This was the first of many surveys taken here at PassionForTheWord, and it definitely stirred some great discussion. Some had very strong opinions, others had very open minds. We will begin an archive of all of our future surveys, complete with all the results, and write-in answers soon. Complete results from this survey can be found –> HERE
Before you comment below, please read my policy on comments on this blog.
That policy can be found –> HERE
So what about cremation?
First, I am not writing as a theologian to show off my vast knowledge and give THE answer after hearing the “lowly” people chime in their “uneducated answers”. That is the furthest thing from my mind. It is simply a pastor asking what has been asked me to see what you would answer. Please don’t take my response as THE answer. Research it yourself throughout the Scriptures.
With that being said….
Don’t make something that is not a clear command to be one.
There is no cremation verse. You can’t find it in your concordance. When I face issues that have not a clear command for me I will then use the building blocks of Scriptures to formulate my response… but I am very careful of saying “this IS it”. I am always leery of those that “always know” or that proclaim “this is it and the rest are wrong”. Those are the ones that I shy away from. I have been studying the Bible now for over 35 years both privately and from an academic standpoint and the more I study the more I come to the point on issues like this that my language is simply “this is what I THINK the Word is saying.” Be careful of the dogmatic person on issues that are not so dogmatic and clearly stated Scripturally. I do believe what GK Chesterton said “A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching.”
But I have to believe that Chesterton meant on the clear issues that are taught from the Word of God.
When it’s not a clear command, use kind language.
And let’s be clear, it’s not a salvation issue.
No one is going to hell because their loved one was cremated.
Here is my opinion on the cremation issue.
I always ask people. And one of those was one of the pastor’s that I work with. He sent me this piece from the great evangelist Billy Graham. Read it. It’s worth it.
Billy Graham in his book “Heaven Answer book” chimes in on this…. “Does God Forbid Cremation?”
Scripture teachers that we are to honor the body because it is the temple of he Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
In Bible times, burial was the common practice because it was seen as a sign of respect. When cremation was practiced, it showed contempt for the person ( Joshua 7:25 ) Today, cremation is often practiced in cultures that have no respect for the human body as God’s creation, which usually leads Christians in those societies to reject cremation.
God gave us our bodies, and when he saw all he made, it was very good. ( Gen 1:31 ) While cremation is becoming more accepted among Christians today, burial (laying the body to rest in the earth) has been a preferred method as an act of respect for God’s creation. It also reflects the great care that was given to the Lord’s body after his death. Jesus said “This is my body which s broken for you”. 1 Cor 11:24
Our hearts are touched when we read in scripture how the women went to he tomb on that first Easter morning hoping to anoint his body, only to find the tomb empty and an angel announcing his resurrection. ( Mark 16:1-7 ) One day we will stand before the Lord in heaven, for our bodies also will be resurrected. This doesn’t mean that bodies disposed of in other ways whether buried at sea, burned as martyrs at the stake, or human ashes scattered across the hills and valleys won’t be resurrected.
The bible says ” He will send his angels” to gather all people from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven (Mark 13:27) Abraham said, I am nothing but dust and ashes. (Gen 18:27) The bible tells us “the first man was of the dust of the earth. (1 Cor 15:47). We should honor the earthly tent of our dwelling when it is in our power to do so, for the physical body is the work of his hands. But take comfort that God is able to bring together whatever has been scattered.
I tend to lean to what Billy Graham is saying. It seems that whenever someone is burning a body in the Bible , it is not a good thing. It seems that fire is a type of judgment.
I asked this question to my 94 year old Aunt who was in the ministry for almost 5 decades. I loved what she said. She said “Timothy” (that’s what she calls me). “What is the value of the body? It is the spirit of a man. When you die, your spirit is with God immediately. So what do you have left? It has no more value because the valuable part has left you.” She continued to say that she doesn’t condemn anyone that cremates because the value of the body is gone. I like that.
What do I think?
In the end, I’ve always wanted to be cremated for one reason…..it’s cheaper. That is my dad in me. Burn me and just dig a whole in the backyard and I’m good. In fact, my late departed dad would probably ask if there was a way to burn his body in the home so we don’t have to pay even that expense. As funny as that is, most people opt for cremation for the simple reason of price. They don’t think of it from a Biblical stand point. But I think it’s an issue of being responsible for future generations. If I take care of my responsibility of making sure grave stones, and plots and caskets are prepaid for and even the funeral arrangements , it makes it so much easier for my loved ones that have to deal with my remains.
So many times people have had to be cremated because they did not prepare correctly. I think we have a responsibility to do that for our children and grand children.
In the end, I will probably be buried.
But I do keep in mind my beloved Aunt Anne…..it’s a worthless shell, because the good part has left already.
So when it’s all said and done,know this…. I am with Jesus before I am put in a casket or an urn.