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Book Review – Play the Man by Mark Batterson

June 5, 2017

Just in time for Father’s Day, Mark Batterson has written another quality book, this time touching on the topic of authentic manhood. With a great story from history to start each chapter, Batterson identifies seven characteristics of true manhood. As a pastor, he supports these virtues with biblical passages and examples.

As the book progresses, Batterson refers to the Discipleship Covenant and Rite of Passage ceremonies he worked through with both of his sons. and then includes the specifics of these concepts in the final two chapters.

Batterson is an exceptional writer and great story-teller. Although there is no explanation really offered for the choice of seven virtues or the specific seven he has selected, they are well-chosen. Some may argue the virtues he chose overlap too much, and others could argue the virtues do not encompass all the necessary areas of authentic Christian masculinity (ie significant virtues are missing). Notwithstanding the legitimacy of these concerns, it is doubtful any author would be able to identify “the list” of virtues. Scripture does not seem to give one and thus the challenge.

Another positive of Play the Man is the positive, forward-looking challenge it presents to men, rather than brow-beating them for failure. Also, while clearly approaching the virtues of true manhood from a Christian perspective, I believe the book would be meaningful to any man trying to become a better husband and father, even without the faith perspective.

The explanation of the Discipleship Covenant and Rite of Passage ceremonies are instructive. Batterson clearly reminds fathers to customize both events for the individual, even as he went about them differently with each of his sons.

Batterson has regularly been criticized for treating Scripture loosely, and I suspect some will find reason to again accuse him of such in this book. I see nothing troublesome with his use or explanations of the biblical passages and would contend (again) that those who actually take the time to read the full context surrounding a given passage will find good understanding and interpretation, and necessary cautions and reminders.

I would recommend this book strongly. In comparison with other books of this type (ie. Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis), Batterson’s writing is superior in depth and quality, and more current (understandably). In addition, the soon-to-be-released group study resources would be worthy selections for a local church men’s ministry and/or small groups,

Note: The reviewer was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review by Baker Books.


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