I’ve been reading a book lately called “The Book that Made Your World” by Vishal Mangalwadi, a Christian from India who brings his experiences in India and the East to an examination of how the Bible and Christianity have shaped western society in ways most of us don’t even realize. I’m not going to review this title here ( I do recommend everyone read it!) but rather will just make a couple of short comments on our current social wars.
Mangalwadi suggests that the Bible is the springboard for everything from western literature to science & medicine, education, and even the American political system. He makes a good case that even though China & India & the Middle East had a major head-start in all these areas, it took the reformation and the printing press to bring about the world that we now take for granted. This is certainly not the first book to suggest that western society has been shaped (some would say “warped” by Christianity and the Bible, but it’s the first I’ve read in some time, and it has given me a great deal to think about.
I’m especially taken by how little understanding most of us have of how integrated the Bible is in every social and ethical issue we debate. We all share a common heritage and a common base of ethics, but a good portion of our culture denies the Biblical basis of their own morals.
Slavery has been illegal (in the western world, at least) for over 100 years, yet it still stirs the pot of indignation & anger. The “white man’s” religion of Christianity is excoriated for justifying the institution of slavery. Christians are denigrated as purveyors of hate & bigotry. Yet, without the Bible and Christianity is it even likely the folks who hold those positions would even be in a position to care?
Slavery is still practiced in other parts of the world. For most of our history it was an accepted practice and was the primary engine of economic enterprise. It took the industrial revolution and Christians to bring about the abolition of the slave trade in England. Mangalwadi argues that without a Biblical & Christian belief in the value of the individual, there might not even have been an industrial revolution. With enough slaves (or lower castes) why create machines to replace them? Indeed, in the Middle East & Asia, there was no industrial revolution. It was essentially imported to them by Christian missionary efforts!
But back to slavery… as I look at the issue, my feeling is that apart from Bible-based ethics, the practice would still exist in the entire world. The Bible is the source of our belief in the worth of the individual. Those who eschew Christianity & Bible-base ethics are arguing against the very thing that created their own social concepts!
There are so many issues that have this same conundrum:
Feminism? Apart from the biblical idea that all humans have value, and that women and wives are to be given honor where would the concept of feminism even develop? Certainly not in the Middle East, or Asia.
Civil Rights? What civil rights? Without a concept of individual worth, the only political truth is “might makes right.”
Legal rights? See the above.
I could go on, but I think you see the point. There is much that is wrong with our society. There is much that is and has been done wrong in the name of Christ. But the simple truth is that without Christianity & the Bible, most of the issues we are so indignant about would not even be considered.