts facsinate me, I actually looked this up. The title seems to be Salvation on SAND Mountain.

And I got a sample. Thanks.
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  #10  
Old Sep 18, '13, 9:43 am
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JHow JHow is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

There are variants of these sects that one-up snake handling with strychnine-drinking. Again as some sort of test of faith.

I grew up in Appalachia, but we took our cue from Jesus, "bruise-his-head" and all that, when it came to snakes.
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  #11  
Old Sep 18, '13, 10:11 am
ltwin ltwin is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skadi View Post
We watched a movie on this in high school (In business law of all classes) and I guess the idea is that the bible says true disciples of Christ can handle snakes and not be bit. What I find funny is that the founder was actually killed by one of his snakes during a service.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon S View Post
He must not have had a real faith then.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skadi View Post
Exactly, either he was not a true disciple of Jesus (in which case why follow him) or he was just wrong in the first place. Either way i dont know why people would continue to follow it, i mean honestly that undermines the whole thing. But when religion becomes involved people just seam to do these mental gymnastics to make themselves feel comfortable and protect their egos.
I'm not sure if it's really a "test of faith" for them.

I'm not a snake handler (snakes creep me out). But I am Pentecostal (so I have some insight into some of their worship practices), and I did just get through watching this youtube video of a snake handling Pentecostal preacher talking about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2uGQ6B7HDM

Notice that he says, "This is something you can feel. It's not something that I wanna take a box of rattlesnakes and start takin' 'em out and puttin' 'em around my neck and all that unlessen the Spirit begin to move on me. See it gets on you, you don't know what you doin'. God's in control. He may tell you to run. If He said run, you gonna be runnin'. . . . "

In other words, this is not something you do to "test your faith." It's something you do "in the Spirit" or as the Spirit moves you.

It's very analogous to the more widely accepted Pentecostal practice of dancing in the Spirit, except that people who dance aren't putting their lives at risk. In dancing, Pentecostals aren't trying to "prove their faith" so much as they are being carried along by the Spirit.

IMHO, the same psychology is at work in snake handling, and I'd bet that most snake handling churches teach that you should only handle the serpents if you feel that there is an anointing on you to do it.
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  #12  
Old Sep 18, '13, 10:13 am
andrewstx andrewstx is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Actually the verses from Mark do not form a part of the original NT. They were added later by a copyist. It is like "for thine is the Kingdom, the power..." was added later to the Our Father.

So the whole practice of snake handling has no valid biblical basis.
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  #13  
Old Sep 18, '13, 10:58 am
Christ is Risen Christ is Risen is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
Because personal accounts facsinate me, I actually looked this up. The title seems to be Salvation on SAND Mountain.

And I got a sample. Thanks.
Yeah, a simple Google search would have come in handy last night.
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  #14  
Old Sep 18, '13, 11:09 am
Christ is Risen Christ is Risen is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by ltwin View Post
I'm not sure if it's really a "test of faith" for them.

I'm not a snake handler (snakes creep me out). But I am Pentecostal (so I have some insight into some of their worship practices), and I did just get through watching this youtube video of a snake handling Pentecostal preacher talking about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2uGQ6B7HDM

Notice that he says, "This is something you can feel. It's not something that I wanna take a box of rattlesnakes and start takin' 'em out and puttin' 'em around my neck and all that unlessen the Spirit begin to move on me. See it gets on you, you don't know what you doin'. God's in control. He may tell you to run. If He said run, you gonna be runnin'. . . . "

In other words, this is not something you do to "test your faith." It's something you do "in the Spirit" or as the Spirit moves you.

It's very analogous to the more widely accepted Pentecostal practice of dancing in the Spirit, except that people who dance aren't putting their lives at risk. In dancing, Pentecostals aren't trying to "prove their faith" so much as they are being carried along by the Spirit.

IMHO, the same psychology is at work in snake handling, and I'd bet that most snake handling churches teach that you should only handle the serpents if you feel that there is an anointing on you to do it.
Based on Covington's book, that would be correct. The snakes only come out sometimes, "when the Spirit moves them" as they say. Many services ended with the snakes still in their boxes.

Empowerment can't be overlooked here. Most of the people Covington met had minimal social status, big personal problems, had suffered tragedy after tragedy. Handling deadly animals, normally without harm, is a way of exercising control over "the world" which has come down so hard on these people. It shows that God is protecting them (if you get bit and die or get ill, it means you "misjudged the Spirit" and shouldn't have been handling in the first place, if they get bit and the snake doesn't inject venom, it is seen as a sign that God is protecting the believer) and shows them to be brave about themselves and their faith in a way that people outside their church aren't. Insider/Outsider dichotomy is big here, as it normally is when looking at Appalachia.
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Last edited by Christ is Risen; Sep 18, '13 at 11:19 am.
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  #15  
Old Sep 18, '13, 11:10 am
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Sailor Kenshin Sailor Kenshin is offline
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Default Re: Snake Salvation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christ is Risen View Post
Yeah, a simple Google search would have come in handy last night.
No, no, I'm happy to learn about the book. I might even buy it after I'm done with the sample!
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