Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions
Steph reviews “Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions.” Steph uses the example of the classic TV show Columbo to discuss apologetics.
One main reason for this is because David Wood, the apologist who was instrumental in bringing the late Nabeel Qu’reshi to saving faith, said on his podcast that all Christians should read the recently updated version of Greg Koukl’s book, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. (Nabeel Qu’reshi was the author of Seeking Allah Finding Jesus.)
I listened to the first podcast on what Greg Koukl calls “the Columbo Tactic.”
The Columbo Tactic
Just a little history … The first episode of the detective TV show Columbo aired in 1968 and featured a bumbling, unkempt detective. However, he was highly intelligent and got at the truth by asking several questions to which he already knew the answers. Of course, this led him to solve every mystery he encountered.
The Columbo Tactic teaches Christians what questions to ask to further the conversation with an unbeliever. Koukl’s objective is to lead the other person to consider the inconsistencies in their beliefs—and possibly, consider the claims of Christ.
In line with 1 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV), in which Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth,” the author believes he is a gardener, while others are harvesters. This perspective is helpful for many of us who have considered evangelism primarily leading others to saving faith. However, there is nothing to harvest unless those who are gardeners have fulfilled their responsibility.
The Preface of Tactics
The preface of Tactics begins this way:
“I want to start with a prediction. Then I want to make a promise. First, I’m going to describe something significant that will happen in your life if you take some simple steps in a specific direction. Then I’m going to pledge to give you what you need to make sure that happens. Here’s the prediction. If you read this book carefully and begin to practice the game plan I will teach you—even if you ease in slowly at a pace that’s comfortable for you—you’re going to begin to see remarkable changes in your ability to effectively maneuver in a relaxed and confident way in your conversations with others about Christ, even when they disagree strongly with you.”
Does that sound good to you?
I know it does to me.
Making Big Concepts Accessible
Greg Koukl is an academic, but he has a tremendous way of making big concepts accessible to those of us who don’t consider themselves scholars.
Take, for example, the opening to chapter 1, which the author calls “Diplomacy or D-Day?”.
It reads this way:
Apologetics—giving reasons or evidence to support Christianity—has a questionable reputation for many believers. By definition, apologists defend the faith. They defeat false ideas. They destroy speculations raised up against the knowledge of God. Those sound like fightin’ words to many people. Circle the wagons. Hoist the drawbridge. Fix bayonets. Load weapons. Ready, aim, fire. It’s not surprising, then, that believers and unbelievers alike associate apologetics with conflict. Defenders don’t dialogue. They fight. In addition to the image problem, Christians who want to give an answer to challengers face another barrier. It’s too easy for skeptics to ignore our facts, deny our claims, or simply yawn and walk away from the line we’ve drawn in the sand.
As a born peacemaker and expressive connector—depending on which personality test you refer to—circling wagons, hoisting drawbridges, and fixing bayonets don’t much appeal to me. Thankfully, Greg Koukl offers tactics that are much more effective—and far less aggressive.
Keep The Lines of Communication Open
And no matter what personality you have, if you want to share your faith with unbelievers, I’m sure you want to do so in a way that keeps the lines of communication open.
The three steps in the Columbo Tactic are 1) gathering information; 2) reversing the burden of proof; and 3) using questions to make a point.
These steps can be implemented by those of us who find it easy to begin a conversation and by those who struggle to do so, by extroverts and introverts alike.
I don’t consider myself a scholar. Although I like to learn new things, I am easily distracted by the next “shiny” opportunity.
However, if there ever was a topic worth pressing into and learning to implement effectively, it’s Christian apologetics.
Greg Koukl takes the mystery out of the process and presents the information in such a way that it comes to life.
I especially like the fact that I can listen to podcasts and video recordings that enable me to engage more effectively with the information.
As an extrovert, audio learning formats make the material seem more personal to me. In essence, the podcaster keeps me company. Plus, it enriches my reading experience because I feel as if I am more connected to the author.
As I’ve said before, I’m all about relationships. And isn’t building relationships with others, even brief ones, one of the best ways to point them toward the most important relationship any of us can ever experience?
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio.
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