Jonathan Leeman has posted a review of Richard Phillips newest book - The Masculine Mandate.
Every once in a while, you read a book which seems so basic and solid you wonder why no one has already written it. Greg Gilbert’s What Is the Gospel? felt that way to me. So did Richard Phillip’s The Masculine Mandate...
There are plenty of books that call men to something which sounds more wild and adventuresome, but Pastor Phillips, himself a former tank commander, argues that we should leave adolescence and listen to what the Bible says. He begins in Genesis 2, where God calls Adam to work and keep the Garden, to name the animals, and to love Eve. The first five chapters then provide a theological foundation of what it means to be a man. In one sentence, the masculine mandate is “to be spiritual men placed in real-world, God-defined relationships, as lords and servants under God, to bear God’s fruit by serving and leading.”
The second half of the book moves to the practical. Phillips considers what it means to be a biblical man in marriage, in parenting, in work, in friendship, and in the church. Throughout, Phillips grounds his biblical vision in the gospel. He doesn’t say, “Men, be what Adam should have been.” He tells us, “You’ve been saved by Christ and given his Spirit to be what Adam should have been.”
At the risk of undermining the reader’s confidence in my objectivity, I have to admit that I have nothing negative to say about the book. I believe that it provides a compelling, balanced, and pastorally-wise picture of biblical manhood.
•He captures why a biblical theology of work—a hot topic these days—should make distinctions between men and women.
•He explains how a father should conceive of his parental role differently than a mother, and what it means to give your heart to your children before asking them to give theirs to you.
•He discusses how a husband should labor to understand his wife before he can lead her well.
•He tells men to befriend one another, not just over beer and football, but like Jonathan did when giving his royal robe to David.
Here are some pastoral plans I have for Phillips’ book:
•Read it with a couple of men I’m discipling.
•Request that it be placed on our church’s bookstall.
•Recommend that it be added to the four or five books we ask couples to read in our newly-married small groups, which couples join for the first two years of marriage.
•Apply some of his lessons in my own life, particularly his advice to be more deliberate about what kind of time I’m spending with my children (he advises four things: read, pray, work, and play).
I say all this because I genuinely hope other pastors and elders will do the same with the men in their churches. As Christian men grow in recognizing the authority that God has given them as his servants, they will increasingly use that authority to author life in everyone around them, like Adam harvesting a fruitful garden in church, work, and home.