As a rule, I don’t like books about being a “biblical man.” Too often they resort to describing a specific kind of guy: one who’s wild at heart, wants to slay a dragon, climb a mountain and play with power tools.
I am none of those things.
In fact, I’m forbidden from using power tools because I’m so inept. So if those are the things that define being a biblical man, what does that make me?
Fortunately, Eric Mason doesn’t resort to trite depictions of being a man of God in his new book, Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole. He gets that men aren’t motivated by declarations, covenants and promise rings to do more and try harder to be better men. Manhood needs to be transformed by the gospel. And this book is about how the gospel does exactly that.
Mason tackles four broad subjects, dealing with:
- God’s original intent for mankind and sin’s distortion of it
- “daddy deliquency” and the destruction of the family
- Jesus as the restorer and supreme example of biblical manhood
- a restored manhood’s affect on worldview, sexuality, vision (think leadership), family and church
I was surprised at how frequently I found myself underlining and commenting in my copy of the book. Every chapter is saturated with rich biblical teaching on manhood, the seriousness of sin and our only hope: the gospel. When Mason tackles sin, for example, he pulls no punches:
We talk ourselves into thinking that sin is just a bad choice; it’s not. It’s much deeper than that for us, just as it was for Adam. When Adam chose willful rebellion against the law of God, he was choosing to forfeit his birthright by rejecting his calling to represent, be responsible, and enjoy his relationship with God, his wife, and the rest of creation. This single act placed in motion the initial and progressive fall of creation and its order, one whose effects still ravage every facet of the world today. (12, emphasis added)
This is so important because our language of “bad choices” or even our category of “brokenness” at times leads to a minimizing of the severity of sin: It’s not that we make mistakes, but we willfully rebel against our creator—and the results are tragic as we can all too easily see in our world where about half of all kids go to bed without a dad at home.
Arguably the standout chapter is the book’s third, “The Restorer of Manhood.” Here Mason combines two great truths essential to our understanding of biblical manhood and the Christian life in general: Jesus both exemplifies true manhood and restores us to a right relationship with God through his death and resurrection. Mason writes:
Jesus is the prototype man for men. All of us men are only as manly as it relates to the standard set by Jesus…God’s design—His divine intent—is for those who are in Jesus to look like Jesus. (45)
Jesus, as the Son of Man, is not only inspirational—He is epic…He is fully God and yet truly and fully human. He is a man just like—and yet wholly unlike—us, all at the same time. So if we’re looking for an example of manhood, we need look no further than the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus, over and over again, shows us what it means to really be a man. (52)
This is the key to a restored view of manhood. It’s not about the comparison games or guilt-driven appeals to do more and try harder to be better men under our own strength. No, recovering and restoring manhood to God’s original intention only happens when we look again and again to the cross.
Manhood Restored is not a book intended to help you embrace your inner fisherman (who may or may not be a fisher of men). The vision of such books is far too small and Mason’s goals are far loftier. By blending the Bible’s rich theological foundation and helpful practical application, Mason offers what may be one of the most compelling and helpful of the recent crop of titles on the subject.
I still don’t like books on being a biblical man. But I do really like Manhood Restored. Read this book, share it with your friends and be encouraged as you see the role the gospel plays in restoring manhood.
Title: Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole
Author: Eric Mason
Publisher: B&H Publishers (2013)