Should Christians Be Cremated?
Is cremation Biblical? Is Christianity a religion that practices this tradition? What can God’s true people hope for when their lives have ended?
Should Christians Be Cremated?
Travis: Hi my name is Travis, from San Leandro, California and I just wanted to know if cremation is practiced by the people of God.
Brother Bob Pellien: Thank you, Travis, for your question. Death is something that no one living in this world can avoid. It’s important to note first off that here—there’s no religious rituals that are performed for any member of the Church Of Christ who passes away. For example, there’s no prayers of the dead, there’s no religious ceremonies or services that members of the Church Of Christ take part in after losing a loved one. Why not? Well according to the Bible the dead will never again take part in anything that happens in this world. That’s mentioned in the Bible in Ecclesiastes chapter 9, verse 6:
They will never again take part in anything that happens in this world
[Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 Good News Translation]
Brother Bob: Nevertheless, the bereaved of the dead strive to give a proper or decent burial for their deceased loved ones, and well, this is understandable and of course very reasonable as well. But, Travis, everything that we do, all of our actions during this highly emotional moment in one’s life as to be—which by the way, is often influenced by cultural norms, whatever those actions may be, they have to be guided by God who is the One who, of course, then will be the One to comfort people in their time of loss by means of the power of the Holy Spirit. Should we cremate our deceased loved ones?
What is cremation?
Brother Bob: First, well, what does that even mean? Through cremation the remains of the deceased will be burned, and the ashes will be placed in an urn or sometimes dispersed over soil or water.
past tense: cremated; past participle: cremated
dispose of (dead person’s body) by burning it into ashes, typically after a funeral ceremony]
What happened to people who died in the Bible?
Brother Bob: Let’s take a look at how the people of God have set the example for us regarding this. We turn to the book of Genesis verses 1-4 we’ll also read verses 10 and 11 Good News Bible:
Sarah lived to be 127 years old. She died in Hebron in the land of Canaan, and Abraham mourned her death. He left the place where his wife’s body was lying, went to the Hittites, and said, “I am a foreigner living here among you; sell me some land, so that I can bury my wife.” Ephron himself was sitting with the other Hittites at the meeting place at the city gate; he answered in the hearing of everyone there, “Listen sir; I will give you the whole field and the cave that is in it. Here in the presence of my own people, I will give it to you, so that you can bury your wife.
[Genesis 23:1-4, 10-11 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: So, Travis, dear friends, burial was clearly the practice of God’s people, for example, in this case of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Abraham, well he mourned her death and buried her body into the ground. There [are] so many more examples in the Bible that really show to us God’s people burying their loved ones into the ground. For example in the book of Genesis 50:26:
They embalmed his body and put it in a coffin.
[Genesis 50:26 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: As well in the book of Joshua 24:32:
Now they buried the bones of Joseph,
[Joshua 24:32 Amplified Bible]
Brother Bob: In those verses the Bible speaks about the processes that Joseph’s family went through, so as to obey God’s expectations or commandment of burying those who had served the Lord God in ancient times. One of the most famous individuals mentioned in the Bible is Moses, of course. Everyone has heard of Moses. What did God himself do with Moses after he died? Did He burn him, cremate him, and sprinkle his ashes? Let’s turn to the book of Deuteronomy this time wherein the Bible gives a response to that, verses 5 and 6. Let’s take a look at what’s recorded there:
So Moses, the LORD’s servant, died there in the land of Moab, as the Lord had said he would. The LORD buried him in a valley in Moab, opposite the town of Bethpeor, but to this day no one knows the exact place of his burial.
[Deuteronomy 34:5-6 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: So, dear friends, clearly God himself even took the act of burying Moses to further emphasize how important burial really is. So it’s a normal practice of burying those who have passed away. How about our Lord Jesus Christ, the savior, in the Christian Era of time? Was there any example given in the Holy Scriptures or any information provided to us about Jesus himself regarding this topic? Here in the book of John chapter 19, verses 40, 41, and 42:
The two men took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices according to Jewish custom of preparing a body for burial. There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been put to death, and in it was a new a new tomb where no one had ever been buried. Since it was the day before Sabbath and because the tomb was close by, they placed Jesus’ body there.
[John 19:40-42 Good News Translation]
Brother Bob: So dear friends, Travis, even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, was also buried after He passed away. So if God’s people are to be buried is there any record in the Bible which shows how God himself then feels about cremation, or the burning of bodies.
What does the Bible say about cremation?
Brother Bob: Is there anything that the Bible shows us wherein God would not approve of that option? Let’s again turn to the Holy Scriptures in the book of Amos chapter 2, 1 and 2 it says:
The LORD says, “The people of Moab have sinned again and again, and for this I will certainly punish them. They dishonored the bones of the king of Edom by burning them to ashes. I will send fire upon the land of Moab and burn down the fortresses of Kerioth. The people of Moab will die in the noise of battle while the soldiers are shouting and trumpets are sounding.
[Amos 2:1-2 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: So clearly God was angry with the people. Why was He angry with the people of Moab? Because of what they had done with the king of Edom. What did they do? They burned his bones. The Bible makes very clear that they had dishonored his bones by burning them to ashes.
Hinduism practices cremation
Brother Bob: So, dear friends, if God is truly angered by the burning of the deceased, how then did cremation come about in the first place? What religious custom is the burning of the dead or cremation connected to? If it’s not connected to God, and not connected to the Bible (and that is what God’s people are supposed to be doing), how did it come about? In the Britannica Encyclopedia of World Religions here on page 268:
In HINDUISIM in India, cremation is the preferred form of disposing the dead. The placing of the body into the fire is regarded as a kind of final sacrificial offering, and the burning of the body is often understood to begin the process of REINCARNATION;”
[Britannica Ency. Of World Religion p. 268 (2006)]
Brother Bob: Therein lies the truth: cremation is the practice of Hinduism because they believe it’s the start of the reincarnation process, which of course is not in the Bible, and it is not in accordance with God’s teachings.
Resurrection of the dead
Brother Bob: But what can a true servant of God hope for if they pass away and are properly buried? Here in Psalms 49:15, the following is recorded:
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for he shall receive me.
[Psalms 49:15 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: Travis, dear friends, they will be redeemed, they will be resurrected from the grave, not from an urn or from ashes being sprinkled somewhere, but they will be resurrected from the grave to life, true life in the kingdom of heaven. We, inside the Church Of Christ, believe in these biblical teachings. We follow these instructions as well. Why, dear friends? Because that’s in the Bible.
Thank you, Travis, for your question, and if anyone viewing the program today has questions of your own, please send in your videos to us here at the email shown on the screen: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Brother Bob: Visit our site incmedia.org because there you’re going to find many shows similar to this one wherein the true teachings of our Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ are upheld by the true Church, the Church Of Christ, the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Thanks for watching. I’m Brother Bob Pellien. We’ll see you next time on That’s in the Bible.