Have you ever faced tough questions about your Christian faith?
It doesn’t matter what scenario you’re in, answering questions about faith can be difficult.
If this sounds like you, then you need to read, ‘Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions,’ by Gregory Koukl.
Koukl, a professor and experienced Christian apologist, wrote Tactics to “train ordinary Christians…to dissect another person’s worldview and to advance the case for Christianity.”
He writes in a clear, simple style that is useful for Christians from a wide range of backgrounds and career fields, offering several different “tactics” for discussing faith in a variety of contexts.
Koukl’s first move is to define what an apologist for Christ should look like. Although many of us tend to think of apologetics as spiritual warfare — and it is — Koukl reminds us that it’s not always necessary to battle it out.
“Even though these is real warfare going, our engagements should look more like diplomacy than D-Day,” he writes. He believes that, as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20), we should try to rely more “on friendly curiosity… than on confrontation.”
When others choose to confront us about our faith, raising our proverbial hackles in response isn’t always an effective method. And when others ask questions in a genuine attitude of seeking truth, we shouldn’t meet them with swords drawn.
Koukl asserts that our role as ambassadors of Christ is fulfilled in three qualities: knowledge, wisdom, and character.
Knowledge requires that we as Christians “know the central message of God’s kingdom and…the obstacles” we might encounter on our journey to share that message.
Wisdom “requires the tools of a diplomat, not the weapons of a warrior, tactical skill rather than brute force.” Tactics is largely focused on educating the reader about these conversational skills and tools.
Finally, character requires that Christians “embody the virtues of the kingdom.” In our defense of Christ, we must act as He would—and as He did while He was here on earth.
Before he dives into his discussion of conversational tools, Koukl cautions that Christians shouldn’t try to use these tools as bludgeoning weapons for those who question the faith.
“Tactics…are not clever ploys to embarrass other people and force them to submit to your point of view,” Koukl writes.
“They are not meant to belittle or humiliate those who disagree so you can gain notches in your spiritual belt.”
The truth of the Gospel is always meant to be shared in love, not contempt or disdain.
After this cautionary note, Koukl dives into the meat of the book – conversational tactics for defending the faith.
He offers easy-to-read breakdowns of potentially complex apologetic techniques, labeling each with a unique and memorable name for effective recall.
First up: The Columbo Tactic.
Named after one of TV’s most adored detectives, the Columbo tactic consists of asking simple, but powerful, questions.
When faced with blunt challenges to the Bible’s accuracy or the rationality of faith, among other topics, we often feel unprepared and fall silent. But Koukl asserts that these moments are incredible opportunities to begin a meaningful conversation.
All we need to do is start asking questions, like Lieutenant Columbo.
The TV detective often gets his man simply by asking probing questions. He gathers information, figuring out what each person in the room is thinking and what their motives are. Without fail, a key piece of information is revealed in the act of questioning.
Likewise, Koukl tells us we can uncover others’ faulty beliefs and assumptions without excessive confrontation. All we have to do is ask the right questions, like, “What do you mean by that?”
Koukl offers examples of the Columbo tactics in use, saying that it’s a useful way to understand your opponent’s position, as well as helping them to see potential flaws in their own thinking.
Koukl’s experiences provide valuable insight into the nature of apologetics conversations. He goes on to discuss several more tactics, including “Taking the Roof Off” and the “Steamroller.”
Each of these techniques is laid out simply for the reader. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been to seminary and studied theology or if you’re a brand-new Christian – Tactics offers solid preparation for the act of discussing your faith.
Koukl encourages all readers to evaluate their ideas about faith and make sure they are grounded in the truth of God. “If our ideas are good, they will not be upended so easily,” he writes, urging Christians to stay the course and keep sharing their faith.
After all, it’s the most important message we could ever pass on!
If you’re interested in learning more about Koukl’s apologetic tactics, get your copy today.