Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thaptology: Who is in Charge?

Who is in Charge?

In much of the West, the funeral is considered a family matter rather than a church function. In such cases and under such an understanding, the funeral service is not a church service. Details concerning the service and burial are developed in consultation of the family with owners/employees of the funeral parlor rather than church officials. Then the family or funeral parlor tells the church and ministers what to expect. This can be a source of difficulty between families and churches. If the immediate family members are church members this will generally relieve possible reasons for conflict. If, on the other hand, the family is only peripherally (if at all) related to the church, misunderstandings are more likely to follow.

When non-Christian family members plan a “religious” funeral service, it is often more secular than sacred –a very strange mix of the two. The music may be of a kind that would not be allowed during a worship service.  Ministers who would not be allowed otherwise in the pulpit – or even infidels – may address the gathered mourners. Other actions that the church finds inappropriate and offensive may occur. The church leaders, as much as is possible, should shield against worldly fascinations and influences. The interaction between church and non-Christian mourners should be handled with wisdom and sensitivity, but also in a way that does not compromise the church's faith and practice. An area of reform could be for churches to take a more active role in the funerary process, as well as approach very carefully all dealings with funerals for non-Christians. It is notable that the early Jerusalem church took care of the burial of their own (Acts 5:6-10; Acts 8:1-2) – though modern laws will add some difficulty to such an attempt.

Thaptology, Part 1
Thaptology, Part 2
Thaptology, Part 3
Thaptology, Part 4
Thaptology, Part 5

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