Skip to content

Essential Oils and Their Important Role in Religious History

Modern medicine would like to take the credit for the discovery of essential oils and their numerous health benefits. Yet the real truth is that essential oils have been an essential part of history, and the Lutheran church, for thousands of years. How and why is explained below:

If you read through the bible you are going to find numerous references to essential oils and their use in anointing and healing. Lutherans still use them to anoint, but have turned over the healing aspect to professionals. There are over 200 references to essential oils in both the old and new testaments, including Cedarwood, Fir, Cinnamon, Myrrh, Frankincense and Spikenard.

Biblical References to Essential Oils

Moses is given a recipe in the old testament on how to make a holy anointing oil. This oil was comprised of myrrh, cinnamon, calamus and cassia. This shows an even greater depth of understanding for the powers of essential oils then we have today.

The new testament begins with a gift from the wise men to the baby Jesus. One of these gifts was myrrh, a popular essential oil known for its healing powers. Later, Mary uses spikenard to anoint his feet.

Jesus_Anointed_At_Bethany_sm

Throughout Ancient History

Ancient Egyptians used an abundance of essential oils in almost all of their rituals. This included bathing and even embalming the dead. When you read through the writings of historians like Hippocrates and Napoleon, you also will find a number of references to the use of essential oils. These natural substances were considered to be a sign of wealth and prosperity for hundreds of years, until they were suddenly shunned, possibly seen as a part of Wiccen theology. Only a few were used in Christian churches as a part of their rituals.

Essential Oils in the 20th Century

Out of necessity, antiseptic containing essential oils were suddenly in high demand during the first world war. Then a study began into aroma therapy, and an account of how lavender oil aided in the healing of a serious burn. The research continued, bringing us to today and a growing acceptance of the benefits of essential oils.

Now you see them everyone, being applied as medicine and even worn around the neck in an essential oil diffuser necklace. The Lutheran church uses them as well as a part of many of our religious ceremonies, though we prefer the understated ZAQ diffusers.

A Lutheran Minister’s Musings on Whether to Beard or Not to Beard

Beards have been a point of contention for various religions for decades. While there are bible passages which seem to suggest that a man without a beard is committing a sin, others suggest that if God wanted men to grow facial hair, he would not have allowed them to invent any useful or good beard trimmer. But when you think of all of the other inventions man has come up with, well a beard trimmer is tame in comparison.

Beards have regained some popularity over the last couple of years, prompting this new look into their relevance for the Lutheran faith, as well as others. We all know that they are the trademark of an Orthodox Jew, although no one has any real explanation as to why. As for Christianity, there seems to be a line between Orthodox and Roman Catholicism. Eastern Orthodox churches embrace the bearded priest, while Roman Catholic priests are almost always clean shaven. Only a few monastic orders actually encourage beards on the monks. This despite any known shaving regulations handed down by God.

Mormon men going out on their two year missionary journey must shave regularly and Muslims are of the belief that while there are no commandments in the Koran that beards are a must, there is a tradition that the prophet at one time did issue such a command.

Where Does This Leave the Bearded Lutheran?

Sometimes a beard is just a beard, and only symbolizes a mans acceptance of the body God has blessed him with. It is only an opinion, and a humble one at that, that so long as the wearer is practicing good beard trimming tips and taking care to look neat with beard balm and his boar hair bristle brush, there is no real reason why a man should or should not wear a beard based on his faith.

So go ahead and read some reviews about the best beard balm out there, and emulate the latest look of your favorite star. Beards are all the rage now and there is nothing in our religion that bans us from being fashionable. So long as it is in good taste of course.

lutheran

Of course for the Lutheran pastor there are no rules either for whether a beard is an acceptable facial adornment or not. This is purely a personal decision which God has left in our hands to figure out for ourselves. Again, only my humble opinion, but while he may have had little to do with a beard trimmer he did give man the ability to grow out their whiskers for a reason.

Different Christian Denominations Explained

"Midhurst Methodist Church 2" by Charlesdrakew - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Midhurst Methodist Church 2” by CharlesdrakewOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

To an outsider – or admittedly some insiders – knowing the difference between the different Christian denominations can be rather difficult. They all seem to have some overlap, but with some major differences. But just what is it that separates these religions? Below is a quick summary of the different groups, and what sets them apart from all of the others.

Anglicanism – This branch of Christianity is historically connected to the Church of England. It is commonly understood as a sort of middle ground between the claims of 16th Century Roman Catholicism and the Protestants of that era. Like other sections, it is founded on the Scriptures and the Gospels. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer. This cook is a collection of services that worshipers in most churches have used for centuries.

Catholicism – Catholicism is used as a broad term for describing specific traditions in the Christian churches. The word Catholicism separates has a different meaning when used by itself, rather than referring to the Roman Catholic Church. It is mainly used to show contrast between this group and Protestants.

Lutheran – Lutheran is a major branch of Protestant Christianity. It identifies with the theology of its founder, Martin Luther. Back in 1517, Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church, and launched the Protestant Reformation as a result. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification “by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone”. Another doctrine is that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith – which contradicted the Council of Trent which stated that authority came from both the Scriptures and Tradition. Today, Lutheranism is one of the largest denominations of Protestantism. In terms of membership, it is only third behind historically Pentecostal denominations and Anglicanism.

Methodism – This denomination is another branch of Protestant Christianity. This branch however, derives its inspiration from the teachings of John Wesley, rather than Martin Luther. It is characterized largely by its emphasis on helping the poor and the average person. It has a very systematic approach towards building the person, and the church and its missionary spirit. Methodists believe that by building loving relationships with others through social service, they can become closer to God’s love.

Presbyterian – Lastly we have a branch of Reformed Protestantism. This denomination can trace its roots back to the British Isles, and they derive their name from the form of church government. The theology of this group focuses on the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. In this denomination, common practice and order are regulated through a “Book of Order.”

As you can see,there are many differences between the different denominations, but they all have several things in common. In the end, though there are differences, all of them believe in Christ and the Bible, making them more closely related than it might seem at first.

Tips For Reading The Bible For The First Time

"Estudo" by Steelman - fotografia pessoal.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
Estudo” by Steelman – fotografia pessoal.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

There are many people out there who would love to read the Bible the entire way through, but find it too danuting of a task. The Bible is a big book, and it is not necessarily an easy read. This puts many people off from reading it, simply because they think it will be too hard. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to make reading the Bible just a little bit easier. If you follow the tips below, you should find yourself having an easier time reading the Bible, and as a result, enjoying it more.

1. Look at a map – Before you begin the story, it is a good idea to look at an ancient map of the Middle East. The stories in the Bible mainly take place what is now known as Israel, but also spread into the Roman Empire. Knowing where the story takes place will help you to visualize what is going on.

2. Hop Around – Don’t feel like you need to read the Bible from cover to cover. Instead, stick with the books you find interesting, and come back to the ones that are slowing you down. While it’s great if you can read it in order, if reading it out of order means you’ll enjoy it more, then by all means do that.

3. Set A Schedule – If you are having a hard time getting through the Bible, consider setting yourself a schedule. Tell yourself how many pages you are going to read a day, then make sure you stick to it. It can be a small number of pages – like 2 or 3 – as long as you are consistent. It may take a while, but eventually you will get through the whole book.

4. Get A Partner – Know someone else that might be interested in reading the Bible? See if they want to read it with you, then you can discuss it with them. If you are both reading the same parts each week, you can motivate each other to continue, and discuss any parts that confused you.

5. Get A Companion Books – There are many books out there designed to help you read the Bible more thoroughly. Having one of these books by your side as you read can be of great benefit after you read a challenging chapter. They can help explain what is going on, and put it into context.

6. Re-read – Lastly, once you have finished reading the Bible, go back and read it again some time. On your second time through, you’ll notice a lot more things about it and be able to understand it better. Don’t put pressure on yourself to finish quickly, and remember that you are doing this for your own enjoyment.

Hopefully these few tips will help you the next time you try to read the Bible. Just take it slow, and do whatever necessary to make it an enjoyable experience for yourself. Everyone reads differently, so you just need to find a method that works for you.