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The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief

The Grace Effect

There’s “hard apologetics” where we engage the merits of philosophical, scientific and Biblical issues head-on. Then, there’s “soft apologetics” where life itself dictates the issues and nudges us toward reality. This book falls into the “soft apologetics” category.

Larry Taunton is the Founder and Director of the Fixed-Point Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the public defense of the Christian faith. Fixed-Point is at pains to show that Christianity is the viable worldview in a culture where some discount it as a relic of a bygone era. Accordingly, Fixed-Point has hosted debates between such rivals as John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, Lennox and Peter Singer and David Berlinski and Christopher Hitchens.

The book begins with a midnight dinner discussion among Taunton, Christopher Hitchens and John Lennox. Lennox and Hitchens had just ended their debate an few hours earlier and now carry it on in an amicable discussion in a nearby restaurant. The talk was turning to Hitler and his place in the pantheon of twentieth century atheistic dictators. Hitchens would have nothing of it. Hitchens and several other “new atheists” are not shy that the world would be a better place without Christianity.

Larry writes, “Sometimes these discussions can degenerate into a body count. The atheist will say, ‘Christians were responsible for the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Salem witch trials.’ The Christian will counter, ‘Atheists were responsible for Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot.’ The reasoning is not sound, and this particular conversation seemed headed in that direction.” So Taunton doesn’t go there. Instead, he asks Hitchens which worldview leads society into a more humane, caring place, atheism or Christianity? Which is more prone to care for the poor and elderly, the orphan, the sick and disadvantaged?

This book takes the debate to a micro-level by looking at the process of adopting a young ten year old orphan girl from Ukraine. Taunton tells the story powerfully because it is his family who adopts her. Ukraine, of course, is part of the former USSR, where atheism was official state policy. It did its best to eradicate Christian teaching and influence during its 70 year history. Unfortunately, it was quite effective. On the other hand, it provides a dramatic picture of what life is like in a country where leaders do not believe in, much less, fear God.

The rest of the book takes us into the sad world of the Ukranian orphanage system. It seems as if the system is geared to make it as difficult as possible to adopt. Along the way we learn that bribery is a well-understood part of the process. Everyone wants a piece of the action. And to make it to the finish line, you have to play their game. Petty players in small positions of power wield it mercilessly. You must set your expectations incredibly low and even then you are surprised at the corruption.

Some say that Taunton is too hard on Ukraine. That he has created a strawman by focusing on the worst aspect of a culture and amplified it to attack a broader worldview. Maybe so. But maybe not. I’ve never been to Ukraine. Others, however, validate his account. Sasha herself provides a picture of grace and faith in God that no amount of arguing over the kalam cosmological argument could ever match. I simply commend the book to you for serious reflection on which culture you’d rather live in – one dominated by a worldview that seeks power “over others” or one that honors the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, who said:

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

The Grace Effect