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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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Extemporaneous Sermons in the Serpent-handling Tradition

Extemporaneous Sermons in the Serpent-handling Tradition

(p.117) Chapter 7 Extemporaneous Sermons in the Serpent-handling Tradition
Them That Believe

Ralph W. Hood Jr.

W. Paul Williamson

University of California Press

This chapter sheds light on the phenomenologically oriented research that was conducted over the past several years centering on the meanings of extemporaneous sermons on serpent handling. It provides descriptive understanding of the phenomenon of serpent handling on the basis of the rhetoric in sermons commonly given by preachers at church services in which serpent handling takes place. It collects and analyzes spontaneous sermons during the ongoing worship services. Interpretive analysis of the various sermons indicates that the experience of religious serpent handling is an embodied event emerging from the context of Pentecostal worship. In the experience of handling serpents, there comes a certain power of true knowledge. The handler no longer feels himself an unworthy creation of God but one who comes to a knowledge of being graced and valued by God and deemed worthy to participate in the signs of true believers.

Keywords:   extemporaneous sermons, serpent handling, worship services, Pentecostal worship, true believers

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