28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2011
I'll confess that I have come to Vishal Mangalwadi's writings at a relatively late stage. Friends who have read his earlier volumes have generally attested to the great care and scholarship which underpins his vigorous and challenging style.
Vishal writes as an Indian national about the nature of Christian missionary activity within his own country. In a day when secular intellectuals tend to use sound-bites to denigrate the impact of such cross-cultural evangelism, it is a rare and refreshing thing to encounter someone who has actually bothered to check up on the history. It becomes progressively evident, as one works through TBTMYW, that Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam had all failed to produce beneficial and progressive outcomes in India, despite the passage of many centuries. Thankfully, there were Christians who saw an opportunity to piggy-back missionary work onto the commercial activities of the British India Company, although this did on many occasions bring them into conflict with secular agendas. If it were not for those missionaries, India would not have had its own written languages for the population, and there would have been no hospitals or universities.
It has been this profound awareness of the positive impact of the Bible within Vishal's own culture that has informed this book (TBTMYW) which looks at the fundamental influence of the Bible on western scientific method, the university system, systems of medical care, the origination of schools for the general public (and not just privileged classes), and pretty much every beneficial societal structure, all the way up to our democratic systems and processes. The fact that neither the Qur'an nor the Hindu Vedas gave us these things is significant, and makes it all the more concerning that the last century has seen secularists systematically unpicking this foundation to our culture.
The author writes in an open, engaging manner. He is persuasive in the way he marshals his material and arguments. In the process of reading the book, I did actually learn quite a bit that was 'new' to me (particularly in relation to the impact of Christian missionaries in India), but what is powerful about this treatment is the way in which ideas and historic facts are 'joined up'. Vishal makes explicit the connections between ideas, in a way that leads the reader to understand why, for example, healthcare provision will inevitably suffer, if we do not retain the biblical view of the dignity of the individual, created in the image of God.
If the book has a weak point (and I am not sure that it has), it may be in relation to the dynamic between the 'big picture' perspectives that Vishal excels at, and the need to pause to attend to supporting detail. I suspect that this is merely a function of space - at 428 pages, it is not exactly a slim volume.
Overall, I was reminded of the kinds of qualities that one finds in HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE PB, although I think that Vishal is perhaps an easier voice to engage with, and of course he is writing with the benefits of thirty more years worth of academic study.
This book is an invaluable resource for Christians who might feel at times wrong-footed by the strident claims of the new atheist lobby, and is a useful antidote towards the kind of revisionist approach towards history which finds its way into the media and popular publications. I think the book might also be useful for those of a more skeptical persuasion, who do at least seek to nurture an open-mindedness about the Bible and its value within our culture.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2013
Short memories breed shortsightedness. We westerners have amnesia when it comes to knowing the source of inspiration for so many concepts, norms and values which we take for granted: equality, brotherhood, human dignity and value, to name just a few. Mangalwadi brings an unexpected Asian perspective coupled with deep insight into western thought, laced with personal anecdotes, to remind us of our roots and the consequences of choosing for a cut-flower culture.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2012
If you are someone who finds history boring, you'll change your mind after reading Mangalwadi's all-embracing account of the growth and development of the world in which we live. It is obvious that extensive and meticulous research has gone into the creation of this book, which has been presented in a most readable style. It is a "must read" for all seekers after the truth. I have it in book form as well as on my Kindle.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2014
Mangalwadi’s hefty volume (442 pages) brings us a native Indian’s view of the history of the West. His profound knowledge of Indian reality enables him to overcome some of the political correctness and fear of being accused of ‘racism’ that chains some Western scholars hand and foot from revealing truth. Time and time again Mangalwadi identifies the Bible as the key library that has opened the mind of Western man to truth, and in the course of doing so has changed the world. Key to that changing of the world is a respect for human dignity, expressed in singular love and compassion found in the example of Jesus, that the rest of the world had simply not known.
By the 1960s philosophers realised that logic was incapable of discovering truth. Actually, logic arose as a result of revealed truth, says Mangalwadi in this fascinating book. The Bible being such, he tells us, as to suggest that the world is logical, became an encouragement for enlightenment thinkers to test its sincerity. That the greatest enlightenment thinkers were deeply Christian was no coincidence.
Contemporary Western man tends to assume that matter can exist independently of thought. Surprisingly, according to Mangalwadi, this is in global historical terms, a new notion. Most people around the world have always found ‘nature’ to be enchanted. The Bible, Mangalwadi tells us, has provided the foundation for its disenchantment. Christianity, and not atheism, resulted in the development of science. If it were atheism, then why didn’t the Chinese become the first to develop science? Before the time of science, many uses of technology arose from a Biblical high valuation of human dignity. Foundational technology was invented in monasteries.
Today’s understanding that a ‘hero’ is he who sacrifices himself for the good of others has not always been there. The mediaeval hero was the knight who provoked warfare so as to kill in battle. The church turned this around, linking heroism with compassion. Compassion is America’s speciality, according to Mangalwadi. It arises from a view of love that has arisen from the Bible.
The church took over a great deal of the original power of the Roman Empire. For all its weaknesses and problems, the church of Christendom achieved an unmatched legitimacy. Christian believers motivated by what God first did for them have for centuries been a massive force moving civilisations away from darkness and towards light.
Secularists have been, and are, deceiving us, suggests Mangalwadi. What our kids are learning in the Western school curriculum can be deception and lies. Giving secularism the credit for initiating great ideas like freedom and equality has been a deception. Secularism will in due course itself be seen as a transitory deception – a mere blip in the history of the world.
Those who credit the rise of logical and rational thought to Greek philosophers are only half right. It was only Christians who could interpret Aristotle and other great philosophers without the chains of animism. The same Christians could then utilise their insights to bring a real betterment to human existence. “Christian education … developed knowledge in small increments, like a puzzle, because God had already given us the big picture” Mangalwadi tells us (page 219). So then science was enabled by the Bible, because the Bible gives a preview of a natural orderliness waiting to be discovered. The primary transmitters of education and its benefits around the world have been those who have taken the Bible very seriously.
Not to do one’s utmost to share the Bible with them is condemning contemporary primitive people to live in the Stone Age, says Mangalwadi. What he knows of ‘the Stone Age’ is not pleasant. It takes a particularly callous person to say that tribe X should be left alone. It takes love and compassion to share the Word of God with them.
What of the future? Mangalwadi’s question regarding the West is: “will it relapse into a new dark age or humble itself before the Word of the Almighty God” (p401)? This book, while essentially historical, ranges widely over academic disciplines. It is a highly recommended read to historians, to Christians, and especially to who have been deceived by in recent centuries by the false hegemonic claims of secularism. Thank you Mangalwadi for being bold enough to speak out truth.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2012
A thoughtful analysis of the Bible's influence on Western Civilisation. It provokes questions about what the West, especially the post-1960s generations, might regard as self-evident truths and which Mangalwadi sees as under threat. A salutary reminder that things might not necessarily be like this but for the Bible.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2013
This is a brilliant book, summarising in one place the amazing influence of the Bible in the foundation of Western Society. Much of this evidence has been "forgotten" or supressed by todays secular society but is here well documented with extensive references. Democracy, justice, equality, ideas of heroism, integrity in business, education, medicine, science and technology owe a tremendous debt to pioneers whose ideas derived from the Word of God.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2013
I bought this book as part of my LRBS course. I did not know what to expect when I bought it, because it sold out very quickly from the bookshop that I bought it from. When I settled down to read it, I quickly understood why it sold out very quickly from a reformed bookshop.
The author looks at how the bible has impacted the Western world in several ways. This includes culture, technology, medical wisdom, ethics, education and many areas. He tells how the bible still impacts the west today, in-comparison to other parts of the world.
Finally, he takes a critical look at the Western world today and the future consequences of the West's abandonment of the bible.
Above all, the author is not biased, because he is very critical of the damage that Hinduism has done to his native India and how the bible has been mainly responsible for India's progress today.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2013
Wide- ranging but at the expense of depth. Much of the book is a philosophical treatise which I had to wade through to get at the more insightful sections on the moulding influence of the Scripture on mankind.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2012
Excellent book, gives the Bible its proper place in this confused world. Pity that the West has to a great extent abandoned its teachings today, hence the moral bankruptcy that is so evident. Everyone should not only read it but study its message and fill their minds with the Bible itself.
on 27 July 2015
We live at a time when 'religion' is often viewed with suspicion, if not outright disdain, but what does Christianity and its influence look like through non-Western eyes - how does such a perspective evaluate it's impact upon the world? Vishal Mangalwadi leaves us with no doubt that here is a faith that has major impact for good on culture and life for centuries, but what really fascinates is when he compares this astonishing facilitating of life and progress with the inertia in other cultures (China, India, Tibet) which equally had the means to devise technology, but never had the underlying definition of life provided uniquely by a Christian world-view to drive such abilities forward. Really leaves you pondering on a number of occasions as to why what we believe really does matter.