This volume is the first part of a planned trilogy by Vishal Mangalwadi, who has been described as India’s foremost Christian intellectual. Volume 2 will cover how the Bible changed our ideas of human person, rationality, and education, and Volume 3 will examine man’s case against divine revelation as articulated by Western philosophers, scientists, and theologians.
The author surveys an impressive range of subjects. His central thesis is that the Bible impacted the West powerfully: it was the impetus for stable family life, law and order, basic freedoms, fair dealing in commerce, the work ethic, and nationhood. With the move into ‘post-Christianity’, biblical presuppositions are breaking down, and the symptoms are family breakdown, corruption, lawlessness, and intolerance.
Mangalwadi is clearly dealing with important subjects of great contemporary interest. I found some of the book fascinating and illuminating. Other parts were a little baffling and speculative. Equally, some of the contrasts he made with Indian culture were in turn compelling and bewildering.
I’m not sure that this is a book for your average reader, but some will find its historical analysis, and its insights into American culture in particular, enlightening. His approach to Scripture is conservative, though I doubt he would be described as a five point Calvinist.
It is helpful to hear the views of someone from the East about the West. However, this reader could not always follow the train of thought behind the structure of the book! It moves from revelation, to the West losing its soul, to discussion of nationhood as opposed to empire, and finally to a look at language, literature, and fake news. Two of the chapters in the last section are written by others. The concluding chapter asks the question, ‘Can the West be renewed?’
In conclusion, this is a substantial book, the product of an impressive mind and wide learning. It will certainly inform and make the reader think, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste.