Episode #87 of Christ the Center, podcast by the Reformed Forum featured an interview with Dr. Richard Phillips regarding his new book The Masculine Mandate. Dr. Phillips says it’s primarily an exposition and application of Genesis 2:15, which reads, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” This verse, he says, is the foundational paradigm of the Scripture’s entire revelation of the male’s, or husband’s, role.
Since whenever I link to programs such as this, almost no one takes the time to go and listen, I’m transcribing the interview in a series of blog posts because I find this material to be especially needful for everyone. In this first post in the series, Dr. Phillips explains his reasons for writing the book.
Host: What did you see in men’s lives that needed to be addressed, which lead you to write this book? (Summary of the host’s actual wording)
Dr. Phillips: As is usually the case with books, there are several reasons why I wrote this book: one is, I was frustrated by the low quality of many evangelical books dealing with masculinity. Most especially, John Eldridge’s mega best-seller Wild at Heart, which is just unbiblical.
I was actually having dinner with Jerry Bridges, probably three or four years ago—and he lives out there in Colorado Springs—and we were lamenting this. I said, “Jerry, you ought to write a book on this.” And he didn’t have time, or whatever.
Meanwhile, I was asked by several conferences to speak on things like this. There was a group in Georgia two years ago who asked me to do a multi-day men’s conference.
Lig Duncan had me out to Jackson last year, to the Mid-South Men’s Rally. And so I was needing just for ministry requests, to put together biblical material. My own approach is always to exposit the Word, so if I’m asked to do a men’s conference, I’m going to exposit the Word. That got me dealing with these things.
And also, just as a pastor, I’m well aware, just as everybody is, today we’ve got a real masculinity problem in the culture and in the church. I mean, it is my view that, we talk about feminism, and all of those problems—look, we’ve got a far bigger problem with godly masculinity. In many of our churches we’ll have tlots more available, godly, marriageable women. Then we have . . . men in the church, but they’re not as mature so often. And I do believe that we have a great need for biblical instruction on masculinity.
Now, you start working on this stuff, and you start thinking about it, and you start becoming very impressed with the power of what the Bible says. As I say early on in the book, we know that when it comes to marriage and men in ministry and these sorts of things, that the New Testament directs us back to the early chapters of Genesis. If we’re going to say, “What does it mean to be a man? What is my calling as a man? What am I supposed to do to be a godly man? The answer is, go back and read Genesis 2. And what we’ll find is biblical teaching that is, in fact, a biblical paradigm.
What we read in Genesis 2 about God’s calling to Adam as the man, does in fact, have a paradigmatic influence that we will see pervading all of Scripture. And yet there’s very little teaching about the masculine mandate—that’s what I call Genesis 2:15. That there is a clear calling given to men, that will be seen playing out through the book of Proverbs, playing out through biblical examples of fatherhood, husband and Christian leadership. And it plays straight into the New Testament teaching. And I just came to believe that there is a need for some clear biblical teaching on this.
To be honest with you, it was a hard book to write, because most of my books will come out of my pulpit ministry. My working life is geared that way. I do a sermon on Sunday morning, I preach Sunday evening, I teach Wednesday night. I don’t have a lot of free time beyond that. So this book killed me. I mean, to write a book on the side—most of my books are biblical exposition flowing out of my pulpit ministry-but this one was a labor of love, because I just felt I had to get it done. Not that the world needs my book, but, I just felt an obligation to write this book.
It was not a book that I had time to do, but I just felt that there’s a great need for this, and I’m hopeful the Lord will bless it. You know, I ended up getting in about a year late, because you want to do it right.
But that’s why I wrote the book, just out of my own experiences, being asked to do work in it, and a profound sense that this material has to get out there.