A couple of posts ago I shared a little bit about how God has been walking me through a season of more focused and intentional learning, particularly about some of the prominent worldviews that are finding their way into the church.
Part of this learning has also included dipping my toes into the apologetics world. I’ve been feeling a growing urge to share the knowledge I’m gaining, but with a keen sense that I need to learn how to communicate it well first. I too easily become flustered when I come up against any interaction that hints of conflict; I either tend to become defensive, or all the truth in my head turns into a jumbled mess that I can’t express with any sort of clarity.
Enter Tactics by Gregory Koukl.
I heard about this book a number of years ago, but didn’t think much of it until recently when I heard the author being interviewed on a podcast episode. He was sharing principles from his book Tactics to apply specifically to one of the worldviews I’ve been looking into, and I devoured every word. After excitedly relaying the episode in near entirety to my very patient husband, he bought the book for me on Audible, and I wasted no time in devouring that, too.
In this book, Mr. Koukl provides practical and easily applied tactics (as the name suggests) we can use to engage others about topics relating to faith. He encourages the reader that rather than approaching each opportunity with the agenda of giving a complete gospel presentation, we use it to wisely, carefully, and knowledgeably plant seeds that God can use however He sees fit.
He provides many, many examples of how questions can be used to get someone thinking, what common fallacies we can be on the look-out for, and how to graciously leave a conversation when we’re not sure how to proceed. He stresses the importance of approaching these encounters with humility, kindness, and teachability, and how to avoid unnecessary defensiveness and confrontation.
In short, this book helps to equip us as Christ-followers to converse in a productive way about truth-based topics. It is a wonderful tool to help us “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for the hope that is in [us]; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
There is one thing I feel it important to note. Near the beginning of the book (in chapter 2) Mr. Koukl addresses some common reservations people have in regards to engaging with others in this way. There are a few things I may have expressed differently, simply because they have the potential to be taken wrongly. There is one in particular that I think is important to bring up.
He says: “It may surprise you to hear this, but I never set out to convert anyone. My aim is never to win someone to Christ. I have a more modest goal, and one you might consider adopting as your own. All I want to do is put a stone in someone’s shoe. I want to give that person something worth thinking about, something he can’t ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way.”
Now, throughout the book it’s obvious that he is bold in sharing his faith, and does have the desire that others ultimately come to know Christ. In context with the rest of the content, it’s quite clear that here he means he’s not necessarily seeking to get someone to make a decision to give their life to Jesus in every conversation. He’s not saying we shouldn’t care about people coming to know Christ through our interactions, or giving us an excuse not to be bold in sharing our faith. That would contradict everything he’s trying to help us do in the rest of the book!
Here are a few quotes (although it was hard to pick just a few).
“I have learned we don’t have to be frightened of the facts or of the adversaries. Take your time, do your homework, think through the issues. If Christianity is the truth, then no matter how convincing the other side sounds at first, there will always be a fly in the ointment somewhere—a mistake in thinking, a wayward “fact,” an unjustified conclusion. Keep looking for it. Sooner or later it will show up.” (pg. 36)
“The burden of proof is the responsibility someone in the conversation has to give evidence for a view. Who has that responsibility? The person who makes the claim bears that burden. If you say something is so, especially if it is controversial, then you have the responsibility to tell why you think it is so. It’s not your job to refute every story a skeptic can spin or every claim he can manufacture. If he makes the claim, then it’s his responsibility to give reasons why anyone should take his claim seriously.” (pg. 77)
“As a general rule, go out of your way to establish common ground. Whenever possible, affirm points of agreement. Take the most charitable read on the other person’s argument, not the most cynical one. Treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were the one in the hot seat.” (pg. 123)
“Usually a person cannot deny moral truth without immediately affirming it. The minute they say, “And it’s wrong to push your morality on me,” they have sunk their own ship.” (pg. 161)
I truly believe it’s just as critical as it has ever been that Christians know truth and be prepared to share it with others. And that is why books like this one are invaluable to us as we seek to engage with the world around us in a winsome, wise, and knowledgeable way.
Click HERE to buy the book.
Mr. Koukl also has a ministry called Stand To Reason with more awesome resources. Click HERE to go to their website.
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