christian-burial

WHY WAS A BURIAL PLACE SO IMPORTANT IN THE BIBLE?

(1) There are many reasons the burial place was so important to the prophets of old.

(2) One reason the burial place was so important to the patriarchs has to do with God’s promise of the land. It emphasized their belief in God’s promise to give this land to their family.

(3) A second important reason was that Jacob wanted to be buried with his family. Still today, many people prefer to be laid to rest alongside family members as a sign of love and solidarity. Jacob’s desire to be buried with his wife, father, and grandfather naturally displayed his deep love for them.

(4) A third reason for the patriarchs’ insistence on their burial place in Canaan was that they held on to the hope of a future kingdom. The patriarchs understood that their death was not the end of life. Instead, God had a future kingdom prepared, one where the Lord God will reign as King.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT CREMATION?

(1) The Bible does not give any specific teaching about cremation.

(2) There are occurrences in the Old Testament of people being burned to death and of human bones being burned, but these are not examples of cremation.

(3) The Old Testament Law nowhere commands that a deceased human body not be burned, nor does it attach any curse or judgment on someone who is cremated.

(4) Cremation was practiced in biblical times, but it was not commonly practiced by the Israelites or by New Testament believers. In the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body.

(5) While burial was the common practice, the Bible nowhere commands burial as the only allowed method of disposing of a body.

IS CREMATION SOMETHING A CHRISTIAN CAN CONSIDER?

(1) Again, there is no explicit scriptural command against cremation. Some believers object to the practice of cremation on the basis, that it does not recognize that one day God will resurrect our bodies and re-unite them with our soul/spirit.

(2) However, the fact that a body has been cremated does not make it any more difficult for God to resurrect that body. The bodies of Christians who died a thousand years ago have, by now, completely turned into dust.

(3) This will in no way prevent God from being able to resurrect their bodies. He created them in the first place; He will have no difficulty re-creating them.

(4) Cremation does nothing but “expedite” the process of turning a body into dust. God is equally able to raise a person’s remains that have been cremated as He is the remains of a person who was not cremated.

(5) The question of burial or cremation is within the realm of Christian freedom. A person or a family considering this issue should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and follow the conviction that results.

(6) Burials are costlier while cremation is cheaper. At the same time, I do believe that pastors should discourage expensive funerals. In a Bible-saturated, counter-cultural church, made up of kingdom-minded sojourners and exiles (1 Peter 2:11), no one should be pressured into the mindset that the more expensive the coffin, the more loved the deceased or the better place in heaven.

(7) Pastors should lead the way in cultivating a church ethos where expensive funerals (and weddings!) are not the norm. God-centered, gospel-rooted, Christ-exalting simplicity should be the norm.

(8) There are some who prefer burial to cremation, but we must not condemn or ostracize a person who chose differently.


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