It’s no secret that Christians have historically buried their dead, but an increasingly popular manner of dealing with one’s mortal remains is cremation. That’s true in America in general and among professing Christians as well.
But, should that be so?
“Cremation … is of pagan origin; it was never a custom in Israel or in Christian nations, and militates against Christian mores. Burial, on the other hand, is much more nearly in harmony with Scripture and creed, history, and liturgy, with the doctrine of the image of God that is also manifest in the body, with the doctrine of death as a punishment for sin, and with the respect that is due to the dead and the resurrection on the last day. Christians do not, like the Egyptians, artificially conserve corpses; nor do they mechanically destroy them, as many people desire today. But they entrust them to the earth’s bosom and let them rest until the day of the resurrection” (Herman Bavinck, ‘The Last Things’, 135).
Incidentally, I don’t think it’s a valid argument against cremation that God would somehow have difficulty putting a body back together again at the resurrection to bring it into its glorified, imperishable state.
My assessment: At best cremation is an argument from silence, meaning it’s not explicitly prohibited. But that really only goes so far, as I can think of a whole host of things we’d not do with a loved one’s dead body that aren’t prohibited explicitly in Scripture (eg, cutting up bits of the deceased so each family member could could wear it as a necklace).
I think it matters what we do with the material part of our brethren. Given the biblical pattern of burial and the burning of bodies never being portrayed in a positive light, I think the burden of proof lies with the cremation camp.
If I had my druthers, we’d do like the church I attended in England and bury our church members in the church courtyard. We’d walk past them each week as a reminder of our unity and collective hope in Christ of the future resurrection.