Compiled by Emmanuel Asiedu-Mante
In Genesis Chapter 2:7, it is recorded as follows: And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life and man became a living soul.” This statement from the bible indicates that man is composed of both a soul and dust. At the time of death, the soul takes flight from the physical body and enters the spirit world. This separation of the soul from the physical body (death) has been viewed as both good and bad by different people with different belief systems and cultures. The question that often arises is what is the best way of disposing of the body?
Over the years, many factors have affected man’s choice of what to do with the body after death. These factors include the wealth of the family, the status of the individual, the climate of the country, health, sanitation, aesthetics, and religious beliefs. The afore-mentioned factors contribute to the choices that each individual and family will make with respect to the question of burial or cremation.
Christian views on cremation
Christians have always looked on cremation as a heathen custom. The broad majority of Christians believe that cremation is a practice of people who do not have the Bible, or else have rejected its authority. They claim that God’s people have always practiced burial. Copious Bible passages are cited in support of this stand.
A few examples are given below:
Abraham was buried (Gen. 25:8-10)
“Then Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machepelah.”
Sarah was buried (Gen. 23:1-4)
“And Sarah was an hundred and seventy and twenty years old… And Sarah died in Kirjatharba… And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spoke unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
Rachel was buried (Gen. 35:19-20)
“And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath… And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”
Isaac was buried
“And Isaac gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”
Jacob was buried (Gen. 49:33; 50:4-13)
“And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons; he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielding up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people… And when the days of his mourning were past… his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah.”
Joshua was buried (Josh. 24:29-30
“And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him.”
Eleazer was buried (Josh.24:29-30)
“And Eleazer the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.”
Samuel was buried (1 Sam. 25:1)
“And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.”
David was buried(1 Kings 2:10)
“So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.”
John the Baptist was buried (Matt. 14:10-12)
“And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison and his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”
Ananias and Sapphira were buried (Acts 5:5-10)
“And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost; and great fear came to all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him… then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost; and the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.”
Stephen was buried (acts 8:2)
“And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.”
Joseph was buried (Josh.24:32)
“And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver…”
Scripture mentions many other significant individuals who were also buried, not cremated.
People like Moses (Deut. 34:5-8);
Aaron (Deut. 10:6); David (1 Kings 2:10)
Lazarus (John 11:17-18)
This is not surprising because the custom of the Jews was to bury.
Cremation, on the other hand, has been seen by Christians as a sign of God’s curse. In addition, they believe that it was considered to be a dishonor not to have a proper burial. Again, Christians believe that the body belongs to God and that it is not ours to “destroy” by fire or any other means. Above all, they crown their argument by saying that the Lord Jesus, who they look up to as an example, was buried.
According to Christians, if Jesus was “buried” then that is the right example to follow. Even though it is a recorded fact that Jesus’ body was laid in state in a cave and not buried in the ground.
Interestingly, scripture says nothing about the required disposing of the body for either believers or non-believers. However, burying the body was the standard practice among the Israelites in the Old Testament and Christians in the New.
There were a few exceptions through. In Sam. 31:8-13, both Saul and Jonathan were cremated, and their ashes were buried because their bodies had been mutilated by the Philistines. Another instance is cited in Josh. 7:5 when Achan and his family were cremated after being executed for sinning against Israel.
Individuals who favour burial
People who prefer burial to cremation claim that:
- Funerals for those to be buried afford dignity and also the burial process assert that the body belongs to God and therefore man has no right to destroy it.
- They also assert the sanity of the human body and the fact that burial keeps the body intact.
- And finally, they claim that burial is less “final” to its advocates and afford those left behind the chance to remember the person either at a grave site or vault.
Some data on cremation will be appropriate here:
Cremation has been practiced for thousands of years and was a method that was used by the Greeks and the ancient empires. When the Romans eventually adopted Christianity as their state religion, Cremation was replaced by Christian burial. Early Church saints did not practice cremation because of its pagan influence.
Cremation was even prohibited by the Catholic Church in the late nineteenth century. Some other ancient cultures such as the Egyptians carefully embalmed their precious dead in preparation for an afterlife.
During the new millennium however, cremation has become popular. Cremation seems to be a sensible answer to the limited number of available gravesites and rising cost of burial.
As can be seen from the table above, the Hindus in India have no problem with cremation. Similarly, the Shintoists and Buddhists of Japan have no problem with cremation. It is only Western Europe and America (i.e. Christian community) that have problems with cremation. The situation is gradually changing in the USA as can be seen in the table above.
The question is why is cremation becoming a more preferable method of disposing of the body these days. Those who favour cremation talk about several benefits:
First, they contend that the entire process of cremation, whether or not it includes a service or just the incineration of the corpse, is far cheaper than burial, even though a coffin or a container is used.
Secondly, they contend that the process of cremation offers a quick purifying process. This helps people to banish the thought of the body lying for decades in the ground while suffering slow decay.
Thirdly, they contend that the ashes can be kept at home in a container or urn, thus offering the family the opportunity to remember their loved one on a daily basis.
Proponents and believers in either cremation or burial have strong views on why cremation or burial is the appropriate means of disposing of the remains of a deceased person. Most of these strong views are derived from superstition, prejudices and outright misinformation.
The Ascended Masters and their chelas prefer cremation for several reasons. These reasons may be categorized into two broad groupings i.e.
- Terrestrial reasons
- Celestial reasons
It is a biblical fact (see Genesis 2:7) that the soul dwells in a human/physical body. The soul which is part of God dwells in the physical body from time of conception till the time of death when it exits. 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that your body is the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you”.
Psalm 82:6 “I have said, ye are gods and all of you are the children of the Most High.”
These and many more quotations from the bible give ample evidence to the fact that the physical body serves as a dwelling place for the soul during the soul’s journey on the physical plane. At the time, what happens is that the soul extricates itself from its shell (the physical body) and flies off to the spirit world which is where it came from in the first place and which is also the “home” of the soul. If a person has lived a long life i.e. above 55 years, the soul would have gotten used to the physical as its “home” and feels attached to the physical body. What burial does is that it delays the flight of the soul to its original and permanent home in the spirit world.
Another reason why cremation is preferred over burial is that burial results in waste of land. Here in Accra, I have seen cemeteries moved from James Town to Awudome to Odorkor to Mile 11 on the Kasoa road to Osu Cemetery. This is in addition to other burial sites (cemeteries) at Labadi, Teshie Nungua, Tema, Achimota, Amasaman etc. Mankind needs land to be able to accommodate the ever-growing population of the world.
It is also a known fact that most people die of one illness or another. Dead bodies could be infected with germs and viruses or deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Covid-19 etc. These germs and viruses could seep through water bodies and create health problems for the living if infected bodies are buried. It is common knowledge that many people have contracted all kinds of diseases and sickness through drinking water from streams and rivers.
There are many righteous people in all faith-based religious groups; Moslems, Christians, Buddhists, Schintoists, Hindus, Hare Krishnas, Bahais who while in physical embodiment have been prayerful, meditative and devotional. Such people have over the years on earth garnered a lot of light into their physical bodies. They have walked the earth and filled their bodies with light through their devotion, prayer and invocation of God’s light. This light needs to be taken up into higher and permanent vehicles. If it is left in the cells of the body, then the astral entities may come and steal the light that has been garnered in one’s entire spiritual life. It is therefore prudent to demagnitise the cells and atoms of the body that contain light. What the cremation fire does is that, it releases the light trapped in the cells and atoms of the body and enables it to return to the Holy Christ Self of the individual.
Another important reason why cremation is preferred has to do with the astral ka, otherwise known as ghost. The astral ka is the double of oneself which can go out to do harm in one’s name thereby creating karma for the soul even though the soul is no longer part of the shell. For this reason, it is important that the ka be consigned to the spiritual fire.
Finally, it is a known fact that there are grave-diggers in Ghana and in almost all societies in the world. There are those who exhume dead bodies from graves and steal body parts for rituals. There are those that exhume bodies from graves to steal jewelry, ornaments and other precious metals like gold, silver etc. And there are astral entities that also act as gravediggers.
As stated earlier, dead bodies of devout people contain light and the light bears the imprint of the deceased. If a grave digger succeeds in cutting and using any part of the body of the deceased for rituals, the karma created will be huge. The sad part is that the karma so created will go against the soul of the deceased person because the energy used in the rituals bears the imprint of the deceased. It is therefore of the utmost importance to subject the body to fire so that all the light trapped in the physical body of the deceased will be released to go with the soul into the etheric world.