"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.
11% (1 vote)
Cremation is legitimate for Christians.
89% (8 votes)
Total votes: 9
4422 reads

There are 160 Comments

josh p's picture

I'm not sure I have the confidence to answer for others but Rod Decker's work convinced me that I should not be cremated. I'm less concerned about the origins than I am the biblical/theological message of the body/soul unity. Decker's lectures/articles are still accessible. 

Dave White's picture

My position is clear and unequivocal!

  • Cremated Christians should be removed from the church roles:
  • Should not be permitted to serve in the local church in any capacity
  • They should not be fellow-shipped with on earth!

I'm an absolutist about these points!

Mark_Smith's picture

Dave White wrote:

My position is clear and unequivocal!

  • Cremated Christians should be removed from the church roles:
  • Should not be permitted to serve in the local church in any capacity
  • They should not be fellow-shipped with on earth!

I'm an absolutist about these points!

Is this an attempt at humor, because cremated people are dead? Or do you mean if I have a loved one cremated I should be dis-fellowshipped?

Dave White's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:
Is this an attempt at humor, because cremated people are dead? Or do you mean if I have a loved one cremated I should be dis-fellowshipped?

Guess! I will respond!

Craig Toliver's picture

It's a personal choice (adiaphoron):

  • Decker's article is compelling as is Piper's "A Modest Proposal"
  • My brother and sister-in-law just purchased grave sites in Braintree MA with the plan for traditional burials
  • Traditional burial is my intent too! BUT
  • Church doctrinal statements nor creeds address it
  • It's adiaphoron

Dave's poorly expressed comedic response is basically making this point. I think anyway.

 

Dave White's picture

If it's sinful? Who's sin is it?

  • The deceased who has been cremated? 
    • Perhaps so ... 
    • They failed to plan ...
    • They failed to save (for a more expensive traditional funeral)
    • They failed to carefully think through the issues that Decker, Piper, et al have raised
  • The survivor(s) of the deceased who cremate the decedent?

If it's sinful, would it lead to disfellowship?

  • Too late for the decedent!
  • For the survivor(s)?

Here's a thought: If the question were asked of Japanese believers in Japan where the cremation rate is 99.97%

Rob Fall's picture

without cremation.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

RajeshG's picture

Rob Fall wrote:

without cremation.

What takes place in any given country does not change what the Bible says about the subject.

RajeshG's picture

Regardless of how many Christians favor or choose cremation, burial is an undeniably important doctrine in Scripture because the gospel message that Christ commanded His disciples to preach to "every creature" (i.e., every person in the world; Mark 16:15) explicitly includes the necessity of believing that Christ was buried (1 Cor. 15:1-4). To be faithful in evangelistic ministry anywhere in the world, therefore, a believer must communicate to the people of every nation and place that the Messiah was buried.

Regardless of what the people of any nation favor or practice, they must be confronted with the reality that the Messiah was buried.

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me first of all that if burial in a certain manner is an "important doctrine", it's very interesting that the New Testament writers, fully aware of cremation and other burial rites practiced by the nations around them, do not mention it. Paul was surrounded by grievous sin, and he doesn't even comment on it?  That's not the ordinary character of Paul, to put it mildly.

And really, if we want to follow Jesus' example, do we make sure that the body is heavily abused, optimally prior to death (e.g. causing that death?)?  Do we slather the body with spices and fragrances and wrap it in cloth strips?  Most importantly, do we remove it from the grave after three days and send it to Heaven after a few weeks?

I'm thinking that while the Old Testament believers preferred burial, and I personally think it's a wonderful picture of the hope of eternal life and the Gospel, Scripture does not give us specific commands, and therefore we will do well to be quiet where Scripture is quiet.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Dave White's picture

A friend died late 2021 ...:

  • A godly servant of Christ
  • His wife chose cremation for him (not sure if he was involved in the decision b/c his death was sudden)
  • I was surprised b/c my choice is burial (my preference is rapture of course)

 

RajeshG's picture

The following statements are not what I've said:  

"If burial in a certain manner is an 'important doctrine' . . ."

"If we want to follow Jesus' example . . ."

The following statements express my views and what I hold about the importance of burial as a doctrine in Scripture:

The truthfulness of the explicit teaching of Scripture that Jesus' body was buried and was not burned or cremated in any manner is undeniable. The truthfulness of the explicit teachings of Scripture that show that Jesus commanded His disciples to proclaim to the whole world that He was buried--and not burned or cremated in any manner--is undeniable.

Burial is undeniably an important teaching of Scripture because the Messiah was buried and because He commanded that His being buried must be proclaimed to the whole world.

Dave White's picture

RajeshG wrote:
The truthfulness of the explicit teaching of Scripture that Jesus' body was buried and was not burned or cremated in any manner is undeniable. The truthfulness of the explicit teachings of Scripture that show that Jesus commanded His disciples to proclaim to the whole world that He was buried--and not burned or cremated in any manner--is undeniable.

Has there ever been a sect or cult that has taught or proclaimed that Jesus was "burned or cremated"?

I'm hardly an expert on church or history, but with my limited knowledge, I'm not aware of any. 

Craig Toliver's picture

This is not debatable ... this is!

Not debatable: Jesus was buried!

Debatable: The fact of Jesus' burial sets the pattern for committed Christians.

I suggest we ask this question: What would Paul say about the the subject? Why is this important?

  • Paul called himself the "a skilled master builder" [σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων] of the church! 1 Corinthians 3:10
  • Paul was the "apostle to the Gentiles" / a "teacher of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13 / 1 Timothy 2:7)
  • The Jews didn't cremate (there's little doubt about this!)
  • Gentiles in the Greco-Roman world did cremate!

Then when power shifted the Rome they copied Greek practices (as they did in many things), again with more embellishment pomp and circumstance. The Romans then developed urns into elaborate art forms and started using Columbarium to store their ashes (these are walls with small niches that store the ashes). It got so common and popular in around 500BC that they had to issue an edict banning cremation within the walls of the city.

Cremation continued to be the norm until around 100AD and went into decline many have considered it due to the rise of Christianity, christens considered it pagan and thought it might interfere with the resurrection

  • No one was better positioned and authoritative to address this than Paul.

  • Yet he did not. 
  • Paul warned about "not to go[ing] beyond what is written" 1 Corinthians 4:6. And we should NOT!
  •  
RajeshG's picture

Dave White wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:
The truthfulness of the explicit teaching of Scripture that Jesus' body was buried and was not burned or cremated in any manner is undeniable. The truthfulness of the explicit teachings of Scripture that show that Jesus commanded His disciples to proclaim to the whole world that He was buried--and not burned or cremated in any manner--is undeniable.

 

Has there ever been a sect or cult that has taught or proclaimed that Jesus was "burned or cremated"?

I'm hardly an expert on church or history, but with my limited knowledge, I'm not aware of any. 

No, I do not know of any such sect or cult.

The point that I am making is not some abstruse or hard-to-understand point. Again, Christ commanded His disciples to preach the gospel to every person in the world (Mk. 16:15).

The Bible explicitly states that part of that gospel message is that Christ was buried (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Therefore, part of the divinely commanded content that must be given to every human being is that Christ was buried.

Burial is therefore of universal, worldwide importance. Regardless of what country a believer is in or what the practices of any group of people may be, the Christian is divinely commanded to speak about the Messiah's burial to all human beings everywhere.

His burial did not include in any manner the burning or cremating of His body. Therefore, the Christian must make known that burial (not burning or cremation in any manner) of the Messiah is divinely commanded content that the lost person must believe in order to be saved.

 

RajeshG's picture

Craig Toliver wrote:

This is not debatable ... this is!

Not debatable: Jesus was buried!

Debatable: The fact of Jesus' burial sets the pattern for committed Christians.

I suggest we ask this question: What would Paul say about the the subject? Why is this important?

  • Paul called himself the "a skilled master builder" [σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων] of the church! 1 Corinthians 3:10
  • Paul was the "apostle to the Gentiles" / a "teacher of the Gentiles" (Romans 11:13 / 1 Timothy 2:7)
  • The Jews didn't cremate (there's little doubt about this!)
  • Gentiles in the Greco-Roman world did cremate!

Then when power shifted the Rome they copied Greek practices (as they did in many things), again with more embellishment pomp and circumstance. The Romans then developed urns into elaborate art forms and started using Columbarium to store their ashes (these are walls with small niches that store the ashes). It got so common and popular in around 500BC that they had to issue an edict banning cremation within the walls of the city.

Cremation continued to be the norm until around 100AD and went into decline many have considered it due to the rise of Christianity, christens considered it pagan and thought it might interfere with the resurrection

  • No one was better positioned and authoritative to address this than Paul.

  • Yet he did not. 
  • Paul warned about "not to go[ing] beyond what is written" 1 Corinthians 4:6. And we should NOT!
  •  

You have missed my entire point. My point is not just that Christ was buried--He commanded that in giving the gospel to every one, we must tell them of that truth and fact. Communicating Christ's burial is not optional--it is divinely commanded content of the gospel message that every sinner everywhere in the world must be given and every sinner must believe in order to be saved.

RajeshG's picture

Dave White wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:
You have missed my entire point.

 

I thought the point of this thread was ... "Is Cremation Christian?"

It is, and proving that cremation is not Christian requires establishing thoroughly the bigger picture of the biblical doctrine of burial.

Bert Perry's picture

....which Rajesh says is "excellent", take a close look, and they're saying that the proper pattern for Christian burial is, well, burial.  That's what it says, clearly and emphaticaly.

Regarding the kind of case it makes, well, take a look.  It starts with a guilt by association fallacy saying "it is a heathen practice", and it should be pointed out that, since they mention Joseph's burial, that his body was likely embalmed (Genesis 50:26) and interred in a mausoleum in the pagan Egyptian fashion, just as his father Israel had been.  It was, after all, the Egyptian physicians who did the embalming over a period of 40 days.

And since we're talking about that, what we're talking about is artful dessication of the body after the internal organs have been removed, including removing the rain through the nose.  If we are to contend that the Old Testament Hebrew pattern is to be followed, however, we would insist on a quick interment in the way that Lazarus was quickly interred.

Really, when I look at the examples given, I have a number of cases simply describing the Old Testament Hebrew preference for burial followed by a few dozen verses taken completely out of context, none of them specifically referring to the practice of cremation at all.  And yet the author claims that "God has plainly called cremation wickedness."

Rajesh, this is not an "excellent article".  It's a paper that ought to get a big red F if submitted for class by any Bible college freshman in the nation because of its lapses in logic and evidence.  It is also no surprise to me that Elmwood subscribes to KJVO theology, as the same kind of lapses in logic and evidence are necessary for that position as well.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me as well that since Jacob and Joseph did not hesitate to allow pagan doctors to embalm their bodies when they died so their bodies could be buried in Israel, the context of Scripture seems to indicate that, as in other areas, believers do have some freedom where the Scriptures do not specifically spell things out.  Carrying their un-embalmed bodies, even if covered with spices as was the custom in Jesus' day, back to Israel would have been disgusting, not to mention a health hazard.  

So since the land, and burial on that land,, was an important thing in that dispensation, Jacob and Joseph (well, their heirs technically) allowed doctors who were almost certainly pagan to damage their bodies for the sake of the final resting place they desired.  This is good news for us Americans, since while we don't remove bodily organs for burial (except as donations), we do remove the blood and inject embalming fluid (formaldehyde) for the sake of lookin' good at the funeral.  Same basic principle, really.

And it's worth noting as well that since many Christians do not live in places where graveyard space is readily available (India, China, Japan), I would dare suggest that the silence of the apostles in this matter indicates a degree of freedom in that regard as well.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

RajeshG's picture

Because we know that Christ's burial is of universal salvific importance as a divinely commanded part of the gospel message that every sinner must believe in order to be saved, we do well to probe Christ's burial biblically by asking two key questions:

1. Why was Christ buried and not burned or cremated?

2. Why did Christ command that His burial be testified to every human being?

RajeshG's picture

The claim that many passages in the OT about burial are instances "simply describing the Old Testament Hebrew preference for burial" is a faulty assertion.

Scripture provides no evidence that Job and Eliphaz were Hebrews. They were, however, God's people, and Job was the most righteous person alive in the whole world in his day. Both believed in burial and never spoke anything about practicing burning or cremation in any manner. The consistent practice of God's people of burial--both of those who were not Jews and those who were Jews--shows that their doing so was not just "Old Testament Hebrew preference for burial."

RajeshG's picture

Deut. 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Before Israel ever came into the Promised Land, God commanded them to bury at least certain people--those who had been hanged for having committed a sin worthy of death. Plainly, this command did not have anything to do with OT Hebrew preference, culture, or tradition--it was an explicit divine mandate given by supernatural revelation.

This was a divine mandate and clearly communicated the mind of God to His specially chosen and unique people and nation. Moreover, this divine command was one key reason that Jesus was buried and was not burned or cremated in any manner (cf. Gal. 3:13, which talks about Christ's being made a curse for us and then uses this very passage [Deut. 21:23] as Scriptural support for that fact).

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.

josh p's picture

Out of curiosity, do you hold to the regulative principle of worship? You don't have to answer if you don't care to since it's not relevant to this thread. Just wondering because you make some arguments from similar premises but apply them to non ecclesiastical contexts. Thanks either way. 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Deut. 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Before Israel ever came into the Promised Land, God commanded them to bury at least certain people--those who had been hanged for having committed a sin worthy of death. Plainly, this command did not have anything to do with OT Hebrew preference, culture, or tradition--it was an explicit divine mandate given by supernatural revelation.

This was a divine mandate and clearly communicated the mind of God to His specially chosen and unique people and nation. Moreover, this divine command was one key reason that Jesus was buried and was not burned or cremated in any manner (cf. Gal. 3:13, which talks about Christ's being made a curse for us and then uses this very passage [Deut. 21:23] as Scriptural support for that fact).

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.

I would hesitate to use a verse from Deuteronomy to instruct Christians today in how we are to act. Would we use this same logic regarding Deut 22:11? Is the mixing of fabrics not Christian because God's specially chosen and unique people were given an explicit divine mandate by supernatural revelation not to mix their fabrics?

RajeshG's picture

josh p wrote:

Out of curiosity, do you hold to the regulative principle of worship? You don't have to answer if you don't care to since it's not relevant to this thread. Just wondering because you make some arguments from similar premises but apply them to non ecclesiastical contexts. Thanks either way. 

If I understand correctly what the regulative principle of worship is (I am not interested in discussing whether I do or do not understand it correctly or not), I do not hold to it. God has made known that He has inspired all Scripture for our profit--He wants us to profit from it all. Most importantly, He wants us to profit from it so that we will be like Him and think like Him in all things, etc.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Deut. 21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Before Israel ever came into the Promised Land, God commanded them to bury at least certain people--those who had been hanged for having committed a sin worthy of death. Plainly, this command did not have anything to do with OT Hebrew preference, culture, or tradition--it was an explicit divine mandate given by supernatural revelation.

This was a divine mandate and clearly communicated the mind of God to His specially chosen and unique people and nation. Moreover, this divine command was one key reason that Jesus was buried and was not burned or cremated in any manner (cf. Gal. 3:13, which talks about Christ's being made a curse for us and then uses this very passage [Deut. 21:23] as Scriptural support for that fact).

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.

 

I would hesitate to use a verse from Deuteronomy to instruct Christians today in how we are to act. Would we use this same logic regarding Deut 22:11? Is the mixing of fabrics not Christian because God's specially chosen and unique people were given an explicit divine mandate by supernatural revelation not to mix their fabrics?

I am not arguing from that one verse alone. I would urge you not to allow such questions to keep you from letting God's truth renew your mind.

Instead, I urge you to ponder deeply what this passage reveals about God Himself and about the gospel message that God has explicitly commanded Christians to proclaim to every human being. Christ was buried, in part, because God's command in Deut. 21 had to be obeyed--this truth matters for the whole world!

There is much more Scripture that builds on the foundation that I have already laid.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

I am not arguing from that one verse alone. I would urge you not to allow such questions to keep you from letting God's truth renew your mind.

Asking questions about the applicability of each verse used in an argument is one of the ways to examine whether God's truth is actually being taught. It seems odd to be dismissive of such questions.

Quote:
Instead, I urge you to ponder deeply what this passage reveals about God Himself and about the gospel message that God has explicitly commanded Christians to proclaim to every human being. Christ was buried, in part, because God's command in Deut. 21 had to be obeyed--this truth matters for the whole world!

Christ was buried by having his body wrapped in cloth with spices and then put in a cave where people could visit it. That's not the way we do it today, so are Christians today really following the pattern of Christ by being embalmed and put in a coffin six feet underground? Do we need to follow Christ's exact pattern to be acceptable, or can each culture follow it's own "bodily preparation practices" as long as the end result is a final placement in the earth? Do you think the "gospel message" needs to include the specific "bodily preparation practices" that were used on Christ.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Christ was buried by having his body wrapped in cloth with spices and then put in a cave where people could visit it. That's not the way we do it today, so are Christians today really following the pattern of Christ by being embalmed and put in a coffin six feet underground? Do we need to follow Christ's exact pattern to be acceptable, or can each culture follow it's own "bodily preparation practices" as long as the end result is a final placement in the earth? Do you think the "gospel message" needs to include the specific "bodily preparation practices" that were used on Christ.

My point is that Christ's body was not burned or cremated in any manner. Burning or cremation is what I am opposing in this thread.

Concerning the gospel importance of Christ's burial, I have not commented on following Christ's pattern, etc. I am establishing the importance of declaring to all people everywhere that Christ was buried and not burned or cremated in any manner.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Christ was buried by having his body wrapped in cloth with spices and then put in a cave where people could visit it. That's not the way we do it today, so are Christians today really following the pattern of Christ by being embalmed and put in a coffin six feet underground? Do we need to follow Christ's exact pattern to be acceptable, or can each culture follow it's own "bodily preparation practices" as long as the end result is a final placement in the earth? Do you think the "gospel message" needs to include the specific "bodily preparation practices" that were used on Christ.

 

 

My point is that Christ's body was not burned or cremated in any manner. Burning or cremation is what I am opposing in this thread.

Concerning the gospel importance of Christ's burial, I have not commented on following Christ's pattern, etc. I am establishing the importance of declaring to all people everywhere that Christ was buried and not burned or cremated in any manner.

I asked you three questions in my post and it doesn't seem you answered any of them directly. I take it, then, since your only point is that Christ was buried, that it really doesn't matter to you which "bodily preparation practices" are used by a particular culture as long as the end result is a "burial" of some kind.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Christ was buried by having his body wrapped in cloth with spices and then put in a cave where people could visit it. That's not the way we do it today, so are Christians today really following the pattern of Christ by being embalmed and put in a coffin six feet underground? Do we need to follow Christ's exact pattern to be acceptable, or can each culture follow it's own "bodily preparation practices" as long as the end result is a final placement in the earth? Do you think the "gospel message" needs to include the specific "bodily preparation practices" that were used on Christ.

 

 

My point is that Christ's body was not burned or cremated in any manner. Burning or cremation is what I am opposing in this thread.

Concerning the gospel importance of Christ's burial, I have not commented on following Christ's pattern, etc. I am establishing the importance of declaring to all people everywhere that Christ was buried and not burned or cremated in any manner.

 

I asked you three questions in my post and it doesn't seem you answered any of them directly. I take it, then, since your only point is that Christ was buried, that it really doesn't matter to you which "bodily preparation practices" are used by a particular culture as long as the end result is a "burial" of some kind.

I do not answer questions about things that either I have not studied in depth or do not know the answers to or both. The subject of what the Bible teaches about proper versus improper burial is a separate subject and not one that I am prepared to discuss. I do not have the answers for many such questions, and much more importantly to me, I do not want the thread diverted into endless discussion about specifics, methods, etc.

Scripture reveals specifics about Christ's burial and some of them are very likely pertinent to a proper witness and some of them may not be. I have not studied this subject before so I am not going to take positions on things that I do not have the answers to. What I can say with certainty is that burning or cremating a body to powder is not biblical and not acceptable to God.

RajeshG's picture

Deu 34:6 And he [God] buried him [Moses] in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

God revealed what happened to Moses' body after He died. God was not under any obligation to reveal this information. Because He chose to reveal it, we know that His doing so was intended to profit the Israelites who first received it and to profit all of His people who have subsequently received this information, including us.

God did not bury the body of Moses to fulfill the preferences of the Hebrews or the cultural or traditional expectations that were prevalent at that time--God has never been subject to any such obligations or considerations. Moreover, there were no humans present on this occasion whose preferences could even possibly have been a consideration.

God could have dematerialized Moses’ body in an instant or He could have turned it into dust instantaneously.

He, however, chose to bury him instead in a sepulcher and then revealed to His people that He did so.

God's example of burying the dead body of one of His saints (and not burning it or cremating it in any manner)  and then revealing that He did so ought to be more than enough to teach His people what God desires of them. He has commanded us to be His followers (cf. Eph. 5:1), and all that He has revealed about the importance of a proper burial plainly teaches us that burying His own has always been and continues to be the will of God for His people.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

I do not answer questions about things that either I have not studied in depth or do not know the answers to or both. The subject of what the Bible teaches about proper versus improper burial is a separate subject and not one that I am prepared to discuss. I do not have the answers for many such questions, and much more importantly to me, I do not want the thread diverted into endless discussion about specifics, methods, etc.

Scripture reveals specifics about Christ's burial and some of them are very likely pertinent to a proper witness and some of them may not be. I have not studied this subject before so I am not going to take positions on things that I do not have the answers to. What I can say with certainty is that burning or cremating a body to powder is not biblical and not acceptable to God.

But if burning or cremating a body is simply a "bodily preparation practice" that takes place before burial, then it wouldn't necessarily be unacceptable if a burial actually takes place for the ashes. As you say, you haven't studied out bodily preparation practices that constitute a "proper versus improper burial," so I wonder why you are taking such a negative position on this when you specifically claim that "I am not going to take positions on things that I don't have the answers to."

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Deu 34:6 And he [God] buried him [Moses] in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

God revealed what happened to Moses' body after He died. God was not under any obligation to reveal this information. Because He chose to reveal it, we know that His doing so was intended to profit the Israelites who first received it and to profit all of His people who have subsequently received this information, including us.

God did not bury the body of Moses to fulfill the preferences of the Hebrews or the cultural or traditional expectations that were prevalent at that time--God has never been subject to any such obligations or considerations. Moreover, there were no humans present on this occasion whose preferences could even possibly have been a consideration.

God could have dematerialized Moses’ body in an instant or He could have turned it into dust instantaneously.

He, however, chose to bury him instead in a sepulcher and then revealed to His people that He did so.

God's example of burying the dead body of one of His saints (and not burning it or cremating it in any manner)  and then revealing that He did so ought to be more than enough to teach His people what God desires of them. He has commanded us to be His followers (cf. Eph. 5:1), and all that He has revealed about the importance of a proper burial plainly teaches us that burying His own has always been and continues to be the will of God for His people.

Well, I'd hardly expect the pattern of Moses to be one in which Christians today decide to follow, in which the old person goes up into a mountain to die while the relatives mourn in the valley for 30 days while God Himself accomplishes the burial.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

I do not answer questions about things that either I have not studied in depth or do not know the answers to or both. The subject of what the Bible teaches about proper versus improper burial is a separate subject and not one that I am prepared to discuss. I do not have the answers for many such questions, and much more importantly to me, I do not want the thread diverted into endless discussion about specifics, methods, etc.

Scripture reveals specifics about Christ's burial and some of them are very likely pertinent to a proper witness and some of them may not be. I have not studied this subject before so I am not going to take positions on things that I do not have the answers to. What I can say with certainty is that burning or cremating a body to powder is not biblical and not acceptable to God.

 

But if burning or cremating a body is simply a "bodily preparation practice" that takes place before burial, then it wouldn't necessarily be unacceptable if a burial actually takes place for the ashes. As you say, you haven't studied out bodily preparation practices that constitute a "proper versus improper burial," so I wonder why you are taking such a negative position on this when you specifically claim that "I am not going to take positions on things that I don't have the answers to."

The Bible does not support in any manner that burning or cremating a body to powder is simply an acceptable "bodily preparation practice" that takes place before burial. I have studied that point thoroughly.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Deu 34:6 And he [God] buried him [Moses] in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

God revealed what happened to Moses' body after He died. God was not under any obligation to reveal this information. Because He chose to reveal it, we know that His doing so was intended to profit the Israelites who first received it and to profit all of His people who have subsequently received this information, including us.

God did not bury the body of Moses to fulfill the preferences of the Hebrews or the cultural or traditional expectations that were prevalent at that time--God has never been subject to any such obligations or considerations. Moreover, there were no humans present on this occasion whose preferences could even possibly have been a consideration.

God could have dematerialized Moses’ body in an instant or He could have turned it into dust instantaneously.

He, however, chose to bury him instead in a sepulcher and then revealed to His people that He did so.

God's example of burying the dead body of one of His saints (and not burning it or cremating it in any manner)  and then revealing that He did so ought to be more than enough to teach His people what God desires of them. He has commanded us to be His followers (cf. Eph. 5:1), and all that He has revealed about the importance of a proper burial plainly teaches us that burying His own has always been and continues to be the will of God for His people.

 

Well, I'd hardly expect the pattern of Moses to be one in which Christians today decide to follow, in which the old person goes up into a mountain to die while the relatives mourn in the valley for 30 days while God Himself accomplishes the burial.

The same God who buried Moses had earlier already commanded the Jews that they were the ones who had to bury people (Deut. 21) so your attempt to dismiss Deut. 34:6 does not work. Similarly, God did not command them to have people go up into a mountain, etc. What is constant is that God wants people buried, whether humans do it or whether He chooses to do it Himself.

Dan Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

The claim that many passages in the OT about burial are instances "simply describing the Old Testament Hebrew preference for burial" is a faulty assertion.

I assume you're familiar with the concepts of prescription and description. What do you see as the difference between these? 

RajeshG's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

The claim that many passages in the OT about burial are instances "simply describing the Old Testament Hebrew preference for burial" is a faulty assertion.

I assume you're familiar with the concepts of prescription and description. What do you see as the difference between these? 

Yes, I understand the difference between those concepts. Someone who claims that the passages in the OT about burial are merely passages of people following their personal preference has to prove that claim--assertion is not proof.

Moreover, I provided evidence from Scripture that shows that God's people who were not Jews also believed in the importance of burial. That evidence refutes the claim that the data in the Bible is merely instances of OT Hebrew . . . because it was not just God's people who were Jews who believed in the importance of burial.

Finally, divine commands and examples are not evidence of personal preference; everything that God commands and does is righteous and perfect in every way and instructive of His mind.

AndyE's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:
I would hesitate to use a verse from Deuteronomy to instruct Christians today in how we are to act.
What other scriptures should we not use to determine our faith and practice?  I guess for sure 1 Corinthians 9:9–10, where Paul does exactly what you suggest we should not do.  Probably also 2 Tim 3:16-17, since Paul must surely be mistaken that all scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.  If you want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law to our lives today, OK, but I would hesitate to dismiss whole sections of scripture as not applicable to us today.

 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

I do not answer questions about things that either I have not studied in depth or do not know the answers to or both. The subject of what the Bible teaches about proper versus improper burial is a separate subject and not one that I am prepared to discuss. I do not have the answers for many such questions, and much more importantly to me, I do not want the thread diverted into endless discussion about specifics, methods, etc.

Scripture reveals specifics about Christ's burial and some of them are very likely pertinent to a proper witness and some of them may not be. I have not studied this subject before so I am not going to take positions on things that I do not have the answers to. What I can say with certainty is that burning or cremating a body to powder is not biblical and not acceptable to God.

 

But if burning or cremating a body is simply a "bodily preparation practice" that takes place before burial, then it wouldn't necessarily be unacceptable if a burial actually takes place for the ashes. As you say, you haven't studied out bodily preparation practices that constitute a "proper versus improper burial," so I wonder why you are taking such a negative position on this when you specifically claim that "I am not going to take positions on things that I don't have the answers to."

 

 

The Bible does not support in any manner that burning or cremating a body to powder is simply an acceptable "bodily preparation practice" that takes place before burial. I have studied that point thoroughly.

So are you saying that the Bible specifically addresses proper "bodily preparation practices" for Christians today and directly condemns cremation before burial? Oh, I know there are examples of burials in the bible, but if those examples are actually commands for us, then wouldn't we be burying people in the exact same way as was done in Bible times? If the methods practiced before burial are not commanded, but only the burial, then I don't see why cremation before burial would be unacceptable, if methods are not commanded.

I think Paul's approach to culture in I Cor. 9:19-23 applies here. To the Jews he became like a Jew. To those under the law, he became like one under the law. To those not under the law, he became like one not under the law. Paul lived like those in the culture around him, while still refraining from those things that God condemned. Unless we see some condemnation of cremation as a bodily preparation method before burial, then I don't see any reason to claim it's unacceptable as long as a burial of some sort takes place with the remains.

Kevin Miller's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:
I would hesitate to use a verse from Deuteronomy to instruct Christians today in how we are to act.

What other scriptures should we not use to determine our faith and practice?  I guess for sure 1 Corinthians 9:9–10, where Paul does exactly what you suggest we should not do.  Probably also 2 Tim 3:16-17, since Paul must surely be mistaken that all scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.  If you want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law to our lives today, OK, but I would hesitate to dismiss whole sections of scripture as not applicable to us today.

I'm glad you say it's okay if i want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law. That "carefulness" is exactly what gives me the hesitation.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

AndyE wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:
I would hesitate to use a verse from Deuteronomy to instruct Christians today in how we are to act.

What other scriptures should we not use to determine our faith and practice?  I guess for sure 1 Corinthians 9:9–10, where Paul does exactly what you suggest we should not do.  Probably also 2 Tim 3:16-17, since Paul must surely be mistaken that all scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.  If you want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law to our lives today, OK, but I would hesitate to dismiss whole sections of scripture as not applicable to us today.

I'm glad you say it's okay if i want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law. That "carefulness" is exactly what gives me the hesitation.

 

Mosaic Law? The account of God's burying Moses in Deut. 34:6 is not Mosaic Law! 

God was and is the Lawgiver. He was free to do whatever He wanted to do concerning the final disposition of Moses' dead body.

He chose to bury Moses even though there were no other human beings present on that occasion. No humans would ever even have known what happened with Moses' body after he died had God not chosen to reveal what He chose to do.

You are making a very serious error by thinking that what God did in burying Moses somehow has something to do with Mosaic Law.

RajeshG's picture

I posted the following elsewhere this evening:
 

The Vital Importance of a Divine Promise of Burial - Genesis 15:15

God promised Abram that he would be buried at the end of his life:

Genesis 15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

When God made this promise, He was not following some OT Hebrew preference because Abraham was the first Hebrew so there was no long-standing or well-established Hebrew preference that had already been in place that could be or needed to be followed by God.

Because this verse is the first mention of burial in Scripture, we learn that within the limits of what is revealed in Scripture, we are to hold that God is the One who communicated to the Hebrews the importance of burying their own. He, therefore, was not following some OT Hebrew preference when He did so--He was making a divine promise that communicated the vital importance that He placed on burial!

Moreover, based on this understanding of this key promise, we learn that the numerous repeated mentions of the burials of God's people in the OT are not instances of OT Hebrew preference of burial. Rather, they show the vital importance that God placed on burial when He promised Abram that he would be buried in a good old age.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

 

AndyE wrote:

 

 

Kevin Miller wrote:
I would hesitate to use a verse from Deuteronomy to instruct Christians today in how we are to act.

What other scriptures should we not use to determine our faith and practice?  I guess for sure 1 Corinthians 9:9–10, where Paul does exactly what you suggest we should not do.  Probably also 2 Tim 3:16-17, since Paul must surely be mistaken that all scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.  If you want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law to our lives today, OK, but I would hesitate to dismiss whole sections of scripture as not applicable to us today.

I'm glad you say it's okay if i want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law. That "carefulness" is exactly what gives me the hesitation.

 

 

 

Mosaic Law? The account of God's burying Moses in Deut. 34:6 is not Mosaic Law! 

God was and is the Lawgiver. He was free to do whatever He wanted to do concerning the final disposition of Moses' dead body.

He chose to bury Moses even though there were no other human beings present on that occasion. No humans would ever even have known what happened with Moses' body after he died had God not chosen to reveal what He chose to do.

You are making a very serious error by thinking that what God did in burying Moses somehow has something to do with Mosaic Law.

Nobody said the account of God burying Moses was part of the Mosaic law.

You had used a verse earlier in the conversation from Deuteronomy 21. I then asked you about a verse from Deut 22. Those chapters have Mosaic law in them. That conversation is where the comments about the Mosaic law come from. Your response was "I am not arguing from that one verse alone." I took that as an acknowledgment that people can disagree about the applicability of Deuteronomy, but disagreeing with that one verse would not derail your entire point. 

AndyE's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:
I'm glad you say it's okay if i want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law. That "carefulness" is exactly what gives me the hesitation.
It's one thing to be careful and it's another thing to dismiss the use of OT scripture because it can be prone to misuse.  All the Bible can be misused, but that doesn't mean we should be hesitant to use it.

AndyE's picture

RajeshG wrote:
Mosaic Law? The account of God's burying Moses in Deut. 34:6 is not Mosaic Law! 
Sorry, I'm the one that led Kevin down this path.  I used Mosaic Law in a general, non-specific sense to refer to the entirety of the Pentateuch, so he is just using my terminology.

RajeshG's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:
Mosaic Law? The account of God's burying Moses in Deut. 34:6 is not Mosaic Law! 

Sorry, I'm the one that led Kevin down this path.  I used Mosaic Law in a general, non-specific sense to refer to the entirety of the Pentateuch, so he is just using my terminology.

Not a problem. I understand.

RajeshG's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:
I'm glad you say it's okay if i want to say we have to be careful in how we apply Mosaic Law. That "carefulness" is exactly what gives me the hesitation.

It's one thing to be careful and it's another thing to dismiss the use of OT scripture because it can be prone to misuse.  All the Bible can be misused, but that doesn't mean we should be hesitant to use it.

All three of the passages that I have dealt with have to do explicitly with things that God Himself did. The most important thing to do with those passages is to probe thoroughly what they teach us about God's mind on the subject.

RajeshG's picture

So far, I have presented four lines of evidence that establish that burial was not an OT Hebrew preference:

1. God's people who were not Jews also believed in the importance of burial.

2. God Himself established the importance of burial for the Hebrews when He promised that Abram, the first Hebrew, would be buried in a good old age.

3. God instructed His people that burial was mandatory for those whom they had hanged on a tree.

4. God taught His people the importance of burial by revealing to them that He Himself buried Moses.

Points 2-4 explicitly show that God was the One who stressed to the Hebrews that burial was His will for them and Point 1 implies that He taught others who were also His people but were not Jews that burial was His will for them.

These truths from Scripture invalidate the claim that burial by God's people in the OT was a Hebrew preference.

RajeshG's picture

The NT provides information about a battle that took place concerning Moses' dead body that the OT makes no mention of:

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Strikingly, this battle involved the two highest angelic beings that God created. We are not told in any detail what the nature of the dispute was, but we can be sure that whatever the devil wanted to do with Moses' body was unrighteous.

God's choosing to bury Moses takes on added significance in light of what this NT passage reveals. Had God dematerialized Moses' dead body or turned it into powder instantaneously and directed the wind to blow that powder in all different directions, the devil would have been powerless to do whatever he wanted to do with Moses' body.

In spite of that consideration, however, God yet chose to bury Moses' body and had His archangel contend with the devil about it. God's doing so thus stresses the importance of His burying the dead body of Moses!

Pages