A plethora of books have been written on the subject of manhood and what it means to be a father, husband, leader and more – and Pastor Eric Mason of Epiphany Fellowship has just added his own title to the list. But the Philadelphia minister says Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole is unique in offering both a timely and theologically sound discussion on what it means to be a man in today's culture.
"I think there's a crisis in manhood in our culture and I believe Jesus is the answer to that," Dr. Mason told The Christian Post.
"Men tend to look at fallen examples of manhood throughout the culture, whether it's thugs, athletes, businessmen, whatever. It's cross-ethnically an issue. It's not just an issue in the black community or Hispanic community, but it's inclusive in all majority and minority communities as a crisis that's cross-generational and cross-ethnic," he added.
Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole, published this month by B&H Books, has won an array of praise from Christian ministers and theologians like D.A. Carson, Mark Driscoll, Dr. Carl Ellis Jr., and many others. Dr. Tony Evans, one of Mason's mentors and a major manhood proponent, wrote a forward to the book, as did The Village Church Lead Pastor Matt Chandler, who describes Manhood Restored as "bold, fearless and Scripture-saturated."
Mason posits in Manhood Restored, and in the pulpit, that Jesus Christ is the true standard of biblical manhood and the means of restoring men to the purpose of their creation.
"In the book, I talk about three things: representation, responsibility and relationship," he explained. "Man and woman are created for (all) of those – relationship with God, responsibility for God and representation of God. That's the image of God, so that's the purpose of man."
As for where woman fits in, Mason insisted that "without woman, man can't glorify God on earth like he is supposed to."
"She's the co-equal heir, based on 1 Peter 3:7, to the graces of God and to the eternal inheritance of God. Yet the man and the woman play different functional roles even though they are totally equal in their value before God and should be before one another. They are a team – they're not 50-50; it's 100-100. It takes two wholes to holistically glorify God," said Mason.
The Epiphany Fellowship pastor said he was motivated to write Manhood Restored partly out of what he views as a cross-ethnic problem – and not just an issue specific to the African-American community.
"I think it deals with that (the issue of fatherlessness in black communities), but I think it broadens the span," said Mason, commenting on what he calls "daddy deprivation," which he says can exist even in households where both parents are present.
"You see David in 1 Kings 2:1-4 knowing his son. You see Jacob in Genesis knowing his sons so well that he basically spoke into their lives based on his knowledge of them. So I think you can be in the house but not have a ministry of presence and I think that's so important."
Pointing to Christ as the model of manliness, the minister said that it is important to recognize that Jesus is the God-man. "He's not just God but he's God and man," said Mason, who in Manhood Restored explores Jesus the jealous man, the sensitive man and Jesus as the overcomer, while tying in pop cultural references to show Scripture's relevancy to modern times.
He also told CP that he believes it is vital that older or seasoned men be equipped to be spiritual fathers to younger men in the church, and offers practical examples in Manhood Restored of what those relationships might look like.
"You see it modeled in the spiritual fathering that you see throughout the New Testament, especially with Paul and Timothy and Titus and Silas and Epaphroditus, all of those different fathering relations. I think they are important because they are what God uses to help men not just develop as men but just develop as Christians in general," he explained.
In his own life, Mason shared with CP that Pastor Tony Evans has served as a spiritual father, having taken him under his wings and mentored him for about eight years. "I spent monthly time with him, spent time in his home, got to drill him with questions and just watch him model the Christian faith," he said.
Mason, who has preached on manhood at Epiphany Fellowship and just wrapped up a womanhood series, said a future project will involve an "Eve Redeemed" book to compliment Manhood Restored.
The Epiphany Fellowship lead pastor described the church, founded in 2006, as an inner-city multi-ethnic community with people from all over the world. The church, located just blocks from Temple University, has been primarily focused on reaching out to the unreached people groups in Philly between the ages of 18 and 45. Mason said that demographic is about 70 percent of their city and that "over 95 percent of that people group don't know Jesus Christ as savior."
Mason is also founder and president of Thriving, an organization that assists ethnic minorities in ministering in urban contexts. The group recently planted a church in Camden, N.J., and has been building a school in Malawi in Africa.
Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole is available online and in stores and is also available at LifeWay.com as part of a leader kit that includes a study guide and DVD instruction.
Watch a promo video for Manhood Restored: