Monday, May 02, 2011

The Bible and Western Civilization Rise and Fall Together.

The Bible is a necessary book for civilization on earth as well as salvation eternally.

April 29, 2011

Without the Bible, the West Will Fail

By Vishal Mangalwadi

In 1994, India's Roman Catholic bishops invited one of India's most influential public intellectuals, Dr. Arun Shourie, to describe how a Hindu looks at Christian missions. Since his illustrious family was a product of a missionary education, the bishops may have expected him to commend missions. Shourie, however, condemned missions as a conspiracy of Western imperialism.

When Britain colonized India militarily and politically, Shourie argued, missionaries were brought in to colonize the Indian mind. Mission's he said, were the worst form of colonialism, since they harvested souls; they subverted the culture. From reproaching missions, Shourie went on to attack Jesus and ridicule the Bible as an irrational and immoral book. He then expanded his lecture into two books.

Shourie’s books came out when the militant Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was preparing to fight a national election from which it emerged as a large enough party in Parliament to form a coalition government. The BJP used Shourie's books to push its platform. It said that the liberal parties, such as the Indian National Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi -- a Roman Catholic -- should be voted out because liberal politicians had allowed Christians and Muslims to convert our people and subvert Indian culture. Once the might of a national party got behind Shourie's books, they became national best sellers. His thesis was translated into Indian vernaculars, and excerpts were published as syndicated columns in national and regional newspapers.

I already knew that the Western missionary movement, which the BJP portrayed as the villain of modern India, was, in fact, the single most important force that created contemporary India. Yet, thanks to Shourie's books, the frontline missionaries, who often came from the south to serve North India, began to be viewed as dangerous CIA agents. These are some of India's best public servants, sacrificially engaged in uplifting the "untouchable" victims of Hindu philosophy and its oppressive caste system, but they were presumed to have CIA funding to prepare for the Pentagon's neo-colonial designs. Using 200-year old arguments of Rationalists such as Thomas Paine, Shourie denounced the Bible -- the book that began and sustained India's education, emancipation, and all-around modernization -- as fit only for fools.

Arun Shourie actually attended India's best "Christian" college and earned a doctorate from a prestigious American university, which had been established by a Protestant denomination to teach the Bible. He had served as an officer of the World Bank and headed India's largest newspaper chain. He is a moral crusader whom many of us loved and still do. So, why did a learned man like him have such a poor understanding of the Bible and its role in creating the modern West and modern India? Why didn't he understand that the education he received, America's economic system that he studied, the free press that he championed, the political liberties that he cherished, and India's public life that he fought to keep free of corruption, had all come from the Bible . . . although much of it had now been secularized and even corrupted.

Dr. Shourie's ignorance is understandable. The problem was that even his Christian professors in India and in America had little idea of the Bible's importance and how it created the modern world. In an earlier book, Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a Postmodern Hindu (1995) I responded to Shourie's attack on Christian missions. My new book, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, published by Thomas Nelson, responds to the attack on the Bible that he amplified in India. (The book may be hard to find, initially, in India. The best bet would be to email

My book begins with a chapter "From Bach to Cobain" that uses music as the entry point into the optimistic soul of Western civilization. It examines how St. Augustine's six books on music impacted the Roman Catholic Church, laying the foundations of Western optimism, rationality, mathematics, technology, education, science, worship, love for God and neighbor. Martin Luther, who was trained as an Augustinian monk, brought this Catholic understanding of the Bible into the Protestant Church, Western Europe, and North America. But, tragically for more than a century, the rejection of the Bible by his followers in mainline Protestant denominations is resulting in a rapid decline of the West into nihilism. Consequences of this loss were powerfully illustrated in the music and tragic suicide of rock legend Kurt Cobain.

The third section of the book, discusses three "Seeds of Western Civilization:" a high view of man, a commitment to cultivate the mind, and the development of humanizing technology. Separate chapters explore (i) how Roman Catholic writers such Petrarch, Salutati, Lorenzo Valla, and Pico della Mirandella uncovered Western humanism in the biblical doctrines of creation and incarnation; (ii) how a biblical/Augustinian view of the Word (logos) made the West a uniquely thinking civilization, and (iii) how biblical theology inspired Roman Catholic monks to develop liberating and humanizing technology.

While the fourth section of the book focuses on the Protestant Reformation and its effectiveness in using the Bible to challenge prevalent abuses in the Church, the fifth section returns to celebrating the Roman Catholic and Protestant contributions to education, science, emancipation of women, healthcare, economic development, and political liberties.

The book is not a defense of the Church -- Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant. While defending the Bible, it is honest in dealing with the Church's failure to live by the Word of God. It was the Roman Catholic Church that taught Protestant Reformers that the Bible is the Word of God, even though at times it misunderstood or disobeyed the Word of God. Nevertheless, while the Catholic Church has continued to affirm the Bible as divinely revealed, nothing has undermined the Bible more effectively than mainstream Protestantism.

Evangelical Christianity does uphold the supremacy of the Bible, but much of it has lost the biblical doctrine of the Church -- the power-structure against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. As a result, the 20th century's "anti-Christ" came not from Rome, but from its first Protestant nation -- (Nazi) Germany. My book suggests that unless today's most Protestant nation -- America -- returns to the Bible, its greed-driven, secularized, democratic capitalism is likely to give to the world the "anti-Christ" of the 21st century.

Vishal Mangalwadi is author of The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Thomas Nelson).

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