by Trevin Wax
Eric Mason is the pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia and the author of Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole, I first met Eric when he served on the advisory council for The Gospel Project.
He’s a powerful preacher who loves his church, his family, and his
community. Today, I’ve invited him to the blog for a discussion about
God’s vision of manhood.
Trevin Wax: Men’s movements have been a permanent fixture in the evangelical landscape for the
past two decades. Why?
Eric Mason: The absence of men in churches. Even where there are men present in local churches, there seems to be a passivity of presence.
In light of the absence of leadership, there has been everything from
Promise Keepers to some of the new manhood movements – Dr. Evans’ Kingdom Man, the whole Men’s Fraternity, etc. This is a phenomenal need and each variation has added its own flair to it. Kostenberger’s God, Marriage, and Family deals
with the family as a whole with a special emphasis on the theology of
family and the life of men. I think it is the best book on men written in
the last twenty years. I also can’t leave out Family Life and their
contribution. Everywhere I hear the similar issues from the past
generations, and these issues have given rise to these movements.
Trevin Wax: What do you think is missing from some of the strategies and principles coming out of the men’s movement?
Eric Mason: At times, we’ve needed to see more
vulnerability from leaders. When we are honest about our failures, we
help others understand the gospel more effectively. When we are honest
about our failures, we can believe God and repent of our sins and turn
toward Him because He is faithful. I am not talking about any of the men
I’ve mentioned in particular. All of us tend toward moralistic teaching
how-tos – how to do this, how to do that, how to be a better husband,
how to be a better wife, and while those things have their place, we
need a theological framework that sets that up.
I think on the other end we’ve had highly theological works that left
men in a daze. We have this beastly theological grid, and especially
for some of the younger generations that love intellectualism and robust
theology, they’re at a loss with how to apply all their theological
terminology. There can be a struggle to live it out.
There needs to be a little more realness. In that realness there
needs to be a connection and an intersection between theological
richness and cultural connectivity to the reality and progression of
culture. I’m not dogging any of the movements that I’ve mentioned; I’m
just speaking in general.
Trevin Wax: You write about the impact of daddy deprivation. What do you mean by this and why is it so important?
Eric Mason: Daddy deprivation was a term I got from a
pastor named Blake Wilson in Houston about 13 years ago. That
phraseology of daddy deprivation was phenomenal to me and I wanted to
flesh it out because as time went on, and I began to see an epidemic of
In the book Fatherless America, David Blankenhorn talks
about the category of fatherlessness. Fatherlessness can go all the way
from a guy who’s home, he has his family, he works, he provides but he
is emotionally, intellectually absent. That’s fatherlessness because
there is no active ministry of presence. But then all the way up to the
person who abandons their children or had sex with a woman and kind of
rolled out on he,r and the kids never knew who their dad was and they
grew up without a father.
Daddy deprivation is anything between from those extreme pendulums.
The reason I talk about the importance of this is because as a pastor
have seen and experienced the impact of daddy deprivation on the lives
of men cross-ethnically.
In our own church, Epiphany Fellowship, we’ve got white men, Asian
men, Latino men, black men, different types of African, Caribbean, men,
people from overseas. I hear many stories from different people about
the formation of family. Daddy deprivation is a consistent issue in
biblical manhood that needs to be engaged. It’s systemic because fathers
were given the theological and spiritual responsibility to lead. In
Proverbs, we see the leading of the family along with a mother who is an
instructor as well, but the husband takes the visionary leadership in
instructing the family.
The gospel restores fatherhood by God giving Himself back to us
through the restoring work of Jesus Christ. I’m in a neighborhood where
there is a 90 percent single parent home rate. So I feel it a lot more
overtly than most.
Trevin Wax: You talk about the need for
discipleship to include the cultivation of a biblical worldview. What
are some of the ways we can prioritize the renewing of the mind as well
as the spirit?
Eric Mason: Good question. I teach a great deal on
discipleship and I didn’t put it all in this book because I’m going to
work on another book that will include a full body ministry of
Still, I was fascinated by how much the Bible talks about the mind being renewed. Ephesians 4:23
talks about being renewed in the spirit of your mind. 1 Corinthians 2 –
the last few verses – talk about having the mind of Christ. Romans 12: 1-2 talks about it. And even in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 30:25-27 you look at how the gospel restores our heart and in restoring our heart, we get a new mind.
How do we cultivate the new mind? Forming the mind of Christ with the
Word of God through discipleship. That means discipleship is just not
one on one; it’s everything that is provided through the local church to
the people of God, and that means every aspect of equipping – from the
pulpit to small groups to going on mission trips to men’s time – all
those things play a role in discipling. One of the main formats of
discipleship in the New Testament are the “one anothers.”
Jesus says that in order to be a disciple you have to deny yourself.
That means denying your preferences and embracing God’s way of doing
things based on the Word of God. So how do we prioritize things? Deny
self, pick up the cross daily and follow Him in ways that create in us a
greater sense of a transformation of our way of thinking into His way
Trevin Wax: You devote a section of your book to
restored sexuality. What are the particular temptations we are facing
today and how does the gospel aid us in our fight against sexual sin?
Eric Mason: Men believe lies that go back to
worldview and strongholds. I have a message on strongholds out of Judges
6 that defines strongholds as things that assert themselves against the
knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10). This belief that the enemy has a
better handle on sexuality than God causes us to give ourselves over to
fallen forms of sex because we don’t believe God has our good in mind
even though He created the whole thing. That’s why in 1 Corinthians,
Paul utilizes the gospel as the means by which we’re motivated to have
sanctified sex and move away from illicit forms. In the book, I talk in
detail about some practical ways to embrace a gospel centered worldview
as it relates to sex, because I think everything is a belief issue.
Check out the first chapter of the book by clicking here: Manhood Restored Pastor Eric Mason Chapter 1