When Vishal Mangalwadi and his wife, Ruth, moved from urban India to the rural and very poor village of Gatheora, other Indian natives couldn’t understand the couple’s willingness to give up a desirable life in the city for a lifestyle characterized by crime and starvation. Born-again Christians, the Mangalwadis’ answer of wanting to serve didn’t register with the people of India, the birthplace of both Hinduism and Buddhism. How could the mostly Hindu and Buddhist Indians understand servanthood and sacrifice when these people believed in exalting oneself to fulfill reincarnation to a higher level in life? They couldn’t, giving the Mangalwadi couple a mission to show Christ’s love through relief work, documented in Vishal’s “The Book That Made Your World.”
When Ruth ventured to meet fellow neighbors on her first day in rural India, she encountered the family of Sheela, a little girl who was being starved to death by her own family. At first, Ruth didn’t understand how parents could kill their own daughter, but, as Vishal explains in his book, it makes “sense” when analyzing Hindu worldview.
“Sheela’s parents,” he says, “believed that, like themselves, Sheela was trapped inescapably in the clutches of poverty. They held to traditional Hindu fatalism. They did not believe they could change history.” In essence, her parents believed it was Sheela’s fate to die and that it would be best for her to pass and then be reincarnated to a better, wealthier life. Thus, the Hindu worldview allows parents to kill their children. “Sheela’s parents had no hope for her because they did not know that Sheela had another Father in heaven who was not bound by nature, history, culture, or karma,” Vishal explains. Because humans were made in the image of the Christian God, we are valued by God. This is in contrast to all other major religions.
It is through these personal experiences that Vishal Mangalwadi is able to illustrate the productivity of the Christian worldview and the consequences of false worldviews, both historically and currently. The former led to prosperity and expansion in the West, while the latter led to stagnancy in the East. It was only when the Bible reached the East that its nations would be able to share in the unparalleled success of the West.
Indeed, the East had all that it needed to prosper, especially printing and books, except for one important piece of the puzzle: the Bible.
Mangalwadi explains the Bible's focus on humanity—why humans, rather than other animals, are valued so highly. He also describes the Bible’s commitment to rationality and how it led the West in ability to think. Mangalwadi expands upon the monks’ desire to improve technological efficiency to increase praying time, as well as why heroism is now based in humility—because the Messiah in the Bible came to serve. He also explains how literature, universities, and science are all the result of the Christian worldview, and that morality, family, compassion, wealth and liberty wouldn’t be as they are today without biblical influence.
The Bible, Mangalwadi argues, is the single most powerful force in the emergence of Western civilization.
And while his excitement about this truth is evident, he also warns us about the future: The moral North Star is disappearing from the West. As the West began to turn its back on biblical thinking, so too did the sun begin to set on its nations. This, however, is not to say that a transformation can’t take place. But it all starts at the feet of God. It all starts with the Bible.