Pentecostal Snake-Handlers


But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous gener-ation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (Matthew 12:39 ESV)

  I lump religious snake-handlers into the vast subset of Christ-followers who covet sign gifts, as if simple faith and trust aren’t enough. While Jesus and his followers produced signs to verify their authority, the signs he commanded us to produce are spiritual fruit, not spiritual gifts. Preoccupation with “sign gifts” smacks of carnal pride.
   When I realized the apostate nature of my native, Catholic church, I became skeptical of everything that claimed to be “Christian,” and found an alarming body of evangelical teachings that hearkened back to Romanist roots. Even our cherished, Trinitarian teachings originated in Rome, which has caused my reexamination of God’s fundamental nature.
   That said, I absolutely believe the eternal, self-existent Word of God, who spoke the universe into existence and established the means of communicating with his creation, is willing and able to provide us with the portion of his truth that is relevant to our temporal frame of reference. His willingness and ability to convey his truth to us, however, does not guarantee our willingness and ability to receive it. As saturation of toxic elements in our bodies blocks absorption of essential nutrients, so intellectual and spiritual error blocks our absorption of the eternal, self-existent One’s truth.

   “Reason” has suffered a bum rap from Evangelical Christianity, as a rash reaction to the arbitrarily skeptical brand of reasoning employed by atheists. Carefully choosing the right words to communicate and defend God’s good news requires the highest level of reasoning, and indeed, striving to do those works without careful reasoning produces the kind of childish dogmatism that invites attack by free thinkers.

   Personally, I must maintain a critical overview of my own interpretations of God’s word. Even if I were qualified to exegete Scripture, I would have no authority to stand dogmatically upon my own conclusions as if they were holy writ.
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