Friday, February 21, 2014

Snake-handling: Crazy Faith?

Last week in Kentucky, Jamie Coots, a snake-handling pastor, died after being bitten in a Sunday service. His son said his father had been bitten before, but this time it was “just crazy.” What does the Bible say about “snake handling?” Only in an isolated, disputed passage in Mark 16:18, “And these signs will accompany those who believe… they will pick up snakes with their hands… who will not hurt them.”

What is the basis for our faith? Is faith blind? Is it ever crazy? Must it be intellectually void? Consider Jesus; He engaged the cerebral giants of his age in discussion, asking hard questions to make them “consider” and “think” about things. Can we conclude that Jesus wanted His disciples to have thoughtful, intelligent faith? Likewise, the highly intellectual Paul, emphasized the importance of a renewed mind and renewed thinking—spiritual intelligence.

The basis for spiritual intelligence is Biblical knowledge: knowledge of the character of God and His will depends on our knowledge of the Bible, accurately handling the Word (2 Tim 2:15)—not handling snakes, “text proofing.” Pastor Coots’ son was right. The snake-handling service was crazy. But, faith is not crazy. It is spiritually discerned by those with spiritual wisdom and spiritual intelligence (1 Cor. 2:9-16).


  1. I think some people may think of faith as a means of acquiring power. And I think the motive for acquiring faith comes then from the desire of the old nature to become "a god" or "like God", in the sense of performing great deeds by having in ourselves the source of power.
    Real and authentic faith comes through a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. And this faith is not a supernatural power at our disposal to do what the fallen nature wants to do but to exalt Christ through the Holy Spirit.
    I think the motivation behind the pursuit of faith can be revealing about the real substance of our faith, its source and its objective. Is it oriented to self-promotion and exaltation or is the vehicle God's provides to His children to glorify Himself through them?

  2. Yes indeed. If it is not faith in God through Jesus Christ, it is not faith at all. You are so right; He is the substance.