Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi

The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization is an interesting look at how the Bible ‘made’ as it were, the ‘world’ we live in. Mr. Mangalwadi goes back in time to show how the Bible influenced our ancestors’ ideals, their mindset.  He takes a look at several countries and shows how belief or non-belief in the Bible impacted whether or not a society ‘advanced’ and prospered.

Some things in this book I found fascinating.  For instance, in his chapter on Science(Science: What Is Its Source?),  Mangalwadi’s point that, “Science was born after the Church started reading the Bible literally, not allegorically” struck me.  He wrote about how the ‘Church’s' use of Allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures influenced its own, and society’s outlook on nature as well.  They studied nature ‘allegorically’…what characteristics about this creature does God want us to learn from?  Or, what might this creation symbolize?  Instead of desiring to study nature’s literal physical characteristics, they studied it’s seemingly spiritual characteristics.  A return to a literal Hermeneutic encouraged scientific study in Christians. He points out that ‘science’ was mainly started by Christians, and he hints that they were able to concentrate on studying the physical characteristics of nature without having to worry about discerning philosophical things from nature.  “Many philosophers and scientists today expect that no answers to the ‘big questions’ are possible, and that we can only have knowledge that is discovered by science.  This attitude leads to nihilism.  Almost all founders of science thought differently.  They were willing to concentrate on studying small, specific questions because they believed that the Creator had already answered the big questions in the Bible.”   

As with science, throughout the book, Mangalwadi explains why, because of their belief in God’s Word, Christians were initiators in other things beneficial to humanity, such as medicine, education, the care of the poor, the philosophy of a constitutional republic…etc.  And he also explains why non-Christians, or societies not influenced by Christian ideals, were not, for the most part, entrepreneurs in these things.

Now, there were several things I did not like about this book.  First, Mangawaldi in my opinion, goes too far (This is mainly towards the beginning of his book)and uses some unnecessary examples in order to illustrate the despairing immoral mindset of our day.  There are some things relating to our society today that he didn’t need to describe.  

 Next, sometimes I didn’t like some things he mentioned regarding the Biblical people of Israel.  For one, his declaration that God “chose Abraham and his descendants as his special people, but only in order to bless ‘all the nations of the earth’ through them”.  Where does he get the ‘only in order to bless’ part from? What about “"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deu 7:6 ESV)And what about their being chosen for God to bless them particularly with a land of their own, and multiplication of their numbers(Gen 48:3-4), unlike any of the other nations? (Jeremiah 31) And what about their being chosen for God to show His glory through them as a particular race(Ezekiel 36)?  And his statement  that ““The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy [Ezekiel 37, which speaks of the valley of dead bones, that represent Israel, and of God’s promise to bring these bones to life]and Israel’s great awakening began when the Persian emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon and came face to face with Daniel’s knowledge of God….”  I don’t think that that was the beginning the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37 because when God puts His Spirit into the Israelites they will no longer rebel against Him, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. “(Eze 36:26-27 ESV)And therefore will never be scattered from their land again, “I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them," says the LORD your God. “(Amo 9:15 ESV)  These things did not happen when Israel returned to the land under Cyrus, they were still wicked, their hearts unchanged, and were scattered again. 

Thirdly, the book seems to present the view that the Bible advocates revolting if a government is not completely in line with Biblical principles, which view actually seems contradict the Bible. When you consider that Nero was probably Caesar while Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, in which he doesn’t advocate a revolt against the government, instead, in  chapter 13, he calls for submission to government, which seems to give one the idea of forbearance in spite of injustice.  

 The last thing I will mention is that the author seems to believe that the headship of the husband in the marriage relationship was a result of the fall.  I do not see that in the Bible as being the reason for ‘male headship’.  The Bible indicates that God ordained that man be the head since woman was taken out of man, created for the man, and because woman was deceived by the Serpant(1 Tim 2:12-14;1 Cor 11:1-13) This structure of authority illustrates the structure of authority in relation to Christ and His Church(Eph 5:22-33).  

So, because of the negative things…I wouldn’t recommend the book.  Or at least I would only recommend skimming it to get the ‘good stuff’.

I have received this book as a complimentary copy  from BookSneeze®. 

I review for BookSneeze®

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