My shelves are littered with books about manhood. More accurately, books about how to be better men of God. Most of them say much of the same thing from a little different perspective, the author’s view. But, most of them spend many of their pages discussing tactics to help us overcome the symptomatic problems we face as men; distortions and abuses of our sexuality, lack of commitment to our marriages, not being present physically or spiritually as a father in our homes, being disengaged from the church and other men in discipling relationships, pursuit of power and material things over relationships and a general abdication of our role as the spiritual leader of our homes.
You can just about lay that grid over most of the books about Godly manhood and have a pretty good chance you’d cover most of the contents of the book. And, quite honestly, Manhood Restored is similar in it’s content. But, there is one significant difference that I found as I dug deeper into the book. This book deals with the sickness, not just the symptoms. Just like putting filters on a computer will help you refrain from viewing pornography but won’t change your inner desire and propensity to want to see those images, many of these men’s books will give you a grid to view your life through and to highlight areas that need attention. But, if we aren’t changed from the inside, we’ll just go to another computer. Treating symptoms isn’t wrong, it’s just not enough.
So, when I was asked to review a book about manhood I was hopeful but a little skeptical. I’ve heard Eric preach before and he can “bring it”. So, that gave me hope as well. Then, when I read the testimonies my level of hope grew that this would not be “just another manhood book”. In fact, when I read Matt Chandler state this in his foreword,
“Its (the book) bold, fearless, Scripture saturated, truth-telling pages might just be used by the Spirit of God to take you into a new season of fulfillment and maturity in your understanding what it means to be a man.”
my hope grew even more. And, as I read this from Eric on the first page of the Introduction,
“We need the gospel. We need it more than books. More than studies. More than groups. We need the life-giving identity-establishing, purpose-defining gospel of Jesus Christ.
I was now all in. Eric didn’t disappoint and every page is “saturated” with God’s Word, precepts and purpose and then applied to a practical area of manhood in a way we can all relate. He uses his knowledge as a pastor, his roles as a man, husband and father and his life experiences as a man who grew up in a challenging home, influenced by men who were not the model he wanted to be to give us a full picture of manhood, presented from the Gospel and then outward toward every area of his and our life as men.
This Book is a SHOT into the soul of men
Dr. Eric Mason has given each man a shot into his soul in Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole. When I thought about that word “shot” I first thought about a needle carrying a serum that treats our woundedness. Like a flu shot inoculates us against the anticipated flu strains, Manhood Restored also provides a truth serum to our souls as men. If we take it in and ingest it we have the truth we need to walk forward as men and the courage to face the potential hazards all around us.
But, the word, “shot”, can also be used as in a “gun shot”, a piercing piece of metal that tears up anything in it’s way. To some degree that is what Eric Mason does to every man that reads this. We are faced with our pain and guilt over not being the man we or God wants us to be. But, thankfully, the bullet wasn’t fatal and we have the opportunity to have Dr. Mason surgically enter our wounds to help us know how we can be restored back to wholeness. In fact, he says that not only can we be restored back to the way we were but God wants us to be better than we can imagine. That’s the kind of restoration I want as a man. But, with any restoration, there is a lot of tearing apart and detailed work that needs to be done and a lot of tender loving care along the way. Like a classic car being restored to it’s original state with shinier and healthier parts so we can be men restored back to a place where we once again experience the fullness of our relationship with God. And, what is the key?
The only hope we have to be restored men is through the message of hope found only in and through Jesus Christ, the God-Man as revealed in the Gospel, the Good News. Though most of the men’s books I mentioned above have plenty of scripture references to back up their points, most of them still leave you feeling as if you just need to follow three or four key bulleted points to get over the problems. Not this book. It starts in Genesis and leads us to Revelation, the ultimate end game for all of us.
The Book is broken into topics that he chooses carefully as areas of restoration. If we were cars it would be similar to Chapter 1, The Car and It’s history; Chapter 2-how cars have changed our lives and what would life be without them; Chapter 3: How to restore a car back to it’s original state, Chapters 4-8; Restoration of the body, the engine, the electrical system, the fuel system, etc. But, this isn’t about cars it’s about men. And, Eric Mason follows that kind of logical sequence to address the issues that wounded men and laid them bare before Almighty God and that require restoration so badly. Chapter 1 is about the life and death of manhood, i.e., how did we get here to this place of ‘manhood in disarray’? Here’s the battle we face,
“From Genesis 3 to the birth of Jesus, Satan has made it his business to destroy any attempts for manhood to be restored. We see his efforts played out in the birth of Adam and Eve’s children…The pattern continued in Exodus when Pharaoh commanded that the Hebrew boys be killed in order to lower the number of threats of rebellion, since there were more Hebrews than Egyptians.”
Chapter 2 discusses the most significant impact of wounded manhood, daddy deprivation. The impact on families because of absent dads (physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally) is felt in every corner of society regardless of race, ethnicity or societal grouping. This chapter spoke to my heart. As the author of a blog called the DadPad, I see the impact fatherlessness has had on our culture over the past generation. It’s devastating and destroying families. I’m glad he set the tone with this chapter first and the ramifications of manhood lived out in the flesh, not by the Spirit. In my years of being on staff with FamilyLife, I can’t think of a single factor that weighs more heavily in the destruction of the family than men not stepping up to be men. This isn’t about man bashing. It’s about men who haven’t taken the responsibility they were given by God but given back to the enemy by men in their abdication of leading, loving and living as men of God.
In Chapter 3 he gets to the heart of the rest of the book. Because of the fall (Chapter 1) and the impact of our sin as portrayed in daddy deprivation (Chapter 2), there is only one place to go for help. It’s the same place we go as all of humanity. The Sunday School answer: Jesus. Here Eric lays out the foundation for the rest of the book that he began in Chapter 1. There, he says that it is in our image bearing that we are to find our response as men. As an image bearer of God, the Creator, we were/are to reflect God’s heavenly image on earth. Then, he points to the need for a Savior to restore us to that image. Eric spends the first part of the chapter taking us to class. He offers the theological foundation why Jesus, as fully God, is the divine image of manhood that we need to pursue. Then, he describes the characteristics of Jesus as fully man that brings Jesus out of the clouds and into our souls. As a man, Jesus met the same temptations we have faced giving us hope that we can do the same with a different outcome than we often experience.
Chapters 4-8 are the practical tools Eric provides for our key life segments. Worldview, sexuality, vision, family and Church are the segments he breaks down more completely. Each of the chapters has a plethora of great biblical references followed by practical implementation tools. He stayed true to the overall purpose of the book…presenting the case that it is the Gospel that makes men whole. Any effort we put forth in any of these areas (worldview, sexuality, vision, family and church) that is not built upon the truths given us by Jesus are valiant efforts but done in vain. And, they won’t work. Any of our effort done by our own will performed in our own strength will fail miserably. We’ve been given minds to use but our flesh will never win if not guided by the Spirit.
That’s what makes this book so powerful. It lays the foundation of the Gospel as the answer and even when talking practically to our current state as men, it never waivers from that truth. It’s not PC nor does it pander to denominational influences. It simply provides the gospel in its pure, unadulterated form and addresses most of the main issues we will have to face as men if we want to grow into manhood maturity as God designed.
Despite all the books I have on my shelf about manhood, fatherhood, and related material, this one will get read a number of times. I highly recommend it to any man who wants to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ that impacts how he lives day to day in the world. If you want to be a better father, husband, friend and follower of Christ, then Manhood Restored is a great tool in your toolbox. And, I’m looking forward to looking at the DVD based group study materials that accompany the book.
Other Reviews of Manhood Restored to Read:
- Manhood Restored by Eric Mason by JT Cochran
- Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole by Eric Mason by Logan Gentry
- Eric’s own response to why he wrote the book on Ed Stetzer’s blog
- The Christian Post’s Review of Manhood Restored