The Liturgy of St. James, found in such eastern rites (such as the Syrian Catholic, Malankara Catholic and Marionite) incorporates the use of incense. So at least dating to the 5th century, this oldest of the Christian liturgies still in use today maintains the role of incense.
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Rev. 8:3-4
I guess those who abhor the smell of God on earth will find it tolerable as the smell of heaven, unless they want to trade in their gracious place for one with other smells and no grace. In any case, incense has virtually no chance of being restored to regular use within the churches of the Augsburg Confession and will remain an oddity hotly objected by the coughing and strenuous complaints of people who, as on this blog, insist upon enforcing their preference against incense upon those who think it normal, at least from a Biblical sense.
I find this so interesting that incense and chanting evoke such anger and objection. Curious, predictable, of course, so oddly curious.
"Sexto sequitur Euangelii lectio. Ubi nec candelas neque thurificationem prohibemus, sed nec exigimus. Esto hoc liberum." ("Sixth, the Gospel lesson follows, for which we neither prohibit nor prescribe candles or incense. Let these things be free.")
Martin Luther, "Formula Missae et Communionis pro Ecclesia Wlttembergensis" (D. Martin Luthers Werke, Vol. 12, p. 211)
“The smug dismissal of incense is a curiosity to me. Why would Lutherans who take Scripture and tradition seriously so quickly shrug off incense?”
As one of the smug Lutherans who impress their preferences on others, I will try to briefly explain by way of a random observation:
What if this blog post used a different image at the top, say, Carl Gustaf Hellqvist’s “Dispute between Olaus Petri and Peder Galle?” This is a typical 19th century Swedish history painting, depicting the Swedish reformer Petri (in an imaginary debate) as Martin Luther, complete with black cloak, one hand on the Bible, and the other hand on his heart. Behind him sit common people. Opposing Petri is Galle, dressed in traditional ecclesial finery and flanked by officials of church and state.
Now, you can say that this painting is an example of Swedish pietism of the time, which is undoubtedly true. But it also reflects Lutheran cultural self consciousness and identity, which is also a real thing. That same reformer (Petri) oversaw the elimination of private confession, clerical celibacy, prayer to saints, requiem masses, preaching beyond what scripture says, the use of holy water, and, yes, incense.
What seems to be the point of view of those with “Lutheran amnesia” is that the Reformation is over. And it has failed. Lutheranism has no distinct identity anymore. Whatever traditions that still are observed here and there are derided as sectarian liabilities, to be steamrolled by Evangelical Catholics who know better, who do not even wish to be known as Lutherans. So, bring back all the discarded practices under the guise of “this is true traditional Christianity.” We know better.
I think you miss the point. There is NO Lutheran anywhere who insists that incense MUST be used but there are plenty everywhere who insist that it must NOT be used. Pastor Peters does not seem to be suggesting that incense be required but wonders how Lutherans with their high view of Scripture can so easily dismiss incense out of hand. I am not a fan of incense but I get his point. If we were really free about it all there would not be so much coughing and complaints when it is used.
Lutheran Lurker: "Pastor Peters does not seem to be suggesting that incense be required"
Actually Rev. Peters does, when he states, "The Bible does not only presumes but prescribes its use."
Nowhere, in Rev. Peters' references does God in Scripture prescribe (i.e., require, mandate, order, establish a rule) that incense must be used today in Divine Services.
As Martin Luther noted, it's a choice a congregation may make in Christian liberty, hopefully without being subjected to the ad hominems used in Rev. Peters' column against those who decide not to use incense in the service.
Ah but Pastor Peters is merely pointing to the places where Scripture speaks of incense often and approvingly, requires it (temple worship), and anticipates it (in heaven). Or do you deny that Scripture does prescribe incense in this way?
Scripture describes the use of incense; but, as even Martin Luther noted, Scripture does not prescribe the use of incense in Christian worship services.
There is a difference between "describe" and "prescribe".
This ridiculous (yes, ridiculous) invention of descriptive vs. prescriptive dichotomy is one of the many reasons why I and others are leaving Lutheranism in droves. True, I can find nothing in the OT that God demanded incense be used, but at the same time, there was never, NEVER, any dispute or suggestion that it should not be used in the OT, the NT, or even in the entire history of the church until Martin Luther decided to reinvent things in his own image. Incense was used, plain and simple. What Carl does not seem to understand (among the many things he does not understand including his 2nd grade understanding of the Latin language) is that the description illustrates the prescription.
So the incense which is described in the Temple rites is suddenly nowhere to be seen in Christian times only to return in the description of the heavenly liturgy of Revelation??? That is the goofiest rationalization of preference I have ever heard.
It didn't take long for anti-Lutheran Chris to start flinging 2nd grade ad hominems again, or for the comment moderator to post them.
I am not sure that Chris is accurate about the reason why, if they are, Lutherans are leaving Lutheranism in droves. I would suggest that there are a variety of reasons why people leave Lutheranism, if they do, and one of them is precisely because they do not want to be Lutheran (or liturgical or sacramental). I do not know of Mr. Strickert's Latin training but I do know that Pastor Peters has railed against the descriptive vs prescriptive idea for a long time. For example, in a number of posts he complains that when the Augsburg Confession says Lutherans have not abolished the mass but keep it every Lord's Day and every other day people desire to receive it, this cannot be simply a descriptive statement that is meant to have no impact or influence upon the future but is clearly prescriptive. When Lutherans do forget their Lutheranism, you are left with a clean up crew trying to figure out how to justify how far they have fallen away from their own Confessional norm. Personally, I am not all that enthused about incense but I do not get hot under the collar about it as some have done (even here on the comments page). If it is a thing neither commanded nor forbidden, they why must so many get angry when it is used? Mr. Strickert seems intent upon always proving why these things cannot be required but he comes to no such defense of their use by those who choose to use them. It is this that gets in people's craw.
I do not know of Mr. Lurker's logic training, but there is a distinction between defending Christian liberty against those who claim to prescribe for God something which God has not prescribed, versus defending Christian liberty for those who use their Christian liberty to do (or not do) what God has not prescribed. For more info, read SD.X).
BTW, so far, other than snarking about my understanding of Latin, no one has posted a different translation of Martin Luther's Latin text.
Mr. Strickert says: "Sexto sequitur Euangelii lectio. Ubi nec candelas neque thurificationem prohibemus, sed nec exigimus. Esto hoc liberum." ("Sixth, the Gospel lesson follows, for which we neither prohibit nor prescribe candles or incense. Let these things be free.")
But there is nothing free when everyone piles on against the reintroduction of incense or its use under the guise of insisting that it cannot be required. The only freedom that you espouse is the freedom NOT to use it (or insert chanting or full eucharistic vestments or genuflecting or a hundred other things). Since the numbers of Lutherans today using incense is very small, you are protecting Lutherans from no threat but what you are doing is injecting suspicion about those who do use it. That is my issue with you, Mr. Strickert. Quote all you want to, the point remains you only comment to insist that you don't have to do something and you have never commented to suggest that you may do such things (as use incense) and be perfectly orthodox and consistent with our confession and practice as Lutherans. That is your Achilles' Heel. If just once you admitted that you can be perfectly orthodox and consistent as a Lutheran and use incense, wear eucharistic vestments, chant, etc., then perhaps I would give you some slack. But I have yet to read any comments from you that do anything but complain about those who do.
And, yes, Mr. Strickert, Lev. 16 clearly shows that the Lord prescribes, orders, and commands the use of incense. Unless you disagree with every translation of that text known to man.
And prescribes how to make it Exodus 30. And don't forget Malachi 1 and Deuteronomy 33. That is the point I was making.
I am shutting down comments on this post. I am frustrated and out of sorts because it seems there is every defense of those who, under the guise of freedom, ditch just about anything and everything of liturgy and piety but little support for those who in the same freedom use them.
Perhaps Mr. Strickert did not mean to use Luther's quote in the way I took it but freedom has come to mean, in nearly every usage, the freedom to drop and ditch the historic practices of our past. So when I read a comment making the point that this is to be free, I am hearing "you can't make me and nobody should even try" to use incense or a hundred other things that could be substituted.
When I said that Scripture prescribes incense I was obviously referring to the Temple. I in no place suggested that a New Testament ordinance required us to do the same. Yet, I fear we Lutherans even in some of our Confessions are too accommodating to those who would abandon such things and too hesitant to suggest as the Augustana clearly does that such could and should be used that can be used without sin (that is without binding the conscience and adding a requirement to salvation).
My point as always is to suggest that the idea of a minimum of ceremony, ritual, and rite are NOT the Lutheran ideal but the opposite is -- as much as we can use without sin yet requiring nothing lest the conscience be subject to these as a condition of salvation. So, this will be the final comment on this post.
Post a Comment