Cremation has become an increasingly popular means for disposing of the dead. In fact, by the year 2010, it is estimated that one-third of all Americans will cremate their loved ones. While those who opt for cremation often do so on the basis of emotional, economical, or ecological considerations, there are compelling reasons for Christians to choose burial.
First, Scripture clearly favors burial over cremation. The Old Testament pattern was always burial except in highly unusual circumstances. Likewise, in the New Testament Paul equates baptism with both burial and resurrection (Romans 6:4).
Furthermore, burial symbolizes the promise of resurrection by anticipating the preservation of the body. Cremation, however, better symbolizes the pagan worldview of reincarnation. While resurrectionists look forward to the restoration of the body, reincarnationists look forward to being relieved from their bodies.
Finally, burial highlights the sanctity of the body. In the Christian worldview, the body is significant in that it has numerical identity to the resurrected body. Thus, while God has no problem resurrecting the cremated, cremation does not point to the resurrection of God.
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), chapter 15; and Norman L. Geisler and Douglas E. Potter, “From Ashes to Ashes: Is Burial the Only Christian Option?” Available from CRI at www.equip.org.
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”