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Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Review: "The Book that Made Your World"

TITLE: The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization
AUTHOR: Vishal Mangalwadi
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2010.

Amid a tide of books that bash Western culture in general, and books that lament the deterioration of the West, Vishal Mangalwadi puts a needed corrective to stem the tide. In fact, he does more than that. Like a surgeon, he pieces together the scattered fragments of historical facts that Western civilization come from, and weaves a beautiful picture of Western civilization that owes much to biblical theology. While the West has largely lost its religious soul due to secularism, he makes a call to all to recognize the positives that are stronger than all the negatives combined. This book is rich with historical information, and insights for the modern Western mind. We can learn about the roots of Western civilization. We can understand the perils of a man-centered philosophy that will derail all the good that has been accumulated over the years. Most importantly, it is a book that reminds us to come back to fundamentals, the rich historical past that can pave the way for a bright future.

My Comments
The Mangalwadi I heard from my student days is the same I read here in this book. The author unabashedly embraces Western culture, especially the ones that are based on biblical principles. He makes a compelling case for each aspect of Western culture, basing his observations on his personal disappointment with his own Indian cultural tendencies toward corruption, lack of compassion, and a deficient motivation for cultural advancement. At some points of his book, he does appear to be uncritical in his open acceptance of things Western. That said, he does place several disclaimers. He acknowledges there is a difference between biblical and non-biblical practices in Western culture. This is not merely a book about the superiority of Western civilization. This is more of a book on biblical faithfulness that will sustain not only Western culture but ANY culture. This is the main contribution in the book.

There is a notable pattern in the way Mangalwadi structures the book. He begins with the need for a ‘soul’ for any credible civilization. Such a soul will spur developments in other parts of culture, such as a right understanding of self (humanity); a right way of thinking (rationality); a progressive technological and scientific discoveries; the development of languages; the strengthening of the fabric of society through right morality, family values, and compassionate attitude toward all of life. From a biblical perspective, true wealth and true liberty can be understood. With all of that in place, there is the role of missions, to share this good news with the rest of the world.

This book contains a huge volume of information to chew upon. It will not take the reader long to discover the consistent arguments throughout. It is basically a cultural call to biblical values and principles. Written not only for the Asian cultural mindset to learn from the West’s traditional dependence on biblical theology, it is also a subtle reminder for the modern West, to learn from their own past. Lest they forget the truths that gave them what they have now.

Ratings: 4 stars of 5


This book has been sent to me by Thomas-Nelson & NetGalley free of charge without obligation for a positive review. Opinions expressed are freely mine.

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