"A Sign Of The Lord"

Larry Ray Hafley
Pekin, Illinois

The article below appeared in the "Commercial Appeal," Memphis, TN, August 5, 1985.

A sheriff was bitten by a poisonous snake yesterday as he tried to break up a religious service in which a preacher's son held up 10 snakes as a display of his faith, authorities said.

Sheriff Jack Arrington was admitted to Haywood County Hospital, where he was in stable condition with a snake bite to the thumb, said hospital spokesman Joan Mackey.

Charles Prince was charged with two counts of handling reptiles of a poisonous nature and one count of resisting and delaying officers, the police said. U.G. Prince later said he was sorry Arrington was bitten, but called the accident a "sign of the Lord."

Since when was an accidental snakebite a "sign of the Lord"? The apostle Paul was evidently accidentally bitten, but the bite was not a miracle. The fact that he, unlike the sheriff, suffered no harm was a "sign of the Lord," a miracle (Acts 28:3-6).

Now, of course, the Pentecostals may claim that they were not bitten, but the sheriff was. Well, that is not a miracle, either. That is just a simple case of a snake doing what snakes do.

Incidentally and ironically, the passage snake handlers rely on, Mark 16:17, 18, is the same Scripture which says, "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Why did not Mr. Prince perform that "sign of the Lord"? If he insisted on "handling reptiles" "as a display of his faith," why not "lay hands on the sick" sheriff "as a display of his faith," and as a "sign of the Lord"? The Pentecostals did not, yea could not heal him. Some sign.

Mr. Prince contradicts himself -- "he was sorry Arrington was bitten," but called the accident a "sign of the Lord." Why, pray tell, be sorry for an alleged "sign of the Lord"? If the sheriff was wrong, if he was opposing the Bible, if he was denying and depriving the Pentecostals of their right to obey God (as I am sure they would all say he was), why be sorry? If a man did all that, he should have been bitten' Or, if that is too harsh, the snake should have at least looked at the sheriff real mean and stuck out his tongue at him. Instead, he chose to gnash on him with his teeth.

But if Sheriff Arrington did all that, he was obviously "demon possessed." (Would Pentecostals deny that he was?) And if he was, why did they not further obey Mark 16:17 by casting out Mr. Arrington's demons? After all, the text says, "In my name shall they cast out devils."

The Pentecostals miserably failed in every respect. The poor Sheriff had a sorry time, too. But the snake won the day-even if he did bite the wrong person!

Addendum To "Sign Of The Lord"

After the article above was prepared for publication, the following notice appeared in the Peoria Journal Star, August 20, 1985. Read it and weep.

Snake Bite Kills Man

A snake handler who defied the law in neighboring North Carolina by conducting religious services with poisonous reptiles died Monday from a rattlesnake bite to the thumb, authorities said.

Charles Prince, 45, was bitten at a religious service here Saturday night at the Apostolic Church of God and refused medical treatment, said Greene County Sheriff Gail Colyer.

Prince, of Canton, N.C., died at the home of Carl Reed of Limestone, Colyer said.

Prince was arrested Aug. 4 in Haywood County N.C., and charged with handling poisonous reptiles after Haywood County Sheriff Jack Arrington was bitten on the hand by a rattler.

It gives me no pleasure to report such things. Any man's death diminishes me. "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Ezek. 33:11). However, it gives me even less pleasure to see men like Mr. Prince deceive the hearts of the simple.

Mr. Prince was consistent. He claimed the miracles of Mark 16:17,18 applied to him. In this, he was unlike Oral Roberts, Ernest Angley, and lesser known Pentecostals like Robert-Bayer, Raymond E. Parnell, G.T. Sharp and Hulon Myre. They claim "tongues and healing," but wisely sidestep drinking "any deadly thing" and the taking "up" of "serpents." They are inconsistent but alive. Mr. Prince was consistent. He is dead.

How Can We Distinguish?

Sharp, Myre, Bayer and Parnell make the same arguments for their position as did the late Mr. Prince. They give the same "testimony" and "witness." They are just smart enough to know where to draw the line. They are alive. Mr. Prince went to the end of the line. He is dead.

How can we distinguish between the claims of Prince and Parnell? What is the difference between their "signs" and those of a pagan witch doctor? Catholics, Mormons, Pagan Witch Doctors and Pentecostals like Prince, Sharp, Parnell, Bayer and Myre all have claimed miracles by the power of the Spirit. What shows that the Pentecostal miracles are genuine but that those of the Mormons are false? Obviously, there is one difference between Prince and Parnell. Parnell, Bayer, Myre and Sharp refuse to "demonstrate" their faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. Mr. Prince demonstrated his faith. They are alive. He is dead. "He being dead yet speaketh. "

Note the following chart:

What Is The Difference Between "Miracles" Of Mormons, Catholics, Pagans and Pentecostals?

Each One:

1. Claims to have worked miracles.

2. Cites cases of miracles.

3. Says, "Accept my testimony."

4. Refuses to demonstrate power.

5. Uses excuses for failure.

Difference Between True and False Miracles Obvious In The Bible

1. Moses vs. Magicians - Ex. 7

2. Elijah vs. Baal - 1 Kings 18

3. Philip vs. Simon - Acts 8:9-11

4. Apostles vs. Jews - Acts 4:16; 19:13-17

5. Pentecostals vs. Mormons - ??

What Now?

Brethren, what shall we do? Shall we wink and smile at error and its proponents? Shall we ignore their specious arguments and pious superstition and keep ourselves "above such tripe"? Shall we allow them to continue to swallow up the souls of men with their spiritual quackery and not raise one verse of Scripture in protest?

Elijah "mocked" the prophets of Baal (I Kgs. 18). He chided and derided their fraudulent claims with caustic contempt and scorching, searing sarcasm. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but neither are they ineffectual (2 Cor. 10:3-5). We must not strive, but be gentle unto all men (2 Tim. 2:24). Some, however, must be met "with all boldness." It is not pleasant. It is not fun. But seeing souls deluded and damned forever is neither pleasant nor funny. Our course, therefore, must be set, fixed, determined. We must use tact and judgment -- "be wise as serpents, harmless as doves." Only by a constant warfare of speaking the truth in love can we prevent more losses like that of the lamented Mr. Prince. If you have a better solution, we would like to hear it.

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 18, pp. 554-555
September 19, 1985