Mark Wolford is in the news after having been bitten by a timber rattler in a snake handling service. I want to say first that this is a sad story and prayer should be offered for the comfort of his family. However, there is another side to this story that also needs to be pointed out; doctrine has consequences.
There is nothing admirable, honorable or excusable about this situation. This was an unnecessary and avoidable death based on a fatally flawed interpretation of scripture (Mark 16:17-18). He was not the first, and he will not be the last to unnecessarily die.
Just because this misunderstanding of scripture is sincerely believed does not mean that it is a valid belief; it is not. These sincere and good people need to be converted from this false teaching. Even though they call themselves Apostolic, this is NOT apostolic doctrine or teaching. This was not the practice or teaching of the apostles concerning snake handling. The apostles would have most certainly rejected and rebuked this tradition for a number of different reasons.
There is not a single example of the apostles purposely picking up actual snakes to prove they were believers. The only time an apostle handled an actual snake in scripture it was an accident, and he killed it (Acts 28:3-6). This is the apostolic, and the Texas way of handling a serpent.