This is a review of Eric Mason’s book Manhood Restored: How the Gospel makes Men Whole. We want to thank Jason Wright, MDiv student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, for doing this book review at the request of Baptist21. This book is available for purchase here.
“Another book on manhood?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to delve into another book designed to give a twelve-step plan to make me a better man for Jesus. But Eric Mason beat me to the punch, and started Manhood Restored with exactly those words. A host of books have taught men how to be “Wild at Heart,” a “Point Man,” or my personal favorite, a “Waffle.” While those books make valuable contributions to understanding Christian manhood, this book contributes in a way many others do not.
Eric Mason, often known as Emase, is the lead pastor and founder of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. I appreciate the pastoral style of his writing and his ability to contextualize in such a way that his illustrations effectively reach his audience without a stretch.
Of all the books on manhood I have read, this is the one I found most useful. This text is, to put it simply, a Theology of Manhood. Pastor Mason draws on his pastoral and theological prowess, painting for the reader a picture of a Christ-like Man. He explains manhood using Scripture as the foundation and applies it practically from his pastoral experience.
Dr. Mason applies the biblical theme of restoration to manhood explaining that biblical manhood is grounded in a relationship with God. Emase explains the Gospel in the same breath that he explains manhood. This helpfully creates a mindset that does not bifurcate being manly and being Christian. He writes that a man cannot be complete on his own. Only through the hope of the gospel and the work of the Spirit can a man exemplify the character of Christ.
His chapter entitled “The Restorer of Manhood” is my favorite. He illustrates Jesus as the ideal man, the unattainable standard that we are called to emulate. He is the model for Christian character, strength, and humility. Emase is not the first to cite Jesus as an example for men, but he stands out as someone who has done so while maintaining faithfulness to the Text. Emase argues that Jesus’ job as a carpenter doesn’t make him a man, but sacrificing himself for the helpless does.
In the chapter on “The Restored Family,” I was particularly impacted by the challenge of personal responsibility. Emase writes, “If your family is not growing spiritually, the question is not what are they doing wrong. The proper question is; what is your role in them being in that state?” He continues, “It doesn’t all fall on you, just as it’s not Jesus’ fault if you aren’t moving forward spiritually.” The element of personal responsibility is one of the strongest recurring themes in Manhood Restored. In a culture where men escape from reality using video games, pornography, and social media, we need men who will take responsibility, dying to self, and living lives that bring glory to God.
It is also important to understand how change happens. As Emase points out: “we assume that real change happens from the outside in, it does not.” Real change happens by the work of the Spirit within the Christian. Our God is active in making men what they could not be on their own; He is molding them into the image of Christ. For this lasting change there is no 12-step program, there is only the God of the Bible who loves his people and is active in their lives.
Dr. Mason continues by addressing specific issues facing manhood in our culture, including “daddy deprivation” and the self-centered sexuality of little boys in adult bodies. These issues are connected by their cause, sin, and their solution, Christ. Mason constantly reminds the reader of the universal problem of sin and our hope in the work of Christ.
The final chapter, “Restored Church,” gives practical instruction for making your church a natural fit for men. Becoming a Christian and part of a church does not mean ignoring testosterone for the rest of your life. You now have the opportunity to grow as a man with godly wisdom, character, and grace. Where masculinity in the church was once a rarity, let it now be common.
In this book Eric Mason illustrates the Scope of Manhood, or man’s purpose while on earth. He continues by describing the Problems in Manhood, the hindrances that hold every man back from accomplishing his purpose. And lastly, the Redemption of Manhood, or how the work of Christ is active in every man. The Spirit of God is at work in every Christian man, molding and shaping him into the image of Christ.
This book can serve an evangelistic purpose, helping men understand what the Gospel is and how it changes their lives. It also serves the Christian man; assisting them in understanding the work of the Spirit for sanctification.
This book would benefit any man, whether he is a pastor, well experienced in ministry and developed in manhood, or a boy, just discovering what it means to be a man. I believe it would be a great resource for a father and son to go through together. Regardless of how you study it, I highly recommend this exceptional book on biblical manhood. I hope it further propels our churches to cultivating men of character, men who do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God.