Trinity and Covenant: God as Holy Family, by Professor David Engelsma, published by The Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2006.
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Are you contemplating marriage? Making confession of faith? Having regular devotions? Leading as head of your family? Raising children? Building a home? Wondering where God would have you go in life? Building a school? Starting a new congregation? Witnessing to the world? Watching the growth of the Muslim religion. Do you wonder where we are in history? How our churches fit into the big picture? Are you soon lost when the minister preaches about the trinity?…you really need to read this book. And then read it again…and again.
No, Professor Engelsma has not hit the publishing market with the ultimate self-help book. Most of the world will probably never know the book exists. Even so, the book is more than a rare gem. I would dare say that it is one of the most important books published since the Reformation.
Important because it carries whole church and its doctrine to a new level where all the old truths, cherished by the church since the beginning, can be explored again with a finer focus. It gathers tools from the treasuries of many men of God to mine God’s word for the profound truths about God Himself. For every talent of understanding we gain about our God, our Creator, Savior, and Father; we can invest it in every area of our life on this earth and return one hundred fold for His praise and glory.
This book truly develops the church’s knowledge of God. It does not bring a new wind of doctrine, but rather it picks up truths about the nature of God triune revealed to us from the beginning, states these truths boldly and clearly, not holding back and shying away from the awesome truth. The author goes in, like Peter pushing past John into the empty tomb, believing what he sees, and writes: “Only if a doctrine of the Trinity draws the charge of tritheism can it be assured that it is doing justice to the threeness of God” (51). He then puts together two pieces of the grand puzzle of God and His relation to all creation: the trinity and covenant.
God has used the Protestant Reformed Churches throughout its history to develop the doctrine of the covenant as a relationship of friendship. The doctrine of the trinity was one of the first doctrines that the church developed. It has been handled through the ages, but until now has never been placed more carefully in relation to God’s covenant.
Professor Engelsma demonstrates that the doctrine of the trinity, instead of being dry impractical theology, is the most practical doctrine of all. He writes, “Weakness in the church’s thinking and teaching about God as three shows up in the practice of the Christian life. The life of God determines the lives of his children, even as the life together of earthly parents shapes the lives of their children” (42). And again, “It calls the church to defend the family from the attacks upon it in our day. The earthly family is rooted in the triune being of God (107).
I look forward to application of the doctrine of the trinity in the preaching, publications, and ultimately in our day to day lives. I look forward to the sharpening of iron against iron as the rising tide of Federal Theology is met. I sense the need to have the doctrine of the trinity knit into every fiber of our body and soul as we face a growing religion that passionately holds to a god consisting of one solitary person—Islam.
The book is definitely meat, but nothing that our young people need to shy away from. If you have not yet sampled an adult menu, you will certainly not be disappointed with this. It is my prayer that reading this book will launch you into a further study of God’s word. For “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).