This is one of those subjects that may be touchy to some people. I’m sorry if it rubs you the wrong way, but it is a thing I need to say and a thing I need to write about. Obviously (I know that with the extraordinary intelligence of most of the readers here it is obvious, anyway.), you don’t have to agree with me and I will respect that. My wife and I both have family members who are Apostolic-Oneness Christians (and some who are not), who don’t think this is any big deal. But, this is my conviction and how I formed it.
I had this subject come up recently, of course, because there was pressure on us to “go the cheaper route” and just have Grandma cremated. Bile rose up in my throat and I just said, “No. That’s a heathen practice and we don’t believe in it.” I had told one of my brothers the same thing a few years back when my dad passed away. I remembered having heard a conversation with our Bishop’s wife some years back about the subject and was repeating, almost word for word, what she had said. Just the fact that that is what she said is actually good enough for me. I have known the Bishop and his wife long enough to know I can trust her to not make such a statement idly. But, as Christians we are admonished to “…study to show thyself approved…” and we find that the Bereans in Acts 17 were “…more noble…and searched the Scriptures daily…” So, I asked.
Our Bishop is a very transparent person and when I said, “They told us it would be a lot cheaper to cremate her but I said we didn’t believe in that.” “Absolutely not!” He told me, and I could see the subject rankled him. As we talked, he pointed out that while there was not a specific scripture that forbids the practice, there are a lot of examples throughout the Bible. One of the most famous is Abraham buying a burial place from the Hittites. Jacob making Joseph promise to bury him in that same burying site. Joseph making the Children of Israel promise to carry his bones into the promised land. Joseph was embalmed and put in a casket and four hundred years later carried along to be buried when the Israelites fled Egypt.
When they left Egypt in the Exodus, the Bible tells us that the Egyptians buried their dead children. Miriam was buried. Aaron was buried. Moses died and was buried by the Lord and no one ever knew where his grave was. Another interesting aside to that story is that the devil tried to contend with Michael the archangel for Moses’ body when Michael said, “The Lord rebuke thee…” Why the big hoo-haw about his body if it doesn’t matter? I did a couple of simple word searches on E-Sword (a free, powerful Bible program you can get here) and came up with many more examples than I can readily provide here.
The only time I was able to find where they did it was when Achan took the forbidden spoils from Jericho and caused the death of thirty-six men at the battle of AI. “And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.”
This was one of the practices that the heathens, whom they were supposed to drive out of the land, practiced. They sacrificed their children by fire, burning them alive. Another example was the desecration of the altar Jereboam made to the golden calf. Josiah took the bones of the false prophets and priests and burned them on the altar.
New Testament examples? Hmmm…let’s see…John the Baptist’s disciples took his body and buried it. Someone else in the New Testament…Could it be…JESUS? Jesus was buried in a borrowed grave and came out of it victorious, holding the keys of Death, Hell, and the Grave. Even Ananias and Sapphira were buried.
Anyway, we already had our minds made up but it was reassuring to listen to the Bishop talk, and passionately, about the subject. He also pointed out the importance of having somewhere to go and say, “That’s where they were buried.” Ashes scattered over the mountains are not the same and having someone’s ashes sitting on the shelf with you above the fireplace is just macabre. As an aside, did you know that if you have your loved one cremated you will not receive true ashes, but pulverized skeletal remains?
There is a lot more to this subject but I suggest, especially if you claim to be Christian, that you research it yourself. Find out for yourself what the Bible says and talk to authorities in your church. I know what I think.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.(1Th 4:13-18 KJV)