Cremation and the Baptist Church

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by righteousdude2, Jan 19, 2008.

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Will you be Cremated

Poll closed Feb 18, 2008.
  1. Yes

    9 vote(s)
    18.8%
  2. No

    25 vote(s)
    52.1%
  3. Maybe

    7 vote(s)
    14.6%
  4. Undecided

    7 vote(s)
    14.6%
  1. righteousdude2

    righteousdude2
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    I've always been against cremation [personally], but more of my friends and family are electing to be cremated, and I would like some Scriptural help in better understanding God's will and Word in regard to cremation of the body.

    I'm sure that there are a lot of you who have an opinion, and I'd love to hear from you, preferably with Scripture enclosed.

    Shalom,

    Pastor Paul
     
  2. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    Many use Paul's statement 'Though I give my body to be burned...' (1 Cor. 13:3) and say that justifies cremation. I do not believe Paul was speaking about cremation here, but rather of persecution and martyrdom.

    In the Old Testament, God's people were always buried. The heathen or pagan were burned.

    This day and age the price of burial is so expensive, it makes it hard for people such as myself living on only 6024 dollars a year (I got a $12 increase the first of the year) to plan for burial. Cremations are generally under $700 depending on what the wishes are along with cremation, that many are opting for it as opposed to burial.

    I do believe though, if one chooses to be burned, there may be some talking to by God, for Paul states 'if any destroy the temple, him will God destroy.' (1 Cor. 3:17)

    Tough call, as I said.

    From Way of Life Encyclopedia:

    God's people have always practiced burial.
    Abraham (Ge 25:8-10),
    Sarah (Ge 23:1-4),
    Rachel (Ge 35:19-20),
    Isaac (Ge 35:29),
    Jacob (Ge 49:33; 50:1-13),
    Joseph (Ge 50:26),
    Joshua (Jos 24:29-30),
    Eleazar (Jos 24:33),
    Samuel (1Sa 25:1),
    David (1Ki 2:10),
    John the Baptist (Mal 4:6),
    Ananias and Sapphira (Ac 5:5-10),
    Stephen (Ac 8:2).

    In Ro 15:4 and 1Co 10:11 God tells us that we are to follow the Bible's examples as well as its direct instructions.

    Even in difficult circumstances God's people in olden days practiced burial. For example, Joseph's body was kept for over 400 years in Egypt and then carried through the 40 years of wilderness wanderings before being buried in the Promised Land. We read of this in Ge 50:24-25; Ex 13:19 and Jos 24:32. How much simpler it would have been for the Israelites to have cremated Joseph, then carried his ashes with them in a tiny container! This they refused to do. Joseph, a follower of the one true God, a man who looked forward to the bodily resurrection, was given an honorable burial. From this important example, we learn that even if cremation is less expensive or easier than burial, it is still to be rejected, as the Israelites rejected the economical and simpler way to transport Joseph's body.
     
    #2 standingfirminChrist, Jan 19, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2008
  3. righteousdude2

    righteousdude2
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    You Hit the Nail on the Head

    I had heard about the ancients being buried and the criminals being burned, and used that as my reasoning for burial. I am also leaning on being buried without being embalmed, which I believe is wrong too. Thanks for your answer and words of wisdom. I will be praying for your finances to allow you a proper burial, in accordance to your beliefs my brother.

    Shalom,

    Pastor Paul :type:
     
  4. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    continued...

    Contrast heathenism. They have no such knowledge or hope. The Hindus and Buddhists, for example, believe in reincarnation. Though they believe in a human soul which is distinct from the body, they do not believe that soul, once departed from the body at death, will be resurrected in any relation whatsoever to the first body. Rather they believe the soul will be reincarnated in another entirely unrelated body, or into a non-physical sphere of existence.

    God's people have always buried their dead with this magnificent hope burning in their hearts. "We will see that brother or sister again in that same body, only changed, glorified!" Hallelujah! Only through the death and shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can we have this certain hope. He has taken upon Himself on the cross the punishment for our sins, carried our sins into the grave, and risen again in eternal triumph three days later. When an individual thoroughly acknowledges his sinfulness before God, repents of his sin, and receives Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, the sin debt is paid, and eternal life and glory is promised from God the Father. Part of this heritage in Christ is the glorified resurrection body.

    God practices burial (De 34:5-6).

    Cremation is a sign of God's curse. Throughout the Bible the destruction of a human body or of an object by fire is used as a sign of divine wrath (Ex 32:20; Le 10:1-2; De 7:25; Nu 16:35; 2Ki 10:26; 1Ch 14:12; Ac 19:18-19; Re 20:15).

    For a person not to have a proper burial was considered a dishonor (1Ki 21:23-24; Ps 83:9-10).

    The Christian's body belongs to God. The body is not ours to destroy by fire or by any other means (Ro 14:8; 1Co 6:19-20).

    God has plainly called cremation wickedness (Am 2:1).

    The Lord Jesus Christ was buried, and He is our great example (Joh 19:38-42).

    Just as the Lord Jesus Christ was buried in certainty that He would rise again on the third day according to the Scriptures, even so is the Christian said to rest at death. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, as the Apostle Paul testified (2Co 5:9 and Php 1:21-23). The body without the spirit is dead (Jas 2:26). The dead body sleeps in the grave while the redeemed soul waits in glory for the great resurrection day.

    Of course we cannot force people either to bury or not to bury. And we know that the manner of one's burial does not affect one's salvation or resurrection, but we do believe these things are important, and we are convinced that Christians should take their stand upon the examples of the Word of God.
     
  5. Brother Bob

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    I have thought for years that I read a scripture where God was against burning the body, but I haven't been able to find it.
    Does anyone know of a scripture directly against burning the body?

    Yes, Sfic; I think Am 2:1 is it.

    BBob,
     
  6. standingfirminChrist

    standingfirminChrist
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    Amos 2:1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:

    Here is a clear case where a cremation took place and because of that God said He would not turn away from punishing Moab.
     
  7. menageriekeeper

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    Ya'll sure God was mad over the cremation and not the disrespect shown to the King of Edom?

    Is there corresponding scripture that describes what was going on more specifically?
     
  8. rbell

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    Context would indicate to me that the problem wasn't cremation per se, but the rebellion.

    I don't see where God has an issue with cremation. Being our "temporary residences" are "jars of clay," they are to be respected and treasured while we live....but when we die, they are not our homes anymore.

    I could care less what is done with my body after I die. I'll be with God, praising Him. If it saves my family 3 grand, build a bonfire!

    Having said that...if someone's conscience gives them pause, then take care of your conscience. I won't condemn anyone, anytime for desiring burial.

    I've done funerals over caskets, and urns. The "body holder" isn't the issue, anyway.....
     
  9. standingfirminChrist

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    Amos declares that there are four reasons God is pronouncing judgment and the burning of the bones is one of them. That is clearly shown there
     
  10. The Scribe

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    http://www.ras.org/discerner/1997oct-nov-dec.htm
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    The BB has been through all of this. I'm not sure I feel like doing the whole schtick again, but I have to say a few things on the side of Japanese believers, who find it nearly legally impossible to get out of cremation.

    (1) If cremation is morally wrong and God opposes it, then almost all Japanese Christians are sinning. I know of only one place for sure in the entire country where you can inter. A Japanese pastor offered me a spot there, but guess what. If I die in Hokkaido, there is no one to embalm me! On this whole huge island of Hokkaido there is no place to be interred and no embalmer!

    (2) But I see no clear Scripture on the subject. Apologies to SFIC, but it just isn't there. The Scriptures you give are all subject to other interpretations. There are no Biblical commands not to cremate in the verses you gave, so it is not a sin to do so.

    (3) If cremation is disrespectful to the temple of the Holy Spirit, how much more would embalming be? You take out the blood (which is the life) and put chemicals in its place.

    (4) A godly Japanese Christian once told me he thought it was better to cremate than to leave the temple of the Holy Spirit to rot in the ground. He had a point! Actually, burning in cremation, and the body rotting in the ground are the same chemical process of oxidation. Burning is just faster.

    (5) And about the idea that fire in the Bible is always judgment: what about the fiery chariot of Elijah, the tongues of fire at Pentecost, etc.?

    edited in: (6) Concerning burial in the Bible, it was not interrment (digging a whole and burying the body in it). Bodies were put in caves as was the body of Jesus, Elisha and others. Remember the catacombs! So if we have to do it exactly like the Bible, everybody buy a cave!
     
    #11 John of Japan, Jan 20, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2008
  12. saturneptune

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    That is a very good post. It is good to see the perspective of how another culture feels about the subject.

    I have always viewed arguments against cremation as putting too much emphasis on a dead human body, which does not make a bit of difference in eternity.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for the compliment. It was from the heart out of love for my Japanese brothers and sisters in Christ, who have no choice!

    I'm sure the Lord can sort us out at the resurrection however we are buried. And the Japanese Christians take good care of the ashes of their loved ones! Churches, including ours, usually have a grave where the ashes can be interred. Mr. U. in our church was brought to Christ through looking for a place to put his Christian wife's ashes! They now rest in our church grave. :saint:
     
  14. standingfirminChrist

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    How can one say the God is not against cremation when Amos 2:1 clearly shows He is?

    Amos 2:1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:

    God will not turn away the punishment of Moab. Why? because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime.

    He cremated the king of Edom and God was executing judgment on him for that purpose.

    Cremation is a sign of God's curse. Throughout the Bible the destruction of a human body or of an object by fire is used as a sign of divine wrath (Ex 32:20; Le 10:1-2; De 7:25; Nu 16:35; 2Ki 10:26; 1Ch 14:12; Ac 19:18-19; Re 20:15).

    Recall that Elijah's body was not destroyed by the chariot of fire.

    Also recall that the cloven tongues on the day of Pentecost were not fire, but as of fire. Even given the benefit of the doubt, if we were to say it was fire, those in the upper room were not destroyed by them.

    Look not on the fire that does not destroy and say that shows it is ok to cremate. Look at the verses that show the destruction of a body by fire was a sign of God's wrath. That, my friends, cannot be rightly refuted.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    Your error here is going from the particular to the general. Just because Moab was punished doesn't mean everyone will be punished. You have no general command not to cremate, only a particular incident.

    And you also have no proof that this was a cremation. This event is not recorded in Scripture, but according to Josephus he actually dug up the bones of the king of Edom and burned them for revenge. So it was not a cremation.

    Sigh. Do I have to answer all of these, friend?
    1. There is no way to tie Ex. 32:20 to cremation. It is NOT cremation.

    2. I agree that in Lev. 10:1-2 it was judgement. But if it was cremation, then it was God Who cremated them. But it was not cremation, it was judgment. This is not an argument for your position.

    3. Deut. 7:25 once again is not cremation, it is destroying idols. Fire was the easiest way to do that.

    And I am out of time--have to go to church.:type:
     
  16. Deacon

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    Rodney Decker [of Baptist Bible College and Seminary, Clark Summit, PA] wrote an good paper about the subject a while back, it covers most of the main points.

    Is it Better to Bury or Burn, a Biblical Perspective on Burial and Cremation in Western Culture [LINK]

    While it’s a well written and researched article, I disagree with him.
    I believe cremation a culture thing.
    Plenty of other customs can be examined as barbaric... embalming…(eehwwwwww), Viewing…. (ughhhhh).

    Our family has a plot at a historic church in the area.
    While I have a preference, I’ll let my wife choose the mode.
    I told her to surprise me; I won’t complain.

    Rob
     
  17. mcdirector

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    Isn't that the truth.

    -------------------------------------------

    This is the line I agree with. Our bodies are temporary, once we leave them, they are beside the point. I agree if someone were to do something malicious to them, that person may be held responsible for that action, but cremation is not a malicious action.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    It's late here in Japan, and our service for the Lord is over, spent among beloved Japanese Christians who have no real legal choice other than cremation. The wife is in bed alread and I will follow her after awhile. However, I wanted to add some research I did the last time this issue came up on the BB concerning the early church. There is no evidence whatsoever that the early Christians saw anything in the Bible to oppose cremation. The truth is, Christian oppostion to cremation is a modern invention. Have a look at what I wrote before:

    I just looked in the index of my History of the Church by Eusebius (early 4th cent.). Nothing. I then did a computer search on my "Church Fathers" disk, and found 50 references to "burial" with only one telling how to do it. According to the apocryphal "Acts of Philip," Philip wanted to be buried in Syrian paper rather than linen like Christ. (By the way, in Japan we bury after cremation, so the term "burial" itself does not mean interment.)

    The term "interment" occurs only 14 times in the Church Fathers, and none of those times mandate interment. Besides, none of these mentions were in the apostolic fathers (nor did the term "burial" occur in the apostolic fathers), meaning that no one in the early church had a thing to say about burial.

    There is a mention of cremation in the Syriac translation of "The Apology of Aristedes the Philosopher" (125 A. D.) describing the customs of the Egyptians. However, a direct translation from the Greek gives "burnt as offerings" instead of "cremated." At any rate, Aristides did not condemn the practice, he only mentioned it. Now, if the Egyptians did cremate and God disapproved, we would expect to find mention of it in the Mosaic Law. We do not.

    There is also a mention of Indian cremation in a pseudo-Clementine work, but it doesn't condemn it per se.

    So, the idea that the Christian church has always practiced interment has no historical proof for at least the first 400-500 years after Christ.

    In fact, I found opposite evidence in my search. The above mentioned Aristides said, "They also err who believe that fire is a God. For fire was made for the use of men, and it is controlled by them, being carried about from place to place for boiling and roasting all kinds of meat, and even for (the burning of) dead bodies. Moreover it is extinguished in many ways, being quenched through man’s agency. So it cannot be allowed that fire is a God, but it is a work of God." So this Christian philosopher thought fire was a gift of God which could be used in cremation.

    In his last three chapters, Aristides describes Christian customs, but never discusses the mode of burial. So, how did the early Christians conduct funerals? They didn't tell us. So why should it matter?
     
  19. standingfirminChrist

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    Easton's Bible Dictionary
     
  20. webdog

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    I would like to be buried in like manner my Lord was...in the ground.

    I used to lean towards cremation, but after seeing the origins of it (pagan), I would rather not go that route, not because it is scripturally condemned (or condoned), but just personal preference. Cremation services cost almost the same as burials now. The only place you save $ is in the burial site, and that is not even much.
     

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