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The Bible-Presbyterian Church of Singapore Statement on Cremation

Published in the Far Eastern Beacon, July 1987

The Situation
(1) There is an increasing number of cremations in Singapore even amongst Christians.

(2) It is quite evident that our Government favours cremation by improving the facilities of the existing crematoria and columbaria, and by increasing the cost of burial while keeping down the cost of cremation.

(3) Some non-BP pastors have spoken and written in favour of cremation and have officiated at cremations while some non-BP churches have even built columbaria.

(4) Those who favour cremation claim it is more hygienic, cleaner and cheaper.

(5) They see cremation as a convenient form of disposal of the dead.

(6) Cremation does away with burial plots that need to be upkept and falls in line with our Government's stress on strategic land use.

Scriptural Considerations
The Scriptures plainly teach:

(1) Christians are to love their own bodies (Eph 5:28), even at death, the corpse is not to be lightly disposed of, having been associated with the soul of a departed loved one. God's judgment upon Adam was that at death, Adam should return to the ground: "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen 3:19).

(2) The patriarchs and their spouses were buried, viz. Abraham (Gen 25:9), Sarah (Gen 23:19), Isaac (Gen 35:29), Rebekah (Gen 49:31), Jacob (Gen 50:5-7,13), Leah (Gen 49:31), Rachel (Gen 35:19-20) and Joseph (Josh 24:33).

(3) Our Lord Jesus was laid in a tomb and buried (Matt 27:60; 1 Cor 15:4).

(4) Burial of the believer at death is compared to being "sown in corruption" (1 Cor 15:42,44). This exemplifies faith and hope of the resurrection.

Why We Should Not Cremate
(1) In the Scriptures, in some cases non-burial is a mark of God's judgment and curse, eg the disposal by burning of Achan and his family (Josh 7:24-25), of harlots (Gen 38:24; Lev 21:9) and the disposal of Jezebel (2 Kgs 9:10,34), of King Jehoiakim (Jer 22:19).

(2) Christians are reminded to glorify the Lord by life or by death and that "whether we live or die, we are the Lord"s" (Rom 14:8).

(3) To see the disposal of a loved one's corpse by cremation is usually painful to the bereaved and violates the sacred memory of the dead.

We recognise that there could be unusual circumstances, e.g. in times of war, or plague, where disposal of the dead by burning may be mandatory.

In keeping with the Word of God, we of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Singapore:

(1) Exhort and encourage all our members to plan for funerals by burial and not by cremation.

(2) Disseminate such Scriptural teaching to our children and fellow-Christians so that they, too, will come to the same Scriptural understanding and persuasion.

(3) Remind BP pastors and leaders to avoid officiating or giving undue support to cremation. Cremation should only be decided on as an exception and after consultation with the Board of Elders.

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