Q: Is it biblically acceptable to cremate the dead body of an Adventist? — Nyandusi, from Kenya
A: As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe the Bible teaches that death is an unconscious state, often referred to as “sleep.” There are many texts that verify this teaching, such as Ecclesiastes 9:5: “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing.” (See also Ecclesiastes 9:10 and Ecclesiastes 12:7; Psalms 115:17 and Psalms 146:4; John 11:11-4, and Acts 2:29).
So, to the deceased, it does not matter how the remains are cared for because his or her is completely unaware.
Of course, as Adventists we believe that when Jesus comes the dead in Christ will be resurrected to an immortal life. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
The Bible is filled with the wonderful promise of the resurrection! Take a look at these texts: Job 14:7-17 and Job 19:25-27; Isaiah 25:8; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 22:31-32; Luke 20:27-38; John 11:24; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; and Hebrews 11:19.
As a church, we have not taken an official position regarding cremation because we believe it is a personal decision to be indicated by the person before he or she passes away or decided afterward by the family.
Some people wonder whether God can resurrect a person if the body has been cremated. Others point to cremation as a pagan ritual and so believe that cremation shouldn’t be practiced by Christians. These and many other important points are addressed in the brief article “Cremation” by Dr. George W. Reid. You can read his article here.