Needed: Men -- By: Benjamin Reaoch
JBMW 16:1 (Spring 2011) p. 56
A Review of Richard D. Phillips, The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men
Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2010.
Three Rivers Grace Church
“Needed: Men.” This statement appears on the back cover of the book, and it summarizes the urgency and need for what Richard Phillips has written. We are certainly in desperate need of men—real men. But where are we to turn for the definition of a real man? As Jerry Bridges writes in the foreword to this book, “The truth is that the Bible gives us God’s picture of a real man, and it doesn’t fit any of our stereotypes” (xi). That is abundantly true. If we rely on the portrayals of manhood in the popular culture or the things we heard about manhood in the high school locker-room, we will be doomed to a depressing and destructive future. But if we turn our attention to what God’s Word says about manhood, which Richard Phillips gives us great assistance in doing, then a very meaningful and edifying vision emerges before us.
The chief strength of this book is that it is relentlessly biblical. We are not presented merely with a man’s ideas about manhood, but rather we are pointed to the design of our Creator. An added strength is that it is immensely practical (even including discussion questions at the back of the book). It helps that Phillips is a seasoned pastor, a husband, and a father of five children. It is also an asset that before entering the ministry he worked as a tank officer in the U.S. Army and an assistant professor of leadership at West Point. He is well-qualified to write this book, and the content he delivers deserves to be heard. With all of his experience and expertise, however, Phillips does not assume the role of master-teacher. He is humble and transparent and acknowledges that he is still on this journey himself. The combination of biblical faithfulness and insightful application in Masculine Mandate makes it a very useful tool for teaching men what it means to be a man.
The book is built around the foundational statement of Gen 2:15. Here we find the masculine mandate. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (ESV). Phillips’ endeavor, then, is to specify the various ways in which this mandate applies in the lives of men. In what ways are men to work and to keep in the diverse spheres of their lives? The book focuses on five areas: employment, marriage, children, friendship, and the church.
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