Jun 14, 2011

The Book that Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi

Vishal Mangalwadi sets out on bold mission to show how the Bible has affected the development of Western Civilization in The Book the Made Your World. This is interesting because Mangalwadi is Indian. He does not live in the West. This gives him the ability to compare the development of the Eastern culture (mostly focusing on India) to the development of Western Culture (mostly focusing on Western Europe and America). Through the course of the book he compares how each culture views things like technology, rationality, heroism, education, science, literature and many others. The main thesis of the book that is developed in each chapter is that the West was able to develop faster and in better ways that the East was able to because the West was built on the foundation of the Bible. He explains that since the time of the Reformation the Bible has been available in many languages for all to read and this dissemination of the scriptures exposed the Western World to higher morals which then led to a better rate and level of development. The East, however, was built on the various scriptures of Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern Religions. These scriptures were not available to all and do not hold the same values that the Christian Bible does. Therefore, the West and parts of the East where bible has been introduced are substantially better than the places where Eastern religions have driven the culture.

Mangalwadi has created a strong argument and presented an interesting comparison between the development of the East and the West. As someone who has been exposed and involved in both cultures, he has a unique vantage point to compare the two. The problem is, however, that the premise  that he starts out with is not necessarily the one that he carries through the book. Mangalwadi claims to be writing about how the Bible changed the west, which it did. What he actually writes about is how the Protestant Reformation changed the western world. He rarely jumps into the time between the early church fathers and the late Medeval age. The catalyst of change from his perspective is that the Reformation made the Bible available to the masses in their own language. While I am not a historian, I will agree that this changed the world, but it ignores the fact that the Catholic Church, even with its issues in the end of the Middle Ages, had spread the Bible all over Europe. They had created a Christian culture that is also quantifiably different from the culture of the east. If the church had not spread all over Europe, then having the Bible available in all languages would not have had the immediate impact. The Bible already laid the foundation for culture and then became even stronger after the reformation. It should also be mentioned that with the neglect of the time between the fathers and reformation is also a neglect of the developments of the Eastern Church which, while it did not reach the far east, it still in the East. Lastly, I have a hard time coming to some of the same conclusions that he did. Yes, I agree that the Bible changed the world, but I cannot agree with him that the Bible, and ultimately God, blessed Britain with a global empire and blessed America with the success of capitalism. He seems to attribute these two things to the Bible, and I believe the Bible is not meant for building empires or economies. The Bible changes lives and has influenced many people to go and give their lives to helping others. I believe the stories of people like Mother Teresa, Eric Liddell, and Richard Wurmbrand really show how the Bible has changed the world. Overall, I have to agree with his premise, but disagree with the way that he explains about how the Bible changed the world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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