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Them That BelieveThe Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent-Handling Tradition$
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Ralph Hood, Jr. and W. Paul Williamson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231474

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231474.001.0001

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“They Shall Take up Serpents”

“They Shall Take up Serpents”

(p.1) Chapter I “They Shall Take up Serpents”
Them That Believe

Ralph W. Hood Jr.

W. Paul Williamson

University of California Press

This chapter provides an introduction to the tradition that established the context for the eventual emergence of serpent-handling churches. Serpent handlers identify themselves as members of a church. Serpent-handling churches are discussed from the perspective of the believers. It is helpful to understand serpent handling both from within and from without. Unlike many mainstream Pentecostal denominations, serpent-handling church worship has not been “routinized” or “regularized.” Serpent-handling churches typically meet at least once weekly to worship God and experience manifestations of the spirit. As they gather for the service, members greet each other and any visitors present with warm handshakes and exchanges of conversation; in some churches bodily embraces are reserved for the faithful and those of the same sex.

Keywords:   serpents, Pentecostal denominations, serpent-handling churches, believers

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