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The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization Paperback – 25 Oct 2012
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About the Author
Vishal Mangalwadi, LLD, was born and raised in India. He studied eastern religion and philosophy in India, Hindu ashrams, and at L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. He is a dynamic and engaging speaker who has lectured in thirty-five countries. He is a social reformer, political columnist, and author of fourteen books. Christianity Today calls him "India's foremost Christian intellectual."
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Top customer reviews
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.