The Grace Effect is an exploration of “common grace,” or rather, the lack of common grace, in a nation that has done its best to end any Christian influence and replace it with an atheistic philosophy. The author, Larry Alex Taunton, explores this lack of common grace through the story of his experience in trying to adopt a ten year old orphan from Ukraine. Through this, he shows what really happens when the philosophy of “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens, goes from the theoretical to the practical.
The story starts with a post-debate argument over dinner between Christopher Hitchens and Larry Taunton. Hitchens is arguing for his atheistic philosophy and how it would make for the best way to manage an evil world, while Taunton is arguing that it is the Christian influence in the world that keeps some semblance of sanity. It then shifts to Taunton’s family meeting a little girl in Ukraine, and continues with his experience in spending several weeks in Ukraine fighting mountains of redundant paperwork, and then appeasing anti-American and anti-adoption adoption officials who are more interested in lining their pockets than aiding the needy. The story is hilarious, frustrating, and tear jerking.
Throughout the book, Taunton explains some of Ukraine’s history, as well as his thoughts as to how the society became so cruel and uncaring to its weakest members. He uses this as a backdrop to explain common grace and what the effect of Christian influence, or lack thereof, is on a culture. The book isn’t heavy on theology, and because of this it should be approachable to most readers. Instead, the book comes across as a great story with some important explanations of how worldview effects societies and individuals.
In the end, it seems no argument was enough to convince the late Christopher Hitchens that a lack of Christian influence and a dominant atheistic influence in a culture is a terrible thing that he would never really want if he was able to see it. However, in Larry’s view the effect of a Christian worldview is demonstrated through his love for a little girl that society had abandoned and to whom he showed grace.
Overall, I think it was a great book, and I hope others will pick it up and read it.
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