Vishal Mangalwadi, a native of India and one of the great Christian worldview thinkers, believes that much of modern India, including its language, educational system, and political freedom, developed not out of Hinduism, but out of Christianity.
His newest work, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization explores the Bible’s impact, not only in leading the West to unparalleled liberty and prosperity, but in helping India and other nations to share in the West’s success.
Mangalwadi carefully examines the intellectual roots of Western concepts of human dignity, reason, morality, science, liberty, and self-sacrificial heroism, explaining how each of these concepts grew out of Biblical principles. He then contrasts the biblical view of life with alternative worldviews like Secularism, Islam, and Hinduism.
His own extensive experience doing relief work in rural India showed him the dehumanizing consequences of false worldviews.
For instance, he tells how he and his wife tried to take care of a baby girl whose parents refused to provide her with medical care that she needed to digest food. As unbelievable as it sounds, the parents refused to let the Mangalwadis rescue their daughter because their fatalistic, karma-based worldview taught them that their daughter had no hope for a happy, successful life.
The tragic story illuminates the importance of the biblical worldview, which sees all people as valuable because they are made in the image of God. And because we are made in the image of Him who freely chose to create the world, we are free to work to change our lot in life, not bound by fate or karma to a life of misery.
As Mangalwadi documents so well, the Bible and the biblical worldview also spurred remarkable technological development. Monks created labor-saving technologies (like the watermill and the flywheel) because while they saw work as valuable Christian service, they saw repetitive “toil” as a result of sin. They sought to minimize toil so that they could have more time to pray. These and other technologies spread in order to liberate others made in God’s image.
Mangalwadi also shows how translating the Bible into vernacular languages brought about a social revolution in literacy even among the poorest peasants, who had as much right to study the word of God as priests and nobles. Bible translation also helped to create writing systems and unite various dialects into national languages, such as modern Hindi.
In one especially interesting chapter, Mangalwadi shows how the biblical view of marriage and family life—which emphasized the equal dignity of women—helped lead to Western prosperity.
Mangalwadi credits the Bible for everything we value in Western civilization, but also warns that by abandoning biblical beliefs and practices, the West has lost its soul and begun to degenerate. But there is hope. God’s Word still has the power to transform individuals and resurrect entire cultures.
I recommend a lot of books on BreakPoint, but this is a must-read. If Western civilization and our way of life are to survive, we must understand and re-embrace the biblical principles and values they were built on.
Please, come to our bookstore at ColsonCenter.org and get your copy of The Book That Made Your World. It’s that important.
This article published on July 1, 2011. 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.