Published on June 25, 2020 by Benjamin J. Montoya

Thomas Nelson, 2012 | 466 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

By Benjamin J. Montoya


About the Author

Vishal Mangalwadi, LLD, was born and raised in India. He studied Eastern religion and philosophy in India, Hindu ashrams, and at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. He is a dynamic and engaging speaker who has lectured in thirty-five countries. He is a social reformer, political columnist, and author of fourteen books. Christianity Today calls him “India’s foremost Christian intellectual.”



How did our world become to be what it is today? What influenced it? In this book, you can learn that what made our world today is the Word of God that is the Bible. The Bible triggered the West’s passion for science, freedom, economic development, and so much more. Furthermore, as Mangalwadi highlights repeatedly, the Bible has impacted India as well in ways that other religions never had.


Table of Contents

Part I  The Soul of Western Civilizations
Chapter 1  The West without Its Soul: From Bach to Cobain
Part II  A Personal Pilgrimage
Chapter 2  Service: Or a Ticket to Jail?
Chapter 3  Quest: Can Blind Men Know the Elephant?
Chapter 4  Self: Am I Like God or God?
Part III: The Seeds of Western Civilization
Chapter 5  Humanity: What Is the West’s Greatest Discovery?
Chapter 6  Rationality: What Made the West a Thinking Civilization?
Chapter 7  Technology: Why Did Monks Develop It?
Part IV  The Millennium’s Revolution
Chapter 8  Heroism: How Did a Defeated Messiah Conquer Rome?
Chapter 9  Revolution: What Made Translators World Changers?
Part V  The Intellectual Revolution
Chapter 10  Languages: How Was Intellectual Power Democratized?
Chapter 11  Literature: Why Did Pilgrims Build Nations?
Chapter 12  University: Why Educate Your Subjects?
Chapter 13  Science: What Is Its Source?
Part VI  What Made the West the Best?
Chapter 14  Morality: Why Are Some Less Corrupt?
Chapter 15  Family: Why Did America Surge ahead of Europe?
Chapter 16  Compassion: Why Did Caring Become Medical Commitment?
Chapter 17  True Wealth: How Did Stewardship Become Spirituality?
Chapter 18  Liberty: Why Did Fundamentalism Produce Freedom?
Part VII  Globalizing Modernity
Chapter 19  Mission: Can Stone Age Tribes Help Globalization?
Chapter 20  The Future: Must the Sun Set on the West?


Book Summary

Part I  The Soul of Western Civilizations

Chapter 1: The West without Its Soul: From Bach to Cobain

Imagine sitting on a tree limb high off the ground. As you are sitting there, you begin to do to saw the tree limb off the tree—while you are still on it. What is going to happen? Well, gravity is going to bring you down to earth. Why mention this seemingly strange scenario that no one would ever want to do? That is precisely what has happened in the West. We have removed our foundation and are now left on the ground. Where does that leave us?

We are left with not much. Philosophers have recognized and addressed this very point, recognizing that without the Christian theology that undergirded our society and without any concept of God, there is also no concept of man. The two go hand in hand. This change has affected music as well. Cobain put these very things into his music. He eventually committed suicide because his philosophy of nothingness made him so miserable. This shift in music, however, is not how things used to be.

Music used to be understood through the lens of Christian theology. St. Augustine and Martin Luther both wrote and taught about a Christian understanding of music. In fact, their views influenced Bach. He wrote, “true music” pursues as its “ultimate end or final goal . . . the honor of God and the recreation of the soul.” Bach believed that music was a “harmonious euphony for the glory of God.” The reason why Bach wrote this is because of the influence of the Bible. But as the West seeks to distance itself from the Bible, the West is losing its very soul—its very ability to appreciate things like music that were created for the soul.


Part II  A Personal Pilgrimage

Chapter 2: Service: Or a Ticket to Jail?

In this chapter, Mangalwadi tells a very interesting story about a trip to the slammer. What got him there? I doubt any North Americans would ever guess it. A prayer meeting got him sent to jail. But before we get to that, we need to consider the back story. Mangalwadi grew up in urban India and moved to a more rural part. India is very different than the West. It is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism. As such, when people hear of things like a prayer meeting, they do not think of it in the same way.

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Thomas Nelson, 2012 | 466 pages

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