Well I guess it had to happen eventually.
A Pastor who handles snakes during church services as part of God’s anointing coming over him, Jamie Coots got bitten by one for the second time. This time he died.
The first time he was bitten, his finger fell off. Literally fell off because he refuses to seek medical attention.
He’s not the first religious guy to die from a snake bite. This stuff happened when I was a Pentacostal. I would read about this crazy sort of stuff mid-week and then head to church on the weekend to speak gobbeldy-gook during prayer meetings when we were binding the devil and roll around on the floor when we were filled with the Holy Spirit. You know what I thought about people like Ps Jamie Coots and his band of merry snake-handlers?
Which is so ironic it almost hurts.
The funny thing is, all my Pentacostal friends are annoyed at how badly the Crazy Snake People are representing Pentacostalism. All my ex-Pentacostal but still religious friends are annoyed at how badly the Crazy Pentacostal People are representing Christianity. And I’m annoyed at how experience, tradition and perception can override what we instinctively know to be ridiculous.
Deep down we know it’s strange. Deep down we know that people fall over when prayed for because they were pushed or cos it’s what everyone else does. Deep down we know tongues is just something we make ourselves do. Deep down we know that prophecies are just people saying nice, generic stuff with ‘God says’ before it. Deep down we know there’s a lot of faking going on.
When we look at Ps Mark walking past in the prayer meeting literally saying ‘da da da da da da da da da’ while high-fiving his mates and smiling at everyone, and the first thought is, ‘He could put a bit more effort into his tongues.’, we know…
When we watch Ps Phil going through the lines touching people on the head and when we’re lying on the floor after our turn and battling between the thoughts of, ‘Oh this is nice, the Holy Spirit making me lie down and giving me so much PEACE…‘ and ‘I don’t feel any different, what on earth am I doing lying on the floor?‘ we know…
When we sit in an event planning meeting and decide whether to ban people from speaking tongues on stage at an Evangelical rally because it’s not ‘seeker sensitive’, everyone in the room is acknowledging that deep down we know…
We know that what we do on a week to week basis is just. plain. strange. It’s kooky.
We can dress it up in funky outfits or drown it out in drum beats. We can justify it with three verses from the new testament (that’s at least two more than the snake guy!) and years of religious tradition. We can remind ourselves that ‘no-one can argue with experience’ by waxing on about how amazing it feels but we still wouldn’t be any better than the kooks who handle snakes…
“It’s such a happiness and a joy. You can just feel the joy in your soul that you just don’t feel all the time every day.”
– Wife of kooky snake handling Pastor, explaining why she likes to handle snakes when the anointing comes on her to do so
“It was as much a commandment of God, when he said they shall take up serpents, as it was when he said, thou shalt not commit adultery.”
– Ps Jamie himself using a bible reference to back up his handling of snakes during church services.
If you’re a Pentacostal, have you said any or more of the below?
“When God comes in the room and the anointing falls, I just feel such peace. God fills me with joy.”
“On the Day of Pentacost, everyone was speaking in tongues. All the early church believers did it…”
So strange how we can think other people are religious, crazy nuts but never apply that same logic to ourselves.
It’s always crazy when it’s somebody else.