Author: Gregory Koukl
Page Count: 207
Synopsis: This book may not be what you would initially expect from one filed under the category of Apologetics. The author doesn’t set out to pen an in-depth A to Z defense of the Christian faith as so many volumes before have already accomplished in staggering detail. No, Gregory Koukl is determined to help Christians be wise as serpents and harmless as doves when confronted with challenges to their faith. Hence the title, Tactics.
Koukl differentiates between strategy and tactics when it comes to defending the Christian faith. Strategy concerns the overall big picture of Apologetics. This panoramic vista consists in comprehensive knowledge of every aspect of Christianity. This insight can then be utilized in striking against all the Satanic powers that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God via both offensive and defensive attacks.
This is all well and good, for there are many volumes available that do just that. However, the author deliberately does not broach this broad subject matter. Instead he engages in the tactics needed in order to get to the end goal of proving Christianity and debunking all arguments against it.
Koukl writes, “A sharp lawyer needs more than facts to make his case in court. He needs to know how to use his knowledge well. In the same way, we need a plan to artfully manage the details of dialogues we have with others. This is where tactics come in.”
Tactics, therefore in Christian Apologetics refers to the way we communicate our knowledge of the faith in order to disarm our opponents’ arguments.
Koukl has several valuable methods of dialoging with our opponents. I’ll outline some of these below:
The Columbo method – named in honor of the television detective from a bygone era. This tactic instructs us that when someone disputes your worldview don’t respond with a diatribe defending your view, simply ask questions.
Koukl writes, “The key to the Columbo tactic is to go on the offensive in an inoffensive way by using carefully selected questions to productively advance the conversation. Simply put, never make a statement, at least not at first, when a question will do the job.”
The Columbo method has three steps. Step one is to gain information. This is done by asking clarifying questions, such as ‘What do you mean by that?”
Step two attempts to reverse the burden of proof. Again, Koukl, “In any dispute, the person who advances an opinion, claim, or point of view has the job of defending it. It’s not your duty to prove him wrong. It’s his duty to prove himself right.”
The related question to toss into the dialog would be, “How did you come to that conclusion?”
Step three has us ask leading questions to aid us in steering the conversation in the direction we desire it to go. A carefully worded leading question will help you take charge of the situation instead of letting the critic take it to unholy places. To launch these tactical verbal missiles a person will need two things: knowledge of the subject matter and a plan of attack.
Other methods include the suicide tactic. Many ideologies are self-refuting. For example the statement “There is no absolute truth” cannot possibly be true if absolute truth doesn’t exist. Using the Columbo questions this falsehood can quickly be exposed.
The author explores several other methods in succeeding chapters. As well, he also dedicates a couple of chapters guiding readers on how to deal with overbearing personalities and pseudo academic arguments.
Recommendations: I admit, I profited greatly from this little book. it wasn’t what I expected, but that ended up being beneficial. If I had first read a massive tome on Apologetics my arsenal would have been well stocked yet I’d have been woefully under-trained on how to actually fire any of my weapons. Tactics teaches the fundamentals of maneuvering a conversational obstacle course. It does it in a winsome manner, peppered with personal experiences from Koukl’s many encounters. I especially benefited from the chapter on taking the roof off. It contained many arguments that critics use and how to dismantle them quickly and effectively. It is a section I will commit to memory and return to often.
I think this book should be required reading for every Christian. Much like I think Logic 101 should be a core class for all high school students. The world of ideas is becoming increasingly hostile to Christian beliefs. We should always stand ready with a reason for the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Tactics does an excellent job of starting us done the daunting path of Christian Apologetics.