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"Speaking in tongues", snake-handling, other esoteric Christian practices


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Does anyone come from a background of or have experience with some of the more esoteric Christian practices?

 

I've never seen snake-handling, but I have witnessed "speaking in tongues".

What other more esoteric worship practices are there?

 

Most know some of the rituals performed in the Catholic church.

Which denominations and flavors of Christianity are more involved in such things? Pentecostals are well known for handling serpents.  Others?

 

Are there other esoteric practices common in the Protestant churches? 

 

Mark 16 (14..19) cites drinking poison also..  I've never heard of that being done in worship before. Anyone else?

 

 

 

 

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My only experience was going to a church once to pick up a girl in the backwoods of Oklahoma.  It was hot summer, they had no AC, and the doors and windows were all open.  They were speaking in tongues, waved hands in the air, shouting hallelujah, and some got the holy ghost, fell to the floor and looked like they were having a seizure.  But this is probably not what you are looking for.  There are very few of these groups that I am aware of (thank goodness).  I think they called themselves Pentecostal,  but most people in the area called them the "Holy Rollers"

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Most of the dangerous ones are limited to certain small southern Pentecostal groups. Most churches disagree with purposefully handling poisonous snakes and drinking poison as they consider that forcing the hand of god. A lot have died in those groups, but they don't get it. 

 

Exorcisms and "spiritual warfare" (something none of the apostles were known to practice) grew in popularity in the 1980s after having been relegated by most churches to the back burner of superstition. Even our stodgy Nazarene church got involved and sponsored speakers that were supposed to be experts. This happened when our pastor's wife went bipolar and they thought it was demonic. In her manic phase, she said she saw the devil and challenged him and went over the edge mentally, killed the family dog and tore out one of her eyes. They blamed this on a "witch" that was sent to curse them. The witch was really a daughter of another pastor who didn't believe in any of that, but was strict and she was rebelling and joined some wannabe coven. (Typically it is ritual Satanists that do such things, and witches are more nature oriented). Anyway, these things made it all seem extra real instead of another typical case of bipolar gone untreated. Sad stuff. 

 

Pentecostal/Charismatic practices (mostly raising hands and using short praise choruses) that were rarely seen in other Protestant churches became a lot more widespread. My own sense of it was because those congregations seemed more "alive", like god might actually be showing up, and so the others didn't want to be left out of the hullabaloo. Speaking in tongues was (and for the most part still is) an us/them thing that the Pentecostals do, but others don't. Lots of controversy surrounds it in many denominations and they just don't think it is anything but made up. I concur since I still do it on occasion when lifting something heavy. 

 

Pentecostals give the impression of having special insights and personal experiences with the holy spirit. That creates a certain envy in some other believers that see the women with long uncut hair, modest dress, and dancing free-form, and they think that there is something from god there and get pulled into that sect. Others get a prophecy that seems like it might be true, and that grabs them emotionally. I pointed out that the "prophets" often mix in old English with a southern accent (even when they are from Australia) and use bible-sounding language to imply that god is speaking through them. It's a scam and has always been a scam. Fake healers come through using old tricks to make people think they fix out-of-alignment backs. I demonstrated this to a couple of my friends after we went to one of these services. People don't want to believe that they are gullible, even when shown repeatedly. 

 

I experienced some things that made it all seem like god. The classic Shaker/Quaker movement of shaking hands that are raised hit me in one service. I felt energy zip up and down through my body (like a stretched out slinky toy that gets twanged and you can see the kinetic energy zip back and forth) and my hands shook involuntarily. I felt the energy focus down into my abdomen area. There is stuff going on there that doesn't meet the eye. I still am not sure what the effect is caused by, but I've felt it in groups, while alone, in New Age crystal shops, etc. But after deconverting, I really had to wonder at what I had felt, since it seemed like evidence that I was on the right path and god was really showing up. My unbelieving niece went with me to a service once and crumpled when the preacher touched her head. She described something similar to what I described. 

 

I saw soooo much fakery and so many charlatans in these services. It's gross how manipulative they are, and how gullible believers are. 

 

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My parents' church is everything @Fuego said but a lot of being "slain in the spirit."  We're talking major carnage when a prophet or evangelist comes by; bodies stacked like cord wood.  They have these special pieces of cloth, like a small throw blanket, to cover the women with; because, apparently, the holy spirit has the power to knock them out, but does not have the power to keep their dresses from flying up when they hit the carpet.

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4 hours ago, Fuego said:

... This happened when our pastor's wife went bipolar and they thought it was demonic. In her manic phase, she said she saw the devil and challenged him and went over the edge mentally, killed the family dog and tore out one of her eyes. They blamed this on a "witch" that was sent to curse them. The witch was really a daughter of another pastor who didn't believe in any of that, but was strict and she was rebelling and joined some wannabe coven. ...

 

 

Your entire post is heavy as uranium..

 

But about the above, I gotta say:

 

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7 hours ago, Weezer said:

My only experience was going to a church once to pick up a girl in the backwoods of Oklahoma.  It was hot summer, they had no AC, and the doors and windows were all open.  They were speaking in tongues, waved hands in the air, shouting hallelujah, and some got the holy ghost, fell to the floor and looked like they were having a seizure.  But this is probably not what you are looking for.  There are very few of these groups that I am aware of (thank goodness).  I think they called themselves Pentecostal,  but most people in the area called them the "Holy Rollers"

 

This was indeed what I was looking for.

My only experience with these religious practices was similar to what you described, perhaps a little milder than your description, but I've seen similar things at a small independent church years ago.

 

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3 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

...  They have these special pieces of cloth, like a small throw blanket, to cover the women with; because, apparently, the holy spirit has the power to knock them out, but does not have the power to keep their dresses from flying up when they hit the carpet.

 

Admit it, you peeked.

 

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7 hours ago, Weezer said:

My only experience was going to a church once to pick up a girl in the backwoods of Oklahoma.  It was hot summer, they had no AC, and the doors and windows were all open.  They were speaking in tongues, waved hands in the air, shouting hallelujah, and some got the holy ghost, fell to the floor and looked like they were having a seizure.  But this is probably not what you are looking for.  There are very few of these groups that I am aware of (thank goodness).  I think they called themselves Pentecostal,  but most people in the area called them the "Holy Rollers"

     When I was just a wee child, way back when to when I can first remember things, my mom took us to a church out of town (can't say where but probably up in Oregon).  It was different than our usual Lutheran church.  It was a smallish place.  A handful of pews.  Normally we sat second row but here we sat in the back which, unlike usual, we could take in the whole place.  It started out normal enough but then it turned into exactly what you say here.  When people started to hit the floor she snatched us up and beat it out of there.  First time we ever bailed on church.  They were also called Holy Rollers.

 

          mwc

 

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4 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

My parents' church is everything @Fuego said but a lot of being "slain in the spirit."  We're talking major carnage when a prophet or evangelist comes by; bodies stacked like cord wood.  They have these special pieces of cloth, like a small throw blanket, to cover the women with; because, apparently, the holy spirit has the power to knock them out, but does not have the power to keep their dresses from flying up when they hit the carpet.

     That's how Mary got preggers!

 

          mwc

 

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1 hour ago, mwc said:

     That's how Mary got preggers!

 

          mwc

 

 

Well she claims it was a ghost.

 

 

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8 hours ago, mwc said:

     That's how Mary got preggers!

 

          mwc

 

Hey now! That's hitting below the belt. 😁

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That situation in Oklahoma was interesting.  I may have mentioned this before, but my girlfriend didn't go along with that stuff, but felt sorry for her mother and would go to church with her because mom seemed to get something from it.  Her dad was a scoundrel and everyone in the community knew it.  It was a large family.  It was never proven, but highly suspected that incest was going on.  My GF and one brother turned out to be respectable people, but others turned out to be like Dad. 

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On 2/13/2021 at 2:50 PM, alreadyGone said:

Mark 16 (14..19) cites drinking poison also..  I've never heard of that being done in worship before. Anyone else?

 

I heard those sects die out pretty quickly.

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11 hours ago, Weezer said:

That situation in Oklahoma was interesting.  I may have mentioned this before, but my girlfriend didn't go along with that stuff, but felt sorry for her mother and would go to church with her because mom seemed to get something from it.  Her dad was a scoundrel and everyone in the community knew it.  It was a large family.  It was never proven, but highly suspected that incest was going on.  My GF and one brother turned out to be respectable people, but others turned out to be like Dad. 

     Why does this suddenly start to feel like something out of "Deliverance?" 🤪

 

          mwc

 

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On 2/13/2021 at 11:50 AM, alreadyGone said:

Does anyone come from a background of or have experience with some of the more esoteric Christian practices?

 

I've never seen snake-handling, but I have witnessed "speaking in tongues".

What other more esoteric worship practices are there?

 

Most know some of the rituals performed in the Catholic church.

Which denominations and flavors of Christianity are more involved in such things? Pentecostals are well known for handling serpents.  Others?

 

Are there other esoteric practices common in the Protestant churches? 

 

Mark 16 (14..19) cites drinking poison also..  I've never heard of that being done in worship before. Anyone else?

 

 

 

 

 

Some of my Pentecostal church members spoke in tongues. I never did, though. Seemed really stupid to me. Some people were 'slain in the spirit' too. 

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26 minutes ago, midniterider said:

 

Some of my Pentecostal church members spoke in tongues. I never did, though. Seemed really stupid to me. Some people were 'slain in the spirit' too. 

 

I experienced this sort of thing years ago in a small independent church I attended for a while. There was a middle-age woman who did the "in tongues" thing pretty often. I was too spiritually timid at the time to question it.. at first.

I got to know her a bit though over time, and it was clear that Christianity and her place in this small church was her hobby, her only hobby.

 

And the stuff she warbled out in worship services, you could pretty well guess that she was just giving in to her emotions and simply babbling.

 

She probably believed that it was coming from "the spirit" (the Holy Spirit, tm) and all meant.. something.  I seriously doubt she had any idea what she believed it all meant.

 

Mostly it was repetitive.  "shlom-de la schlom schlom blah blah"

Seemed pretty clear she was greatly influenced by her impressions of spoken Hebrew or Yiddish she had probably heard over time.

 

 

What I find fascinating is that most believers I've known would pretend this sort of thing away in the same way they won't pay any attention or admit to existence of  the snake-handlers "in those other sects".

Like refusing to acknowledge an undesirable or embarrassing family-member.

 

Imagine you let forth with a burst of that sort of thing in an average middle-class Baptist worship service... or Presbyterian.

I would imagine that in a Catholic service they'd probably break out the exorcism-kit right there on the spot.

 

Drinking poison though... you can take your chances with snakes. People all over the planet routinely handle deadly snakes, doing so not as part of any Christian belief or practice but for street performance, etc. Everyone knows this.

 

But drink strychnine, or even hemlock... you gotta be seriously committed to your belief there.  Be much easier to fake in front a congregation though, if you were determined to do so. Or, you make sure to milk that rattlesnake before the worship meeting to minimize the venom, lol.

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Speaking in tongues can be taught/learned.

In the, I think, 1980's UK and I think USA was overun by The Toronto Blessing. I witnessed this on a number of occasions where people fell to the floor barking like a dog or crowing like a cockerel (I jest not, really). It was bedlam. And it was catching, it appeared, as people travelled from more sedate churches to 'catch the blessing'.

Before that time, in the 1970's I witnessed the falling down and blankets placed over the women (it usually was women) but it wasn't the danger of the skirt flying up because after a few minutes of uncontrolled spasms and shouting a wet patch appeared - and it wasn't wee (and, again, I jest not).

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On 2/15/2021 at 9:41 AM, alreadyGone said:

 

I experienced this sort of thing years ago in a small independent church I attended for a while. There was a middle-age woman who did the "in tongues" thing pretty often. I was too spiritually timid at the time to question it.. at first.

I got to know her a bit though over time, and it was clear that Christianity and her place in this small church was her hobby, her only hobby.

 

And the stuff she warbled out in worship services, you could pretty well guess that she was just giving in to her emotions and simply babbling.

 

She probably believed that it was coming from "the spirit" (the Holy Spirit, tm) and all meant.. something.  I seriously doubt she had any idea what she believed it all meant.

 

Mostly it was repetitive.  "shlom-de la schlom schlom blah blah"

Seemed pretty clear she was greatly influenced by her impressions of spoken Hebrew or Yiddish she had probably heard over time.

 

 

What I find fascinating is that most believers I've known would pretend this sort of thing away in the same way they won't pay any attention or admit to existence of  the snake-handlers "in those other sects".

Like refusing to acknowledge an undesirable or embarrassing family-member.

 

Imagine you let forth with a burst of that sort of thing in an average middle-class Baptist worship service... or Presbyterian.

I would imagine that in a Catholic service they'd probably break out the exorcism-kit right there on the spot.

 

Drinking poison though... you can take your chances with snakes. People all over the planet routinely handle deadly snakes, doing so not as part of any Christian belief or practice but for street performance, etc. Everyone knows this.

 

But drink strychnine, or even hemlock... you gotta be seriously committed to your belief there.  Be much easier to fake in front a congregation though, if you were determined to do so. Or, you make sure to milk that rattlesnake before the worship meeting to minimize the venom, lol.

 

As a few people huddled around me to introduce me to speaking in tongues, the woman (probably similar to your hobby lady) said to me.."Ok, it may sound really stupid at first but...just let it out..." lol. I was definitely timid and never did that silliness.

 

It would have been fun to find some Hebrew phrase for "You're all a bunch of morons", memorize it and make it your speaking in tongues thing. lol 

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2 hours ago, midniterider said:

It would have been fun to find some Hebrew phrase for "You're all a bunch of morons"

The first time a lady charismaniac preacher tried to push me to speak in tongues, I repeated a phrase in Nahuatl (Aztec) and that seemed to satisfy her. It meant something about "Son of God, I want life now". I learned it from a preacher who lived among them, though he wasn't very fluent so it may have been bogus. 

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I've only had one personal/live experience with speaking in tongues.  A high school acquaintance asked me to come visit one of her church's services.  We attended.  Once the participants started with the speaking in tongues ritual I started laughing out loud, I really could not hold it back.  I concluded they were quite absorbed with themselves and were completely nuts.  I told this to my acquaintance.  I remember getting glared at and shunned.  One of the faithful yelled at me, "The Devil's Helper is here!".  I think I told him he was confused or addicted.  It went downhill from there.  We left.  The acquaintance and I still had sex a week or so later.

 

It was a strange experience.

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Looks sort of like auctioneer school to me. Same difference. They just make shit up as filler as they go along... 

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On 2/15/2021 at 3:20 PM, nontheistpilgrim said:

Before that time, in the 1970's I witnessed the falling down and blankets placed over the women (it usually was women) but it wasn't the danger of the skirt flying up because after a few minutes of uncontrolled spasms and shouting a wet patch appeared - and it wasn't wee (and, again, I jest not).

 

Wait, they had an orgasm?

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I was invited to a church service in Germany. It was not a German congregation, but some Americans who were retired living there or something along those lines. If memory serves me right, it was called "Prophetic Word of God Church." It must have been my lucky day because they had a guest pastor. Him and his wife claimed they could prophecize over people. They thought they had some special insight where the Holy Spirit would tell them something hidden or perhaps not publicly known about a person.

 

This was during my Calvinist days so I cracked open my trusty, John MacArthur Study Bible to see what they were talking about. I must have had a look on my face because the guest pastor and his wife honed in on me. Without directly addressing me, the guest pastor was speaking and then said the typical, "I do not think God would have me talking about this today if it was not true." As I said, I must have been wearing my skepticism on my face because shortly thereafter, the guest pastor or his wife looked at me and asked if I wanted to try and prophesy. I simply told them that I did not have that spiritual gift and I was not going to go up and there and lie in front of everyone. A bit taken aback, the guest pastor's wife asked if she could prophesize over me. Always the good sport, I went up to the front and let her do her thing. My prophesy was that I was seeking God, but was hindered by worldly things. Nothing more than cold reading.

 

Soon thereafter, my apparent skepticism was forgotten about and they started having people come up to the front of the church and get slain in the spirit. Same thing as others described, people dancing, shaking, maybe speaking in tongues, but I cannot remember; they may have been just repeating a phrase over and over in English. After a bit, they started dropping to the ground and would lay there and have the sheet placed over them. It was pretty wild and I had never seen anything like it before.

 

After it was over, the guy who invited me asked if I was "okay." Apparently this kind of service can unnerve some people. I was not unnerved, I was just committed to a certain Calvinist doctrine and I never said it out loud, but I thought the whole thing was outside of "real orthodoxy."

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2 hours ago, Hierophant said:

I was invited to a church service in Germany.

That reminds me of my first missions trip to Venezuela.  During one service there, someone started speaking in tongues.  Someone else gave an interpretation.  Then somebody translated the interpretation from Spanish into English so we Americans could understand.  It was surreal. 

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