30 May 2012

Snake-Handling Pastor Dies from Bite

The Washington Post reports:
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.”
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 Bible
The Fitting End to Mark's Gospel (sermon by John MacArthur)


  1. ummm.... i'm thinking of jumping off the empire state building and seeing if God will save me because i'm a christian

    1. Jon, if I may, I'd like to plead with you: DON'T DO IT!
      Unless, of course, you have a spurious biblical text that you can appeal to.

  2. This really just makes me sad. There are goofballs out there and mean, devious, false teachers. But there are also simple, well meaning people who honestly believe this stuff and are just deceived.

  3. This is stupidity. Pure and simple. This is just as dumb as going out into the street and laying down and believing that if I have faith God is going to save me from being run over. God gave us common sense. Do not put the Lord our God to the test!

    Sounds just like how Satan took a verse out of context when he was tempting Jesus.

    Mat 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.

    Mat 4:6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."

    Mat 4:7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test."

  4. Ok, a couple of issues here I think: 1) even if these verses are a part of the original inspired text I believe the whole of the New Testament makes it clear that these signs/powers were for demonstrating authenticity of the message being preached, prior to the New Testament canon of Scripture. We now know the truth because we can compare to Scripture – no need to swing a snake around to display authority, just read the Word. How about instead of swinging snakes you go down to the local ER and perform miraculous healings – oh wait, YOU CAN’T. The simple fact that Christians throughout the past 19+ centuries have died in many different ways (and I’m sure there have been at least some die from poisonous snake bites (like Mr. Wolford’s father for instance). 2) The biggest issue, in my opinion at least, is the detrimental impact stories like this have on the Body of Christ as a whole. Christ will be mocked and put to open shame because of the antics of this (late) charismatic pastor.

  5. Reminds me of what happened in Ibadan,south-west Nigeria in the late 1980s. A man decided to be Daniel. He climbed into the lions' cage at the University of Ibadan zoo. Well, I need not tell you what happened to him. By the time the zookeepers came the next day....
    That's what happens when you presume to know and interpret God's word.

  6. Wow Jesus wins, my mother is from Ibadan but I never knew about that and will ask her about it. How sad....I hope both these men TRULY knew Christ despite their confusions...

  7. I agree with you Anonymous June 2, 2012 12:08 PM when you said "I hope both these men TRULY knew Christ despite their confusions"

    That really has concerned me because we are supposed to have faith in God-(Mark 11:22) not faith in faith or faith in "positive thinking" or positive confessions..

    I've met Christians who I believe are saved and YET they have somehow come to think or were taught that if they believe in something hard enough when they are praying and never doubt that God will heal them that they will be healed. Yet this is not biblical.

    I used to go to a Christian forum and would go to the prayer section often. Sometimes someone would put up their prayer in a "Positive confession" way that God will heal their marriage they just know it or someone is dying and they are going to believe that no matter what God is going to heal them for sure. MY heart would sink and I didn't know what to say. That person's God is not the God of the bible and their faith becomes shipwrecked.

    What about what GOD'S word says about GOD? Psa 115:3 "Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him."

    What about the fact that God might say no and has every right to say no.

    What about what we are truly asking for,, is it the biblical model and have we met the conditions required?

    Jhn 15:7 "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
    Jhn 15:8 "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
    Jhn 15:9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
    Jhn 15:10 "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.

    This false teaching that if you have enough faith God will heal you from a poisonous snake bite has devastated many lives.


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