Tag Archives: snake handling

Bling for Jesus

Technically I should be writing this mammoth essay – but my friend Mika sent me this – and I can’t resist a rant.

Once upon a time I preached a sermon on Jesus sending the disciples out in pairs after his “harvest is plentiful, workers are few” sermon. He basically gave them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick in his name. I said that the instruction to evangelise was normative for Christians but that this gifting was specific to the apostles.

A dear sister from the congregation came up afterwards to correct me. On the basis of a bit of the Bible that pretty clearly is dubious. Mark 16:9ff. It’s a bit that comes with a note – in every version – that the earliest manuscripts don’t contain it, which should ring alarm bells. I’m ok with these passages being there – what I’m not ok with is people using them to create a point of difference with all other churches. Seriously, if you hold a minority position, at some point you’ve got to ask questions about the basis of that distinction. This well meaning lady pointed out that right there, in Mark 16:17, there’s what appears to be a promise that all who believe will have the ability to drive out demons, and in verse 18b there’s a promise that we’ll be able to heal the sick:

“17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;”

What she didn’t mention, and what I was incredibly tempted to point out, was that in between driving out demons and healing people there’s the idea that we should also be playing with snakes and drinking poison:

“18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

If these verses are authentic then it’s much more likely they describe Paul at the end of Acts (he gets bitten by a snake, and he heals people). They’re not the sort of verses I’d be turning into theme verses for my life. There are actually snake handling churches out there (mostly, I think, in the US). The way I’d want to use them, if I was inclined, would be to argue with the anti-alcohol lobby that this is in fact an exhortation to drink poison, and that such drinking is a sign of faith…

Here’s a video (that I haven’t watched)…

Which, tangentially, very tangentially, leads to my actual point about this jewelery service “Bling for Jesus“…

Bling for Jesus have taken Deuteronomy 6:5-6 and 6:8 and turned them into some sort of business model.

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts…
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads”

This clearly means turn bible verses into bracelets and tiaras. Right? Leaving the theological problems aside, these things are just ugly: