Today I’m posting an extra book review for the week. Partly because I’m waaaaaaaayyyyyy behind on book reviews. Today I’m looking at Vishal Mangalwadi’s The Book that Made Your World:
|The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization
(available from Thomas Nelson Publishers, who sent me an e-copy through BookSneeze, their blog review program.)
The Book that Made Your World is an interesting take from a non-Western perspective of the impact of the Bible in English not only upon the Western World but also on other parts of the developing world. This book looks at the development of various inventions, technologies and moral codes across the sweep of world history. This weep identifies ways in which a biblical worldview and a Bible-based Christianity led to the development of the modern world in ways that would not have happened had the world been dominated by other religious viewpoints.
The author, who is a social activist and worker in the nation of India, strives to show the contrast in development between Christian areas and non-Christian areas in their failure to develop people’s potential. To highlight an example, the author speaks of the printing press. All of the components, even movable type, that made up the printing press pre-dated Gutenberg. The press enabled the Protestant Reformation, and the Reformation in turn led to the rise of literacy and learning throughout the Western World. Mangalwadi’s theme is that Christianity made that rise possible, as Islam, Buddhism, and other religions and non-religions never bothered with the idea. In turn, the positive impact of literacy has spread throughout many cultures. The author places the credit for that firmly on the shoulders of followers of Christ.
He also highlights the individuals that brought education to India. The contrast is drawn between the education methods of the East India Company and the missionaries (like William Carey). The companies sought to educate the local population to serve business interests and no more, while the missionaries sought to educate for the purpose of liberty. Certainly, Mangalwadi acknowledges, the missionaries hoped to bring Indians to Christianity, but they sought better things for the whole country at the same time.
In total, Mangalwadi’s effort is to contrast the current push to label religion, especially Christianity, as the source of nothing but trouble. His work stands in contrast to ideas like God is Not Great or even Things Fall Apart. He points out the positive effects of Christian people and the Christian faith.
While he does acknowledge that some evil was done in the name of Christianity, he certainly picks more positive from the faith than he picks bad. The picture he paints is one of overall positive effort, with occasional steps backwards. I think his portrayal is accurate, though some will dismiss it as self-serving.
His opening contrasts between Christianity and nihilism, Buddhism, and Hinduism were thought-provoking. The general theme is how the West is abandoning the faith that made us great in the first place. I would almost subtitle this book “How Liberalism is Biting the Hand that Fed It” for how the work highlights that the foundation of individual rights, mass education, and free speech are centered in a Biblical ideal----the same Bible that is attacked and maligned in much of the Western World.
I would highly recommend this book. I have an e-book, but will likely acquire a print copy to add to required reading for my children when they reach high school.