The “Handle A Rattlesnake” Debate Challenge

I’ve attended a lot of religious debates and I am persuaded that some arguments used for the side of truth are not sound. For example when debating the miraculous gifts subject, some gospel preachers challenge their opponent to “take up serpents” or “drink … deadly” poison (Mark 16:18). But this text is not talking about Christians doing those things on purpose. You can tell that from passages like Matt 4:7 where Jesus said “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” in response to a similar challenge by the devil. What Mark 16:18 is talking about is what we see in Acts 28:3-6 where a snake just happened to bite Paul but he was protected by God miraculously.

Now the “handle a rattlesnake” challenge is usually very effective with the brethren (they eat it up), but that doesn’t make the argument sound. When discussing the scriptures with our friends and neighbors, we should be proving the truth (John 8:32, Acts 9:22, 18:28), but we should only do it with arguments that are true to God’s word.

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