Friday, May 17, 2013

Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole

I have long been under the impression that there is a lack of men in the church as much of manhood has been taken out of the church and replaced. Just take a look around at your church this weekend and I can almost guarantee that there will be a higher percentage of women than men. A church full of women is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is if you want to reach men and allow them to be restored to what God has called them to in Himself through the Gospel.

This issue is exactly what Pastor Eric Mason addresses in his book Manhood Restored: How The Gospel Makes Men Whole. Mason is clear from the introduction where he is headed with this book. He is spot on with this statement: "Men can have covenants, documents, strategies, and pragmatic principles, but without the gospel there is no authentic empowerment to execute what is laid out in them."

Many times men, including myself, are reluctant to read a book on being a man because usually the author attempts to motivate men with the guilt of their failures; but Mason does not do that. Rather his goal in the book is to facilitate an encounter with the ultimate God-man. Mason really presents a theology of manhood saturated with Scripture throughout the book. His writing does not come across as a way to beat men over the head, but in a pastoral way that deeply desires to see manhood restored to its fullest, which comes through Christ alone.

Mason describes it like this, "Man was meant to function like a mirror - something to reflect the image of God into creation." He continues by saying, "When God restored men through Jesus Christ, the first thing highlighted isn't ruling or responsibility, but relationship."

Mason concludes that the biggest and scariest challenge that emanated from the Fall is that of fatherhood. In the book he refers to fatherlessness as an epidemic today, especially to the maturation of men. It does not take one long to look around and see the results of this epidemic in society with the genocide of the family and gender roles continually being pushed further back, which is causing the role of the father to disappear. Mason says, "God's design has always been that men would be fathered. That earthly fathers would be a representation of the heavenly One."

In his chapter "The Restorer of Manhood," we see how everything about being a man is restored in Jesus. Mason shows how "Jesus is the prototype man for men. All of us men are only as manly as it relates to the standard set by Jesus." Mason points out what I referred to in the beginning of this review, that men in the church are perhaps unclear about who they are supposed to be because many of our churches have failed in giving the genuine picture of the ultimate man Jesus Christ. He continues, "Jesus is the paradigm for the new man. Through his courage to face sin, his restoration order, and his status as the son of man, he not only serves as our example; He is the means by which any of us can really understand and be what God intended a man to be."

One thing that I absolutely love about this book that you do not always get in books on being a man is that it is packed full of Gospel and Jesus. You cannot read more than a page without being pointed to Jesus or the Gospel. Perhaps that is why Mason says, "Without the gospel no real change will ever happen in a man, for only the gospel can cut and shape so deeply." That is the reason that this is not a book with a 12 step program for men to become better men, but a book that shows how as men we fall short and only through Jesus in the gospel can we ever be restored to what God designed.

A large void in the church today is a lack of manly men to lead the church. I know that some may critique this by pointing to many influential women in the church and this is not to discredit those women as we see many powerful examples of women in the Bible too. But what Mason points out cannot be ignored that "the earliest church leaders were dudes, Paul implemented manly men as the earliest church leaders." Today we often see the opposite as we have many women leading the church or effeminate worship leaders, which both cause men to flee the church as they see no place for them. Mason helps show that the church is exactly the place for men, but they must be shown a God-sized vision of what it means to follow Christ that will inspire and challenge men as they get to be a part of something that truly matters.

Mason is not shy in calling out the church for their lack of focus on men as he sees a focus on manhood as essential to discipleship and the restoration of the church. He points out, "It's hard for a man to be real in church because he must squeeze himself into this feminine religious mold." In his conclusion, Mason puts much of this responsibility on pastors, calling them to take seriously and lead the charge in discipling men whether done formally or informally.

This book is one of the best to come out on manhood in modern times that I have read. It will be a challenging book for many in the church to read because it shows a picture of what a man can be, which is vastly different than the one that we often see. For pastors and leaders in the church, this book is going to call you to wake up and start focusing on men in your church. It is time for the church to get past church systems that are only comfortable and attractable to reach women, and to put much more focus on reaching men. Mason provides a good starting place by suggesting initiatives like church planting, pioneering missions, and missional engagement of men in the city.

Mason has shown us how the Gospel makes the man whole, resulting in manhood restored. After reading this book, I highly recommend it to any man whether in the church or out of the church. This book defines what it is to be a man in the most manly sense of the word and I believe that it will help catalyze a movement of restored men in the church.

Read the first chapter for free by going here and purchase the entire book here.

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