Christian Burial, Easter Resurrection and the Image of God

Juicy Ecumenism | 4/19/2019 | Rick Plasterer
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Good Friday commemorates the death and burial of Jesus Christ, as Christians during the Paschal Triduum look ahead to his Resurrection on Easter and a promise of impermanence of death.

As noted in my most recent article, the gravest danger to Christian survival in America is assimilation to a post-Christian culture. The great concern of that and other articles I’ve written has been forced assimilation. This is attempted where enemies of the faith aren’t satisfied with de-Christianization so far. But unconsidered or half-considered assimilation is also a threat, making coercive measures seem more reasonable.

Area - Believers - Practices - Wider - Culture

One area where traditional believers are adopting practices of the wider culture is in the way the dead are disposed of. Here there is a clear distinction between historic Christian and pagan practices, although not an explicit Biblical command. Burial was historic Christian practice signaling belief in the resurrection of the dead. Cremation has become common with secularization of the West – especially since the social revolution of the 1960s. Jessica Mitford’s American Way of Death (1963) criticized the expense of American funerals. Cremation is far cheaper by contrast, allows any amount of time to pass between death and a ceremony commemorating the deceased, and doesn’t require a plot of ground for interment.

With these marked advantages, Americans are increasingly turning to cremation as a funeral alternative. In 2016 it exceeded burial as the most common method of disposing of the dead. Traditional Christians are part of this. But we need to take a closer look at what so many have turned to in a time of changing standards.

Biblical - Command - Remains - Achan - Saul

Indeed, there is no Biblical command that the dead be buried rather than cremated. The mutilated remains of Achan (who had been stoned) and Saul (whose corpse was beheaded by the Philistines) were burned. Yet the only Biblical comment about the...
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