Christ, The Altar

As I was preparing for this upcoming Sunday’s sermon and Lord’s Supper, I was taken aback from a statement that Thomas Watson wrote in The Lord’s Supper: “By reason of the hypostatical union, the human nature being united to the divine; the human nature did suffer, the divine did satisfy. Christ’s Godhead did give both majesty and efficacy to his suffering. Christ was Sacrifice, Priest and Altar. He was the sacrifice as he was man, Priest as he was God and man, Altar as he was God. It is the property of the altar to sanctify the thing offered on it. So the altar of Christ’s divine nature sanctified the sacrifice of his death, and made it meritorious (emphasis mine).”

I found it very providential that the sermon I am preparing for (on John 1:1-14) has much similarities with the purifying and sanctifying effect that Christ has upon the world as Altar. Considering how much prominence the patristics, and more recently Thomas Torrance, placed upon the Incarnation, I found it quite interesting that I have never heard this typology–Christ as Altar–until now.

After a quick scan within the Reformed Tradition, it is clear that there has rarely ever been anyone who has expounded upon that motif. Although there are some leads in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, I haven’t been able to find anything. I do not know if this is because of the Protestant tendency towards iconoclasm and the removal of altars from the liturgy or worship altogether, but at this point, I think it would be a worthwhile pursuit and development within the Reformed Tradition. Maybe this could be my Th.M thesis?


Realizing My Need of Grace

A lot has been on my mind recently…not just with ministry or theology, but with life in general. Time has truly flown on by quickly; I still can’t believe it’s been over two months since Eunhee, Cassie, and I moved to Minnesota, and almost two months at KPCM. Everyone has been really welcoming, understanding, and encouraging to us–we have definitely felt the love.

During our time here, we have experienced many new things and enjoyed some new thrills. There were some bumps along the road, but for the most part, I think we have settled in well to a new life in the Midwest. Cassie has been adjusting faster than we expected, and is enjoying her new preschool. Eunhee’s program and schooling is finally coming together. I am slowly finding the rhythm and pattern, and slowing getting into a groove that is comfortable for me to do what I need to do. At the same time, I am definitely feeling the weight of the two ministries entrusted to me bearing down hard on my shoulders.

I don’t know if it’s a time management issue or because I am a perfectionist, but I feel that there is still so much to be done, and so many more people to meet and get to know. On top of that, I definitely do not want to neglect my duties at home to Eunhee or Cassie. I remember during my round of interviews and how everyone seemed to be genuinely concerned whether I could handle overseeing two separate ministries, and how brash and impetuous I must have come off when I said that I knew that I could without hesitation. I don’t know if it was youthful ignorance or pride, but I am definitely being humbled these days by the amount of time and effort that must be put in to be faithful and committed to both ministries. I am reminded of Richard Sibbes‘ quote in The Bruised Reed and how a bruised reed remains bruised because the Lord wants to remind it that it is not an oak. That is exactly what I needed to be reminded of in order that I daily approach the foot of the cross and partake of Christ’s mercies and grace. I am truly thankful for this chapter in our lives, the privilege of serving at KPCM, and this season of clarity. I pray that it would bring and bear much fruit to the glory of God.

Engaging and Confronting The World With The Gospel

It’s interesting how the majority of contemporary conservative Reformed theologians seem to be stuck (very contentedly) in the 16th century in regards to thinking and worldview, whereas those whom they would consider “liberal” are the ones who are actively engaging the culture and people.

“After a major historical turning point, a society does not necessarily continue in its old construal of reality or its old morality. If anything, the new questions that the church confronts after a temporal break in a familiar society may be more challenging than those that it encounters in a newly invaded society. Thus the churches of northern Europe and North America have yet to master spiritually or conceptually the suddenly revealed nihilistic impetus of late Western modernity. What, for example, does marriage mean in a society that values all sexual acts solely by the personal benefits they provide the pair? As it becomes plain that surrounding culture accepts and indeed promotes “marriages” that are not constituted by the scriptural mandate of permanent union between male and female, the church musk ask: Why exactly are unions that are constituted by that mandate entitled to the special recognition that the church presumes? And indeed, how shall the church preserve their place even in its own community? The old maxims are plainly not up to the challenge, and the replacements now being put into place are even less so.”

Robert Jenson, Canon and Creed (p. 65)

Catholic Reformed Piety?

You may be scratching your head as to what I mean by combining the three words “catholic”, “reformed”, and “piety” in the same phrase, and why I would feel the need to encapsualte and entitle my blog with that phrase.

I want to lay down my cards and say that I am a Reformed Christian who subscribes to the historic Reformed creeds (specifically the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity) who just so happens to be catholic in his ecclesiology. Does this mean that I am ecumenical or support the work and ministry of the World Council of Churches (WCC)? Not at all. However, through my wrestling with God, Scripture, and history, I have come to see the organic unity and development of the Church to what she is today.

In regards to what I mean by “piety”, I do not refer to simply holy praxis, but to the providing the foundation to make theology and the knowledge of God possible. This concept is taken from the preeminent reformer John Calvin, who argued that theology is the description of his piety. This is further explained in Ford Lewis Battles’  introduction to his translation of Calvin’s Institutes:

“To the modern mind the word “piety” has lost its historic implications and status. It has become suspect, as bearing suggestions of ineffectual religious sentimentality or canting pretense. For Calvin and his contemporaries, as for ancient pagan and Christian writers, pietas was an honest word, free from unsavory connotation. It as a praiseworthy dutifulness or faithful devotion to one’s family, country, or God. Calvin insistently affirms that piety is a prerequisite for any sound knowledge of God.”

With all of this in mind, it is my hope and prayer that this blog serves as an outlet to store my reflections, thoughts, and musings, and to even encourage and challenge others to think more deeply about their faith and theirselves.


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