An Atheist’s Visit to Resurrection Life Church

Chad at No Gods Allowed was inspired by my book (yay!) and visited Resurrection Life Church in Grandville, Michigan.

He didn’t see any speaking in tongues (damn) but he still has a lot to say about it.

On a side note, I haven’t been to a church that had a pool table on the premises much less several really nice ones! Chad, you lucky dog, you.

And what did this pastor talk about? Chad paraphrases:

  • Your body is holy
  • Treat your body with respect in life and in death
  • Burial is the way to go out. Cremation is for pagans and should stay that way.
  • Tattoos are bad
  • Cremation is really bad and Christians shouldn’t do it. I mean, God can still resurrect you, but you gotta make it easy on him. Don’t cremate yourself.
  • Homosexuality is bad
  • Pagans are bad
  • Did I mention cremation yet? Because it’s bad. In fact, the polls show that more and more people are getting cremated, and this is just evidence that they are leaving Christianity and becoming pagans.
  • I’m hoping the rapture is right around the corner, but you shouldn’t live like that. prepare yourself to die rather than be raptured
  • And by the way, if you come back tonight at five o’clock, I’ll give you my top ten reasons why cremation is bad

Chad doesn’t mention the pastor talking about organ donation at all, which is upsetting. I also didn’t read anything about the pastor encouraging people to donate their bodies to science.

Can someone please explain why these Christians don’t like cremation? Is there any rational explanation for it? Do churches ever encourage organ donation?

Chad also ends with a surprising conclusion about another church located near this one…


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://bligbi.com KC

    I think it has something to do with the destruction of the body. These people are convinced that they will literally walk out of their graves come Judgment Day. How do you do that when you’re nothing but a box of ashes on someone’s mantel?

  • http://nogodsallowed.wordpress.com Chad

    Chad here – thanks for the ping, Hemant! Regarding the organ donation thing – nothing was mentioned in the sermon about organ donation. That was on my mind because last night I just renewed my license and organ donation registration.

    I assume since they’re against the destruction caused by cremation, that they would feel equally as queasy about donating parts of said body. It seemed implied from the sermon that any destruction of the body God gave you is heretical. It’s sad to think that such a viewpoint is probably held by those four thousand or so people in attendance.

  • Richard Wade

    Maybe the pastor owns a piece of the action at the local mortuary and cemetery. Traditional embalming and burial is much more expensive than cremation. So either way folks get burned.

    There’s a lot to be said about the new wave in funereal services that use high speed, super fine wood chippers. Just aim it at your local public rose garden and voila! In two seconds Grampa’s part of his favorite park.

  • Arlen

    Yeah, that’s pretty different from mainline Christian thought. Catholics, Mormons, and Eastern Orthodox folks tend to be against it because they consider the body to be a holy object. Pretty much every other denomination is totally okay with it. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are completely opposed to donating or receiving blood are cool with cremation. I have visited several churches that even have gardens where ashes can be scattered or well-like objects (that I forget the name of) into which everyone from the church can have their ashes dumped (if they so desire). My own personal experience has been that most Christians choose to be buried, but typically not on explicitly religious grounds; it’s just “what’s done.”

  • grazatt

    It sounds like there is some real scintillating intellectual conversation at that church!

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Hemant, you want to hear speaking in tongues? I can still do it and I can send you an MP3. :-) Actually I’m sure you can find videos of people speaking in tongues on You Tube. Otherwise just visit your local Pentecostal church. They won’t disappoint.

    My experience matches KC’s regarding cremation. Your body is to be resurrected at judgment day, and I guess it’s more work for God to reconstruct you from ashes than from decomposed flesh and whatever might be left of your bones.

    Donna

  • http://zack-is-coming.blogspot.com/ zack

    Cremation is bad because it prevents you from coming back to life as a zombie….. and the Bible as we all know is pro-zombie….

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com My Faith

    Oh my, is cremation bad? I was thinking it was the cheaper, earth friendly option! I’m gonna have to ask my paster about this one…. fortunately he a level headed guy and cremation will be fine. He’ll probably even offer to cremate me on the spot….

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Like Arlen, said, this anti-cremation thing is a pretty uncommon belief outside of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Until this church I hadn’t heard of any Protestant groups that had any problem at all with cremation.

    Personally I think cremation is probably a better option than burial inasmuch as you won’t be taking up land that could be used for better purposes. Cemetaries have always struck me as an astounding waste of resources.

  • Jen

    Did anyone else see BodyWorld? It was the exhibit of the plastized bodies, and when I saw it, they had a guest book as well as information on donating your body. In the guest book, a person wrote that they liked the exhibit, but they were pretty sure those people were going to have a harder time on Judgement Day. I have never understood it, because burial isn’t exactly a process that leaves the corpse looking pretty for too long.

    I remember in my Christian hey-day reading some magazine that talked about getting tattoos for (and of) Jesus as a method of constantly reminding oneself of promises made to God. They are instant street-cred in a Christian heavy metal band, too.

    I, on the other hand, am completely freaked out by the foreverness of tattoos. I had a dream recently that I got a tattoo of Bob the Tomato from the Veggietales series tattooed on the top of my foot, and I started crying because I could never wear strappy shoes again.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    When I was in second grade, I remember my Mom saying that donation of corneas after you die was a bad thing. Her concern came from her idea that she might need her eyes in Heaven.

    I asked her wouldn’t God (being God and having the power to do so) simply give you new eyes in Heaven to reward your generosity in your organ donation.

    Mom didn’t think that God would reward generosity.

  • http://journals.aol.ca/plittle/AuroraWalkingVacation/ Paul

    Hemant wrote:

    Is there any rational explanation for it?

    Heh…did you really just ask that question? Is there any rational explanation for anything any religious person practises or believes about their God?

  • Mriana

    Where did he get the idea that cremation is bad and paganism? It’s good for the environment for one thing and even my aunt and mother, who are extremely religious, almost insanely religious, are wanting cremation. They see no need for the physical body after death because for them it is the soul that goes to heaven. Not only that, cremation is in the Bible- the garbage dump that burned constantly… cremation of the dead was part of what made it burn constantly, besides trash and it is where they got the idea of hell being fire. :roll: This guy is insane, from what I can tell. What the hell does he need with his physical body after death?

  • http://brownjs.wordpress.com/ J.S.Brown

    Hmmm… What about Christians who, by chance, die horrible deaths? Some of them are burned to ashes in fires. Some are mangled in car accidents. Oh, and what about beheadings? There must be hundreds or thousands of ways to destroy a body. How much damage is too much for god to fix at resurrection? And are such deaths considered Pagan ways to die? LOL

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    What really is the difference between a Pagan belief and Christianity other than the fact that Christianity became popular and developed a sophisticated system to try to perpetuate itself. The irony is that there are probably as many crazy versions of Christianity now as there were back in the 2nd century AD.

    Some of the Christian’s I know believe they will come back in heaven with young better-looking bodies than they ever had in their life. Ugly ducklings coming back as beautiful swans… For them, they would have no problem with cremation. For them, God could just as easily mold a beautiful body from ashes (or dirt or clay) as from rotting stinking worm-ridden decomposing flesh.

    I say donate an organ or two and then get cremated…

  • QrazyQat

    The thing is God’s omnipotent powers just aren’t as strong as they used to be. You get older, you get that basketball gut, the hair starts to thin, and and your omnipotence turns to jelly.

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  • Iggy

    This is all from memory, going a long way back:

    A very long time ago, Christians (both catholics and protestants AFAIK) made a big deal about cremation. This attitude has gradually changed during the second half of the 20th century.

    Nowadays, the Catholic church has no objections to cremation (although older people tend to prefer burial). Some protestant churches still hold on to the cremation = bad idea.

  • Vincent

    My Faith said,

    Oh my, is cremation bad? I was thinking it was the cheaper, earth friendly option! I’m gonna have to ask my paster about this one…. fortunately he a level headed guy and cremation will be fine. He’ll probably even offer to cremate me on the spot….

    I want to correct this. Cremation is NOT earth friendly. It is not the environmentally better option.
    It is difficult to say which is worse for the environment: burial or cremation.
    Burial takes the toxins in your body and in your casket (plus the formaldehyde and other embalming stuff) and leaches it out into the ground over a long period of time.
    Cremation takes those same toxins (less the embalming stuff) and pumps them out into the air all at once. It also requires more burning of fossil fuels.
    Both systems are bad, and it’s hard to compare, but cremation may be slightly worse for the environment.

    If environmental concerns are a big motivator, the most environmentally conscious way to dispose of your remains under current laws is to donate your body to a body farm for forensic research. At least then it mostly decays naturally and feeds back into the environment.

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Jen, I saw Bodyworlds. Man, that was cool. I don’t really have anything poignant to say about it, really. I could guess that there would be some religious people offended by it, but I don’t really see a problem with it.

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ My Faith

    I want to correct this. Cremation is NOT earth friendly. It is not the environmentally better option.

    Oh shit, I’ll just get the kids to bury me in the back yard…..

  • Mriana

    I want to correct this. Cremation is NOT earth friendly. It is not the environmentally better option.

    Right! Where did you get this idea when we are all part of the earth and made of the earth, as well as part of the vast ecosystem? I don’t know where you get your info from, but it is highly in accurrate.

  • J Sveda

    Anyway, how long does it take until flesh completely decomposes and only bones are left? After that time, all God would be left with is one’s skeleton ;)

    I wonder how Christiand imagine they would look like afte resurrection… Someone here said that some believe the would get new, young bodies. Maybe they are scared of meeting with ancestors looking exactly like they did when they died? some young, some wrinkled old men and women… And the idea starts getting ridiculous…

  • ash

    Jen, My faith, cheers for the laughs.

    my religious mother doesn’t like the idea of cremation or tattoos; i dunno where specifically she got her ideas, but i know it has something to do with christian thoughts on the body being a sacred gift from god that you should never intentionally mar or destroy (at that point i looked thoughtfully at her pierced ears…).

  • Karen

    Nice write up Chad and I love the photo on your blog, it’s gorgeous.

    That church sounds like quite the showcase for conspicuous Christian consumption. And then they have the nerve to get up and give a big pitch for more donations, even before the sermon? Un-f***ing-believable.

  • http://nogodsallowed.wordpress.com Chad

    Thanks Karen! I took that picture last summer at the Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior.

    I want to correct this. Cremation is NOT earth friendly. It is not the environmentally better option.

    Damn! I guess the only way around it is to have them pitch my body to the neighbor’s dog! He can finish it off and spend the next couple years chewing on my femurs and ribs. I wonder if the court would uphold that wish if it was in my will?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    When my father died, we had him burred but did not have him embalmed. We saved a bit of money and there wasn’t the issue of those embalming chemicals leaking into the environment. I’m sure he didn’t care if his corpse decomposed rapidly or slowly. He wasn’t using it anymore.

    Chad said,
    Damn! I guess the only way around it is to have them pitch my body to the neighbor’s dog! He can finish it off and spend the next couple years chewing on my femurs and ribs.

    That would be the most environmentally friendly as long as you could ensure that all edible parts would be quickly consumed. You might need a pack of wild dogs. I want to be eaten by an alligator personally. ;) That would be neat. It reminds me of a Monty Python skit I once heard.

  • http://zack-is-coming.blogspot.com zack

    forget cremation, just get bitten by a zombie, then you’ll slowly decompose whilst trying to eat any surviving humans….. atheist or christian, zombies see no difference…

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Both systems are bad, and it’s hard to compare, but cremation may be slightly worse for the environment.

    Well, if they’re both just as bad, then what about the waste of land involved with burial?

  • Carry On

    In some rural and small city areas, older cemetery upkeep becomes so expensive, no one gets around to it until family members get irate. Friends or relatives come to place a few flowers and the weeds/grass is taller than the headstone.

    Personally like the idea that ashes are freely scattered, out in the world, where there is sunlight and people. A grave is a cold and lonely place, even if it is more environmentally friendly. Totally irrational, I know.

    Chad; As a dog lover, no way is it a good thing for any dog to be eating dead humans. We have to protect our Best Friends. I expect you were not really serious but just in case anyone thinks any old thing is good enough for the dog, the China dog food debacle probable cleared that up for some very unfortunate dogs and their owners. And they were even trying to do the right thing. :o)

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    As for cremation from a “Christian” perspective I refer you to http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0327.htm

    Nutters if you ask me.

  • http://www.wordsfromtheway.com/between-the-trees Jake Meador

    There’s certainly no shortage of nutty Christian beliefs about the afterlife. Thankfully there are some thinkers that are a bit more reasonable :).

    Granted there’s some extent to which all of this is speculation, but I think C.S. Lewis’ treatment of the subject in The Great Divorce is really interesting. Lewis essentially argues that if it’s true that human beings really go on existing forever, than each decision is a step closer either to wholeness or toward brokenness. In one of his books he basically says, “If you’re simply selfish today and you cease to exist after 70 years, then you’re, relatively speaking, alright. But suppose you’re becoming more selfish every day and your existence goes on forever. That small seed of selfishness might be absolutely hell in a million years. In fact, according to Christian theology, that is precisely what it will be.”

    I think the problem with most the Christian thinking you come across about the after-life is that it’s all just made up superstition essentially pulled from a hat with no sort of logic to explain it besides “my pastor [who was most likely completely misinterpreting scripture] said so.”

    But I think what Lewis is getting at is at least grounded in some sort of reasonable idea. Granted, faith is still involved in accepting the idea that we go on existing forever, but if you begin with that presupposition, Lewis’ ideas moving forward are quite reasonable….

  • Elsie

    Just to clarify something for you. I personally go to Res and we are not against organ donation at all. In fact I plan to donate my organs upon my death. Just FYI. And I would encourage each of you to go to reslife.org and actually listen to the sermon that was given. That might clear up a few points as to what was actually said :) Thanks.

  • Carrie

    Christians believe in the burial method because it was modelled by God in the account of Moses. When Moses died the Bible says God buried him. Since the purpose of Christianity is following of Christ and the principles of God, His Father, believers follow this example.


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