October 11, 2013
Friday Five: Eric Mason
The church's need for intentionality to raise up godly men.
For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we catch up with Eric Mason.
Eric Mason is pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole. Eric is also the President of Thriving, a ministry that equips ethnic minorities for ministry in an urban context.
Today we chat with Eric about manhood, intentionality, and fatherhood.
Manhood is a rising topic in the church today with a handful of popular books in the last few years. Why another one?
My desire was to play the role of engaging both the theological issues and practical issues that men cross-ethnically are dealing with. In addition, I wanted to add a cultural engagement component to the resource. Prior to this, ethnic minorities were yearning for the subject to be communicated in their heart languages. Moreover, I wanted Manhood Restored to transcend multiple socioeconomic and ethnic contexts.
My hope is that it could be a discipleship tool for men to disciple men while bridging generational connections at the same.
You minister in an urban environment where the fatherhood crisis seems most acute. How does this shape your perspective?
The fatherhood crisis was a deep burden for me as I wrote. My desire is to engage people who deal with fatherlessness on differing levels. I wanted to show how Jesus solves the issue of fatherlessness. Where I am contextually, we must have theological and practical solutions for this. That is why I did the “Daddy Deprivation” chapter. I have received stories of guys from drug dealers to cooperate businessmen being in tears about this issue while going through this in a community of men. I am thankful for the Lord’s grace in this.
Some criticize the manhood movement as being overly masculine, as if to be a godly man is to imitate William Wallace of Braveheart. Is this a fair critique?
Maybe, I know in my chapter on “The Restorer of Manhood,” I try to reflect Jesus as the ultimate man in sensitivity and the powerful overcomer. My desire was to make sure that it is a biblically rooted book versus a cultural preference book with eisogetical proof texts. Striking that balance can be a challenge but is attainable. Men’s Fraternity, Tony Evans, John Piper, and Wayne Grudem all avoid this trap well. I followed all of these men in their landmark works on manhood as I write. None of which reflect the A part of the question.
To be honest, people are turned off and can spot macho-center manhood resources from a mile away. And at the end of the day, they don’t work.
How can pastors and church leaders help raise up generations of godly men?
One word: intentionality. Pastors and church leaders must see manhood training as central to what the church does. Our desire would not be to neglect women, but to emphasize fighting through Jesus Christ against the fallen disposition of dominance and passivity that we see in the first Adam in Genesis 3. Jesus Christ as the second Adam came to reverse the works of Satan through the first Adam (Rom 5). That is on behalf of God for both men and women. Leaders are to apply the truth about Jesus Christ’s reversal in redemption equally to both men and woman; just as the fall had equal yet distinct effects and affects on both.
In the last chapter in the book, I take great pains to engage this issue. That is why I have by the Lord’s grace developed the leadership kit that aids in reinforcing this in the actual book itself. Everything worked on is done for it to be a tool for discipleship versus mere commentary on the subject
Given the fatherhood crisis, how can the church fill in the fatherhood gap?
Father’s don’t start off as fathers in life, they start off as male children. Male/children need to be born again and lovingly discipled into God fearing men. When we do the hard work of discipling men, we will have a new generation of godly fathers who model Christlikeness. This Christlikeness comes out as repentance, humility, and biblical commitment all stirred up by the changing power of the gospel.
Daniel Darling is vice-president of communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is the author of several books, including his latest, Activist Faith.