The following is the foreword to Vishal Mangalwadi’s new and most important book yet—Truth and Transformation: A Manifesto for Ailing Nations, written by Dr. Art Lindsley of the C.S. Lewis Institute:
Many have spoken and written on the crisis of our times—economic, religious, moral and political. Some have said that the culture wars are over and secularism has won. Others have maintained that we have a window of ten to twenty years in which we can still work for spiritual renewal and transformation. If there is still the opportunity for radical (root) change, and I believe there is, we need a way forward, an agenda that will set forth the principles we need to follow—a manifesto for our times.
We have this set before us in Vishal Mangalwadi’s Truth and Transformation. Vishal has been dubbed by some as “India’s Francis Schaeffer.” He studied with Schaeffer in his earlier days and spent extensive time at Cambridge University researching the content of this book. However, Vishal is not merely an academic writing from an ivory tower. Many stories throughout this book demonstrate his extensive work with the poorest of the poor in India. In fact, this book began when Vishal was thrown into jail for (guess what?) serving victims of a hailstorm. Because of his extensive study and work in an Indian context, he can be of great help to us in the West (and throughout the world) as we face formidable cultural challenges.
Why, you might ask, can an Indian philosopher/activist help us? Because, as C.S. Lewis once argued, every culture has its own blind spots, its own outlook. It is good at “seeing certain truths and especially liable to make certain mistakes.” As a corrective, Lewis recommended that we read old books. Lewis’s rule was to read one old book for every new one. Thus, we can let the “clean sea breeze of the centuries” blow through our minds and get a clearer perspective on our times.
I have often said that another way to get this increased clarity on our times is by living for an extended time in another culture or among people of another culture who also know the USA (or the West). C.S. Lewis placed great value on seeing through other people’s eyes. He said, “My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.” Unless we see the world through others’ eyes, we inhabit a tiny universe, one in which we will suffocate. Vishal gives us such an illuminating perspective on our times; not only is his scholarship and analysis profound, but his Indian perspective allows us to see the United States and Western Culture with a stark, new clarity.
In the first four chapters, Vishal vividly makes the case that the foundations of what has made the West great are crumbling. The rug is being pulled out from under morality, human dignity, rationality, technology, and character. These foundational ideas that have shaped our culture are rooted in the Bible. As these and other principles are replaced by lies, we need to transform our culture by returning to the truth.
As Vishal points out, this will not be an easy task. There are powerful vested interests in the West (and elsewhere) bent on perpetuating falsehood. There is also the need to put on the whole armor of God, because our battle is not merely against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places (spiritual warfare). Resisting falsehood with truth involves conflict; that conflict may lead to retaliation and persecution as it has in countries around the world. In order to sustain our strength and not be overwhelmed, we need power that comes from the Holy Spirit and prayer. In this context we desperately need community, the church, so that we are stimulated to love and good deeds. The church, as Paul said to Timothy, was intended to be “the pillar and foundation of the truth” that transforms. We can hope for victory not because of our own strength but because the battle is the Lord’s. We can trust in the character and purposes of our Lord. We need to intervene in the conflict, but we also need to maintain our strength through intercession. Even if we lose personally, our God wins in the end. That is our sure and certain hope.
The power of Vishal’s presentation lies not only in its stories and illustrations but in its expression of truths often neglected in the evangelical church—sin, the cross, the church, judgment, social justice, the law, and repentance. Vishal’s work also, by contrast demonstrates the falsity of the belief that all religions are the same and that beliefs and doctrines don’t matter. In fact, truth (or lies) has profound consequences in personal as well as public life.
If we continue to follow the falsehoods of our culture, we will lose that truth, goodness, and beauty that made the West a beacon of light for so many throughout the world. Vishal calls us to uphold the truth like a torch, act upon it (intervene), and sustain our action until the goal is realized. You will find many of the observations he makes and stories he tells unforgettable.
Disciple Nations Alliance is offering Truth and Transformation through our online store at the special discounted price of $9 through the end of May—less than half the price that Amazon.com is listing the book for. Pick up your copy today!
-Scott D. Allen