Ashes to Ashes?

Dr. Knippa suggests [in the April 2008 Family Counselor] the questioner look at for a “historical and scriptural perspective” regarding cremation.  He then refers to this with no scriptural references.

I would suggest that LCMS add the Bible reference of Joshua 7:15, 25, where we are told that an accursed criminal had to be purged by burning him. Christ was not burned although the authorities deemed him an “accursed criminal.”  God intervened through the faithful Joseph of Arimathea, who risked much to ask for Christ’s body before the Sanhedrin could burn it.  So, “accursed criminals”  are to be burned.

Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt discusses this pagan custom of burning people in his short, easy to read booklet; “Ashes to Ashes OR Dust to Dust?”

G. L. Zeller- Martin
Bristol, WI


The term “ashes to ashes” is a non-Biblical term. It does not “…describe the reality of physical death” as Dr. Willliam B. Knippa writes.  When “ashes” is mentioned in the Bible in relation to the body, it does not imply or say that the body will ever turn into ashes.  Dr. Knippa also writes that “The negative view [of cremation] came out of a historical context that generally associated cremation with non-Christian religious practices that denied the resurrection of the dead.”  People today deny the resurrection of the dead as much as they did during any historical time in the past.  Therefore, in death, we still need to attest to the resurrection of the body.
I don’t know of any examples in the Bible of God’s people being cremated or burned. It was only done to disgrace and punish the wicked deceased.  On the contrary, God’s people went to great hardship to bury their dead.  For example, it would have been much easier to cremate Joseph’s body and carry only his ashes to the Promised Land.  The ultimate example we have for burial is that of our Lord Jesus Christ.  His body was placed in a tomb; it was not cremated.
Read our own Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt’s “Dust to Dust or Ashes to Ashes?” to find out the facts about cremation and why it is not practiced by Christians.   Thanks to Dr. Knippa for bringing up the subject of cremation. Many Christians do not know there is a Biblical basis for not practicing cremation.
Ginny Valleau
Independence, MO


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