It started with a heated discussion at Ruth’s Chris with prominent atheist author Christopher Hitchens. Is man intrinsically good or bad? Evil, both Hitchens and Larry Taunton agreed. But where does Christianity come in? That’s where the two friends didn’t see eye to eye.
According to Taunton, founder of Mountain Brook nonprofit Fixed Point Foundation, Christianity is the reason why there is any good in the world of evil man. It is this point that he expounds upon in his book, The Grace Effect, published in November.
After listening to the arguments of atheists for years in the debates he hosts, Taunton found a lens to share his Christian viewpoint with any skeptic or Christian lay reader: his daughter, Sasha. As his family worked through Ukraine’s orphanage system to adopt Sasha, he said he saw firsthand how they treated children like a commodity.
Throughout the adoption process Taunton narrates in his book, the Eastern European historian was contrasting the Ukranian corruption he saw with the benevolent Western culture that has been deeply influenced by a Judeo-Christian worldview.
“It dawned on me that there (in Ukraine) was the world without Christian influence,” he said. “There they don’t think twice about driving over a girl in the street.”
In the book, Taunton uses the story of Sasha and the grace that touched her life as a metaphor for a larger story of societies with and without Christianity.
The book does not offer a political solution for deep-rooted problems with our country but, according to Taunton, does serve as a warning against treating Christianity the way that America does now.
“We treat it like smoking,” he said. “Is it an accessory like Kiwanis, or is it the foundation for society?”
Taunton fears that Western culture is headed the way of the East. He is burdened by the students he meets on college campuses who are not just ambivalent but hostile toward Christianity, wanting to get rid of it.
“Whether you agree or not, I offer what I think is the reason for what is wrong with our culture,” he said. “It is cultural suicide to drive Christianity out of public life. Secularism cannot provide a foundation for how we live.”
Taunton wants not just those interested in his intellectual argument to pick up the book.
“I encourage people to read and enjoy the story,” Taunton said. “It’s not an academic book. It’s a story of a little girl, but it’s not Anne of Green Gables.”
When he’s not traveling the world to host debates between prominent Christian and atheist thinkers, you can find Larry Taunton behind a green awning in Mountain Brook Village marked “Latimer House.” The storefront of nonprofit Fixed Point Foundation hosts Bible studies and luncheons and creates films and other resources—all as a part of its mission to promote Christianity to both Christians and skeptics in the public sphere.
The Grace Effect is available at Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble and online retailers. All proceeds from the book go toward Fixed Point Foundation. For more information on Fixed Point Foundation, visit fixed-point.org.