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90

by Dion Todd in General Questions about May 17, 2016 open - report

Burial or Cremation?

We often get asked whether a Christian should choose burial or cremation when they die. I will try and answer this below in the answers as best I can and if you have anything to add, then please do so. 

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  • 90

    by Dion Todd about May 17, 2016

    Burial or Cremation?

     

    There is no scripture that directly addresses how we should we be buried and many of the martyrs of Christ were burned at the stake. The Bible neither favors or forbids cremation but is silent on the matter. Nero used to burn Christians as torches to light his courtyard. So it would be very bad for them if cremation is forbidden. When our spirit leaves this body it will return to the dust that it came from. It is an organic body just like a plant, and it will deteriorate given time. One day we will have a new heavenly body that will not. As I understand it, our present physical body will be replaced with a new spiritual body.

     

    Fact: Dig up any old grave, and you will find bones, and that body will not be a picture of health and beauty in their prime. (Unless the current trend of “Rib showing skinny is sexy” continues and eventually a skeleton becomes Miss America).

     

    Paul wrote that there is a physical body, and a spiritual body: “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”(1 Corinthians 15:42–44 ESV).

     

    From dust we came, and to dust we will return: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

     

    I know that Paul wrote: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV).

     

    But this does not tell me that it will be a rotted, possibly beheaded, burned, or mangled physical body that is rising from the ground. I believe the present, organic, physical body is nothing more than a shell on a crab, and has nothing to do with our resurrection once we have died. The movie “Ghost” was pretty accurate when he just stepped out of his body and saw it laying there on the ground.

     

    John saw the "souls" of those who had been beheaded, resurrected: “Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God,” (Revelation 20:4 ESV). I feel sorry for them if they are walking around headless for eternity. That would hardly be a just reward for their sacrifice.

     

    Jesus told the thief on the cross "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). He did not lay in the ground waiting. All organic bodies will return to dust in time just as plants and grass. Cremation merely speeds up the process. The body and the spirit are separate things. I believe that on death, the spirit leaves the lifeless body behind just as Solomon wrote:

     

    “because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:5–7 ESV).

     

    Paul also wrote that to be out of the body, is to be present with the Lord. You don’t have your present physical body and be present with the Lord, you are away from the body, and with the Lord: “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8 ESV).

     

    Saul and Jonathan were burned by those that respected them: “And when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days” (1 Samuel 31:11-13).

     

    Basically cremation is more of a personal, cultural, or philosophical choice than a Biblical one, though there are more records of bodies being buried than burned in scripture. Jesus was lain in a tomb / cave and resurrected from there. He was not buried in the ground, nor was He burned, so neither of these methods fit.

     

    Personally I am ok with cremation and unless we change our mind, we are leaning towards it ourselves. The earth is filling up with graves and the price for a traditional burial is stupendous. We saw a grave plot recently sell for $20,000 USD. At this rate, we will not be able to afford to be buried, and once I have left my body, I don't have any need of it or say so over what happens to it after I am gone. Smoke me like brisket (my favorite), put me in an earthen vessel, and I will still be surrounded by the earth.

     

    Revised: 05.25.2016.

    18 comments
    • Kathy Kingery
      by Kathy Kingery
      May 29, 2016

      Thank you, Pastor Dion, for your view on this. I agree. I wish this was something families (parents) talked with their kids about before they died. When my father died suddently in 2003, he left no will, no instructions, and also no money for his...  more

    • Sylvia Todd
      by Sylvia Todd
      May 30, 2016

      What a terrible ordeal, Kathy, I'm so sorry you and your family had to go through that. I agree that it's the wishes of the deceased that are most important, whatever we may personally think about the matter. This is a great reminder to make sure we have...  more

    • Sandra Colby
      by Sandra Colby
      June 24, 2016

      WHY  IS IT , THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST,WHY WOULD GOD WANT BONES,IT SAYSTHE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RAISE FIRST, ITHOUGH WHEN YOU DIE YOUR SOUL GOES BACK TO GOD.

    • John Forrest
      by John Forrest
      July 10, 2016

      Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead even though he had been dead for 4 days. In the Bible Jesus described Lazarus as "being asleep". You have to consider that "time" is only relevent in conciousness . In the unconcious state time...  more

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