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Unread 07-19-2017, 07:10 PM   #1
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Cremation

I thought it would be interesting to get the pulse of a mostly-Protestant message board regarding cremation as a burial practice. What do y'all think?

The Orthodox Church is pretty unequivocally opposed to it. In the ancient world it was practised only by pagans and atheists. Christians always buried their dead, and indeed venerated their relics and even celebrated the Divine Liturgy (or the Mass, in the Roman rite) on altars built over the relics of dead saints. To this day, many Orthodox (and Roman Catholic) churches are built with a reliquary under the altar. We tend to take the view that the body, even after life leaves it, is a sacred thing, and not to be treated as garbage.

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Unread 07-19-2017, 10:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaactheSyrian View Post
I thought it would be interesting to get the pulse of a mostly-Protestant message board regarding cremation as a burial practice. What do y'all think?

The Orthodox Church is pretty unequivocally opposed to it. In the ancient world it was practised only by pagans and atheists. Christians always buried their dead, and indeed venerated their relics and even celebrated the Divine Liturgy (or the Mass, in the Roman rite) on altars built over the relics of dead saints. To this day, many Orthodox (and Roman Catholic) churches are built with a reliquary under the altar. We tend to take the view that the body, even after life leaves it, is a sacred thing, and not to be treated as garbage.
I oppose it, but I do not have a very strong stance against it, it is just not preferred. I also oppose, to a lesser degree, being buried 6ft underground as well. Ideally, one would be laid to rest in a burial tomb, at or above ground level. Unfortunately, this is not very affordable, and therefore not very practical for most people. Cremation, unfortunately, is the most affordable practice.
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2I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]

Romans 9:30-33

30What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
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Unread 07-19-2017, 10:50 PM   #3
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On what theological grounds?
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I believe, O Lord, and I confess, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief...
~ Ryan Isaac

Lo! How a rose e'er blooming from tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming, as seers of old hath sung,
It came a flower bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah t'was foretold it, the rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it, the Virgin Mother kind,
To show God's love aright, she bore to us a Saviour,
When half-spent was the night.

O flower whose fragrance tender with gladness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious speldour the darkness everywhere,
True man, yet very God! From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

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Unread 07-20-2017, 03:59 AM   #4
and you were wondering??
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As a 'Protestant' (only by nature of not being Catholic or Orthodox...) I actually have a particularly strong unease about cremation. And, I think it emerges from a basic problem among many Protestants (thought, I think there has been significant attempts at correcting this problem, especially in the late 20th and 21st centuries) to divorce the material and 'spiritual' in unhealthy and metaphysically strange ways.

I think this shows up in divergent ways. Either a sense that the 'material body' doesn't matter because we are about the 'spiritual' (which becomes divorced from any materiality, and is easy to critique when one looks at the nature of corporeality and incorporeality in context, not to mention the understanding of the the body, which certainly underwent significant development in the 90s with the work of, among many others, Dale Martin in his monograph on 1 Corinthians). So, because God is omnipotent, our physicality is diminished, unimportant, or at least of little importance compared to what is inestimable, which is the non-corporeal body.

Other Protestants would actually say the exact obverse, that because we are going to be resurrected, our body must, for the most part, stay intact and in the same place. Perhaps we detect a strange understanding of what God could, or will, do?

I do think that, for the most part, it becomes an accepted practice because it is supposed to be relatively cheap, compared to usual funerals. In that sense, I think many brush any religious preferences aside, which is a shame.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 04:02 AM   #5
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Daniel, I'm guessing that the preference for an above ground tomb is because of the cultural practices that can be discerned in the Gospels. Do you think that other cultural practices in regards to death and burial should also be adhered to? Or, is the preference less cultural, and more in imitation of what we read in the Gospels with Jesus's burial?
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Unread 07-20-2017, 06:36 AM   #6
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I have opinions (albeit not strong ones) about this issue.

I have made it known that I wish to be cremated upon my death. I am also registered as an organ donor but that's a different thread.

I know the historical objections to cremation but I have yet to see a well defended argument using Scripture. Even when people use the Bible to defend their view they typically read their own opinion into whatever passage they've chosen. I don't think you can 100% oppose or defend cremation without doing a bit of proof-texting.

I still believe in the resurrection and don't see how cremation would invalidate that. I also don't feel that cremation (if carried out reverently) is treating a body like garbage any more than digging a hole in the ground and chunking it in is. Both CAN be done in a way that dishonors the body but both can be done properly as well.

The fact is that we will get new bodies when Christ returns, even if we're still alive. Some will be raised imperishable and some will be changed in the twinkling of an eye.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 08:58 AM   #7
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I have opinions (albeit not strong ones) about this issue.

I have made it known that I wish to be cremated upon my death. I am also registered as an organ donor but that's a different thread.
My wife is as well.

Quote:
I know the historical objections to cremation but I have yet to see a well defended argument using Scripture. Even when people use the Bible to defend their view they typically read their own opinion into whatever passage they've chosen. I don't think you can 100% oppose or defend cremation without doing a bit of proof-texting.
Let's see the Scripture!


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

As for me, I think I'm with Taylor's statements.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 10:03 AM   #8
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I understand why some object. I don't attempt to change their opinions. I do object when people try to convince me without at least attempting to address Scripture.

As far as the resurrection is concerned, I don't believe "reassembling" ashes is any different than the dust left from those who died ages ago.

FWIW...I don't try to defend my position using the Bible either. It's a personal thing. I wonder if this falls into the area of Christian Liberty?
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Unread 07-20-2017, 10:24 AM   #9
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I'm generally opposed to burial due to the unnecessary costs it imposes on the deceased's family. Cremation is more efficient but I am mildly turned off by the idea of keeping ashes as multiple bodies are generally cremated simultaneously and all their ashes fall into one pile, so you're not necessarily actually getting your loved one's ashes. Personally, I plan to donate whatever good organs I may have, and let the rest of my body be donated to scientific research.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 10:37 AM   #10
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I think we would be equally challenged to justify modern embalming processes as we would cremation.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 10:49 AM   #11
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On what theological grounds?
We see this practice, as others have mentioned, in the gospels, as well as throughout the OT. Take for instance the cave of Machpelah at Hebron where Abraham buries his wife Sarah, and where he himself was later laid to rest (Genesis 23:19, Genesis 25:9-10, Genesis 49:31). Even the placement of the burial was very important, as in the case of Israel, who made Joseph promise him with his hand under his thigh, that he would not leave his body in Egypt (Genesis 47:29-31, Genesis 50:5 & 13).

There is simply no mention of cremation as a practice among my people. Cremation, historically, is a pagan practice, and to me, contains a gnostic view of the body. I have an expectation, totally contrary to the gnostics, that Yah will raise these same bones and cover them once again with sinews and flesh, when Yahushua, the Word of YHWH, makes His glorious return at the last trump (Ezekiel chapter 37, Daniel 12:2, 1 Corinthians 15:52, Revelation 20:4-6).

Do I believe that our Creator, Yah, can gather the ashes of the cremated back together, which have been scattered in many cases, and breathe life back in them once again? Yes, of course, the Creator is Almighty and His hand is not too short to accomplish this (Isaiah 50:2, Isaiah 59:1). It is just not ideal and not what we see practiced by our forefathers who came before us. Where one is laid to rest, is where you can expect that person to rise, on the day of resurrection.

The body, as you mentioned, is sacred, even after death. The body of Moses was contended over by the archangel Michael and the devil (Jude verse 9). Moses was buried by the Creator Yah Himself, but the exact location of his burial was not disclosed (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Why was the location not disclosed? We know that it is believed by many, that the soul still feels what is done to the body, even after death. We see examples by the romans, of bodies being exhumed and put on trial and then burned, as a form of judgement and punishment against a person. So we see examples of the burning of a body being used as a form of punishment and judgement. We can also find the practice of severing body parts and scattering the body parts as a form of judgement and punishment.


These are my reasons for preferring to have a loved one laid to rest in a tomb, rather than having them cremated.
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2I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]

Romans 9:30-33

30What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
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Unread 07-20-2017, 10:59 AM   #12
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We see this practice, as others have mentioned, in the gospels, as well as throughout the OT. Take for instance the cave of Machpelah at Hebron where Abraham buries his wife Sarah, and where he himself was later laid to rest (Genesis 23:19, Genesis 25:9-10, Genesis 49:31). Even the placement of the burial was very important, as in the case of Israel, who made Joseph promise him with his hand under his thigh, that he would not leave his body in Egypt (Genesis 47:29-31, Genesis 50:5 & 13).

There is simply no mention of cremation as a practice among my people. Cremation, historically, is a pagan practice, and to me, contains a gnostic view of the body. I have an expectation, totally contrary to the gnostics, that Yah will raise these same bones and cover them once again with sinews and flesh, when Yahushua, the Word of YHWH, makes His glorious return at the last trump (Ezekiel chapter 37, Daniel 12:2, 1 Corinthians 15:52, Revelation 20:4-6).

Do I believe that our Creator, Yah, can gather the ashes of the cremated back together, which have been scattered in many cases, and breathe life back in them once again? Yes, of course, the Creator is Almighty and His hand is not too short to accomplish this (Isaiah 50:2, Isaiah 59:1). It is just not ideal and not what we see practiced by our forefathers who came before us. Where one is laid to rest, is where you can expect that person to rise, on the day of resurrection.

The body, as you mentioned, is sacred, even after death. The body of Moses was contended over by the archangel Michael and the devil (Jude verse 9). Moses was buried by the Creator Yah Himself, but the exact location of his burial was not disclosed (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Why was the location not disclosed? We know that it is believed by many, that the soul still feels what is done to the body, even after death. We see examples by the romans, of bodies being exhumed and put on trial and then burned, as a form of judgement and punishment against a person. So we see examples of the burning of a body being used as a form of punishment and judgement. We can also find the practice of severing body parts and scattering the body parts as a form of judgement and punishment.


These are my reasons for preferring to have a loved one laid to rest in a tomb, rather than having them cremated.

Yet you have provided absolutely NO Scripture showing that the practice of cremation is forbidden. Given all of the prohibitions mentioned in Leviticus concerning pagan practices and influences one would think if it was that big of a deal God possibly would have said something.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 10:59 AM   #13
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I think we would be equally challenged to justify modern embalming processes as we would cremation.
Exactly.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 11:27 AM   #14
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Yet you have provided absolutely NO Scripture showing that the practice of cremation is forbidden.
Woah, calm down, Leboman. Why would I try to show Scripture for an argument I never attempted to make? I don't think I could have been any more clear in my posts, that I do not have a very strong stance against it, when I said that "it is just not preferred".


I never made the argument that it is forbidden, which is what you are expecting Scriptures in support of.


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Given all of the prohibitions mentioned in Leviticus concerning pagan practices and influences one would think if it was that big of a deal God possibly would have said something.

Okay?

I was asked for my theological grounds for the preference I have, and I shared them.

Feel free to share your theological grounds for your preference for cremation, if you have any.


Edit: I just saw that you said "FWIW...I don't try to defend my position using the Bible either. It's a personal thing."

So you have your own preferences as well... just not based on Scripture. Thank you for sharing. I hope you can respect my preference which derives from Scripture.

Perhaps you can redirect your comment to someone who actually holds the position that it is strictly forbidden.
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2I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[a]

Romans 9:30-33

30What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness[d] did not succeed in reaching that law. 32Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

Last edited by Daniel21TX; 07-20-2017 at 11:41 AM.
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Unread 07-20-2017, 11:43 AM   #15
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I don't believe there is adequate evidence to definitively say one way or the other.

Perhaps "forbidden" is the wrong word.

I don't see adequate evidence to definitively say it is not ideal or that it's not preferred. The Bible is actually silent on the issue. As I said in another post I believe it falls under the category of Christian liberty.

One reason I may come across defensive is that I have had fellow believers pretty much accuse me of paganism (or outright Satanism) because I have chosen cremation over burial. I don't feel that I have devalued the human body or denied that we're created in God's image because I think cremation is a valid option. BTW, I'm not sure that whole Imago Dei thing is about our physical bodies in the first place.

To me, it seems just as pagan to "enshrine" the bodies of those we love and set up monuments in their honor. In some cases it borders on idolatry.
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