Funeral customs in the U.S. are undergoing rapid change, particularly in regards to the acceptance of cremation. According to a Scripps-Howard release, more than a third of the 2.5 million Americans who die this year likely will be cremated rather than being buried in a casket.
The Cremation Association of North America points out that the percent of bodies cremated first reached double digits in the 1980s, and it estimates that by the year 2025 cremation will account for the disposition of nearly 60 percent of all bodies.
People choose cremation over burial for a number of reasons, including lower cost, more suitability to a mobile society, and it is considered more environmentally friendly.
However, historically, most religious communities in America considered cremation to be heathen in the 19th century, according to Stephen Prothero, professor of religion at Boston University. Since then, many religious attitudes toward cremation have changed, but many Christians are still unsure whether scripture gives discernible guidance on the issue.
Dr. John J. Davis, professor of Old Testament and Hebrew and former president of Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana, wrote a short book in the late 1990s entitled “What About Cremation? A Christian Perspective.” The book has just been re-issued by BMH Books of Winona Lake, and is now available for shipping.
Davis carefully examines the nature, history, and contemporary utilization of cremation against the background of the Bible. His goal is to help believers form guidelines for Christian thought and practice in dealing with the arguments for and against cremation of the dead.
Particularly helpful is the final chapter, which suggests some needed reforms to modern funeral practices as they relate to the Christian church. The book includes generous documentation, scripture references, and a helpful bibliography.
The 128-page paperback retails for $8.95, and the ISBN number is 978-0-88469-276-8. For more information log onto www.bmhbooks.com or call toll-free at 1-800-348-2756. The book is also available wherever books are sold online or in stores.