The Good Funeral Guide Blog

The Protestant death ethic

Thursday, 26 September 2013



From the Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646, the foundational doctrine of the Scottish reformation church. 

WHEN any person departeth this life, let the dead body, upon the day of burial, be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for publick burial, and there immediately interred, without any ceremony.

And because the custom of kneeling down, and praying by or towards the dead corpse, and other such usages, in the place where it lies before it be carried to burial, are superstitious; and for that praying, reading, and singing, both in going to and at the grave, have been grossly abused, are no way beneficial to the dead, and have proved many ways hurtful to the living; therefore let all such things be laid aside.

Howbeit, we judge it very convenient, that the Christian friends, which accompany the dead body to the place appointed for publick burial, do apply themselves to meditations and conferences suitable to the occasion; and that the minister, as upon other occasions, so at this time, if he be present, may put them in remembrance of their duty.

5 comments on “The Protestant death ethic

  1. Friday 27th September 2013 at 8:44 am

    The savage beauty, GM, lies in: ‘the minister … if he be present’. Obsequies are fruitless. No call for a minister, let alone a dove. The poem Do Not Stand is reduced to its first line. This is the funeral as dropoff — very zeitgeisty for the put-me-in-a-binbag brigade.

    On a more serious note, I do believe the Protestant death ethic remains an influence on our funeral culture — part of the cultural baggage our funerals remain dwindlingly encumbered by.

    121 puritanical clergyfolk wrote that. Who said committees can’t write?

  2. Friday 27th September 2013 at 8:28 am

    Wot, no doves, balloons or jazz bands? Quick and easy then, could do 7 or 8 in a week…ah. You need to be a minister.

    (Lovely prose though.)

  3. Thursday 26th September 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Sounds like Humanist heaven 😉

  4. A Celeb

    Thursday 26th September 2013 at 8:03 pm


  5. Richard

    Thursday 26th September 2013 at 6:11 pm

    The man doth protest too much.

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