Extemporaneous Sermons in the Serpent-handling Tradition

Ralph W. Hood Jr. and W. Paul Williamson

in Them That Believe

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780520231474
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942714 | DOI:
Extemporaneous Sermons in the Serpent-handling Tradition

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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

Chapter.  6013 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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