Question about snake handlers

There is a new documentary show on tv about a small church in southern KY where they handle snakes during the services, an off shoot of Pentecostal I believe.

They go out in the local forest to get the snakes and use rattlesnakes and water moccasins mostly, so these are not snakes bought in a store or used to being handled. I was surprised when they were holding these snakes and dancing around, the snakes were not biting them!! The pastor said out of the 30 yrs he has been leading the congregation, he has only been bit twice, I find this hard to argue with, Is there really something to this?

I dont think anyone could get by with luck for over 30 yrs when it comes to handling dangerous snakes, almost every day, so it is not luck, other than God himself, not sure what else it could be.

Along with the snake handling, they also have propane torches, and I saw little 12 yr old kids holding these LIT torches up to their hands, and NOTHING happened, their skin was perfectly fine after the service…How is this possible? Again, the only thing I can think of, is IT TRULY is God acting on these people.

Dont worry though, Im not about to go join one of these churches, Im just curious how the things they have been doing for decades and decades has not caused many of them to die, especially holding torches right up on your skin!! If I did this, my skin would burn off, but theirs do not for some reason. We all laugh about these types of people, but is it possible they know something we do not?

Yeah - they know how not to get bit.

But it doesn’t make them more holy.

Its nonsense!

In chapter 4 of The Catholic Church and Conversion G. K. Chesterton wrote:

When the convert has once seen the world like that, with one
balance of ideas and a number of other ideas that have left it and
lost their balance, he does not in fact experience any of the
inconveniences that he might reasonably have feared before that
silent but stunning revolution. He is not worried by being told that
there is something in Spiritualism or something in Christian
Science. He knows there is something in everything. **But he is
moved by the more impressive fact that he finds everything in
something. **And he is quite sure that if these investigators really
are looking for everything, and not merely looking for anything,
they will be more and more likely to look for it in the same place.
In that sense he is far less worried about them than he was when
he thought that one or other of them might be the only person
having any sort of communication with the higher mysteries and
obviously rather capable of making a mess of it. He is no more
likely to be overawed by the fact that Mrs. Eddy achieved spiritual
healing or Mr. Home achieved bodily levitation than a fully
dressed gentleman in Bond Street would be overawed by the top-
hat on the head of a naked savage. A top-hat may be a good hat but
it is a bad costume. And a magnetic trick may be a sufficient
sensation but it is a very insufficient philosophy. He is no more
envious of a Bolshevist for making a revolution than of a beaver
for making a dam; for he knows his own civilisation can make
things on a pattern not quite so simple or so monotonous. But he
believes this of his civilisation and his religion and not merely of
himself. There is nothing supercilious about his attitude; because
he is well aware that he has only scratched the surface of the
spiritual estate that is now open to him.


It would seem Chesterton here asserts that Mary Baker Eddy really did achieve spiritual healing, and from this statement we may assume that other people in other religious movements, both Christian and non-Christian, have indeed achieved various miracles. How? I do not know. Why? I do not presume to speculate. For my part all I will say is that this seems to me to be within the scope of what Jesus taught when he said:

Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.

Matt. 7:22-23 D-R

What I think is important is what Chesterton highlights, and that is that we should not be so moved by the presence of miracles or revelation in many religions as we should be moved by the presence of all sorts of miracles and the fullness of revelation (with continuing private revelation throughout the centuries, expounding but not adding to the sacred deposit of faith) in the Catholic Church. And that we should heed what the Lord has said in remembering that the purpose of God’s work among us is to come to know and love Him, not merely to work miracles, proclaim Him, or even drive out Satan in His name.

So how these people do what they do we cannot know, but do not be disturbed, but remember that greater things then this have been done in the Catholic Church, and that it is our through her that you may know the fullness of God’s revealed Truth.

Snake handling and playing with fire brings to mind what Jesus said to Satan: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matt 4:7 & Luke 4:12)

The fact that they are presuming on God, testing Him, makes me think there are other reasons why they are able to so often do these things without being hurt.

G. Gordon Liddy was asked, after he held his hand over a candle flame and didn’t seem to feel any pain, “What’s the trick?” He replied, “The trick is not minding.”

For the fire, perhaps they are really holding the flame far enough away that there is no risk of being hurt. It’s possible to film stunts in a way that makes them look much more dangerous than they are.

Don’t know about the snakes. But maybe because they are calm the snakes don’t feel the need to bite.

My dad worked with some snake handlers and they called in sick a lot on Mondays (they also drink poison).

There are ways to make snakes less aggressive – like keeping them in a chilled cooler just prior to handling them.

ASAIK, West Virginia is the only state that’s never regulated this religious practice.

Why would anyone want to spend their time playing with snakes and fire? If I want to see a miracle, I want to see a real miracle like healing the sick, people pitching their walkers and w/cs, making the blind see, etc. Some real beneficial divine interventions- not some circus trick.

The snake handlers base their belief on one passage in (I think) Matt. that a believer could drink poison, handle snakes, heal the sick, and raise the dead. Like many, they do the first two and ignore the the other two. :stuck_out_tongue: :eek:

As far as I can tell, it is a deeply held religious belief that they can handle snakes without injury, not just some circus trick.

How often have you witnessed a certifiable miraculous healing?

*Mark 16:17-18

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

17 And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues.

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.*

Raising the dead is not one of the signs. The passage is unique to the (possibly inauthentic) so-called Longer Ending of Mark’s gospel.

Ok so it’s a deeply held religious belief that I don’t particularly share or care anything about. They can play with all the snakes they want. When Jesus performed his miracles they were purposeful, not strictly for entertainment value-that’s what I mean by circus tricks. Have I witnessed a certifiable miraculous healing? Sure, you can watch them all the time on TV, LOL No, I haven’t but I have sat at many a bedside of patient’s who were dying and the ones who were Christian had a much easier time checking out of this life and into the next. Their faith and conviction felt so strong and tangible to me I could almost reach out and touch it. I wasn’t even a particularly religious person at the time but I could sense the supernatural. I may have witnessed miraculous healing at some point in my career and not even known it. They don’t necessarily have to be certifiable for me to be impressed. I give God lots of credit.

As I understand it, these people handle snakes to tangibly demonstrate their conviction and faith in God and his written word too. I’m not about to join their church or anything, but I just find it odd when people who have their own unique religious practices denigrate others for theirs.

It’s a pretty poor way to treat snakes, that much can be said for it. It’s devoid of sense.

And don’t believe everything you see on tv. If little girls could put blow torches against their hands and not be burnt, don’t you think these so called miracles would have been investigated now? If there’s no scientists saying “look, I have no explanation for this” then we can assume it’s just one of many hoaxes to fool the naive.

I feel the same way, but when was the last time you saw a true miracle like you mentioned? Ive never seen a REAL one. I think its odd back when jesus walked the earth, all someone had to do to be healed of what ailed them was to touch his robes, yet in modern times, and even since his death on the cross, nothing like this has been done again, so truthfully the people back then KNEW for sure he was who he said he was, they knew when they were healed, so they didnt really need faith.

Im actually a bit angry about this show, they aired another 2 episodes earlier tonight, and those were the last ones Im going to watch, Im going to email the network too and request the show be cancelled.

IMO, the people seem alot like actors, they play to the camera crew, overacting is rampant. Im not sure they are truly a church, it could be all made up for all I know. The main reason I dislike the show so much, is I realized these people focus on ONE particular verse and nothing else, this is all they talk about, all they do and all they think about, so they are testing God everytime they have a service, and Im half tempted to call a snake handling church and see if they will answer some questions I have, the first thing I would ask them, is why they only use snakes? The verse says ‘serpents’, not just snakes, Id like to see them do the same thing with a 3ft alligator, or a Komodo dragon, these are serpents.

If they handled a Komodo dragon continually and nothing happened to them, I would apologize and join their church right on the spot, as I would know for sure it was the real deal then.

whose to say we as believers cannot do these things? It says these signs shall follow them that believe we all believe do we not and the snake handler churches are not pentecostal they are sign followers which means they interpret this particular passage literally and I will be honest I too take alot of what the bible says literally but I personally dont feel moved by the spirit to take up serpents or drink poison now I was bitten by a very deadly scorpion once and didnt get the antivenom and didnt have any reaction I fell on my knees and asked God to heal me and I was healed now my neighbor got bite and hes a large man and he almost died coincidence I think not

I don’t know if it’s true for scorpions, but apparently snakes don’t always inject deadly amounts of venom every time they bite.

Speaking inn tongues is something I left out by accident in my OP, that is something I cannot explain and have never heard an argument that debunks it, the only explanation I can think of is the person lied and actually knew how to speak the other language, but I doubt that is the case in many of these instances.

I dont think its possible for someone to instantly be able to speak another language, so I think everyone would agree with that part of it, that is likely a true act of God, so I will give them that.

AFAIK only a number of species of snake actually have venom lethal to humans. The rest are either non-venomous or have weak venom.

You might have a point if the verse said “reptiles”. Since I’m pretty sure there were neither alligators or Komodo dragons in Palestine, it’s doubtful the gospel author intended that they be included as “serpents”. Also, the dictionary doesn’t include them under the definition of “serpent”.

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