"Is Cremation Christian"?

The article, "Is Cremation Christian?" is an excellent article that treats why the pagan practice of cremation is not Christian.

Cremation is not legitimate for Christians.
8% (1 vote)
Cremation is legitimate for Christians.
92% (12 votes)
Total votes: 13
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There are 336 Comments

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

A careful reading of the passage reveals an important truth about God's use of fire to judge them:

Lev. 10:4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.

5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.

Because their cousins carried them out in their coats, we know that the fire that God used to kill them neither consumed their clothing nor burned them to powder.

I really don't think these verses are saying what you think they are saying. I don't see any reason to assume that God miraculously spared the clothing of Nadab and Abihu when He burned them up.

Look closely at the first part of verse 5. Who is that part referring to? Who is the "they"? I understand it to be referring to Mishael and Elzaphan. Moses told them to carry their brethren in the previous verse. So they (Mishael and Elzaphan) went near, and carried them (Nadab and Abihu) in their (Mishael's and Elzaphan's) coats. I get the picture of Mishael and Elzaphan pulling their coats a little bit away from their bodies, forming a sort of pouch in front of them, into which they put the ashes of their brethren. This shows that there were very little ashes remaining since they could carry the ashes out in the folds of their own coats. It looks to me that Nadab and Abihu pretty much were burned to powder.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

A careful reading of the passage reveals an important truth about God's use of fire to judge them:

Lev. 10:4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.

5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.

Because their cousins carried them out in their coats, we know that the fire that God used to kill them neither consumed their clothing nor burned them to powder.

 

I really don't think these verses are saying what you think they are saying. I don't see any reason to assume that God miraculously spared the clothing of Nadab and Abihu when He burned them up.

 

Look closely at the first part of verse 5. Who is that part referring to? Who is the "they"? I understand it to be referring to Mishael and Elzaphan. Moses told them to carry their brethren in the previous verse. So they (Mishael and Elzaphan) went near, and carried them (Nadab and Abihu) in their (Mishael's and Elzaphan's) coats. I get the picture of Mishael and Elzaphan pulling their coats a little bit away from their bodies, forming a sort of pouch in front of them, into which they put the ashes of their brethren. This shows that there were very little ashes remaining since they could carry the ashes out in the folds of their own coats. It looks to me that Nadab and Abihu pretty much were burned to powder.

Of course, "they" in verse 5 refers to the cousins. I even said as much: "Because their cousins carried them . . ."

Your claim that the antecedent of "their" in "their coats" is the cousins is a strange and unnatural reading of the passage. I will check the Heb. grammar of the verse to see if it has anything to say about this question.

The first commentary that I checked says the following:

"10:4-5 In obedience to Moses' command two cousins of Aaron carried the bodies of Aaron's two sons outside the camp . . ."

(bold in original; underlining added to original; The Bible Knowledge Commentary: OT, 189)

I will check others as well, as time allows.

It seems especially bizarre to me that you think that the cousins used their own coats to carry the supposed dust of Nadab and Abihu out. 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Your claim that the antecedent of "their" in "their coats" is the cousins is a strange and unnatural reading of the passage.

I don't think it's a strange or unnatural reading at all. I think it's bizarre that you would hold that the clothing was miraculously spared when God burned up Nadab and Abihu. What would be the purpose of that miracle?

Bert Perry's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Craig Toliver wrote:

 

"And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up!” And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men offering the incense." Numbers 16:34-36

 

 

Same Hebrew verb is used here as in Lev. 10 and Num. 11 and does not mean burned their bodies (to powder; i.e., cremated).

OK, yes, the fire "ate", Strong's 398, 'akal, the bodies, but let's be serious here.  What happens when fire consumes a substance?  Last time I checked, a fire leaves a "powder" called "ash".  So what you're saying is a distinction completely without significance.  The verses in question are drawing a picture which would have been understood by anybody as being in many ways equivalent to cremation.

(side note; my guess is that Saul's body and that of his sons were burned because quite frankly they were festering in the sun, and those who recovered the bodies didn't want to smell it and get totally sick.....it was a way they could bring part of their bodies home and in their tomb without endangering their own health and lives)

Regarding "burning the bones to powder", one of the grosser things about actual cremation is that, as a matrix of mineral with protein, bones don't actually burn to powder, especially at the temperatures (~500F-1000F) of an ordinary fire.  It does often break up into small chunks, but typically crematoria crush the remaining bones to put in the urn.  So in a very real sense, claiming that one who is cremated is necessarily "burned to powder" really misses the nature of the process.

Come on, Rajesh, with your training, you should have learned by sophomore year that a lot of these things are word pictures and not absolutes.  You can do (or at least ought to be able to do) better than this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry's picture

Rajesh, if you're that worked up about "you should have learned" or "you can do better", how on earth did you survive college?   

Really, if I'm that out of line in claiming that using narrative passages to establish doctrine is dangerous business, you ought to be able to prove that I'm wrong.  But the fact of the matter is, as others besides myself have noted, that narrative tends to show what was, but not necessarily what is absolutely right or what must be.  

So again, Rajesh, you should know better than to do things like this, because it's standard fare in first semester exegesis classes, and you're claiming to have a PhD in New Testament Interpretation.  And that's why I brought up the joke about the guy who opens first to "Judas went and hanged himself", and then "you go and do the same."  It's the same abuse of exegetical principles, using narrative for doctrine and taking verses way out of context.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Rajesh, if you're that worked up about "you should have learned" or "you can do better", how on earth did you survive college?   

Really, if I'm that out of line in claiming that using narrative passages to establish doctrine is dangerous business, you ought to be able to prove that I'm wrong.  But the fact of the matter is, as others besides myself have noted, that narrative tends to show what was, but not necessarily what is absolutely right or what must be.  

So again, Rajesh, you should know better than to do things like this, because it's standard fare in first semester exegesis classes, and you're claiming to have a PhD in New Testament Interpretation.  And that's why I brought up the joke about the guy who opens first to "Judas went and hanged himself", and then "you go and do the same."  It's the same abuse of exegetical principles, using narrative for doctrine and taking verses way out of context.

Nonsense. Refuting your completely false global assessments of my training and exegetical abilities and practices should not be part of the discussion of a subject on a Christian discussion board.

Furthermore, you use such unethical tactics to try to buttress your positions instead of sticking to actual, honest discussion of the text. Your pronouncements that I am wrong and unqualified and that you are right in making your false assessments carry zero weight and ought to be called out as unethical conduct.

Craig Toliver's picture

Your own church doesn't view burial as a 1st or 2nd order issue!

From your own testimony below: 

https://apeopleforhisname.org/about/about-rajesh-gandhi/

I have been attending Mount Calvary Baptist Church since I first came to Greenville and became a member in 1996

I noticed that there are ordination statements posted of two ordained by Mount Calvary Baptist Church

https://www.mountcalvarybaptist.org/pages/resources/detail/1/14

Neither even mention cremation / burial! Proving that for these 2 men and your church cremation / burial! is NOT a 1st or 2nd order issue!

Under non-negotiables https://www.mountcalvarybaptist.org/pages/about/detail/2/10

Cremation / burial is not even mentioned - Proving that cremation / burial! is NOT a 1st or 2nd order issue for Mount Calvary Baptist Church!

Ditto for your church's position on the gospel: https://www.mountcalvarybaptist.org/the-gospel/

Your church views cremation is an adiaphora issue and you should as well!

 

 

RajeshG's picture

Craig Toliver wrote:

Your own church doesn't view burial as a 1st or 2nd order issue!

From your own testimony below: 

https://apeopleforhisname.org/about/about-rajesh-gandhi/

I have been attending Mount Calvary Baptist Church since I first came to Greenville and became a member in 1996

I noticed that there are ordination statements posted of two ordained by Mount Calvary Baptist Church

https://www.mountcalvarybaptist.org/pages/resources/detail/1/14

Neither even mention cremation / burial! Proving that for these 2 men and your church cremation / burial! is NOT a 1st or 2nd order issue!

Under non-negotiables https://www.mountcalvarybaptist.org/pages/about/detail/2/10

Cremation / burial is not even mentioned - Proving that cremation / burial! is NOT a 1st or 2nd order issue for Mount Calvary Baptist Church!

Ditto for your church's position on the gospel: https://www.mountcalvarybaptist.org/the-gospel/

Your church views cremation is an adiaphora issue and you should as well!

None of this is relevant to the thorough discussion of the Bible passages that I want to have in this thread. You are wasting your time posting such content, but that is your choice. 

Craig Toliver's picture

RajeshG wrote:
None of this is relevant to the thorough discussion of the Bible passages that I want to have in this thread. You are wasting your time posting such content, but that is your choice. 

It's relevant to the question "Is Cremation Christian?" and is part of the discussion I want to have! 

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Your claim that the antecedent of "their" in "their coats" is the cousins is a strange and unnatural reading of the passage.

 

I don't think it's a strange or unnatural reading at all. I think it's bizarre that you would hold that the clothing was miraculously spared when God burned up Nadab and Abihu. What would be the purpose of that miracle?

According to the rules of proper English grammar, syntax, and writing, the right interpretation is that "their" in the prepositional phrase "in their coats" refers to "them" and not to "they."

"So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said."

Had it been the writer's intent to say that the coats were those of their cousins, the writer could have written the following:

1. "So they in their coats went near, and carried them out of the camp; as Moses had said."

To specify that the cousins used their own coats to carry them out, the writer could have said,

2. "So they went near, and using their own coats, carried them out of the camp; as Moses had said."

In proper English writing, antecedents of pronouns precede the pronoun and are the nearest noun or pronoun that agrees with the pronoun. In both #1 and #2, "their" agrees with "they," and "they" would be the antecedent because it would be the nearest preceding pronoun that agrees.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Your claim that the antecedent of "their" in "their coats" is the cousins is a strange and unnatural reading of the passage.

 

I don't think it's a strange or unnatural reading at all. I think it's bizarre that you would hold that the clothing was miraculously spared when God burned up Nadab and Abihu. What would be the purpose of that miracle?

All the commentators cited below agree that in Lev. 10:5, the coats were those of Nadab and Abihu:

 

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(5) And carried them in their coats.—Better, and they carried them in their tunics, the long white, garments in which they ministered, and which were the most characteristic part of the sacerdotal vestments. In ordinary cases the cast-off dresses of the priests were converted into wick for the lamps of the sanctuary, but in this case they were buried with the persons, for, apart from their becoming unclean by their contact with the corpses, no one would have used them, having been worn at a time of so awful a visitation.

Out of the camp.—Burial places in ancient times were outside the towns in open fields. (See Genesis 23:9; Genesis 23:17; Matthew 27:7; Luke 8:27.)

Benson Commentary

Leviticus 10:5. In their coats — In the holy garments wherein they ministered; which might be done, either, 1st, As a testimony of respect due to them, notwithstanding their present failure; and that God in judgment remembered mercy, and when he took away their lives, spared their souls. Or, 2d, Because, being polluted both by their sin, and by the touch of their dead bodies, God would not have them any more used in his service.
 

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Coats - See Exodus 28:39. Life had been extinguished as if by a flash of lightning, but neither the bodies nor the dresses were destroyed.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

4, 5. Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan—The removal of the two corpses for burial without the camp would spread the painful intelligence throughout all the congregation; and the remembrance of so appalling a judgment could not fail to strike a salutary fear into the hearts both of priests and people. The interment of the priestly vestments along with Nadab and Abihu, was a sign of their being polluted by the sin of their irreligious wearers.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

In their coats; in the holy garments wherein they ministered; which might be done either,

1. As a testimony of a respect due to them, notwithstanding their present failure; and that God in judgment remembered mercy, and when he took away their lives, spared their souls. Or,

2. Because being polluted both by their sin, and by the touch of their dead bodies, God would not have them any more used in his service.
 

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

So they went near,.... To the place where the bodies lay, having an order from Moses so to do, let them have been where they will:

and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said; or bid them do; they took them up in their clothes as they found them, and carried them in them; not that these men carried them in their own coats, but in the coats of the dead, as Jarchi expresses it; and had them without the camp, and there buried them, probably in their coats in which they had sinned, and in which they died: the Targum of Jonathan says, they carried them on iron hooks in their coats, and buried them without the camp.

 

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

5. their coats] their priestly garments. See on Leviticus 8:13.
 

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 5. - They went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp. Their coats were the tunics which they had put on as their priestly attire (Leviticus 8:13). The lightning flash which had struck them down had not injured their clothes. As Mishael and Elzaphan became ceremonially defiled by contact with the corpses, and as the Passover was now at hand, it has been thought that it was in reference to their case that the concession was made, that those d, filed by a dead body might keep the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second instead of the first month (Numbers 9:6-11). The defilement caused by death ceased when Christ had died. Leviticus 10:5

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

Moses then commanded Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel Aaron's paternal uncle, Aaron's cousins therefore, to carry their brethren (relations) who had been slain from before the sanctuary out of the camp, and, as must naturally be supplied, to bury them there. The expression, "before the sanctuary" (equivalent to "before the tabernacle of the congregation" in Leviticus 9:5), shows that they had been slain in front of the entrance to the holy place. They were carried out in their priests' body-coats, since they had also been defiled by the judgment. It follows from this, too, that the fire of Jehovah had not burned them up, but had simply killed them as with a flash of lightning.

RajeshG's picture

I regret that I have to share the following information on a Christian discussion board.

I only do so because I believe that I have been relentlessly attacked on SI by Bert Perry (and a few others) on a personal level concerning my qualifications, training, and capabilities.

In defense of my qualifications, training, and capabilities:

I graduated as a co-valedictorian of my high school class and earned many scholastic honors. In my university education, I was at or near the top of my class for all 4 of my earned degrees.

I earned an A (A- in one class) grade in every undergraduate and graduate Bible and seminary class that I have taken in my seminary education for both of my graduate seminary degrees.

I have preached and taught numerous times in many churches here in the US and overseas. In response to my ministering of the Word of God, many people have given me recommendations of my ministry.

In order to defend myself against Bert Perry's unjustified, repeated attacks against my qualifications, training, and capabilities that he has engaged in during nearly my entire time on SI, I appeal to every fair-minded reader of SI to read these recommendations: 

A People for His Name | Recommendations

Again, I would never have done this under other circumstances, but it simply is not right that Bert Perry has assailed me over and over again concerning my qualifications, training, and capabilities.

I hope that these recommendations from seven pastors will serve to counter Bert Perry's ongoing campaign against me.
 

Dan Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

I regret that I have to share the following information on a Christian discussion board.

I only do so because I believe that I have been relentlessly attacked on SI by Bert Perry (and a few others) on a personal level concerning my qualifications, training, and capabilities.

In defense of my qualifications, training, and capabilities:

...

I admit to following this thread only from a distance.

FIRST, things have unfortunately moved to personal attacks, which really ought to stop and perhaps a couple apologies. 

SECOND, here are my thoughts...

  1. I think that there is no explicit Biblical command not to cremate. 
  2. There's no Biblical statement that cremation (or any other body destruction) impedes God's ability to resurrect a person.
  3. The bodies of Noah, Abraham, David, etc. are now broken down by natural processes.
  4. I have seen discussions about the destiny of Saul. He was [filled] with the spirit early and prophesied. But he seems to have died in a state of unbelief and orientation against God's will. But I have never seen his cremation offered as evidence of his lost state.
  5. This isn't a sin one can commit on himself. Even if you include suicide, killing yourself by burning isn't stated to be more sinful than jumping off a cliff. 

Does this question matter?

Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, and many others were burned. In the case of Wycliffe, the Church of Rome decided this wasn't bad enough, so later they dug up his ashes and scattered them in the river. 

Will those men not see resurrection because their bodies were burned?

In the end, I think Rajesh has made a case that strongly suggests some kind of Christian flavor for burial, more so than cremation. But cremation is a faux pas without injunction, guilt, or consequences. 

RajeshG's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

I admit to following this thread only from a distance.

SECOND, here are my thoughts...

I have seen discussions about the destiny of Saul. He was [filled] with the spirit early and prophesied. But he seems to have died in a state of unbelief and orientation against God's will. But I have never seen his cremation offered as evidence of his lost state.

Does this question matter?

Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, and many others were burned. In the case of Wycliffe, the Church of Rome decided this wasn't bad enough, so later they dug up his ashes and scattered them in the river. 

Will those men not see resurrection because their bodies were burned?

Of course, people whose bodies were burned will see the resurrection.

I am not familiar with people who have offered Saul's "cremation" as evidence of his being lost. I certainly have not made any such remark. Moreover, Saul's bones were buried; they were not reduced to powder, dust, or ashes by burning, crushing, or any other means.

Dan Miller's picture

I thought you would agree about the resurrection. 
And I wasn't replying to anything you said regarding Saul. Just thinking out loud about the topic. 

josh p's picture

Rajesh,

In my ten or so years on SI there has been a pretty wide range of views presented. I myself have put forward some views that have not been well-received which I am fine with. Some have moved on after their views were repeatedly challenged. SI is not a blog but a discussion forum. One should expect to have their views challenged. We are after all iron sharpening iron. 
 

As for Bert's challenge surrounding your credentials, I can only say that I was surprised to hear that you have a PHD. I mean no disrespect so please don't take it that way. You are obviously intelligent and dedicated to the Lord and the study of His word. It's just that, and I think some here would echo this, your interpretive method is sometimes unusual. I am on record in the first or second post in this thread agreeing with you about cremation, although I qualified it to say that I don't have confidence to bind another's conscience about it. However, I would not make the argument the way that you have been and frankly, I don't think your hermeneutic is legitimate. I have a lowly undergrad in Bible and theology but not doing what you are doing (descriptive--->prescriptive) was pretty strongly warned against. I have read many books (maybe a handful would be more accurate) on hermeneutics and interpretation and they all consistently condemn the type of argument you are making. You make the same type of argument in your various music threads. I don't know how else to say it but your interpretations just seem novel.

 

I consistently see this pattern: You say you want to have a conversation about a specific Bible passage. You make illegitimate biblical inferences from said passage. People point it out and you (seemingly and probably sometimes legitimately) get offended at the way you are responded to. 
 

I can understand being offended if you feel you are being directly insulted but, with a PHD, you are among the more highly educated people here and it should be pretty easy for you to shrug off disagreement; or even better, overwhelm us with solid biblical persuasion. In general I read your threads with interest until you begin to make illegitimate hermeneutical connections and then I read only sporadically. 
 

I'm thankful for your presence here and you have helped me to think through some things and sharpen my understanding. I hope you will not allow people disagreeing with you on the internet to offend you and will instead reevaluate your positions to see if you can be more convincing. 

RajeshG's picture

josh p wrote:

Rajesh,

In my ten or so years on SI there has been a pretty wide range of views presented. I myself have put forward some views that have not been well-received which I am fine with. Some have moved on after their views were repeatedly challenged. SI is not a blog but a discussion forum. One should expect to have their views challenged. We are after all iron sharpening iron. 
 

As for Bert's challenge surrounding your credentials, I can only say that I was surprised to hear that you have a PHD. I mean no disrespect so please don't take it that way. You are obviously intelligent and dedicated to the Lord and the study of His word. It's just that, and I think some here would echo this, your interpretive method is sometimes unusual. I am on record in the first or second post in this thread agreeing with you about cremation, although I qualified it to say that I don't have confidence to bind another's conscience about it. However, I would not make the argument the way that you have been and frankly, I don't think your hermeneutic is legitimate. I have a lowly undergrad in Bible and theology but not doing what you are doing (descriptive--->prescriptive) was pretty strongly warned against. I have read many books (maybe a handful would be more accurate) on hermeneutics and interpretation and they all consistently condemn the type of argument you are making. You make the same type of argument in your various music threads. I don't know how else to say it but your interpretations just seem novel.

 

I consistently see this pattern: You say you want to have a conversation about a specific Bible passage. You make illegitimate biblical inferences from said passage. People point it out and you (seemingly and probably sometimes legitimately) get offended at the way you are responded to. 
 

I can understand being offended if you feel you are being directly insulted but, with a PHD, you are among the more highly educated people here and it should be pretty easy for you to shrug off disagreement; or even better, overwhelm us with solid biblical persuasion. In general I read your threads with interest until you begin to make illegitimate hermeneutical connections and then I read only sporadically. 
 

I'm thankful for your presence here and you have helped me to think through some things and sharpen my understanding. I hope you will not allow people disagreeing with you on the internet to offend you and will instead reevaluate your positions to see if you can be more convincing. 

Thanks for the feedback, Josh. I have no problems with people disagreeing with me. I do have problems with people making my qualifications repeatedly an issue as an add-on cheap shot.

I also have no problems with your saying that you think that my hermeneutic is illegitimate and that you are not convinced, etc.

Let's back up and discuss specifically the details of one passage at a time where you think that I have engaged in an illegitimate hermeneutic. It will not do for you to make global assessments that infer whatever positions you think I hold.

 

RajeshG's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

I thought you would agree about the resurrection. 
And I wasn't replying to anything you said regarding Saul. Just thinking out loud about the topic. 

Thanks for clarifying.

josh p's picture

Here is the first example I came to. The very next post is me asking you if you hold to the Regulative Principle of worship which you denied. The reason I asked is that the regulative principle of worship (which I do affirm) says that we can only worship God as he has prescribed in His word. Therefore we only do in the church service what God has commanded. Not interested in discussing that here as it's adjacent to my point. You seem to argue the same way about non-worship areas of life. In other words if God has not commanded something, we must not do it. Here is an example:

 

"Arguing from the greater to the lesser, because God did not permit His people to burn to powder the bodies of even heinous sinners who experienced capital punishment by hanging, how much less so would He have approved of their burning to powder the bodies of His righteous saints. This reasoning is fully corroborated by the witness of the entire Bible because Scripture never states explicitly that God's people ever burned anyone's dead body to powder.

Burning a dead body to powder by burning alone or in combination with any other actions has zero Scripture to support it, and God's command in Deut. 21 is one of several biblical passages that (either implicitly [as in Deut. 21] or explicitly [as in other passages]) show that God has never approved of humans doing so."

You of course will disagree about the "explicitly" part but the "implicitly" is not here. 

RajeshG's picture

josh p wrote:

Here is the first example I came to. The very next post is me asking you if you hold to the Regulative Principle of worship which you denied. The reason I asked is that the regulative principle of worship (which I do affirm) says that we can only worship God as he has prescribed in His word. Therefore we only do in the church service what God has commanded. Not interested in discussing that here as it's adjacent to my point. You seem to argue the same way about non-worship areas of life. In other words if God has not commanded something, we must not do it. Here is an example:

 

"Arguing from the greater to the lesser, because God did not permit His people to burn to powder the bodies of even heinous sinners who experienced capital punishment by hanging, how much less so would He have approved of their burning to powder the bodies of His righteous saints. This reasoning is fully corroborated by the witness of the entire Bible because Scripture never states explicitly that God's people ever burned anyone's dead body to powder.

Burning a dead body to powder by burning alone or in combination with any other actions has zero Scripture to support it, and God's command in Deut. 21 is one of several biblical passages that (either implicitly [as in Deut. 21] or explicitly [as in other passages]) show that God has never approved of humans doing so."

You of course will disagree about the "explicitly" part but the "implicitly" is not here. 

I am having trouble understanding what your point or points of disagreement are.

God gave a command in Deut. 21 that the bodies of those who had been hanged had to be buried. That command plainly shows that they were not allowed to burn the bodies of such people. They were not allowed ever to do anything else to those bodies in disposing of them except to bury them. Agree?

Craig Toliver's picture

Here's why you're dangerous Rajesh, and this is why you are not an elder:

  • You are smart. You've got a PhD (as an aside with enough time and money anyone with a masters can get a PhD). But I commend you for this
  • You hold the Scriptures in high esteem and you obviously know the Word. Again commendable
  • But you elevate non essentials to essentials and preferences to 1st or 2nd order doctrines
  • And that is divisive. 
  • Another aside: I disagree with a lot of people ( I work with some amillennialists and that's not my position). But they are winsome and agreeable. Some people have disagreeable personalities. I'll say no more. I don't know this, but I suspect you are a bachelor. Nothing wrong with that ... we each have our gift
  •  
RajeshG's picture

Craig Toliver wrote:

ALL THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT teaches about cremation ...

Dispute that!

(I'm a burial preference guy!)

 

Very simple. God refutes your view:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The entire OT is divinely inspired and profitable for doctrine for NT Christians. That is God's view.

Craig Toliver's picture

RajeshG wrote:
\

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The entire OT is divinely inspired and profitable for doctrine for NT Christians. That is God's view.

My view too. But must be correctly interpreted and applied. See my previous point about divisiveness

"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully," 1 Timothy 1:8

RajeshG's picture

Craig Toliver wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:
\

 

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

The entire OT is divinely inspired and profitable for doctrine for NT Christians. That is God's view.

 

 

My view too. But must be correctly interpreted and applied. See my previous point about divisiveness

"Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully," 1 Timothy 1:8

Ah, and you get to assert and declare without defending from the Bible itself exactly what is and what is not correct interpretation and application? Assertion without proof is fallacious argumentation.

For starters, prove that only non-narrative prescriptive Scripture is profitable for doctrine and do it from the Bible itself!

Otherwise, it is merely your opinion of what is correct interpretation and application. Using merely your unproven opinions to assert that I am dangerous, etc. is unrighteous behavior.

Moreover, it is highly offensive to me that you assert that I am dangerous. I am not going to put up with this kind of treatment from you or anybody else.

Kevin Miller's picture

josh p wrote:

you are among the more highly educated people here and it should be pretty easy for you to shrug off disagreement; or even better, overwhelm us with solid biblical persuasion.

I second this, Rajesh, considering your most recent post regarding Nadab and Abihu's coats. Sure, all you did was cut and paste commentaries, but you cited more than just one or two, and they definitely constituted solid biblical persuasion.

Dave White's picture

The Jerusalem Council - The Council's Letter to Gentile Believers

"For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28-29

As the gospel went to the nations where cremation was widely practiced, the Jerusalem Council could have easily addressed the subject of cremation .... they wisely chose not to!

Craig Toliver's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Moreover, it is highly offensive to me that you assert that I am dangerous. I am not going to put up with this kind of treatment from you or anybody else.

I'm not backing down: It's dangerous b/c it's divisive to "elevate non essentials to essentials and preferences to 1st or 2nd order doctrines"! 

RajeshG's picture

I am ending my participation in this thread. I will not be reading or responding to any further comments from anyone.

josh p's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

josh p wrote:

 

Here is the first example I came to. The very next post is me asking you if you hold to the Regulative Principle of worship which you denied. The reason I asked is that the regulative principle of worship (which I do affirm) says that we can only worship God as he has prescribed in His word. Therefore we only do in the church service what God has commanded. Not interested in discussing that here as it's adjacent to my point. You seem to argue the same way about non-worship areas of life. In other words if God has not commanded something, we must not do it. Here is an example:

 

"Arguing from the greater to the lesser, because God did not permit His people to burn to powder the bodies of even heinous sinners who experienced capital punishment by hanging, how much less so would He have approved of their burning to powder the bodies of His righteous saints. This reasoning is fully corroborated by the witness of the entire Bible because Scripture never states explicitly that God's people ever burned anyone's dead body to powder.

Burning a dead body to powder by burning alone or in combination with any other actions has zero Scripture to support it, and God's command in Deut. 21 is one of several biblical passages that (either implicitly [as in Deut. 21] or explicitly [as in other passages]) show that God has never approved of humans doing so."

You of course will disagree about the "explicitly" part but the "implicitly" is not here. 

 

 

I am having trouble understanding what your point or points of disagreement are.

God gave a command in Deut. 21 that the bodies of those who had been hanged had to be buried. That command plainly shows that they were not allowed to burn the bodies of such people. They were not allowed ever to do anything else to those bodies in disposing of them except to bury them. Agree?

Yes now continue your thinking please based on this passage. 

Bert Perry's picture

Rajesh, I'm not trying to drive you away, but I am calling you to repentance for what I believe is a graceless manhandling of the Scripture to try to serve your own ends, a manhandling which falls afoul of the rules of logic and the rules of exegesis.

To put it bluntly, if there is anything wrong in the way I've responded to you here, you ought to be able to, with your training, point to recognized authorities who have explained how narrative can and should be used in the way you do.   Let's give actually providing evidence a try.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

Rajesh I learned a long time ago when BERT takes a position he is 99.9 % RIGHT.   I greatly respect what he says therefore I avoid crossing swords with him and he backs his opinion and position with logical evidence be it biblical or any other. Don't take it personally, but he will challenge you and confront you if he feels your really wrong. 
 

In this thread  I'm support cremation and want my ashes be dumped in the Delaware Bay were I spent numerous hours Duck Hunting.  Now if that's not feasible my wife can flush me down the toilet during a BON VOYAGE PARTY and someday I'll get there. My local treatment plant dumps into the Wisshickon Creek and that Creek dumps into the Schuykill  River and that dumps into the Delaware river which gets me to the bay.  Bert I'll make sure your invited to my BON VOYAGE PARTY. 

JD Miller's picture

As we consider the Old Testament examples of burial- how much of that was to point us toward the burial of Christ vs a prescription for how we must deal with the dead after Christ's resurrection?  I bring this up since I am in the camp of those who believe that there is a lot of imagery of Christ throughout the Old Testament that points us to the cross.

Craig Toliver's picture

Were I asked I would recommend burial for a number of reasons (articulated by the Rod Dexter paper, the Piper article and the Jones paper).

In my family my widowed sister chose cremation for her husband and it's her stated intent for herself as well.

 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

***** MODERATOR NOTE *****

This thread has mostly quieted down, so this comment may be superfluous, but after discussion with the other moderators, it was decided to put a note here anyway.

We would appreciate it if posts stay away from speculation on another poster's background, personal information, etc.  It's not doxxing in the usual sense, but it's also not really an argument either.  If a poster wants to share some background information, personal or otherwise, as part of what they are writing, that's fine, but speculation on, e.g., another poster's marital status or elder status if they haven't already brought that up is pushing the lines on "ad hominem" argumentation, even if it's not exactly that.

Please just address the arguments themselves, rather than the person or their background.  Thank you.

Dave Barnhart

RajeshG's picture

Now that the moderators have weighed in and made it clear that bringing up personal background information is not acceptable, I am resuming my participation in this thread.

I reject categorically the notion that God does not care about what choice a believer makes between cremation vs. burial. Many hold an opposing viewpoint; I am not under any obligation to agree with them.

I have presented some evidence to support my view and intend to present much more information.

I do not have any obligation to refute anyone who asserts as valid the notion that it is "extremely dangerous" to derive doctrine from narratives. Whoever makes the claim that that viewpoint is true must prove the validity of that claim--mere assertion is fallacious argumentation.

I do not care what the Gospel Coalition teaches on the subject of cremation vs. burial or what Al Mohler says about fundamentalists.

Craig Toliver holds that the notions of doctrinal triage, etc. and his applications of those notions to the biblical data concerning cremation vs. burial are valid and biblical. He, however, has not established the validity of doctrinal triage as a biblical concept, and he has not established the validity of his assessments of the biblical data concerning cremation vs burial using that concept to evaluate the data. Thus, his statements are merely his opinions and nothing more and are not any legitimate basis for his saying that I am dangerous and divisive.

Furthermore, I have not taken a position on what "order" doctrine cremation vs. burial is. I have been falsely attacked through the false inferring and then asserting that I hold a particular position on that matter.

Burial is a gospel issue according to the direct statements of God: The gospel message explicitly includes the truth that "Christ . . . was buried" (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Jesus has commanded that truth must be given to every human being in the world (Mark 16:15).

Holding that burial is a gospel issue in that sense is undeniably true!

 

Bert Perry's picture

Fee & Stuart, "How to read the Bible for all its worth", warns against the reckless use of narrative in trying to establish doctrine, especially without seriously approaching the social and cultural context.  This is self-evident from the very definition of narrative ; an account or story.  It is, again, what happened, not what should be.  

If one doubts this, consider all the stories in the Old Testament where hideous sins are committed.  Perhaps we should use 2 Samuel 11 as counsel to young men seeking a mate?  Or Judges 9 as a tutorial on how to deal witih political succession?  Or Judges 4:21 for camping and hospitality advice?

Really, Rajesh, if you disagree with this, take it up with the English language, I guess.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

1. God, the ultimate Authority, explicity declares that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

2. God teaches us that whatsoever things were written aforetime (i.e., the OT) were written for our learning:

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

3. Citing multiple narrative OT accounts, the apostle Paul teaches us that those things were examples for us and written for our admonition:

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

These three NT passages plainly show that anyone who asserts that getting doctrine from narratives is "extremely dangerous" spouts unbiblical teaching.

The one who would claim that using a specific set of narrative passages on a particular subject is "reckless" has the burden of proof; no one gets to beg the question about what is and is not "reckless" use of narratives.

Citing patently wrong uses of various selected narrative passages as support for asserting that someone else's use of other sets of passages is reckless is fallacious argumentation.

JD Miller's picture

Bible narratives are profitable for doctrine, but suggesting Bible narratives as prescriptive for behavior is not necessarily profitable for doctrine.  Sometimes Biblical narratives are profitable for doctrine as examples for how NOT to do something.  Other times they are there to show us how we SHOULD do something.  Other times they are there to help us illustrate a point.  Other times they record events to focus on the broader events that occurred to clarify an important doctrine.  These are all ways they are profitable to doctrine.

  To draw unlimited doctrines from every detail of a narrative is not a form of exegesis I am familiar with.  I am curious if there are any institutes of Evangelical education that teach this approach so that I can study it more and try to figure out why they would take such an approach.

RajeshG's picture

JD Miller wrote:

Bible narratives are profitable for doctrine, but suggesting Bible narratives as prescriptive for behavior is not necessarily profitable for doctrine.  Sometimes Biblical narratives are profitable for doctrine as examples for how NOT to do something.  Other times they are there to show us how we SHOULD do something.  Other times they are there to help us illustrate a point.  Other times they record events to focus on the broader events that occurred to clarify an important doctrine.  These are all ways they are profitable to doctrine.

  To draw unlimited doctrines from every detail of a narrative is not a form of exegesis I am familiar with.  I am curious if there are any institutes of Evangelical education that teach this approach so that I can study it more and try to figure out why they would take such an approach.

Who claimed that we are "to draw unlimited doctrines from every detail of a narrative"? I certainly have not.

RajeshG's picture

Quote:

To be sure, God did not need  to do some of these things, but it's worth noting that had God said to do something else with the bodies--Abraham, executed criminals, Moses--that would have been going against known cultural preferences in the region, and would have had a very clear meaning.  So in those cases, He's simply going along with what these people would have chosen to begin with.  In other words, following cultural preferences in areas where they didn't have sufficient wood to light a funeral pyre. [bold added to original]

Quote:

It is especially dangerous business when one considers that in the near east, cremation was often very difficult simply because it takes a lot of fuel to burn a body, wood that they simply didn't have to spare.  The Bible refers to burning the cuttings from grape vines and cooking over manure for this very reason.  Hence the cultural preference for burial was more or less "well, we can bury Dad and have fuel to bake our bread and warm our homes, or we can cremate Dad and go hungry and cold this year." [bold added to the original]

In these two quotes, we see unsubstantiated assertions that burial among the Jews and other people in the near east was more or less merely a cultural preference because of a lack of "sufficient wood to light a funeral pyre."

For multiple reasons, these claims appear to be dubious as valid explanations for the vast biblical data concerning burial.

First, in all the articles and other sources that I have read, whether pro-burial or pro-cremation or neither, I do not remember a single author citing this consideration as the explanation for why the Jews in OT Israel buried their own. One would think that at least some careful researchers would clearly know about and comment on such a key factor. Perhaps, I somehow just missed the statements in all the articles that clearly discussed this leading consideration.

Second, various sources, including Scripture, speak of forests in ancient Israel, and forests obviously show that there was an abundance of wood available. I will document these sources at a later time in a future post.

Third, a significant percentage of the burials recorded in Scripture are for people of vast means for whom any such consideration would have been totally a non-factor. Obtaining the wood needed for cremations for such people would not have been any issue at all. Strangely, however, among the Jews in Scripture, we do not read of a single person's body intentionally being reduced to ashes, powder, or dust by burning alone or in conjunction with some other means.

In order, therefore, for anyone to even begin to make a plausible claim that burial in the OT was more or less merely a Jewish (and Near Eastern) cultural preference because of a lack of sufficient wood . . ., the person making these claims would need to definitively substantiate them with solid evidence. Where is that evidence?
 

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding the relative absence of wood for burning, sure, it's not like there's anything like "Google satellite view" that will allow you to ascertain at a glance that most of Israel is in an "arid" zone where, say, an invading army would be commanded not to cut the trees down around a city (Deuteronomy 20:19).  Certainly there are not any "Bible atlases" out there that will tell you the same, and just as certainly, it's not like the entire region is built with masonry because apart from roofs, wood was a luxury item. 

Except, ahem, all of that is true.  For that matter, the very fact that Ezekiel could bake his bread over dried cowpies tells us that the climate of Israel then was much like today's; very dry in the summer.  If you get consistent rain, manure doesn't dry out enough to burn.  

(side note; wonder why most recipes for Ezekiel's bread I've seen omit that key part of the process....?)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding the relative absence of wood for burning, sure, it's not like there's anything like "Google satellite view" that will allow you to ascertain at a glance that most of Israel is in an "arid" zone where, say, an invading army would be commanded not to cut the trees down around a city (Deuteronomy 20:19).  Certainly there are not any "Bible atlases" out there that will tell you the same, and just as certainly, it's not like the entire region is built with masonry because apart from roofs, wood was a luxury item. 

Except, ahem, all of that is true.  For that matter, the very fact that Ezekiel could bake his bread over dried cowpies tells us that the climate of Israel then was much like today's; very dry in the summer.  If you get consistent rain, manure doesn't dry out enough to burn.  

(side note; wonder why most recipes for Ezekiel's bread I've seen omit that key part of the process....?)

Deuteronomy 20 does not support what you assert:

Deuteronomy 20:19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

God specified that what He commanded in verse 19 was only for trees from which fruit would be eaten; He commanded them not to cut down those trees for that reason.

In verse 20, God commanded them to cut down the other trees around the cities and to use them in making their war against those cities. This command shows that there were around the cities trees that He commanded them to cut down when they attacked those cities. There was therefore not a shortage of trees that were to be and could be cut down around those cities.

This passage does not have anything to do with a supposed shortage of trees in what was supposedly "an 'arid' zone" in most of ancient Israel at the time of the conquest of the Promised Land.

Not only does it not provide any support for your assertions but also it argues against your claim by showing that God commanded the cutting down of trees in the cities that they were going to invade, which proves that there were around those cities trees that were to be cut down.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding the relative absence of wood for burning, sure, it's not like there's anything like "Google satellite view" that will allow you to ascertain at a glance that most of Israel is in an "arid" zone where, say, an invading army would be commanded not to cut the trees down around a city (Deuteronomy 20:19).  Certainly there are not any "Bible atlases" out there that will tell you the same, and just as certainly, it's not like the entire region is built with masonry because apart from roofs, wood was a luxury item. 

Using what modern Israel looks like from a satellite view and in modern atlases, etc. as a basis to assert that the same was true about Israel in OT times, especially early in its history, is faulty reasoning.

Because of God's many judgments against the sinfulness of Israel throughout her history in OT times, Israel today is not what it used to be like in ancient times.

Various sources provide information about how different ancient Israel used to be:

One source extensively shows that "in ancient times, the land of Israel was heavily forested. The Bible is a clear witness to this."

Other sources speak similarly:

https://www.jw.org/en/library/magazines/w20150715/forests-ancient-israel/

https://scoopempire.com/unbelievable-forests-that-still-exist-in-the-mid...

https://theisraelguys.com/nations-plant-trees/

(Obviously, my citing these sources does not mean that I endorse all that the authors say in their articles or all the views that they hold in other matters. Nor does it mean that I hold that everything that they say in their articles is necessarily true.)

Based on what these sources (and others) treat about trees being plentiful in OT Israel for much of her history, your assertion that burial was prevalent in Israel in OT times due basically to a shortage of wood that would be needed for cremation is completely unsubstantiated.

You have not provided any evidence that there were such shortages of wood to use for cremation, and there is no evidence that such supposed shortages were the reason that the Jews practiced burial in Israel.

 

RajeshG's picture

Job and Eliphaz were God's people who were not Jews. They were not following or under Mosaic Law.

What they believed about burial is vitally important. There are at least 7 verses in the book of Job that either directly or indirectly pertain to the subject:

Job 3:22 Which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?

Job 5:26 Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.

Job 10:19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.

Job 17:1 My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.

Job 19:26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

Job 21:32 Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.

Job 27:15 Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.

These verses do not have anything to do with any so-called Jewish cultural preference for burial (there is no evidence that burial among the Jews was merely their cultural preference).

God has given us these verses to profit us as Christians for doctrine. He has given these to us as Christians to fully equip us for all good works.

Bert Perry's picture

Rajesh, looked through your sources, and it was very interesting that all they noted was that there are forests in Israel, one source even using Solomon's importation of timber from Lebanon as evidence of abundant wood in Israel (say what?), and another coming from the Jehovah's Witnesses.  (Glad to see that you're doing so well keeping yourself pure from non-Christian influences, by the way!)

But really, the presence of forests does not mean there is enough wood for various uses, as the Plains Indians (who also burned dried manure) would tell you.  They cut down lots of trees in the river-bottoms and mountains,but the difficulty of getting it to their main camps meant they used it primarily for housing and the like.  Same thing in Israel.

And that's why Deuteronomy 20:19 is so important.  You don't tell someone not to cut down trees because they're growing like weeds, but rather because (as any competent geographer or archeologist would tell you) they are scarce, and eliminating them can (as the Romans did after the destruction of Jerusalem) decimate the entire area by allowing the topsoil to wash away.  Even the rich would avoid wasting wood because it would be offensive to their neighbors.  The rest of the context is given by passages like Ezekiel 4 and 15, where marginal fuels are (as did the Plains Indians) used because more "convenient" fuels were scarce.

So again, the various things we know about Israel--arid region, little rain (Song of Solomon 2:11) during the summer, burning of manure and vineyard cuttings, prohibition on cutting some trees even in war--tell us that one strongly likely reason to eschew cremation is that they simply didn't have the fuel to spare..

Regarding Job and other non-Jews, all that means is that other nations also had a preference for burial, which is no surprise to the archeologists, especially Egyptologists.  However, a narrative--what did happen--is rarely prescriptive.  And on that note, Scripture is basically silent, even when culturally speaking, cremation was a common practice.  Incineration of a living criminal, or the corpse of a dead one, is seen, but that's a different category than ordinary cremation.

Really, Rajesh, you've got a really bad habit of taking narrative passages, adding your own assumptions to take them places that sober theologians don't go, all while generally ignoring even Biblical evidence that doesn't work with your hypothesis.  That's simply not responsible exegesis.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Rajesh, looked through your sources, and it was very interesting that . . . another coming from the Jehovah's Witnesses.  (Glad to see that you're doing so well keeping yourself pure from non-Christian influences, by the way!)


 

Ha ha. I anticipated you using this kind of nonsense tactic and put a huge disclaimer on that comment:
 

(Obviously, my citing these sources does not mean that I endorse all that the authors say in their articles or all the views that they hold in other matters. Nor does it mean that I hold that everything that they say in their articles is necessarily true.) 

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

And that's why Deuteronomy 20:19 is so important.  You don't tell someone not to cut down trees because they're growing like weeds, but rather because (as any competent geographer or archeologist would tell you) they are scarce, and eliminating them can (as the Romans did after the destruction of Jerusalem) decimate the entire area by allowing the topsoil to wash away. 

Such blatant misuse of the Scripture. I already refuted you on this point because Deut. 20:20 proves that your use of Deut. 20:19 is false. God specified why He prohibited cutting down those trees, and His stated reason refutes your claim.

RajeshG's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Regarding Job and other non-Jews, all that means is that other nations also had a preference for burial . . .

"Bertian" proclamation that something was merely a preference is nothing but assertion. Proof by assertion does not prove anything. Prove that it was merely that they had a preference for burial.

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