Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Day I Disagreed with Albert Mohler

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

If I made a personal rule not to listen to or read material from people who are smarter than me, I wouldn't have much to do. Instead, I saddle up and ride the harder trail, trying to learn some things from people I can't hold a candle to in the area of intelligence. When disagreeing with someone, a good exercise is to be able to show why you are doing so, even if it only benefits yourself. Sometimes, other people may respect that you gave reasons for your contrary view, because it shows that you're thinking.

Disagreeing with Dr. Albert Mohler on the issue of cremation. I found out that others in my family have preferred this.
Image credit: Morguefile / Kenn W. Kiser
This has to do with a topic that is sometimes controversial among Christians. In the October 26, 2016 episode of The Briefing podcast, Dr. Albert Mohler was discussing the issue of cremation. He was agreeing with the Roman Catholic Church that cremation is not acceptable for professing Christians. One of the reasons is that pagans do it, cremation is not in the Bible, and also, Christians traditionally have not done it. This strikes me as guilt by association and the genetic fallacy on the first point. To take that concept further, there are many things we "cannot" do because pagans, atheists, cultists, Communists, or whatever also do them. Not hardly! On the second point, that Christians have traditionally eschewed cremation, well, that doesn't impress me.

I disremember when, but Pastor Alistair Begg expressed strong dislike for cremation, and described the unpleasantness of the cremation funeral ceremony and of the process itself. I agree with him on that part, and think people are better off without that aspect. Giving the container to the family after the fact is fine, and they can choose whether or not to use it in the memorial service.

Interestingly, after I had decided that this was what I wanted for myself as a cost consideration for those left behind, I learned that both of my parents had selected cremation as well. My oldest brother was also cremated, as was my father-in-law (we have his cremains in the apartment right now pending further plans). There was no cremation ceremony.

This leads to some odd humor. My oldest brother died December 21, 2008, and my father died the following February. They lived in Michigan, and I was unable to travel from New York for my brother's service. When I arrived at my other brother's home for my father's service, they put me up in a spare bedroom. I asked if anyone was using the room, and my brother said, "No...oh!" He went into the closet and lifted up a lacquered box, saying, "This is our brother". The ground was frozen (February, remember), so the burial couldn't happen until the spring thaw.

After my father's service the next day, we brought things out of the funeral home, and put the container with his remains in the back of my brother's car. The container remained in the car overnight, and the next day, my brother said, "Do you want to bring Dad in?" I really think my father would have laughed at the comments and situation.

Christians have a blessed hope (Titus 2:11, 1 Peter 1:3). My oldest brother had severe Down Syndrome, my mother was taken by a malignant glioma, and my father had many issues at the end, including dementia and Parkinson's. We're going to have a joyous reunion, all of the physical and mental impairments will be gone. I'm ready to join them with Jesus. What about you? There's good news if you want it.

Back to the topic, I had reached my conclusion about cremation before I had know other family members had decided on this approach for themselves. Respectfully, Dr. Mohler, I disagree with you. I'm sure it'll happen again sometime.