Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thought Provoking Article on Burial vs. Cremation

Reading about death, cremation and burial is probably not on your list of things to consider right now (unless you know a loved one who is going home to be with the Lord soon, as was the case recently with my Grandma). But if you are weighing through this issue, there is a thought provoking, helpful, six page article on the topic here by Christian apologists Dr. Norman Geisler and Douglas Potter. They examine the common reasons given in favor of cremation, then respond, and then lay out a Scriptural case for burial rather than cremation. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Burial Follows the Example of Christ. Jesus’ interment is described in great detail and was clearly a burial (Matt. 27:57–61; John 19:38–42). The fact that Jesus was resurrected three days later (according to Jewish reckoning), in the same body in which He died, gives assurance to the believer (John 20:1–30; Phil. 3:20–21). Burial not only shows respect for the body but it also symbolically anticipates its future — in the resurrection."

"Burial Symbolizes the Hope of Resurrection. As Paul taught, the very body that is sown perishable is raised an imperishable body (1 Cor. 15:42). This is best symbolized by burial, for it anticipates the final preservation of the body in the resurrection. The image presented of the dead being asleep (1 Thes. 4:13–18) is also preserved through burial."

"Another reason given in defense of cremation is that the Bible condemns humankind to return to dust (Gen. 3:19), and cremation only brings that condemnation to pass in a more speedy way. If the body will eventually become dust, then why not hasten it? Cremation seems to be an immediate fulfillment of what the Bible forecasts for all mortals. In short, if God ordained the natural process of returning to dust, then how can cremation be against the will of God?.... Simply because a human practice speeds up what God ordained does not mean it is right. God ordained that all fallen beings would die (Gen. 2:16–17; cf. Rom. 5:12), but this does not justify our killing them to speed up the process. God ordained pain (Gen. 3:16), but this does not mean we should inflict it on others. There is an important difference between what God can do and what we should do. Many babies naturally abort and most adults die naturally, but this does not justify our killing them (Exod. 20:13). Of course, there is a difference. The body is already dead before it is cremated; but this no more justifies cremating it than it does burning a flag because it is going to rot anyway. Again, there is significance in symbolism, and the symbolism of destroying a body that God created and that God will resurrect is the wrong message to send. Likewise, the simple fact that given time the body will turn to dust does not mean that we should turn it to dust immediately after death. God created the body, and He desires that we respect it even in death."

Click here for full article.

Personally, I'm hoping to be one of those who is alive and who remains when the Lord comes for His church (1 Thess. 4:15) for "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).