May 27, 2009
From the outside looking in, an intelligent observer can see the signs of a once-great civilization in decline: rising corruption, sexual licentiousness, and the abandonment of once-cherished moral principles.
The once-great civilization is Western Christendom. And the outside observer is Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi. His new book, Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations shows how dearly the West is paying for abandoning the Christian worldview—the very worldview that made its greatness and prosperity possible.
It is no coincidence, Mangalwadi argues, that reason, science, and advanced technology developed and thrived in the West. That’s because Western man believed that God created an orderly universe that could be explored and understood—and whose resources could be harnessed to benefit mankind.
And because they believed that man was created in the image of God, the American founders could write that all men “are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” Such thinking would have been preposterous in Hindu India or Confucianist China.
Mangalwadi, who has spent years in rural India trying to help the poor escape poverty, knows firsthand the practical consequences of a false worldview.
He relates how a village of poor farmers has been unable to overcome the repeated catastrophic flooding of their fields. Why not? Because they worship the river that destroys their livelihood. They never would have thought to create channels to divert the water. Instead of establishing dominion over the river, they have let the river—a god in their eyes—establish dominion over them.
Many of Mangalwadi’s efforts to help India’s “untouchables” develop a sustainable livelihood have been thwarted by upper-caste Brahmins—who feel they have a religious right to steal the fruits of the lower caste’s labor. No wonder India, the world’s largest democracy, still struggles with corruption and catastrophic poverty.
Thus Mangalwadi wonders why the West, rich in material and political blessings, would turn away from the source of its success—the Christian worldview anchored in the Scriptures.
And turn away it has. We see the fruits of this rejection in the economy (where debt is embraced and “thou shalt not steal” is ignored). We see it in our courts. Mangalwadi actually predicts the collapse of the American judicial system within a generation. “As Americans cease fearing God,” he writes, “they no longer keep their vows and promises.” The result is “a costly litigious society . . . of godless people . . . unworthy of trust.”
And every day we see the rejection of the Christian worldview in the media and in our universities—where Mangalwadi notes, the totalitarian philosophy of naturalism demonizes anyone who dares to believe in God or the supernatural.
Mangalwadi says the West has a choice: “either to seek the knowledge of God once again, or to slide into an abyss of pagan ignorance, corruption, and slavery.”
What makes this book so important is that Mangalwadi views us from outside, looking in as an Indian. He sees what the Church must do to help the West make the right choice. That’s why I urge you to read Truth and Transformation today.
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.