If not a poison, faith may be a venom
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Several different people sent me links* on the latest snake-handling pastor to meet his untimely destiny. This time it was Pastor Jamie Coots, onetime reality TV star (Snake Salvation), and apparently survivor of eight previous snakebites. He expected his faith to pull him through a ninth time. He was wrong.
His son, showing he has inherited a full set of his father's genes, has indicated he is prepared to take over the church - and the snakes.
Interestingly - about the same time I received the various links, I received Douglas Giddens article, The Seven Deadly Poisons, published as Meditation 1110. In it he says "... faith is such a dangerous poison." Was it the snake venom that killed Jamie Coots? Or was it his faith?
I found an article by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association - about whom I have not had a kind thing to say in eight previous mentions on this site. But this time, he stepped away from the basic fundamentalism of the KJV. He was writing about the death of another snake-handling pastor, Mack Wolford who died in 2012 from a snakebite. Or from an excess of faith.
But Fisher writes of Mark 16:18 ("they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them."): Mark 16:18 is not in the Bible.
He bases this claim on the fact that the verses Mark 16:9-20 do not appear in the earliest manuscripts. They are a later addition. And I recommend** Fischer's full article (The problem with snake-handling: it's not in the Bible) to you if you want the evidence that they are an addition.
Fischer's got it right this time. But on this issue, his words carry no weight with those who blindly and faithfully rely on the KJV. And some of those true KJV believers are going to go on handling snakes until they too get bitten one time too many.
* A selection of some of the stories with varying perspectives:
Huffington Post - 'Snake Salvation' Preacher Jamie Coots Dead From Snakebite
Lexington Herald-Leader - Snakebite death of Middlesboro pastor was quick, son says; medical treatment refused
WBIR-TV - Snake-handling pastor, reality star dies from snakebite -- watch the video on this one. At the end it talks about the woman who died - and her husband who kept up the snake handling then died, leaving their five children orphaned.
** I suspect there is little else on that entire website I will be recommending to anyone in future. And probably, no more kind words about Bryan Fischer.
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