What's our view on Cremaiton vs Burial

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What is the A.M.E. Churchís view on death? Does the church take a position on cremation or preferred methods of burial?

Death:

The truth of physical death is Scriptural. For the Bible which declares, "I am the Lord that healeth thee,íí also says, "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27, KJV).

Some cults teach that people could live forever if they could only exercise the necessary measure of faith or would make a commitment to a cult leader who teaches the possibility of perpetual life in the here and now. But such teaching is contrary to Scripture.

Physical death is a fact of life for all people including Christians, it is entirely appropriate to think about and plan for our departure from this life if Godís appointed time for death precedes Christ's return to snatch away all believers "who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:15).

Interment methods:

Is it commonly held among A.M.E.ís that cremation is not the ideal method of interment for the Christian. This feeling is not based on any direct command of Scripture, but on the practice established in both the Old and New Testaments in which Christ, His saints, and the Old Testament heroes were all buried in traditional body-preserving fashion. Second, cremation originated as a practice of the pagans (people who believe in different gods, or people who donít believe in any god). Because of its origin many have felt cremation to be anti-Christian.

It is obvious that both the Old and New Testaments look forward to a resurrection of the body. A common thought in the Christian community is that cremation does not visually show or express a belief that the body will one day be resurrected. Does this contradict the belief in the rapture of the Church and those who are dead in Christ. Another common concern is that cremation does not treat our bodies (the temple of the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians. 6:19], created in the image of God [Genesis 1:27] ) with proper respect. Again, this thinking makes it difficult for Christians to accept cremation.

Yet, there are often extenuating circumstances that lead to the cremation of a believerís body. For example: in some countries laws will not permit a body to be transported into or out of its borders without cremation. In other cases plagues and epidemics have sometimes led health authorities to enact specific regulations concerning the treatment of dead bodies. The atrocities of war have often destroyed bodies by cremation and even more degrading practices.

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In a number of crowded countries limited land space for burial has encouraged the use of cremation. But even if one should choose cremation apart from special circumstances, there is no biblical evidence for thinking a Christian will miss heaven because of cremation.

Godís book speaks to the living; that all should believe, accept, and serve Christ in a manner that is pleasing to God while they are alive.

CONCERNS:

While some quickly dismiss the cremation issue as unimportant, we recognize it has caused distress and anguish to many surviving family members and friends. When differing interment procedures have been performed on a brother or sister in Christ, it has left some with the troubling question, "Will my loved one ever realize heaven?" It is here that we must rely on Scripture. Jesusí own words concerning eternal life were, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25,26)." Romans 10:9 says, "That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." There are no additional qualifications to salvation such as the mode of interment (see also: Romans 10:13; John 3:16-18; Mark 13:13; John 3:36; and John 6:51).

A worry voiced among some Christians is: "How will God rapture the dead when their bodies are ashes, and in some cases scattered all over the earth?" The key here is to recognize the power of God. Certainly God, who breathed the world into existence, who parted the seas, who calmed the waters, and who raised His own Son from the dead, can account for our ashes and renew them into glorified beings on resurrection day.

The rising cost of funerals and burial plots is another matter of concern. Some families with limited resources may choose cremation for a departed loved one in order to avoid the added debt that can come from burial expenses. For those with financial stability to criticize such a family demonstrates a greater concern for legalistic tradition than for the well-being of an already hurting family.

We must never put an inordinate emphasis on interment methods. One would logically assume that the complete lack of biblical instruction on burial would indicate burial methods are of little concern to God. The message of the Bible strongly indicates it is oneís personal belief and commitment to Christ in life and not the manner of burial after death that affects oneís eternal reward.

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2003

Answers

Bro. Smith:

Many thanks for your lucid discussion on the topic of interment choices. I have attended creamation ceremonies but my experience has been that they lack the spiritual spontaneity of burials. Choirs don't sing, folks don't testify and the eulogy lacks conviction. I don't know why there is a difference, but the difference exists. Personally, I favor burial arrangements. I have no interest in having my ashes tossed in the ocean or spread across some grassy meadow like fertilizer. I want to be buried along side my family members with the confident hope of participating in the Glorious Rapture described in your post. The rising cost of burial arrangements is indeed causing some to switch to a cheaper alternative like cremation but there are many pre-burial payment plans available which can help reduce the cost. QED

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2003


I have told my daughter I prefer cremation. And I want a glorious service with good preaching, choirs, and I want a collection taken just as we were in church the money would be sent to one of our churches in Africa. For the reception I want every food I could not eat while I was alive since I am diabetic. I have left a list, fried chicken, potato salad, greesn, spare ribs, sweet potato pie, chocalate cake, chocolate chip cookies, only pepsi can be served, french fries, cheeseburgers and KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKN! I have left instructions that my diabetic manager be serve first so she will know what she denied me of. (I have to work with a diabetic manager for the rest of my life-so I know when I die I will have a diabetic manager) and yes I am serious. My daughter who is the classiest woman I know looked at me in horror as I expressed my burial wishes for the thought of me wanting all of that at the reception was too much and I want so ole school music, Walter hawkins, Otis Redding, ike and tina turner. I also have told my daughter I want my organs donated.

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2003

I had this interesting and I thought humorous incident in my family. My dear mother (DOB 1908) came from a family that would never allow cremation to any of their relatives. When her brother, my uncle, Leonard Coleman died in Los Angeles, he and his wife had been seperated for many years but never bothered to divorce (Leonard was one of the great rascals in our family; drinking, gambling, chasing and sometimes catching was his practice). His wife, not wanting to pay the expenses of his last rites, said to my mother and her brothers, "He's my husband and he wasn't nothing but a rascal (she used several other more colorful words to describe him) and I'm going to burn him up!" Of course my mother and her siblins were horrified at the idea of Leonard being burned up. After careful negotiations with the "grieving" widow, she agreed to forsake her rights as next of kin if they would pay all expenses for his proper burial. So they buried Leonard and spared his body the indignity of cremation. Having been one of Leonards favorite nephews (I used to spend my saturdays driving him from bookie to bookie when he lost his driver's license over some small matter of drinking and driving) I knew that he didn't care one whit what they did with what was left of his body. It probaly contained so much booze that it would have burned eaisly. [This is somewhat off the subject, but after conducting a funeral for a man who was also somewaht of a rascal, we took him to a small rural cemetary and deposited the body. As we were leaving, a man darted out of a car that had just arrived, went through the fence and poured some liquid into the uncovered grave. The Undertaker informed that the man was a good buddy of his who had just given him his last drink. Hope these to stories (true) brings a smile to someone.

BE Blessed

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, April 25, 2003


It is really an "indignity" to cremate? I think it is far wiser to cremate someone when cost is an issue, than to spend massive amounts, to view a cosmetically, restored corpse. I have heard the arguments about closure,etc. But in my community the emphasis on the corpse is so intense that they have to have a parting view before the body can be carried off to the graveyard. The body is a soul-less shell let's focus on God.

-- Anonymous, April 26, 2003

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