Subduing or Subdued? “Manly Dominion” in (Biblical) Perspective -- By: Robert E. Sagers

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 16:1 (Spring 2011)
Article: Subduing or Subdued? “Manly Dominion” in (Biblical) Perspective
Author: Robert E. Sagers

Subduing or Subdued?
“Manly Dominion” in (Biblical) Perspective

A Review of Mark Chanski, Manly Dominion: In a Passive-Purple-Four-Ball World.

Merrick, NY: Calvary, 2004.

Robert E. Sagers

Special Assistant to the Senior VP for Academic Administration

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Louisville, Kentucky

There’s a sickness plaguing too many men in the church today, Mark Chanski believes. In Manly Dominion, Chanski not only diagnoses the illness, but he also presents a cure.

Chanski, pastor of Reformed Baptist Church of Holland, Michigan, uses a billiards metaphor to assess the situation. Many men, he observes, act more like billiard balls than those actually playing the game. “Instead of aggressively dominating and pushing around our environment and circumstances,” he writes, “we passively permit ourselves to be dominated and pushed around” (13).

Chanski’s central point to men, then, is clear: don’t get knocked around by life, as if something were happening to you. Instead, Chanski urges, take dominion over your life, actively pursuing your God-given tasks to God’s glory.

The author divides the book into seven sections, the first of which examines “Manly Dominion in Scriptural Perspective,” and the following six apply the biblical material to different areas of men’s lives: “Vocational Laboring,” “Decision-making,” “Spiritual Living,” “Husbanding,” “Child Rearing,” and “Romance Managing” (8-9).

In his section on the Bible, Chanski notes that man is designed of God to take “subjugation,” “dominion,” and “possession” over his surroundings. In our sin, however, we appeal to our genes, our emotions, or our circumstances as excuses for a passive approach to life. Chanski provides examples from Testaments Old and New of men and women who refused to be pushed around, instead taking dominion over the tasks God had given them. Jesus Christ is “our ideal model for manly dominion” (43).

Man is designed to work, Chanski asserts, and men must be about deciding early on—through Scripture and God’s providence—what their work will be. His chapter on “Hard Working” helpfully dispels the notion that so-called “secular” work done as unto Christ is, in the eyes of God, any less valued than the “sacred” work of vocational ministry. “The Bible teaches no such ‘sacred vs. secular’ dichotomy when it comes to human endeavoring,” Chanski writes (72).

In dealing with making decisions, Chanski deconstructs unbiblical notions of discerning God’s will. One need not necess...

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