Friday, October 29, 2010
Vishal Mangalwadi, an Indian follower of Christ, says, "Yes."
In his book, Truth and Transformation, he explains that moral relativism leading to corruption and poverty is the product of both Hinduism and Secularism.
Because both worldviews reject the idea of a rational, transcendent God who has said, "You shall not steal," or, "You shall not covet," and to whom all people in every walk of life are equally accountable.
In Hinduism, there is no "Higher Law" that applies equally to all people, because there is no Higher Lawgiver. Hinduism teaches that we are all gods. Therefore, there can be no source of morality other than that which various groups create for themselves. This can only lead to different moral standards for different people.
The so-called "upper casts" in India, Mangalwadi explains, have practiced moral relativism for years. The result is rampant corruption, with upper casts stealing from lower casts with no consequence or shame. Because of this corruption, poverty abounds in India.
"Growing mangoes or guavas alone," writes Mangalwadi, "could lift whole families out of poverty [in India]. But if hardworking peasants grew good mangoes and guavas, the higher castes would come and take them..."
"Why?" asks Mangalwadi. "Because there is no God who has said, 'You shall not covet your neighbor's [mangoes]'..."
The net effect of Secularism [there is no God] and Hinduism [everything is "God"] is the same, because morality in both Hinduism and Secularism can be nothing more than mere human convention. "Morality" depends on who makes the rules and has power to implement them.
In Secularism, it can boil down to a 51% vote [the tyranny of the majority], or to a Wall Street investment firm making its own rules, bent on profit at any cost.
Magalwadi states: "Postmodern relativism, like my traditional culture says, 'Yes, it is wrong for you to do so, but it is not wrong for us, because we make the rules and have the power to enforce them."
"The West," writes Mangalwadi, "is becoming corrupt like us because it is developing a 'new spirituality' without [authentic] morality. This new spirituality is no different than our old spirituality."
To learn more, read Truth and Transformation.
You may order it at http://www.biblicalworldview.com/bookstore.html.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Mangalwadi contends that the "secret" of the West's success is morality that allows people to trust one another with the kind of trust essential to business and industry.
He says this kind of trust-producing morality is unique to societies having a Christian belief in a rational, personal God who has spoken to humanity through the Bible, clarifying right and wrong, and to whom everyone is equally accountable for their actions.
Mangalwadi believes acceptance of this Truth, and its subsequent application to business and industry, was fundamental to the success of Western economy.
But Mangalwadi's next question is important: "If moral integrity is foundational to prosperity, why don't secular experts talk about it [today]?"
His answer is straightforward: "Economists have lost the secret of the West's success because philosophers have lost the very idea of truth."
"The truth was lost," he says, "because of an intellectual arrogance that rejected divine revelation and tried to discover truth with the human mind alone."
Mangalwadi does a masterful job in Truth and Transformation tracing the connection between failing economies and faulty worldviews.
Mangalwadi's work is particularly relevant to the economic meltdown of 2008, and to real hope for long-term recovery. Simply put, the world experienced a financial meltdown because the West has exchanged the worldview of the Bible for a different worldview. A worldview that is as harmful to the economy in America as Hinduism is to the economy in India: the worldview of Secularism.
Through the philosophy of Western atheists such as David Hume (1711-1776), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the West gradually came to believe that either the God of the Bible does not exist--or is irrelevant (just as debilitating).
Whether God is absent or irrelevant, the effects of Secularism on business and industry are titanic.
Furthermore, Mangalwadi contents, Secularism is leading America down the same road to poverty that Hinduism led India.
Same road as Hinduism?!?
Friday, October 15, 2010
He wanted to buy a bus day-pass from a machine. But the instructions on the machine were in Dutch. Two young women visiting from America were standing nearby, and Dr. Mangalwadi asked how to get tickets from the machine.
The women said they had been riding around Amsterdam for a week, and no one checked for tickets. "Why do you want to get tickets?" they asked.
Mangalwadi writes: "Their shamelessness shocked me more than their immorality. They represented the new generation, liberated from 'arbitrary' and 'oppressive' religious ideas of right and wrong. University education had freed them from commandments such as 'You shall not steal.'
'It is wonderful,' I said to them, 'that there are enough commuters who pay so that the system can carry some who don't. Once your schools succeed in producing enough clever commuters, your country will catch up with mine [India]. You will have to have ticket inspectors on every bus and have super-inspectors to spy on the inspectors. Everyone will then have to pay more. But corruption won't remain confined to the consumers; it is a cancer that will infect politicians, bureaucrats, managers, operators, and the maintenance staff. They will take kickbacks, commissions, and bribes to use substandard parts and service. Soon your public transport will resemble ours: frequent breakdowns will slow down not only the transport system but also your roads, efficiency and economy.'"
Mangalwadi says morality is the "floundering secret" of the West's success.
Our economic system rests upon trust. Trust that people at the other end of a business deal will be honest, will pay, or deliver quality goods, and will not misappropriate funds, bribe or extort.
"Where did this morality come from?" asks Mangalwadi. "Why isn't my society [in India] equally trustworthy?"
Mangalwadi maintains that the kind of trust which made the West successful was possible only because a preponderance of people accepted the Judeo-Christian belief that there is a rational, personal God above us all, who sees all, and has clarified moral standards applying equally to everyone (such as "You shall not steal"). Living in accordance with His standards is "right," and acting against them is "wrong."
It isn't rocket science.
But today's economic pundits and political experts no longer talk about this "secret."
To be continued.
Friday, October 8, 2010
But I'm more disturbed about the cause of the breakdowns than the breakdowns themselves. The breakdowns could turn out to be a blessing, if they are instrumental in waking us up to the cause.
Such an awakening would be miraculous, and this is the way it must be. For the kind of awakening we need can only happen through a move of God.
Vishal Mangalwadi, in his remarkable book, Truth and Transformation, writes: "Roots of corruption go deeper than individual leaders and regimes. Dethroning leaders or smashing 'the system' rarely does lasting good...Ultimately it is our inner life--our assumptions, values, worldview, desires, emotion, and attitudes--as well as our relationships, that need to be transformed."
Such inner transformation, Mangalwadi contends, only happens when people embrace the Truth revealed in a Book the West no longer takes seriously: the Bible.
If you only read one book this year besides the Bible, let it be Truth and Transformation. Some books are worth reading multiple times, and this is one of them. I have read it twice, so far. Chuck Colson calls Truth and Transformation a tour de force, and he doesn't use that description flippantly.What makes Mangalwadi's work especially powerful is that it was written by a man born and raised in India. As a result, he sees more clearly than Westerners that we are throwing away the very foundation of our health and wellness--economic and otherwise.
In essence, Mangalwadi is saying to the West: Have you lost your mind? What are you doing?! Don't you realize what authentic Christianity has done for you and your society?
His writing is a plea from one who knows from personal experience in India what can happen when a society rejects Truth. His life was threatened (more than once), he was put in jail, and his parents were beaten because of decisions they made to live according to Truth.
I want to spend a few weeks on Mangalwadi's work because it has enormous implications for our economy, and for a return to meaning and purpose among followers of Christ in the workplace.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Legislators cannot produce the kind of deep-seated shift that is necessary to put our economic house in order. We cannot fix the fundamental problem by passing laws. Laws don't change hearts.
This does not mean we should not enact good laws. We must. But something much deeper must also take place.
The desire to embrace God's ways in the marketplace does not come naturally to the human heart. It comes from a supernatural work of God's grace.
This work of God's grace produces a compelling love for the One who made us. Without this love, obeying the Lord can easily turn into dead religion, with a burdensome list of rules to keep.
This was a pitfall the ancient Hebrews fell into. But the gift Jesus gave us for keeping this from happening lies in sharing the life of the Holy Spirit, like a vine and branch sharing the same sap.
As a result, we love the Person, not just the Book.
It isn't just about "doing the right thing." It's about loving the right Person.
When we love the right Person, we'll do the right thing. It's the horse that pulls the cart.
Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind...and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets."
If we truly love the Lord, we will love the things He loves. If we love Christ, we will keep His commandments because we want to. If we truly love people, we will gladly behave rightly toward them.
Where does this "want to" come from? It comes from God Himself! We can't crank it up by our own will power.
It is God who gives us the will and the desire to do His good pleasure. See http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians%202:13&version=NKJV (Philippians 2:13).
This unmerited grace generates the kind of workplace behavior that is "right"--in a naturally supernatural way.
This is what the saving life of Christ is about, and this is what America isn't getting.
In the long run, it is the only hope for our economy--and everything else.