Review: The Grace Effect – Larry Taunton

The Grace EffectThe Grace Effect
How the power of one life can reverse the corruption of unbelief

By Larry Taunton
Published by Thomas Nelson, Kindle Edition

It is interesting to note that God gave us a story instead of a systematic theology, and a person instead of an argument.

Larry Taunton runs the Fixed Point Foundation, best known for running debates, though to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the prologue of this book to recount a dinner conversation with his friends John Lennox and the late Christopher Hitchens. This book really isn’t what I expected, but is rather much more.

The main focus of the book is Taunton’s own story of adopting a special needs child from the Ukraine. It is a heart-wrenching account, and had me in tears in several places. He uses this story as an example of common grace – and indeed, the lack of grace found in a place that still bears the corruption and scars of  militant-secularist Soviet regime of the decades before.

The discussion with Hitchens sets up the book; they both agree that mankind is fundamentally evil – the question then was which of their worldviews, which philosophies or religions restrain this impluse, and which exacerbates it. Taunton argues from history, and how that interacts with his own narrative, that societies that actively pushed Christianity out are far worse for it. (I can already hear the objections of my secularist friends – never fear, Taunton deals with those)

The book is, in many ways, an apologetic, but an argument that is a person.

In a precious little girl, I discovered an argument stronger than any that I, or a hundred apologists of greater intellect, might have devised. Sasha was the argument.

This is not a call for religious laws, and Taunton makes clear that nations like America were never ‘Christian’ even though they were largely influenced by Christianity. Rather, he aims to show that where authentic Christianity, characterised by grace, exists, society is better for it, including those who don’t believe it.

What I found particularly interesting is how, in the accounts of their private discussions, Hitchens appears to take this argument far more seriously than many of his followers normally do (Hitchens proofed and approved the accounts before they were published).

I also found myself reconsidering some of my positions. I had generally thought that someone like Dawkins, in his push against religion, while wrong, and historically naive, was tending to become fairly irrlevant the louder he shouts, and was thus fairly harmless; I’d thought that the death of cultural Christianity would lead to a more authentic church (which is a good thing); but seeing the reality of the post-soviet society, and where the aggressive secularisation ultimately led, I’m starting to think that his view might be more dangerous that I’d previously thought. I suppose time will tell.

In any case, this is an interesting and somewhat different approach, and I challenge anyone, hardened skeptics included, not to be moved by the story of Sasha.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

What do you think?