Postmodernity is peddling a disastrously feminized view of masculinity, surrendering men’s God-given roles to women and exalting a monosexualism that flies directly in the face of God’s purposes for creation. There is a crying need in the church today to recover a biblical view of manhood. But we must be certain that our vision of what a man is called to be is reached through sound exegesis of the texts relating to masculinity. Phillips’ excellent book provides that exegesis.
The starting place for understanding God’s intentions for a man is the garden, where God places man in a covenant relationship with Himself. Taking issue with John Eldredge, the author of Wild at Heart, Phillips observes that the masculine soul was not created for the wilderness but for a covenant relationship with God to be lived out in the garden. There, as both servant and lord of the created order, he is called to bring glory to God.
The masculine mandate is given in Genesis 2:15 where we read, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” The Hebrew word translated, “work,” is avad, also translated “serve,” “labor,” and “cultivate.” Men are called “to cultivate something worthwhile for the glory of God and the well-being of their fellow men,” (pa 13.)In subsequent chapters, Phillips applies this mandate for men to be worker-builders in the workplace, home and church.
The second part of the masculine mandate is found in the word, “keep.” The Hebrew word, shamar, is also translated, “watch over,” “guard,” “protect.” “A man is not only to wield the plow but also bear the sword. Being God’s deputy lord in the garden, Adam was not only to make it fruitful but also to keep it safe,” (pa 15.) To be a man is to stand up and be counted when there is danger or other evil to be faced. Phillips applies this calling to be protectors throughout the book. In our families, our presence is to make our wives and children feel safe and secure. At church we stand for truth and righteousness. In society we stand up against evil and defend our families and nation from danger.
In the second half of the book, besides his excellent application of the masculine mandate to our marriages, child rearing, and church life, Philips includes a chapter entitled, Men In Friendship. He draws upon the relationship of Jonathan and David for practical insight about male friendships.
In the final chapter, Phillips rightly points out that according to Eph. 4:15-16 each follower of Jesus is being discipled by Jesus right now, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I’m delighted to see Phillips make this point but he doesn’t go far enough. According to the text, Jesus disciples his body, not just through the Holy Spirit, but through each member of his body being connected to the other members of the body. This truth could have significantly strengthened his chapter on men needing male friends.
The book comes with discussion questions for each chapter. This is a must read for every men’s bible study in the PCA! To order a copy click here.