Mack Wolford, a flamboyant Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia whose serpent-handling talents were profiled last November in The Washington Post Magazine , hoped the outdoor service he had planned for Sunday at an isolated state park would be a “homecoming like the old days,” full of folks speaking in tongues, handling snakes and having a “great time.” But it was not the sort of homecoming he foresaw.
Instead, Wolford, who turned 44 the previous day, was bitten by a rattlesnake he owned for years. He died late Sunday.
Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was known all over Appalachia as a daring man of conviction. He believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God — and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.
He and other adherents cited Mark 16:17-18 as the reason for their practice: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
(Source)The above story would be an excellent reason to not base your entire faith and ministry on a disputed passage of Scripture that is not part of the original inspired text. About the passage of Mark 16:9–20, John MacArthur writes:
The external evidence strongly suggests these verses were not originally part of Mark's gospel. While the majority of Greek manuscripts contain these verses, the earliest and most reliable do not...Further, some that include the passage note that it was missing from older Greek manuscripts, while others have scribal marks indicating the passage was considered spurious.
-John MacArthur, MacArthur Study BibleSEE ALSO:
The Fitting End to Mark's Gospel (sermon by John MacArthur)