Question & Answer Forum: Cremation, Son of God

Is cremation Scriptural?

Care is needed in answering a question such as this. There are countries in the world where cremation is mandatory and believers do not have a choice in the matter. Likewise, there are believers whose unsaved families opt for cremation for reasons of financial expense.

Part of our mind-set about cremation and our instinctive negative reaction is because in western countries cremation has normally been associated with defiance of God by wicked men. They have their bodies cremated and then have the ashes strewn over the ocean. They then mock that God, if He exists, could not possibly recover the ashes and resurrect their bodies. Of course, the inherent fallacy in their boast is that God is God and can do anything consistent with His will and power.

Because of this association with defiance against God, we have always viewed cremation as something believers should not do. On a purely factual basis, it could be noted that cremation is merely a hastening of the “dust to dust” truth enunciated in Genesis 3:19.

Also, believers point to 1 Corinthians 15:42 and speak of the body being “sown” in death by going into the grave. It is very likely that the sowing is in death, not in the grave. Believers who have died in shipwrecks, fiery crashes, and other destructive deaths are all being sown in corruption. The fact that there is not a literal body to go into the ground does not negate the truth of verses 42 and 43. God will still resurrect their bodies in a coming day.

Abraham was instructed to offer his son Isaac on the altar as a burnt offering. He believed that God was able to resurrect his son, not only from death, but from the ashes of the altar. An army of martyrs, as well, has gone to the stake and been burned to ashes; their bodies will know resurrection.

Finally, we read that “devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2). The dignity of the body in which he had faithfully served the Lord was honored by an honorable burial. Also, burial seems to be more in keeping with the tenor if not the command of Scripture. We read in John 5:28, “all that are in the graves shall hear His voice.”

Should believers, then, have their bodies cremated? In light of the connotation in western lands which links cremation with either a defiance of God or a belief that death ends all, it seems most consistent with Scripture and Scriptural principles for believers to avoid cremation and the “message” which it communicates to others. While the body is only the shell, the earthly tabernacle (2Cor 5:1), it nevertheless is the vehicle in which a believer has served the Lord. We can honor the body as well as the person by the dignity of a burial. An additional consideration is the value of a burial for those who remain. While “Celebrations of Life” are becoming the norm in our secular society, there is an inestimable value linked with a solemn and dignified burial. It grants closure to family, and can be a means of speaking to the unsaved of the solemnity and reality of death.

In lands, however, where cremation is mandated by law, a Christian is not defying God, disobeying Scripture, showing disrespect for a departed loved one, or denying resurrection. The God Who would have raised Isaac out of the ashes on the mountain in Moriah, will raise them as well, along with the saints in the grave. And His mighty power will also raise from ashes all the defiant and unbelieving who have challenged His power and ability by choosing cremation.

A. J. Higgins

How would I prove to one of my friends that Christ is the Eternal Son of God and that this relationship did not begin at Bethlehem?

In the 4th Century, Cyril of Jerusalem warned the saints by saying, “It is the greatest impiety to say that, after deliberation held in time, God became a Father.” Since He is Father, and what He is never had a beginning (eternal attribute), one must ask, “Of whom was He Father?” He was never called the Father of angels, even though we do not know absolutely when they were created (whether before or after Gen 1:1). So, being Father, He must have One Who stands in relation to Him as Son. To deny the eternal Sonship of Christ is to deny the eternal Fatherhood of God.

We read of the Son in the Old Testament in passages such as Proverbs 30:4, where the God of creation is in view and the question is made regarding His Son and His Son’s name. In Isaiah 9:6, we read of a Son (Who also bears divine attributes) being given, so that He must have been Son before coming into the world. He was born a Child and a Savior (Luke 2:11), but He was given as Son.

John’s Gospel is replete with references to the Son being given (3:16), sent into the world (10:36), and being in a direct, unique, and eternal relationship to the Father (1:18). We find repeated references to the Father (not God) sending Him into the world in 5:30, 37; 6:29; 8:16-29; 10:36, etc. John is emphasizing that the One Who was eternally the Son was sent by the Father to accomplish the Father’s will. He did not become the Son when He came, but as the Son, He was sent.

John’s first epistle reiterates this same theme. In 1 John 4:10, 14, he declares that the Father sent the Son into the world that we might live through Him and that He might be the Savior of the world. “The Son” is what He was in His eternal relationship before He was sent thus to be “the Savior” to fulfill God’s purpose for sending Him. John clearly maintains and asserts the eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus so as to emphasize this as a vital part of Christian doctrine.

Hebrews 1:2 shows us that the One by Whom God made the worlds was “Son,” so that His Sonship predated creation. He was (eternally), as Son, the “brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” This indicates that His eternal existence and relationship existed prior to His coming to make purification for sins and then sitting down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heights.

One can find multiple references to this truth, but these suffice to show amply that the Lord Jesus was the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, without beginning, either in existence or in relationship, and unchanging in this relationship when He came into the world. For further study, W. J. Hocking’s book, The Son of His Love is excellent on this subject.

Joel Portman