Considering the role resurrection has in Revelation, should Christians be cremated?
[Darris McNeely] Very often on Beyond Today we receive questions from our viewers. "Is it permissible for a Christian, in considering their plans for death and a funeral, to be cremated?"
What does the Bible say about cremation?
Again, it's a frequent question that comes in, and there's a direct answer. The Bible itself does not directly address cremation, in one way or another, in the means of burial, in terms of a teaching for or against. Cremation is a practice that has grown in recent years, particularly in the United States as a preferred means of burial or disposal of the remains after death. In other parts of the world, it has grown even larger because of a lack of space, but it has an interesting history. As far as we can tell, the Greeks, the ancient Greeks, introduced cremation into practice, common practice, in the ancient world. The Romans picked it up and used it, especially in military matters and for high dignitaries of office. Cremation, the burning of a body, at the death of a soldier or a high politician, was a mark of honor and distinction in the Roman world. It fell out of favor later on in years because of religious teaching, particularly from the Roman Catholic Church beginning to discount that idea for various reasons. And through the years, it has been a part of culture off and on in various parts of the world, especially where there have been plagues. The mass burning of bodies was a matter of sanitation. And in the modern age, in the modern world, it has seen an increasing popularity and acceptance, and in the United States, it has grown as well.
And so here, basically, is what we would have to say. The Bible does not teach one way or the another on the subject of cremation, and what we do know from the Bible about how people were buried is in some ways even different from what we do today. People were buried in caves and their bones were gathered up after a period of time when the body decayed, and they were put, the bones were actually put into a clay vase and, still above ground, in a cave on account of a family tomb. The practice of putting a body into the earth, we don't necessarily see commonly within the Bible. There's not a lot about that. So, cremation, should it be a choice that one makes, is not going to prevent God from the ultimate act of a human life, and that is resurrect one to either a physical life or to eternal life, as the Scriptures show.
Here's the comforting and encouraging word. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, in the teaching here in this chapter about the resurrection, the Apostle Paul tells us that God's power is what resurrects us, and beginning in verse 42 he says, speaking of the body and of the resurrection in the context, "So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption." We're physical, we decay, we will die, and the body will decompose. But he says, speaking of the body, "It is raised in corruption." Speaking of the resurrection, "It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power." God holds out the promise of a resurrection of the body, and that topic in itself is a fascinating one to study further into, in terms of what the Bible does say about the resurrection, but the means of the burial or the disposal of the body is not going to, in any way, inhibit God from using His power to resurrect the body and the hope of eternal life for anyone. And so, the decision one makes regarding cremation is up to the individual based on their preference, and that's where we should leave it and understand it.
That's BT Daily. Join us next time.