Burial Or Cremation, Does it Matter?, Donald Howard, published by the Banner of Truth Trust, booklet, 32 pages, £1.25, obtainable from the F P Bookroom.
This is a subject on which very little is written today. Cremation seems to have become the normal way of disposing of the dead. Mr Howard, a retired Anglican minister in Australia, points to the teaching of Scripture. He examines the biblical references: the burials of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and particularly that of the Saviour. He comments: “The stress on burial in the death of Jesus was to ensure that His followers would accept the twin truths of His physical death and bodily resurrection”.
Cremation has been common among heathen peoples for thousands of years. Only in the 1870s did it reappear in Europe – in Italy. And only in 1902 was it legalised in the UK. Its increasing prevalence throughout the twentieth century has parallelled the decreasing respect for the authority of Scripture and, consequently, belief in the future resurrection. The author highlights the violence of the process of cremation: “Incinerators in crematoria . . . destroy the body at temperatures between 800 and 1000 degrees Centigrade. Bones are then broken down in what is effectively a tumble drier with large steel balls.” This clearly is not consistent with the respect which should be shown to the dead.
Mr Howard comments suitably on the inappropriateness of expensive funerals, but we do not agree that flowers are at all appropriate on such an occasion. It is a pity also that Scripture quotations are not from the AV.
The issue burial or cremation does matter, and it is good that it should be highlighted as it is in this booklet. It would be good if the booklet was a means of restraining people from using this pagan way of disposing of the dead. It gives clear scriptural authority for the practice of burial.
The Authority of Scripture, John P Thackway, published by the James Begg Society, booklet, 20 pages, £1.50, obtainable from the F P Bookroom.
This booklet contains an address on 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20 by a minister in Wales who is the editor of The Bible League Quarterly. By using the term, Authority of Scripture, the author explains, “we assign to the Bible the right to mould the way we think, prescribe what we believe and govern how we live”. He asks, “What gives Scripture its authority?” And he gives his answer under three headings: (1) Its unique origin, (2) Its divine inspiration (3) Its providential preservation. The second main section is entitled: “What is the extent of Scripture’s authority?” Among the points made are the fact that this authority includes geology, morality and matrimony. Also, apparent discrepancies reveal a problem “with our finite minds, not with God’s perfect Word”. A section of “lessons” completes the booklet, which is useful in reminding us of the fundamental nature of the issues which are at stake.