Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't try this at home!

The bible is full of unbelievable stories, like Daniel in the lions' den, Jesus walking on water, the part where God said true believers can handle poisonous snakes and not die and many more. I think that most of us would agree that reenacting these scenarios may not work out so well, but a few Christians had to learn this the hard way.

First I give you this article,which talks about Pastor Gregory James Coots who was arrested for possession of several poisonous snakes that he used in religious services.
Handling snakes is practiced in a handful of fundamentalist churches across Appalachia, based on the interpretation of Bible verses saying true believers can take up serpents without being harmed. The practice is illegal in most states, including Kentucky.

Coots, 36, is pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, where a Tennessee woman died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service in 1995. Her husband died three years later when he was bitten by a snake in northeastern Alabama.

Did I read that right? I thought believers wouldn't be harmed by snakes. This is all very confusing.

Next, I would like to introduce you to a man that was trying to reenact the story of Daniel in the lions' den.
A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on today. "The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.

"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."

The incident, yesterday evening when the zoo was packed with visitors, was the first of its kind at the attraction. Lions and tigers are kept in an "animal island" protected by thick concrete blocks.

I guess God doesn't exist? Or maybe he wasn't paying attention at that moment?

Finally, I would like to point your attention to Evangelist preacher Franck Kabele.

Franck Kabele, a 35 year old Evangelist preacher, told his congregation that, following a revelation, he could walk on water as Jesus did in the Bible but drowned soon after the water depth had exceeded his height.

"He told churchgoers he'd had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could walk on water like Jesus. He took his congregation to the beach saying he would walk across the Komo estuary, which takes 20 minutes by boat," an eyewitness said.

"He walked into the water, which soon passed over his head and he never came back." His proof of mortality occurred off the local beach in the capital Libreville, Gabon, west Africa.
I am not sure exactly why this man had to die. It seems to me that one of the people watching should have been able to save him. I think that this is a story that is better tried in the winter.

As I write this, I can almost hear my old pastor still standing in front of the congregation proclaiming that we shouldn't test God (Matthew 4:7).

Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'
I never really truly understood why God couldn't be tested. I thought that in some aspects where a true believer was testing God in order to prove to other that he is real it might be a great way to win the lost. This passage like so many others does have a verse that contradicts it (I Thessalonians 5:21)
Test everything. Hold on to the good.

Maybe those that tried to put these different parts of the bible were just following I Thessalonians 5:21. hatever their motives were I really hope that there aren't too many more that feel they can reenact the bible. It saddens me to see people cut their lives short.

11 comments:

Karla said...

There is a difference between being protected by God from a danger like lions, fire, snakes, poison etc. and being ridiculous and putting yourself in danger. I believe all things are possible with God-- but that doesn't mean I am going to go find a twenty story building to jump off of and expect him to protect me. That's just dumb. Modern people reenacting this stuff and getting hurt doesn't mean these miracles didn't happen to begin with.

When Jesus says not to put God to the test, He wasn't talking about not examining things to see if they were true which is what it means when it says to test all things. I think it has more to do with the mentality of the people you gave examples of that Jesus was addressing.

If you always want to find the bad in something, you will. You may miss the truth in the process.

Summer Squirrel, FCD said...

Karla: So what you saying, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that thousands of years ago God was letting his people do cool things which would be dumb to do today. So that's how it works!

The reason the bible says Jesus says that one shouldn't put god to the test is so people won't. It discourages inquiry and keeps people in control of the leaders of the church. Smart of them to put that phrase in their holy text! It's keep the masses in control of a few unscrupulous people for a long time.

Karla said...

summer, we can do much greater things through Christ than those miracles and those things are happening in the earth today. By no means am I inferring that miracles stopped or that our access to the supernatural world is over. I only meant that those miracles happened for a reason and not for a whim of a person demanding God do something.

No that statement was not to give the church power. The church had no power at all when that was written. They were persecuted from the beginning. There was nothing to gain from the teachings of Christ with regard to controlling society. It was like a death sentence to be a Christian. Yet they persisted. Under Nero Christians were killed on a regular basis. They were thrown to the lions in the coliseum. It was not until Constantine came along that the church was given a place of prominence, and I think that was a mistake, for the church was never to be what it became under Constantine.

The real mission of the church is to free people from the bondages of this world and to help them know God for themselves and to be not controlled by blind submission to authorities who tell you want to think. The whole purpose of the leaders in the church is to build up the people to maturity in God by serving them not by controlling them.

Sadly, this doesn't always happen because people don't always do things the way it ought to be done, so I am sure you have personal experience of the church being controlling. But this is not the way it ought to be, and there are many many many churches that get it and are not the places of religion you despise.

Summer Squirrel, FCD said...

Karla, I think one of the problems here is that what you think of as a miracle and what I think of as a miracle are two completely different things. Where I have strict scientific standards of evidence you seem to think anything that is "too good to be true" constitutes as a miracle.

We still haven't established that Jesus existed so he is on the same level as Zeus. To you he is real, to me and all the other atheists you seem to want to talk to, he is a myth. You will not convince us otherwise until we see concrete proof.

Karla, the church's main function is control of the "flock." How you can't see that is a mystery to me. Even today the leaders of Christianity want to have control over women's rights, over medicine, over who can marry whom, over what we teach our children in public schools, and over our military. (That last one should scare the bejubus out of you.) And that's only naming a few! Surprise, it's not about God! It's about politics (control of large groups of people), always has been and always will be.

This is why the founders of this great nation included the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of our Constitution. They knew how cruel and controlling a state established church could be and they didn't have to look far to see the results of such.

I agree that churches can serve as a community for like minded people and I'm not advocating abolishing them. My local community of atheists and freethinkers serve to uplift and support me and my family and do so without even requiring or acknowledging a supernatural power.

Karla said...

Jesus did not establish the church to control people. And while some churches throughout history have done so, the Bible does not ever give it this role. I know you don't accept the Bible as true, but aside from that, Christians do and the Bible never says Christians ought to be controlling.

The Founding Fathers actually established the ammendment where the government could make no law concerning the church to protect the church from government interference. Pop culture gets that mixed up often times and thinks the Founders wanted to separate God and country when they were all for God and country being linked, they just didn't want government telling people what to believe. They also knew that it was anti-Christian to force people to believe something and so they enacted freedom of religion as well.

Actually, the Bible speaks the most highley of women than any other religious text. The church ought to be restoring women to their proper role and not restricting them. I've been in church all my life and I have never been in a church that restricts women or demeans them. I have only seen great honor and respect toward women in the churches I've been apart of.

Now, there are churches that do as you say, but this is not the way Jesus put forth. You can read it for yourself in the Bible. He never spoke about controling people or putting women down. Even the verses people commonly quote of Paul regarding women are typically taken out of the cultural context and distorted from their true meaning.

I know you don't think Jesus really is who he says he is, and that would take time to show you. I wish I knew you outside of this forum.

I don't think anything that is too good to be true constitutes a miracle. I have seen the affects of the supernatural invading the natural world, I have first hand experience. That is why when I hear similar testimonies I know them to most likely be true.

DB said...

I am baffled when people claim the church doesn't control people. The church's entire function is control. Why do you think so many people have dropped their blind following of the church and the equally controlling leaders and adopted their fundamentalist views of the Bible? Now we see fundamentalist leaders taking charge and history repeating itself. Evangelical leaders are now profiting from their followers which is no different than the Catholic Church did. All organized religion is about control once it becomes strong enough to assert it.

Godless Woman said...

I would have to say that all churches and religions and Gods are controlling to some degree. Some know they are controlling and like it that way, such as the catholic church, and Islam just to name a few. Then other churches don't view them selves as controlling they just think that is the way God would want it such as the Baptists among others. Then there is the group that thinks it isn't controlling people at all, but in reality they still are, it is just on a much smaller level. This last group would be your non-denominational churches, the New age churches and what has been basically termed Christianity light churches. Every religion, god, or church has a set of rules that it wants its followers to follow to respect the wishes of a supreme being.

I am not suggesting that non-religious people don't follow any rules, we do, but we aren't being asked to follow rules to make some supreme being happy. We follow rules to make others happy, and ourselves happy.

Karla said...

We don't follow rules to make God happy either. All the law and the prophets are summed up in loving God and loving people. When we are in relationship with God through Jesus we are enabled to love people. Not to do good to people out of obedience to rules given by God, but to be transformed to truly love and love for God and for people spurns us forward to do what is right for that's what love does.

Being able to truly love in it's fullest extent is the greatest freedom anyone can ever experience. Christ love brings freedom. Living for ourselves is bondage.

For any church or leader or Christian to control how another lives is to do something that even Christ did not do or condone. This mentality does not equate to a liberalized Christianity. It is not one that says we live for ourselves and ignore unrighteous living. It is one that says no one make make another be righteous only Christ can do that and in Christ we are freed to live righteously not by fear of God's punishment, but by God's love burning in us that He freely gives to us.

I hope you are really hearing me. Because the things you are talking about is religion, but it is not real Christianity. I am not advocating for the things you are talking about DB or godless woman. I am talking about a life the Life that is like nothing you have experienced. Jesus fills ones heart to overflowing and He gives us life and freedom like you cannot imagine.

Anonymous said...

Lisa,

It's interesting reading this blog, knowing what you used to believe and now considering the beliefs you have converted to.

You're right, these stories are unbelievable, but you also know that anyone in the congregation at Maranatha would find them preposterous too, right?

I can offer you an explanation, but I do not expect you to choose to understand given your current convictions of godlessness.

At the time of these Bible stories, God commonly acted in the lives of mankind, through miracles, visions, etc. You also must review the stories in context - Daniel didn't throw himself into the lion's den did he? The three boys did not throw themselves into a fiery furnace either. They were forced actions upon these people, and God chose to intervene upon their behalf.

I can see you questioning, "So why doesn't God save people nowadays, when he saved them in Bible times?"

The answer to this is a little more difficult. The answer is that we are in the church age. When God provided his son as propitiation for our sins, he provided a direct link between us and God - allowing us to pray and in essence talk to God directly. This eliminated the need for Him to work through visions and miracles to in essence "prove Himself." Since the people in those times did not have evidence of God's existence through his written word, the Bible, God chose to make Himself known through acts such as the miracles you referenced. In this present day, the Church age, we have the gift of the Bible, God's word to his Children, through this we know that it is His desire that we have faith in Him.

You mentioned that you have always wondered why God does not act through miracles now - it would have been easier to reach the lost. . . Look in Hebrews 11 - Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. (I think this verse was written to all atheists). God doesn't provide a written letter to LD that he exists (via miracles or other forms) because the only way to Him is through faith. He wants you to exercise the faith of a child and turn to Him!

The Bible indeed tells us not to test Him - because taunting God and a lack of faith are never going to leave you in a good position! Just because God chooses not to intervene does not mean He is not capable of intervening. He simply chose not to, and as Christians, sometimes we have to accept the hard reality that God's way is best, and we don't always understand the big picture from where we stand.

The Bible does not contradict itself in the Thessalonians passage; you are taking it out of context. If memory serves, the passage talks about testing doctrine and not blindly accepting, not testing God's skills and abilities in a ridiculous nature.

I hope that you will sincerely consider these thoughts. They were not meant as a direct attack at all, but simply another perspective to the questions you raise.

In Love,

Jaclyn

Karla said...

Anonymous, actually I agree with you in part, but I wouldn't say God stopped working through miracles and visions and dreams. I've experienced miracles and have prayed for people and seen them healed on the spot. I have experienced prophesy. God is still working through us in supernatural ways. That doesn't mean to throw yourself in the fire. You are correct in the distinction between God's protection and someone just doing something stupid.

Summer Squirrel, FCD said...

Karla,

I don't believe you. You provide no proof and go on and on about how you've experienced this and have seen that. I mean, really, do you expect anyone to believe these outrageous stories you tell? And with no proof?

Tell you what. My husband has a severe injury right now and is in a great deal of pain. Pray for him today and if he gets healed before sundown in Houston, TX I will try to believe in your stupid god.

Oh wait, god doesn't allow testing?

LOL, I'm sorry, but that's just funny. The absolute worse cop-out story I've ever heard and you guys have bought it hook, line, and sinker. And it seems you're proud of it. Wow, just wow. (palm head) Do you know how silly that is? It looks like you and Jaclyn have no common sense at all.