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Burial vs. Cremation in the Christian faith

By Scott Tibbs, November 18, 2014

When there is not a clear commandment from Scripture, we Christians should not judge each other for our choices and we certainly should not divide over those choices. One such area is the debate over cremation and whether or not it is proper for Christians to incinerate the bodies of dead loved ones. I see this debate pop up from time to time, and while it is an interesting discussion it should not go beyond being a discussion.

Being faithful to Scripture means submitting to the text, but it also means not adding to the text. We should not place our traditions and/or personal convictions on the same level as Almighty God's direct revelation to us, provided in the Bible. Adding to Scripture is the height of arrogance and borders on blasphemy.

Some would argue that Christians confess our faith and our hope in the resurrection of the dead by burying rather than cremating our dead. But as I asked on Twitter a couple weeks ago, is our omnipotent God so weak that He cannot reform a cremated body? Remember that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and formed Eve from Adam's rib. Even the biological process of childbirth is a miracle, as the baby goes from a single cell to a fully formed baby.

In the case of cremation and burial, there is not an explicit commandment from Scripture on the matter. Christians have traditionally buried rather than cremated their dead, but tradition should never be given the same weight as Scripture. That is a personal preference, or a cultural preference, not an obligation before God. If someone can show me from Scripture where burial is commanded and/or cremation is forbidden, I will change my position. Until then we should respect the choices of our brothers and sisters in how they deal with the bodies of dead loved ones, and not judge them because our personal opinion is different from theirs.