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Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions Paperback – February 4, 2009
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With the advantage of a lifetime of experience, Greg Koukl has written what must be considered THE authoritative treatment of how to employ various strategies in conversations with unbelievers about the Christian faith. Tactics is not just another apologetics book. It is a sensitive, well-written, widely illustrated treatment of actual situations that often come up when believers share their faith. Koukl not only reminds us it is not enough to know why you believe, it is also crucial to know how to communicate those beliefs by adapting to various situations. And Tactics shows precisely how to do that. -- J. P. Moreland
Greg Koukl has been using the methods offered in this book for many years with our Summit students and to great effect. His suggestions, illustrations, and witnessing approach work. This is a well-written, practical, and timely book. -- David Noebel
In this wise and compelling book, Greg Koukl---who has thought long and hard about not only what to say but how to say it---provides a game plan for equipping believers through an artful method of careful thinking and winsome conversation. If you struggle with how to talk about your faith and respond to questions and objections in a meaningful and effective way---and most of us do---there is no better book to buy, read, and put into practice. I could not recommend it more highly! -- Justin Taylor
C.S. Lewis once said, 'Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test.' In this book, Greg Koukl passes Lewis's test with flying colors. There are many great arguments in favor of the Christian faith, but many of them are accessible only to professional apologists and philosophers. Koukl has developed a memorable and practical way to translate these arguments so that all Christians can become winsome and persuasive apologists in everyday conversations, no matter what their day jobs. This book should be required reading for every thoughtful Christian. -- Jay W. Richards
If you enjoy apologetics, then Greg’s book Tactics is not only a required read, but simply a delightfully entertaining resource. In fact, just try and put it down! Especially for those who struggle with relevant ways to relate to non-Christians while presenting Christian truth, this volume provides many proven methods of natural, non-confrontational dialogue where the purpose is often to simply give an unbeliever something to think about, what Greg calls placing a stone in someone’s shoe. Featuring remarkably simple techniques that are easily and fruitfully applied, I highly recommend this incredibly insightful book. -- Gary R. Habermas
Just as a course on tactics is a requirement at all military academies, so too Greg Koukl’s Tactics---A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions should be required training for all Christians and churches. Koukl has made a worthwhile contribution to the literature on apologetics by teaching us how to say what we say. Witty and winsome, this resource is as fun to read as it is to put into practice.” -- Hank Hanegraaff
“In a society filled with so much anti-Christian rhetoric, there is no better book to equip Christians to think clearly, soundly, and inoffensively in the face of the devices employed today in opposition to the Christian Faith. -- Norm Geisler, Author
Greg Koukl is a master tactician. I know of no one who is more conscientious in his efforts to communicate effectively and winsomely his Christian faith. In this book Greg shares with us his tried and true methods, skills honed through continual practice and revision. Mastering his tactics will make you a more effective ambassador for Christ. -- William Lane Craig, Author
When I want someone who can help me train ambassadors for Christ, the first person I call is Greg Koukl. Now, his proven ideas are in this book. I wish I knew these tactics twenty years ago. They are some of the best I’ve ever seen to help Christians be more effective ambassadors for Christ. Trust me---if you read Koukl's advice and learn his methods, your impact for Christ will skyrocket. -- Frank Turek, Author
Tactics is the book I’ve been waiting for! I love engaging non-Christians in conversation, but in the back of my mind I often think, 'What if I get stuck and don’t know what to do?' Greg helped me put that fear to rest and gave me practical tools to artfully maneuver in conversations. I enthusiastically recommend Tactics. It will revolutionize your conversations with non-Christians. -- Sean McDowell, Author
Greg Koukl is a wise, seasoned front-lines apologist. I am happy to recommend a book so full of practical insights and careful guidance for skillfully, winsomely defending the Christian faith. -- Paul Copan, Author
Greg Koukl is a master of the ideas that under gird the Gospel and one of the finest Christian communicators on the planet. He has spent many thousands of hours in front of the most difficult skeptics and their toughest questions and has developed very effective techniques to bring the truth to the surface of any conversation with love and grace. I have learned so much over the years by studying his persuasive yet respectful approach to giving reasons for faith. His book, Tactics, presents his methods in a way that is engaging and accessible to every believer. I hope Christians in churches all over the country gather together to study this important book and learn to stand firm for the Gospel in these dark times. -- Craig Ellison, PhD, Founder and Director
From the Back Cover
In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to get in the driver's seat, keeping any conversation moving with thoughtful, artful diplomacy.
You'll learn how to maneuver comfortably and graciously through the minefields, stop challengers in their tracks, turn the tables and--most importantly--get people thinking about Jesus. Soon, your conversations will look more like diplomacy than D-Day.
Drawing on extensive experience defending Christianity in the public square, Koukl shows you how to:
- Initiate conversations effortlessly
- Present the truth clearly, cleverly, and persuasively
- Graciously and effectively expose faulty thinking
- Skillfully manage the details of dialogue
- Maintain an engaging, disarming style even under attack
Tactics provides the game plan for communicating the compelling truth about Christianity with confidence and grace.
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The meat of the book is three questions that we can ask that will cause people to consider what they are saying. Often, people are just repeating things that other people have said, without giving any thought to the validity of the argument. These three questions may cause the person to see the weakness in their argument.
• What do you mean by that?
• How did you come to that conclusion?
• Have you ever considered?
The great thing about these questions is that they aren’t limited to a adversarial situation. You might be talking to a close friend and hear them say something that doesn’t sound quite right. “What do you mean by that?” Your child might say something like, “I don’t think I should play with Jane anymore.” You might ask, “How did you come to that conclusion?” or simply, “Why?”
One of the things that Koukl brings out about asking questions is that you can direct the conversation without taking sides on an issue. You don’t even have to be certain of what the right answer is. Perhaps, once you discover what the other person is saying and why they are saying it, you will agree with them. But when they are wrong, those questions may help them to see where they went wrong.
This is the best book on sharing your faith that I’ve read. Unlike other books that tell you what to say about the gospel, this book focuses more on the practical ways we can improve communication. While there are a few things I’m not sure I agree with him on, this is a book that every Christian who wishes to improve communication with non-believers should read. But the people who will benefit the most are the people in leadership positions who must deal with people who disagree with them. I can see where a teacher of a small group might put this to use if there is a student who insists on pushing strange doctrine during class. Rather than getting into an argument that disturbs the other class members, one could ask questions of the person and bring them around, or at least, make the other students aware that the person’s ideas are not correct.
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.