Book Review – The Masculine Mandate – by Richard Phillips

There is great confusion among Christian men concerning what it means to be a man today. There are a number of different reasons for this, but what it comes down to is that unbiblical models of masculinity have shaped Christian men more than God’s Word. Over the past 2 decades, this “crisis of masculinity” has been well documented and a flood of literature has filled our Christian bookstores, while numerous “men’s ministry” organizations like Promise Keepers were started to help men fulfill their God-given mandate. Some of these books and organizations were helpful while others were not and only served to further the confusion among men. Having just finished Richard Philips “The Masculine Mandate” I am delighted to report that this is the best book I have ever read on masculinity.

In this book, Phillips uses the first 5 chapters to build a biblical and theological framework of masculinity (Understanding our Mandate) and then takes the next 8 chapters to practically flesh out what it means to be a Christian man (Living our Mandate). In the first chapter, Phillips explores how a man’s primary calling is connected to Genesis 2:15. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” God intended for Adam to “work” and to “keep” the garden and so bring glory to His Creator. He defines “work” as laboring to make things grow through nurturing, cultivating, tending, building up, guiding, and ruling. And to “keep” is to protect and sustain progress already achieved through guarding, keeping safe, watching over, caring for and maintaining. In the remainder of the book, he shows men how we can “work” and “keep” in our jobs, our marriage, through raising our children, in our friendships, and in our churches.

The greatest strength of this book is the fact that it is rooted and grounded in the scriptures. Too many popular Christian books (ie Wild at Heart) that deal with this subject are good at inspiring men, but lack a biblical foundation. There are few places (if any) where Phillips says anything without first providing a Scriptural basis for it. I would heartily recommend this book to any Christian man seeking to understand his God-giving masculine calling. This is an excellent book that I am certain any Christian man (young or old) will find helpful.

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