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“What about cremation?”

“What about cremation?”

JANUARY 6, 2023

/ Programs / Key Life / “What about cremation?”

Steve Brown:
What about cremation? The answer to that and other questions, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
This is Key Life dedicated to the message that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them, anyway. That teaching raises a lot of questions, so here’s author and seminary professor Steve Brown, along with Pete Alwinson from ForgeBibleStudy.com with answers to the Bible, that’ll make you free.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. Hi Pete.

Pete Alwinson:
Hey man, happy Friday.

Steve Brown:
And to you too, by the way. Check out if you haven’t read Like Father Like Son, you ought to read it. You can get a hard back, a soft back, or you can get an audio version of it. And we have heard from so many people whose lives have been touched profoundly by that book. If you haven’t read it, it was mainly written for guys. But we get letters from women who have read it and it really touched their lives deeply, Like Father Like Son by Pete Alwinson. And by the way, go to ForgeTruth.com. Pete, as you know, comes in on Fridays and we answer questions. You can ask a question by calling 1-800-KEY-LIFE. You can do that anytime, and we record your question and then sometimes put you on the air. Or you can write to

Key Life Network
P.O. Box 5000
Maitland, Florida 32794

or if you’re in Canada

Key Life Canada
P.O. Box 28060
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6J8

and you can, of course, always e-mail your question to [email protected] And if you can help us, and I always say it, and I always mean it, we will rise up and call you blessed and we’ll squeeze every dime for the glory of God. If you can help us, you can do it with a credit card, include it in your envelope, and we’ll be as faithful with your gift as you were in the giving of it. And if you can’t, we understand, say a prayer for this ministry, it would be appreciated. Pete, why don’t you pray and then we’ll answer these questions.

Pete Alwinson:
You got it. Well, Father, we do come into your presence today, so thankful and humbled that we are your children. We honor you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and we think about who you are. We’re amazed at your power and your knowledge that you are omnipotent and omniscient, and omnipresent. You are here, you’re high and holy and lifted up, but you’re near each one of us. We thank you for your mercy, your grace. We thank you for the fact that you plan that we are a part of your plan. We honor you for who you are and what you do, and how your grace has radically changed our lives. And so, we come to you today and Lord, we confess our sins because we know you’re holy and we’re not, but we need you and we need your continued work in our lives. Where do you want us grow? What are you doing in our lives? Help us to be sensitive to you. But Lord, we do look forward to this week-end and meeting with your people and worshiping, bowing the knee before you. And so, we pray for our leaders and we ask that you would use them in a powerful way, to in unity draw us into your presence to give glory to your name. And now, we commit this Q&A to you and we ask that you would use it for your honor and glory. In Jesus’ strong name we pray. Amen.

Steve Brown:
All right, let’s Amen. And let’s go to our phone lines.

Caller 1:
Many friends seem to be bothered by this. They are wondering is it okay to be cremated or should you be buried? My thinking is, it doesn’t matter, but I would be really interested to hear what your thoughts are. Dr. Brown. Thank you. God bless.

Steve Brown:
Well wait till you die before you do either. It’s just not a good policy before then.

Pete Alwinson:
That is so funny. And before, when we were talking about this earlier, Jeremy said, when we asked him for a summary of the questions, he said, one person wants to know if it’s cool to be cremated? And I said, no, it’s hot man. It’s hot. But yeah, so wait until your dead is really good counsel.

Steve Brown:
It’s wise.

Pete Alwinson:
It’s wise.

Steve Brown:
You know what my wife says? She says that when she dies, she’s going to be cremated cause it’ll be the only time she was ever warm.

Pete Alwinson:
And she lives in Florida for crying out loud.

Steve Brown:
I know. When we moved to Florida, she thought she had died and gone to heaven.

Pete Alwinson:
Oh my goodness.

Steve Brown:
But you know, seriously, I don’t know anything in Scripture that prohibits cremation, do you?

Pete Alwinson:
No. No. I don’t. I don’t. By the way, I love our sister’s accent there. British

Steve Brown:
Oh, I do too.

Pete Alwinson:
for sure.

Steve Brown:
That was so good.

Pete Alwinson:
Love it. But yeah. There is some, the resurrection to come is not a molecule by molecule thing. It’s a supernatural thing. And so, we have to understand that there are people who die at sea, that the body eventually turns to dust. And that’s Biblical. And so, the resurrection is quite a supernatural thing.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, it is.

Pete Alwinson:
Only God could do it.

Steve Brown:
You know, people say, I don’t know how, I don’t want God to have trouble getting me back together for my resurrection body. Well, you don’t understand what Pete just said. It’s a supernatural thing, and there’s not going to be any molecule by molecule getting it together. And as you said, eventually it turns to dust anyway.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. And, however, as some have pointed out that it’s impressive when the body is there at a funeral that it makes the point that death happens. And that body has to be resurrected. So, I know in some cases some people seek to have the body present and then afterwards have it cremated. But that’s expensive too.

Steve Brown:
It really is.

Pete Alwinson:
You know, embalmed, viewing, and then

Steve Brown:
and then cremation.

Pete Alwinson:
I am not, this might be a good question for you, I think. Does somebody, do people, do mourners need to see the body to actually accept the death?

Steve Brown:
You know, no, most of the time not, but sometimes, yes. You know, there’s some people that just will not face the reality and the finality of death. And sometimes being able to see the body, facilitates the actual psychological work of mourning, which needs to take place.

Pete Alwinson:
It does. Yeah.

Steve Brown:
You know, if you, I teach students or did when I was still at the seminary about funerals, that it was important when they have the initial contact with the family or those who had lost a loved one that they, they’ll seem cruel when they do, but they force the people to look at death and to know its finality. But some refuse to do that. And, in that case the body’s presence is a psychologically good thing. But not most of the time. Most of the time we know what death is and how it does it.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. And there is such a thing as a Christian funeral, you know? I mean,

Steve Brown:
oh yeah.

Pete Alwinson:
there is all kinds of funerals or memorial services. But the Christian ones get to the reality of Creation, Fall, the promise of redemption, the fulfillment in Christ, and then the coming consummation in Christ. So, that whole process has to be brought out.

Steve Brown:
You know, I’ve never been to a Christian funeral when there wasn’t laughter. You know, that’s weird. You feel like, you know, what’s going on man? Your father died. You’re not supposed, but they really are. And at Christian funerals, as they talk about memories and things, it’s a time of laughter.

Pete Alwinson:
The full range of emotions, laughter and tears,

Steve Brown:
yeah. And it’s really important that

Pete Alwinson:
to the glory of God.

Steve Brown:
Yeah. That both take place. How do I answer people who say, well, that’s in the Old Testament, it doesn’t matter, unless it’s in the New Testament.

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. And you’ve got, and I think people have to have an answer for that. Well, God gave both Testaments, so the initial thing is aren’t both important?

Steve Brown:
And God hasn’t changed his mind.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. And so and so, so with that in mind, then the question is how is the Old Testament still relevant to us today? How do we answer? That’s really the question, maybe we should say, well, no, of course, the real question you’re asking is how is the Old Testament relevant?

Steve Brown:
Well, you find in Biblical Christian theology that the Old Testament is the foundation and the key to understanding the New Testament.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right.

Steve Brown:
If you don’t get what’s going on in the New Testament, the progressive revelation, it doesn’t mean that the initial revolution was wrong, just truncated. As that begins to move throughout history, you begin to say, oh, I see that’s what God was doing. And that’s why the writers of the New Testament quote the Old Testament so often.

Pete Alwinson:
That’s right. That’s right. So, I can never remember that line, the Old Testament is in the New and the New is, you know, there’s that great statement.

Steve Brown:
Yeah, I know it too, but I can’t remember.

Pete Alwinson:
I can’t say it. But you said

Steve Brown:
I’m old, what’s your excuse?

Pete Alwinson:
but you said it, you won’t understand the New until you understand the Old, both are relevant. And God hasn’t changed.

Steve Brown:
Our friend Richard Pratt, who’s an Old Testament scholar, says that the New Testament is God’s addendum to his book. And I love that statement. How can God allow the death of a baby or a child?

Pete Alwinson:
Yeah. Well, God is sovereign and God is good. And, the death of a child is one of the most heartbreaking, and we both have been through that. We’ve both walked at the head of the casket of a baby. But there is great hope and God is good in all of this process. Death is real. And this is shocking

Steve Brown:
and it’s sad.

Pete Alwinson:
it’s sad

Steve Brown:
Don’t minimize it. But remember that behind it is your Father.

Pete Alwinson:
Absolutely.

Steve Brown:
And he know, early in my ministry, I participated in a funeral for a, it was a tragic death. And I was a liberal and the priest said, God, I will not say God had anything to do with this death. And I remember even thinking, I mean, liberal theologically, I’m not talking about politically. But I remember thinking as I was listening to him talk. That’s insane. If God doesn’t have anything to do with this, there’s no meaning in anything. And God has to do with everything. And he’s sovereign. And when your child dies, cuss and spit and cry and ask why. That’s all a part of it. But underneath it all, the faith that God gives you says that God is, what you said, good all the time.

Pete Alwinson:
Oh. And let him hug you and let others hug you as well. Let them give you the hope that one day you’ll see that child.

Steve Brown:
Oh, that’s so true. And don’t think you’ve got to say things when you’re involved in those situations. We talk too much. Hugging is better, you know, we have a staff member that loves dogs that says, bark less, wag more. Well talk less, hug more. You’re going to come back next week?

Pete Alwinson:
I will. I will. I’ll see you soon.

Steve Brown:
I knew you would. Before we go, Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.

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