“The Christian and Cremation”
Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV)27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
I Thessalonians 4:16“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”If one’s body is cremated,howcan he/she rise from the dead?
The Burning of Bodies is almost always mentioned in a Negative Light:Saul & His Sons: bodies burned toprevent the Philistines from dishonoring theirbodies(1 Sam. 31:12-13; 2 Sam. 21:12-14)God burned the bodies ofNadab&Abihu(Lev.10:1)
The Burning of Bodies is almost always mentioned in a Negative Light:Josiah executed all of the priests who worshipped unlawfully in the high places he burned men’s bones on the unlawful altars to defile them (2 Kgs. 23:19-20)
The Burning of Bodies is almost always mentioned in a Negative Light:Burning at the stake (not exactly cremation) was a punishment for sin:Achan:“…he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.” (Josh. 7:15, 25)Aman who took both a woman and her mother as a wife was to be burned to death. (Lev. 20:14)The daughter of a priest who became a prostitute was to be burned with fire (Lev.21:9)Paul wrote of the ways he might be martyred by being burned (1 Cor. 13:3)
The Burning of Bodies is almost always mentioned in a Negative Light:Failure to bury a body (leave exposed) was considered adisgrace:Soldiersleft upon a battlefield (Jer.16:4)Godspoke of what would happen to Pharaoh’s army (Ezek. 29:5)Amos 6:10 There it seems that God approved of the burning of bodies but only in a rare times of pestilence to prevent the spread of disease
Cremation was “the customary practice of the ancient Greeks, and not unknown among the Romans, was certainly not the ordinary mode of disposing of the dead among the Hebrews or other oriental peoples.” – International Standard BibleEncyclopediaStandard practice of Hindus (pagans)“Some rabbis considered the burning of the corpse consistent only with idolatry (AbodahZarahi.3).” – Timothy George,Cremation Confusion
"Cremation was denounced as a purely heathen practice, contrary to the whole spirit of Old Testament teaching."-Sketchesof Jewish Life, p. 169,Edersheim“As the catacombs in Rome attest, the early Christians insisted on burying their dead. Christian grave sites were calledcoemeteria(cemeteries), which literally means 'sleeping places,' reflecting belief in a future resurrection.” – Timothy George,Cremation Confusion
"For many years, relatively few persons (mostly liberals and freethinkers) chose cremation. But that has changed dramatically. Only 5 percent of Americans were cremated in 1962; by 2000 it was 25.5 percent." – Timothy George,Cremation Confusion
Entombed: The burial of choice in the Bible:Sarah(Gen. 23:3-4; 17-20)Abraham (Gen. 25:8-9)Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse(Gen. 35:8).Isaac(Gen. 35:29).Leah (Gen. 49:31).Joseph- embalmedin Egypt& laterburied(Gen. 25:26; Josh. 24:32).God Himself buried Mosesin fMoab (Dt. 34:5-6).David, Solomon, Hezekiah(1 Kgs. 2:10; 11:43; 15:8; 2 Kgs. 15:38; 2 Chr. 32:33)Jesus - in a tomb (Mat. 27:57-60)Stephen(Ac. 8:1).
Summary:Nopassage, O.T. or N.T. that favorably endorses cremation under normal circumstances.Cremationseems to be more popular among unbelievers and pagans.Cremationwas sometimes viewed as a means of dishonoring a person after death.Burialwas the preferred means of caring for the dead in the Bible.
Argument #1: Cremation only expedites the process that would happen in the grave.Genesis 2:7 (NKJV)And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.1 Corinthians 15:48“As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust…”Eccl. 12:7Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.(NKJV)
Argument #1: Cremation only expedites the process that would happen in the grave."Of course, many martyrs were burned to death, but Christians believed God would bring them forth unimpaired at the resurrection. 'We do not fear any loss from any mode of sepulture,' declaredMinuciusFelix, 'but we adhere to the old and better custom of burial.'” – Timothy George,Cremation Confusion
Argument#2: Cremation is often out of one’s control.Families who do not have money to bury their dead often choose cremationChristians who may die infiresPeopleblown up or incinerated in wars(Hiroshima orNagasaki)Peoplewho donate their bodies to medical science or become organdonorsChristians lost at sea, bodies eaten by sharks (i.e. on ships in times of war)MartyredChristians eaten bylionsBodieseaten by worms, bugs,vultures, etc.Children born deformedEncased in volcanic lava(people of Pompeii in 79 AD burying nearly 20,000people)
Argument#3: It was logical that people in the region of the holy land would have no custom of cremation.Wood - a scarcityAncient vs. Modern Cremation:Modern Cremation: Burns a body at2,000°Ffor 3-4 hrs. in an enclosedincineratorAncient Cremation: Open air,Wood only burns at1200°F (at hottest)Cost then vs. nowCremation would not have even been as expedient as burial in Biblical times.
Argument#4: Although burial is mentioned, there is not a single prohibition against cremation in thescriptures?
Argument#5: If we must follow the custom of burial in the Bible, consistency would demand wefollowother customs also.ChildbirthMarriageCeremoniesDressCodesTimekeepingMeasurements
Argument#6: I know of no example where people were buried in the ground and covered with dirt.Hebrew words meaning “bury” can mean any type of burial (i.e. including tombs)Tombs are the only burials mentioned (so far as I could find unless bury is intended to mean “in the ground” in some cases)
Question #1: Whathappenswhen one dies?Ecclesiastes 3:21 (NKJV)21 Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?2 Pet. 1:14…knowing that shortly I mustput off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.
Question#2: Will we ever have the same bodies we have now, again?2 Corinthians 5:6 (NKJV)6 Sowe arealways confident, knowing thatwhile we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.
Question#2: Will we ever have the same bodies we have now, again?1Cor.15:35“someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?’”1Cor.15:42b-42a“…42 body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sowna natural body, it is raiseda spiritual body…”
Question#2: Will we ever have the same bodies we have now, again?1 Cor.15:48-49“As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”1 Cor. 15:50“flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.”1 Cor. 15:52“we shall be changed” and “…this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
Question#3: What part(s) of man will live forever?1 Peter 3:4 (NKJV)4 ratherlet it bethe hidden person of the heart, with theincorruptiblebeautyof a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
Question#3: What part(s) of man will live forever?2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even thoughour outward man is perishing, yetthe inwardmanis being renewedday by day.
Question#3: What part(s) of man will live forever?Ecclesiastes 12:7 (NKJV)7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
Romans 14:23 (NKJV)23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, becausehe doesnoteatfrom faith; for whateverisnot from faithissin.1 John 3:4 (NKJV)4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin islawlessness.