Thanksto Andrew Rogers for allowing me to read and review Gregory Koukl’s latest book Tatics: A Game Plan for Discussion your Christian Convictions(Zondervan, 2009).
Apologetics is a subject that can create a variety of reactions from those who hear the word. Some like apologetics and work to do well at it. Others really dislike what is perceived as aggressive behavior and just get turned off by the whole idea. They argue it’s better to build relationships and such. Well, it’s been my experience that apologetics is a way of defending the Christian faith that is flexible enough that it can work well with complete strangers and with long time friends in need of the Lord. Still there are others who think of apologetics and just plain get scared if not overwhelmed. Those who get worried about sharing their faith often think of those aggressive scenes we all saw at the campus square or they think apologetics has to be confrontational and aggressive – well, sometimes yes, but most of the time, not at all. What Koukl presents can be done over a cup of coffee or while hanging out watching the ball game.
If you like apologetics, Gregory Koukl’s book Tactics will just give you more tools to work with. If you are one who gets scared there is hope out there for you! Koukl’s book is designed for the novicewho doesn’t know much about how apologetics works or even for the one who thinks they need to have the Bible down pat and have all this information and knowledge. The truth is, all you need is a willing heart and desire to see friends, family, or co-workers come to know the Lord. Nothing in this book will get you to convert people right out of the box – but it will help you get people to think through the reasons for why they believe what they believe.
A key principle in the book is:
Without God’s work, nothing else works; but with God’s work, many things work. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, love persuades. By the power of God, the gospel transforms. And with Jesus at work, arguments convince. God is happy to use each of these methods (ch 2, pg 40 in my gallery copy).
More than knowing all the right information what we need is the Holy Spirit to come alongside us and empower us to act with wisdom in helping people break down every thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. Here is the thing, with God’s help you can do it!
So what are some of the things Koukl presents that can help a person be effective in sharing their faith with others or in helping others see the flaws in their thinking that keep them from knowing God?
His primary tactic comes from the old detective TV show, Columbo. In this show, Columbo would investigate a crime scene and in his mind figure out the perpetrator was standing right next to him! To get things rolling he would say “Do you mind of I ask you a question?” This is the basis for what Koukl calls the Columbo tactic: Asking questions. Like Columbo who would ask lots of questions – Koukl says this is the same thing we want to get in to the habit of doing, asking questions. Don’t make statements, ask questions. For example, of a person says flatly “Jesus Christ is the Son of God!” Another could easily reply, “No he is not!” Then what? You’re stumped. The other person becomes in control of the conversation and you are done. What Koukl wants to teach us novice apologists to do is turn the situation around so that you are in control at all times forcing the other person to explain things while you lead the way.
How do we maintain control of the conversation? Ask questions and avoid outright statements. This is the heart of the Columbo tactic and this is what drives the rest of the tactics Koukl introduces throughout the rest of the book. Through use of the Columbo tactic you will learn to “get in the driver’s seat” and control the conversation, you will reverse the burden of proof to the other person (make them explain why they believe they way they do) and in the process lead the way.
If you want to know more about this, you’ll have to read the book!
Other tactics Koukl discusses are things like what he calls “suicide,” detecting views that self destruct such as “it’s wrong to accuse others of being wrong.” This view self destructs because the person becomes wrong for telling you you are wrong to believe in God. Another tactic is called taking the roof off. This has to do with reducing a false argument to the point of absurdity so the other person is forced to see the flaw of his or her own logic. For example, the argument of relativism– it’s absurd for a person to go to a debate arguing for points of relativism against someone arguing for absolute truths since they are in turn arguing an absolute: relativism. If he really believed things were relative, then he would not have even showed up to the debate. Koukl will even teach you how to deal with “Steamrollers,” people who just intend to roll everyone over and think give an inkling to why they may be wrong.
So this is just a brief synopsis of Gregory Koukl’s book Tatics: A Game Plan for Discussion your Christian Convictions. I personally really enjoyed reading this book and think it would make a really great addition to ones repertoire of apologetics.