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Switch to Forum Live View Should Testing Your Faith Be Your Choice or God's?
2 years ago  ::  Jun 05, 2012 - 9:39PM #11
Merope
Posts: 9,555

Jun 4, 2012 -- 5:16PM, TemplarS wrote:


The passage in question (Mark 16:18) is from the so-called "long" ending of Mark.  Since this does not appear in the earliest manuscripts, there is not universal agreement as to its authenticity.  It is not contained in any other Gospel.


In any case, as distinct from other parts of this passage, it is descriptive and not prescriptive.  "They will handle snakes" as opposed to "Go into the world and preach the Gospel".  So it is untrue to say that Jesus commanded his followers to handle snakes.


This is similar to the context of the other NT reference.  In Acts there is an account of Paul being bitten by a poisonous snake and recovering- but this was accidental, Paul certainly did not do this as a proof of his faith.



Thanks for posting this, Temp.  We do need the spiritual context spelled out and the point that the passage is descriptive rather than prescriptive.

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 05, 2012 - 9:48PM #12
Merope
Posts: 9,555

Jun 5, 2012 -- 10:40AM, weberhome02 wrote:


Another benefit associated with believers is the power of healing. Maybe that preacher man should have taken that up as proof of his faith instead of tempting fate with toxic reptiles.


†. Mrk 16:17-18 . . And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


†. 1Cor 12:30 . . Do all have gifts of healing?


No; not all have gifts of healing. So then, I think it's reasonable to assume that not all are immune to snakebite either.


Cliff
/



This is a good point, Cliff.  I agree that turning his gift outward toward healing of others - assuming he had the gift of healing - would have been much the better way for him to live as a Christian.  


And that leads to the question of what in the world snake-handling has to do with Christian ministry?  It's pointless IMO.  It would be one thing if used snake-handling to rescue people or to retrieve venom for use by medical professionals in treating victims of snake-bite (there must be professionals who do this kind of thing, although probably in labs).  But apart from that, it becomes a useless and reckless kind of game lending almost a circus atmosphere to any worship service of which it is a part.  And I just don't see the value of snake-handling - in the way this guy did it - as any kind of valid test of faith.  The ecstasy point I can see.  But the faith-testing point?  No way.  

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2012 - 2:08PM #13
smcisaac
Posts: 7,916

Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.  Deuteronomy 6:16



Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you', and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”


Jesus answered him, "It is also said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Luke 4:9-12



"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2012 - 2:26PM #14
smcisaac
Posts: 7,916

Jun 4, 2012 -- 5:16PM, TemplarS wrote:


The passage in question (Mark 16:18) is from the so-called "long" ending of Mark.  Since this does not appear in the earliest manuscripts, there is not universal agreement as to its authenticity.  It is not contained in any other Gospel.


In any case, as distinct from other parts of this passage, it is descriptive and not prescriptive.  "They will handle snakes" as opposed to "Go into the world and preach the Gospel".  So it is untrue to say that Jesus commanded his followers to handle snakes.


 



What's more, it doesn't specifically say poisonous snakes.  It does, however, immediately go on to say that they will also "lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover", as Cliff observed. 


Among the Greco-Roman audience for whom Mark was writing, Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing.  Non-venomous Aesculapian snakes were a prominent feature of temples dedicated to the cult of Asclepius and the healing rituals that it performed.  His symbol  was a snake coiled around a staff.  (Even today, this Rod of Asclepius is universally recognized as a symbol of the healing professions.  It's on ambulances everywhere, for example.)  Regardless of whether this verse was originally written by Mark or added by a later editor, I suspect it is an especially early example of the Christian movement gaining converts by co-opting pagan symbols and devotions.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 06, 2012 - 11:34PM #15
SeraphimR
Posts: 9,297

Jun 6, 2012 -- 2:26PM, smcisaac wrote:


Jun 4, 2012 -- 5:16PM, TemplarS wrote:


The passage in question (Mark 16:18) is from the so-called "long" ending of Mark.  Since this does not appear in the earliest manuscripts, there is not universal agreement as to its authenticity.  It is not contained in any other Gospel.


In any case, as distinct from other parts of this passage, it is descriptive and not prescriptive.  "They will handle snakes" as opposed to "Go into the world and preach the Gospel".  So it is untrue to say that Jesus commanded his followers to handle snakes.


 



What's more, it doesn't specifically say poisonous snakes.  It does, however, immediately go on to say that they will also "lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover", as Cliff observed. 


Among the Greco-Roman audience for whom Mark was writing, Asclepius was the god of medicine and healing.  Non-venomous Aesculapian snakes were a prominent feature of temples dedicated to the cult of Asclepius and the healing rituals that it performed.  His symbol  was a snake coiled around a staff.  (Even today, this Rod of Asclepius is universally recognized as a symbol of the healing professions.  It's on ambulances everywhere, for example.)  Regardless of whether this verse was originally written by Mark or added by a later editor, I suspect it is an especially early example of the Christian movement gaining converts by co-opting pagan symbols and devotions.




Actually it immediately goes on to say:


"when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all."


Picking up non-venomous snakes can hardly be considered a "sign" of anything.  Anybody can do it.  I've done it.  The other signs indicate an exceptional ability.

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 1:38AM #16
Estacia
Posts: 2,209

I would of seeked treatment and the faith of God.


God comes first. I would go to him as I was going to the hosptial.


Everybody's faith is different.


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2 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 7:09AM #17
smcisaac
Posts: 7,916

Jun 6, 2012 -- 11:34PM, SeraphimR wrote:


Actually it immediately goes on to say:


"when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all."


Picking up non-venomous snakes can hardly be considered a "sign" of anything.  Anybody can do it.  I've done it.  The other signs indicate an exceptional ability.



The difference between you and Mark (well, one of the differences) is than in Mark's time and place, handling snakes was widely understood to be an element of healing cures. Today the association between snakes and healing only endures in the symbol, not in the actual practice.


Incidentally, one of the discoveries of the priests of Asclepius was that certian kinds of snake venom are poisonous when injected (as in a snakebite), but are harmless or even have healing properties when swallowed.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 9:34AM #18
TemplarS
Posts: 6,693

Well, it seems to me that the passage in Acts lends support to the interpretation of handling venomous snakes with no ill effect. 


If the interpretation that the "long ending" of Mark is a later addition is correct, it is possible that knowledge by the author of Paul's encounter with the snake might have influenced the inclusion of this passage; it would then have been an actual example, not a theoretical one.  But certainly not a command to intentionally handle snakes.


Interestingly, the very next set of passages in Acts 28  deals with one of the other aspects of Mark 16:18:  Paul heals a sick man.


 

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 12:17PM #19
smcisaac
Posts: 7,916

Furthermore:


Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. Numbers 21:6


From which Paul drew the same lesson that Jesus remembered during his own temptation, but that Pentecostal snake handlers apparently choose to ignore:


We should not test the Lord, as some of them did--and were killed by snakes. I Corinthians 10:9

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 12:38PM #20
smcisaac
Posts: 7,916

Jun 7, 2012 -- 9:34AM, TemplarS wrote:


Well, it seems to me that the passage in Acts lends support to the interpretation of handling venomous snakes with no ill effect. 


If the interpretation that the "long ending" of Mark is a later addition is correct, it is possible that knowledge by the author of Paul's encounter with the snake might have influenced the inclusion of this passage; it would then have been an actual example, not a theoretical one.  But certainly not a command to intentionally handle snakes.


Interestingly, the very next set of passages in Acts 28  deals with one of the other aspects of Mark 16:18:  Paul heals a sick man.


 



Acts 28:3-6 does say Paul was bitten on the hand by an echidna, presumably a viper (as it is often translated) or other variety of poisonous snake, without ill effect.  But the incident itself was obviously an accident, not an intentional test of God or test of his own faith.  Paul did not "handle" the snake, it merely happened to emerge unexpectedly from a pile of brush Paul was collecting for a fire.  The text doesn't even specify that it was Paul's faith that protected him. Perhaps the bite was in a harmless spot, or perhaps the snake had recently bitten something else and discharged most of its venom, or perhaps Paul shook it off and/or administered basic Boy Scout snakebite first aid quickly enough to mitigate the damage, or perhaps they didn't get a good look at it and it wasn't really a poisonous variety in the first place.


I like your comments about the parallel between Paul's snakebite immunity and healing others in Acts 28 and the reference in Mark 18 to poison immunity and healing.  It's an intriguing connection to speculate about.  Luke, who wrote the Acts passage, was himself a physician and healer by profession, and appears to have drawn on Mark as a source in composing his own Gospel, but he didn't repeat Mark's specific association of snakes, healing and immunity -- an association that, as a physician himself, he certainly would have recognized. To me that is another clue that the Longer Ending of Mark was likely a subsequent scribal gloss amending the original text.


But none of our scriptural distinctions and arguments against snake handling may sound persuasive to someone who has been indoctrinated since birth in the (scripturally unsound) premise that handling rattlesnakes is a proper way test or demonstrate the power of his own faith.  Especially if he grows up with competitive feelings toward his father, whose own faith proves too weak.

"Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way."  Gospel of Philip, Logion 72

"Christ will regenerate all things; through Him all things will be purged, and return into eternal life. And when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, all things will be God; that is, all things will still exist, but God will exist in them, and they will be full of Him." Fabius Manus Victorinus, c. 350 AD
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