Richard D Phillips is an author I've been enjoying for quite some time. Coming from the Reformed stable, his books are always seeking to present the teaching of the Scriptures in a clear and concise way. I've found that this continues in his book 'The Masculine Mandate: God's Calling to Men.'
Phillips surveys the world's understanding of masculinity, finding it defective and misleading:
There's certainly nothing wrong with being an outdoorsman, building one's own house, or even, within bounds, being the solid John Wayne type. But is that all there is to being a man? The truth is that the Bible gives us God's picture of a real man, and it doesn't fit any of our stereotypes.
His desire is to present the Masculine Mandate as found in the Scriptures, to enable a 'strong, biblical, and confident Christian manhood.'
Concentrating a lot of attention on the opening chapters of the Bible, Phillips examines the creation account of Genesis 1-3 to discover the author's intention of man made in the image of God; commanded to work and keep the Garden. He tackles the opinions of John Eldredge (Wild at Heart) head on, countering the thought that man was made outside the garden to be wild, because God's purpose was for man to work the garden and keep it. So our call is not to be wild at heart, but rather to follow God's pattern and purpose.
This is the Masculine Mandate: 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.
Through a series of chapters, Phillips discusses what the call to work and keep might look like in the contexts of home, marriage, family, work, church and so on. It was mostly good, helpful, stirring stuff, although sometimes it seemed a bit American for my liking, and sometimes I wondered if the call to men only applied to men, rather than both men and women.
This might be a useful book for a men's small group or one-to=one to read and discuss, and will provide a good basis for anyone wanting to examine the scriptures and how they call us to be godly men.