|A deadly practice - Mack Wolford has met his maker|
(Picture by Lauren Pond for the Washington Post).
The precedent comes from the words of Jesus himself. In the story of his ascension into heaven he is said to have specified five signs by which true believers can be recognised.
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. (Mark 16:17-18)
Snake handling preachers are sometimes bitten and suffer the consequences. For many of them, it is a matter of faith that they shun medical intervention and rely on God to heal them (or not).
In the news last week, it was revealed that flamboyant Pentecostal pastor Mack Wolford died in West Virginia after being bitten by one of his own snakes. His own father had died in the same way in 1983, and he himself had survived several previous injuries.
Three of the other signs from those words of Jesus can be recognised in many churches around the world, but I wonder whether there are other pentecostal traditions that encourage the drinking of poison in order to complete the set.
preacher Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford, who was one of the last serpent-handling preachers of his kind in the U.S., passed away on Sunday after being bitten by one of his snakes
What a strange world we live in!