Burning incense is among the oldest traditions in history. It has been practiced by Christians for a very long time. You can trace the use of incense way back to the sacrificial system that God had established for Israel.
Incense was a symbol of the prayers by God’s people rising to Heaven. Before the reformation, this practice remained to be a big part of Church practices. Even though incense is still practiced in Catholic churches, you can’t help but wonder, is incense used in protestant churches?
We have conducted adequate research to compile this brief post. We hope to explain the use of incense in protestant churches. Let’s dive right in.
Use of Incense in Protestant Worship
One of the objectives of the reformations in the 16th century was to convince followers to steer clear of the rituals and laws of the Old Testament. The use of incense falls under the Old Testament rituals, which is why they recommended it stop being used in public worship. They also used it to be separate from Catholic traditions.
Regardless, certain denominations did not adhere to this call and continued the use of incense in worship. Now, you will constantly find it in specific denominations.
Anglicans, also known as The Church of England, continued to use incense in worship. In the 1600s, it was considered illegal and also offensive to do this. However, in the 19th century, the use of incense continued.
It is a belief by Anglicans that incense helps followers to focus on God and honor Him during their worship services. Therefore, incense is burned during High Mass, funerals, Solemn Matins, and funerals.
In 1968, the United Methodist Church was started. The start of that church started or simplified certain aspects. Incense burning was among the aspects that were retained. However, the use of incense was limited to Evensong Praise and Pray, as well as Solemn Eucharist.
Lutheran tradition, based on Martin Luther, is another example. Martin Luther did not approve of Roman Catholic practices that did not follow scripture strictly. There are some churches that make use of incense during worship to help take prayers to heaven.
Incense is used during Solemn Matins, Eucharist, as well as Vespers. The clergy will normally cense the bread and wine, altar, icons, their bodies, as well as the congregation with the help of a thurible.
So, do Protestants use incense? As you can see, the use of incense is still practiced in certain protestant churches. Regardless, the largest number of protestant churches do not use incense during worship. These are some of the traditions that are considered – by some churches – to be from the old practices, which is why they are not practiced today.