How Does the Assemblies of God Feel About Cremation?

Many theologians believe the early church avoided cremation because it was associated with pagan worship.
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The death of a loved one is usually a difficult time. Deciding how to inter the remains is a decision that involves considerations of cost, convenience and the religious conscience of both the deceased and the loved ones who have been bereaved. If you are an adherent of the Assemblies of God or are making funeral arrangements for one who was, it's helpful to have an understanding of the church's view on cremation and other interment practices.

1 Basis of Assemblies of God Belief

The first sentence in the Assemblies of God official doctrinal document, "Statement of Fundamental Truths," is: "The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for faith and practice." As such, the Assemblies of God believes that all teachings and practices, including those about death and interment, should come from the Bible. According to their view, if a teaching cannot be directly supported from the Bible, it cannot be considered authoritative. In the Assemblies of God position paper on death and burial, they note that the Bible does not offer any specific instructions about interment practices.

2 Death

Like most Pentecostals, the Assemblies of God believes in divine healing. They are careful to point out, however, that this does not preclude the Biblical teaching that "it is appointed unto man once to die," found in Hebrews 9:27. While it is not an official point of doctrine, most Assemblies of God adherents believe that only the body dies at the time of death and that the deceased's soul and spirit (or "inner man") receive their eternal reward or punishment directly following death. The Assemblies of God believes that the body of a believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such should be treated with respect, even in death. They do not, however, dictate how this should affect interment.

3 Eternal Existence

The Assemblies of God believes that people have eternal existence. Following death, those who have received Jesus Christ as savior and remained in Him are welcomed to eternal life in heaven. Those who have died in their sins apart from a savior receive eternal punishment in hell. The Assemblies of God teaches that this eternal existence is not affected by the disposition of the body after death. In the Assemblies of God view, neither burial nor cremation of the physical remains has any effect on the state of eternal existence.

4 Resurrection of the Body

The Assemblies of God believes in a bodily resurrection of all believers and that all believers will receive a glorified, eternal body. They are quick to point out in their doctrinal statement on death and interment that God is all-powerful and is fully capable of recovering and restoring the physical bodies of believers, regardless of how they were interred and even if they were completely destroyed. The Assemblies of God position statement also points out that if a particular method of interment were critical for the resurrection of the body, then the Bible would expressly prescribe a method of interment. Because the Bible does not give a directive on burial or cremation, the Assemblies of God believes the choice should be left to the wishes of the deceased and their loved ones and that none need fear any impact on the eternal destiny of the deceased based on the method of interment.

Dell Markey is a full-time journalist. When he isn't writing business spotlights for local community papers, he writes and has owned and operated a small business.