Cremation has become an increasingly popular means for disposing of the dead. In fact, more than 40 per- cent of Americans who died in 2014 were cremated. While people 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 equated 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—the body that dies is the same body that will be raised. Thus, while God has no problem resurrecting the cremated, cremation does not point to the resurrection of God.
Adapted from Resurrection
We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4 NKJV
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), chapter 15.
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