TACTICS a game plan for discussing your Christian convictions
Publisher Zondervan 207 pages.
Gregory Koukl MA. Apologetics, Philosophy
Greg Koukl wrote a well done manual on how to engage people without turning the encounter into what he calls D-Day. The first couple chapters deal with getting Christians to realize debate, arguing, reasoning about someones beliefs that are opposed to theirs is not a bad thing. Greg tries to get the Christian away from fears and anxiety about flubbing the whole encounter and embarrassing themselves. I believe he does this by what comes next in Chapter 3 the Columbo tactic. Many of our young apologists will not remember Lt. Columbo from the TV series. It might even be worth the time to YouTube or Netflix an episode or two and see what Greg is talking about regarding the manner which Lt. Columbo uses to engage suspects.
Greg wants other Christians to chose his ‘modest goal’ that is to simply put a ‘stone in the shoe’; meaning he wants to get them thinking about their own failed views and think about why Christianity is defeating them. Chapter 2 on Reservations deals with many of the mis-givings Christians have about engaging the non-believers outside of a few bible quotes. Greg does well to throw down that kind of pseudo-spirituality in my opinion.
One of the most important tactics is to engage people without making them angry. Seek to speak in such tones and ask questions in such ways that pulls down the chances the Christian might offend. The truth itself is offensive to the carnal mind and there is no way around that, but Greg is training us to engage people so that ‘we’ are not offensive.
Almost a third of the book is dedicated to the first portion of the game plan. The Columbo tactic is the primary way in which Greg engages people. He moves through getting in the drivers seat which helps you get control of the conversation. Afterwards he deals with burden of proof so that the unbeliever must carry his burden of proof openly rather than hiding them in assumptions. Leading the way is another section that will help you guide people to understand that hidden assumptions cannot shield them from truth.
Asking questions and learning about what the other person knows and affirms and what proof they have for their knowledge helps you to engage the person at their level, discussing things they claim to know. This is what is called drawing-them-out into the open. The heart of good apologetics is getting the non-Christian or dissenting Christian to voice their opinions with clarity. It gives us the opportunity to learn something we didn’t know as well as recognize flaws that are fatal to their truth-claims. Perfecting Columbo is a great chapter on how to deal with someone who is versed in questioning like you are. Greg helps us here to avoid getting stuck and put into a corner and forced to answer questions that lead into an ambush.
The second section deals with recognizing the fatal flaws in a persons argument. Greg spends the remainder of the book dealing with Suicide views, Greg goes through a comical section explaining the way suicide views work and if were honest we get shot down ourselves because we have all made this same kind of error.
There are many suicidal views that appear from other religions, science, philosophy, logic. All of these take the form of arguments against Christianity or Christ and Greg helps us to spot the form of them and turn these flaws against the dissenters. Taking the roof off is one of my favorites, Greg calls it reductio ad absurdum
it means reducing the argument to absurdity. The whole point is not to embarrass or demean the person, but to get them to recognize their flaws and how it is the Christian perspective is a better approach. Greg also deals with the Steam roller, a person who personality wise runs over you with temperament and verbiage Then the Rhodes scholar who appears to know his subject but after questioning is shown to have piece-meal his arguments to support a bias.
Overall the book is excellent and well worth the read. Many of these things will seem obvious to skilled Apologist debaters, but there are so many tips the book can sharpen anyone’s skills. The final 8 quick tips are excellent and should be followed. This book helps me immensely and I appreciate Greg writing these things down for others to learn.