172 internautes sur 184 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This week I received my copy of Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl. I was anxious to have a look at the book, as I have been following Greg Koukl's ministry of Stand to Reason for a number of years. On one hand, I was excited to see in book form what I have heard Koukl demonstrate so many times on his live radio program: an effective and gracious way to communicate one's faith in an articulate and winsome way. On the other hand, my familiarity with Koukl's Tactics audio program made me wonder if this was just a repackaging of the same material. I was thoroughly surprised. I'm a reader - but it's been a while since I have devoured a book.
Tactics is an immediately practical book. The author's heart is that Christians be equipped to be good ambassadors. An ambassador has three skills: "knowledge, an accurately informed mind; wisdom, an artful method; and character, an attractive manner." Koukl describes the goal of a tactical approach - one that seeks to converse more persuasively by being thoughtful and reasonable, rather than emotional, about one's convictions.
In a very balanced way, Koukl carefully introduces this approach and neutralizes some of the negative connotations that come with sharing and defending the faith. Some people immediately object at the idea of argumentation or "methods." However, Koukl summarizes a more biblical approach:
"Here's the key principle: Without God's work, nothing else works; but with God's work, many things work. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, love persuades. By the power of God, the gospel transforms. And with Jesus at work, arguments convince. God is happy to use each of these methods."
Now Koukl dives into the meat of the book. He presents about a half dozen "tactics," as he calls them - each with a memorable name, such as, "Columbo," "Suicide," and, "Taking the Roof Off," among others. As he teaches you these tactics, Koukl's experience and mastery in this area immediately become evident. He is not a theorist presenting untested ideas. Instead, he is a veteran, discussing situation after situation gleaned from countless personal encounters, public debates, radio interviews, and friendly conversations. The phenomenal part is that these approaches are simple and the applications are immediately accessible to the reader.
One particular insight Koukl shares should bring relief to those who feel fear come over them at even the thought of discussing their faith: you don't have to hit home runs. In fact, Koukl stresses that you don't even have to get on base. The goal is to leave them with something to think about. His advice: simply leave them with "a stone in their shoe."
Navigating through the book, you will find gem after gem of wisdom. So many of the common objections that the Christian encounters are found here - but with answers that are actually useful in conversation. Although much of the substance is philosophical in nature, Koukl drops the jargon and replaces it with practical expressions. This is a handbook suitable for the layman and professional apologist alike.
After passing the halfway point in the book, you will realize that you are not just learning how to steer safely through a conversation - you are learning how to think. Koukl will sharpen your thinking skills and your ability to spot fuzzy logic and faulty arguments. You will realize that this is a book about truth. By the time you reach the end (it's about 200 pages), you will be amazed at the amount of wisdom, insight, and courage you have gleaned. A second reading is definitely in order.
Koukl's Tactics is endorsed by a long list of notable apologists and Christian thinkers: Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, J. P. Moreland, Hank Hanegraaff, Jay Wesley Richards, David Noebel, Justin Taylor, Paul Copan, Sean McDowell, Frank Turek, and Craig Hazen.
For those familiar with Koukl's Tactics audio program, many of the same personal encounters are cited. However, this is not a repackaging of old material. I found the book to be immensely helpful even after recently re-listening to Greg Koukl's Tactics in Defending the Faith audio program. In addition to the expanded and fresh material, I found the summaries at the end of each chapter to be particularly helpful.
Greg Koukl's Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions is not designed to give you pat answers or lists of facts to bring to your conversations. Far from being "another evangelism book," Tactics is a book that will challenge you to be a critical thinker, a logical communicator, and a gracious ambassador for Jesus Christ.
79 internautes sur 86 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have a bit of an aversion to books on apologetics. I don't know exactly why this is, but it may be that many of them seem to teach methods of defending the faith that either manipulate or bludgeon. Somehow grace and apologetics do not seem to go together as they ought. So it was with perhaps just a bit of reluctance that I began reading Gregory Koukl's Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. This is a book that promises to teach a new method, a respectful method, of defending the faith and of attempting to convince others of the truth of Christianity. This is not an apologetics 101 text, as in a book that will compare and contrast various apologetic methods; instead, it is a guide, a book that seeks to lead the reader into a new method of sharing his faith with others.
"If you're like a lot of people who pick up a book like this, you would like to make a difference for the kingdom, but you are not sure how to begin. I want to give you a game plan, a strategy to get involved in a way you never thought you could, yet with a tremendous margin of safety." Here is what Koukl promises--he sets no small goal. "I am going to teach you how to navigate in conversations so that you stay in control--in a good way--even though your knowledge is limited. You may know nothing about answering challenges people raise against what you believe. You may even be a brand new Christian. It doesn't matter. I am going to introduce you to a handful of effective maneuvers--I call them tactics--that will help you stay in control."
This tactical approach is a useful one, for it allows you to stay "in the driver's seat in conversations, so you can productively direct the discussion, exposing faulty thinking and suggesting more fruitful alternatives along the way." It is important to note that "tactics are not manipulative tricks or slice ruses. They are not clever ploys to embarrass other people and force them to submit to your point of view. They are not meant to belittle or humiliate those who disagree so you can gain notches in your spiritual belt." Instead, they are ways of guiding a conversation to expose poor reasoning and then use that as a bridge to the truth.
Koukl begins by looking at three basics skills the Christian will need if he wishes to be an effective apologist. First, he must have knowledge, having a familiarity with the central message of the Bible; second, he must have knowledge that is tempered by wisdom that makes his message clear and persuasive; third, he must have the character of a Christian, embodying the virtues of the kingdom he serves.
Then, over the course of four chapters, Koukl unveils his tactic. He calls it "The Columbo." The key to this tactic is to "go on the offensive in an inoffensive way by using carefully selected questions to productively advance the conversation." Never make a statement when a question will do the job. When you ask questions and listen carefully, you gather information that can be used to show a person where his thinking is faulty. Questions can be used to gather information, to reverse the burden of proof or to lead the conversation. Either way, the person asking the question is the person who leads the discussion.
He sets a modest and realistic goal for his interactions with unbelievers. "My goal," he says, "is to find clever ways to exploit someone's bad thinking for the purpose of guiding her to truth, yet remaining gracious and charitable at the same time. My aim is to manage, not manipulate; to control, not coerce; to finesse, not fight. I want the same for you." The goal of this kind of apologetics, then, is not necessarily to win someone to Christ. That may be an ultimate goal or an ultimate hope, but the goal of an individual encounter is nothing more than, in Koukl's words, "putting a stone in someone's shoe." "I want to give him something worth thinking about, something he can't ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way."
In Part 2 of the book, Koukl offers guidance in finding flaws in the way people reason. He offers specific tactics to unveil poor reasoning and to turn it back against a person. He calls these things like Suicide, Sibling Rivalry, Taking the Roof Off. He offers advice on countering the human steamroller (you've tried to discuss issues with people like this) and the Rhodes scholar, the supposed expert.
When I think of Christian apologetics, I tend to think of Evidence that Demands a Verdict or some of the classics of days gone by. But in this book Koukl offers a new approach and one that is well-suited to the times. He teaches the Christian to think well, to exemplify grace and to humbly lead a conversation to the truth. "We may spend hours helping someone carefully work through an issue without ever mentioning God, Jesus or the Bible. This does not mean we aren't advancing the kingdom. It is always a step in the right direction when he help others think more carefully. If nothing else, it gives them tools to assess the bigger questions that eventually come up."
Apologetics is not always a discipline that is done with grace. But in this book Koukl shares tactics that will prove beneficial to any Christian. They may just revolutionize the way you interact with unbelievers. I highly recommend it.
28 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Greg Koukl, who holds two MA degrees in both apologetics and philosophy, is a professor and public figure who debates about religion, worldviews and culture. His experience in sharing the Christian faith and the Christian worldview in the public arena makes him an ideal candidate to write about how believers can share their convictions.
In Tactics, Koukl's goal is to teach the "Ambassador Model." This model is characterized by the author as "diplomatic." This means the "approach trades more on friendly curiosity...than on confrontation (20)." His goal is to teach the reader "how to navigate in conversations so that you stay in control...(20)." To do this Koukl teaches his readers tactics.
Koukl's biblical warrant comes from Mt. 10:16 where Jesus says, "...so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Commenting on Jesus' words Koukl writes, "Even though there is real warfare going on, our engagements should look more like diplomacy than D-Day (19)." After the first chapter, where Koukl primarily introduces his ideas, he moves to defend his methodology of engagement against those who would have "Reservations" about "arguing" with unbelievers about the Christians faith. It is in chapter two where Koukl claims that arguing is a virtue (31-32).
Beginning in chapter three, Koukl introduces his arsenal of tactics. The "Columbo" tactic occupies his discussion in chapters three through six. 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 (47)."
After walking the reader through three steps to perfecting the Columbo, Koukl begins chapter seven with a series of non-Christian ideas that "self-destruct." For example, he demonstrates how relativism (111), pantheistic monism (116), scientism (117-18), and religious pluralism (118-19) are inherently contradictory. In chapters eight and nine, Koukl shows the reader other kinds of ideas that commit "Practical Suicide," and "Infanticide."
Chapters eleven and twelve can be characterized as chapters which show the reader how to deal with certain types of opponents. In chapter eleven he provides a three-step process in dealing with a "Steamroller." This is the person who tries to overpower the Christian by interruption (159). In chapter twelve the author talks about the "Rhodes Scholar." These are the scholars who are quoted by publications, but they have no expertise in the field of religion or philosophy (168). Koukl concludes his book by encouraging his readers to stick to the facts. He exhorts the reader to "listen and read critically, reflect on the claims, check the background information, and find the truth (187)."
One of the stated goals of the author is to teach the reader "how to navigate in conversations so that you stay in control...even though your knowledge is limited (20)." Koukl continues, "You may even be a brand new Christian. It doesn't matter (20)." I believe Koukl's Columbo tactic accomplishes this goal. It does so in three ways. First, the simplicity of the Columbo tactic yields itself to effectiveness for new Christians. Second, the example of real life encounters provide the Christian with confidence. Third, the reader not only sees the most common and difficult objections to the Christian faith, but they also see responses to those objections. This produces confidence in the believer.
The Columbo tactic is very simple. Summarized, the Columbo tactic is "a disarming way to go on the offensive with carefully selected questions that productively advance the conversation (56)." The idea is that anyone can engage a person by asking questions. There is no fear on the Christian's part, when asking questions to an unbeliever, because "sincere questions are friendly and flattering (47)." Not only this, but Koukl provides the reader with the exact questions to ask (56-57).
Another advantage of the Columbo tactic is that Jesus used it. Koukl notes, "It might have occurred to you that Jesus used this method frequently. When facing a hostile crowd, he often asked leading questions meant to challenge his audience or silence his detractors by exposing their foolishness (49)." The simplicity of gathering information, reversing the burden of proof and using questions to lead the conversation is attainable to any Christian who is willing to talk to others (49).
The second way Koukl accomplishes his goal is through the examples. One thing I noted at the beginning of the book is Koukl's method of teaching through his own experiences. Every chapter has several real life examples of conversations the author has had with unbelievers. The author, because of his experience in public arena, is able to tap into a way humans learn: through good examples. The personal examples given by Koukl fuels the Christian by showing that what he/ she is learning has been used in the "real world." For Koukl this is not theory, but techniques that work in real life. Real life encounters give the new Christian confidence.
Giving the reader ample real life examples is not only a great pedagogical technique, it also supplies the reader with an extensive list of common objections and responses. If the new Christian is reading about how, in real life, the author responds to some of the most common and difficult objections, they too will have confidence to engage, knowing they have already read about them. In the final pages of the book the author states, "Here is the lesson: Don't retreat in the face of opposition. Too much is at stake (197)." Seeing difficult objections and knowing how a top Christian apologist responds provides the Christian with a boost of courage.
There are three points where I find Tactics problematic. The first is the author's overzealous and overconfident attitude towards apologetics. Second, the author's argument that arguing is virtuous is also problematic. The third problem is related closely to the second, and that is, the author equates arguing and love.
The objection that Koukl presents an overzealous and overconfident attitude towards apologetics is based primarily on his words in chapter one. He is writing about being an effective ambassador for Christ when he says, "It only requires that you pay attention to the guidelines in the chapters that follow and then begin to apply what you have learned (24)." This kind of statement is found in many apologetic circles where they offer a sort of "silver bullet" to dealing with skeptics and unbelievers. I fear, despite the apparent effectiveness of Koukl's model, that he is offering the reader a "silver bullet" for apologetics. Ironically, Koukl offers no stories that end with the person converting to Christianity or saying that they were now convinced of his arguments.
Additionally, the author's attitude presents evangelism as a mechanical enterprise. Evangelism simply requires you to "put in the code" or "follow the steps for success." The attitude of Koukl's statement reveals the lack of relational quality that follows from many "defenders of the faith." Sometimes it can be more about having a good argument than sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In chapter two the author makes the case that, "arguing is a virtue." Foundational for this statement is "The mind, not the Bible, is the very first line of defense God has given us against error (32)." His claim is when Christians disagree on an interpretation of a biblical passage and give reasons why our view is better than another's we prove the mind and not the Bible is the primary defense against error (32). Unfortunately, the author offers little to no biblical evidence for such a claim. Why would the author think our first line of defense against error is our corrupt and sinful minds and not the pure Word of God? The mind is important of course, but to stand upon one's ability to reason well is shifting sand. Even the best, brightest, and most logical mind can find itself deceived by sin (i.e. Romans 7). Paul in 1 Tim. 6:3 says, "If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing." The foundation for truth is the "sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ," not Timothy's mind or ability to reason well.
In an attempt to demonstrate arguing is virtuous, Koukl lessens the importance of the Christian virtue, love. A perfunctory reading of the New Testament will reveal the utmost importance of Christian love (Mt. 5:43-45; John 17:1 Cor. 13; Gal. 5:14, 22; 1 John 3:16, John 17:20-23). It is simply not the case that "reason" or "arguing" is even considered a primary function of a disciple of Christ. Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), arguing is not. Love brings unity (John 17), arguing does not. To equate the two in any way is a considerable misreading of the New Testament and reveals the author's bias.
Despite Koukl overreaching on the issue of arguing being virtuous and overstating his case for the importance of apologetics, the book is recommended. New Christians would be encouraged to read the book to gain confidence as they look to share their faith.
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
G. Kyle Essary
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I've read plenty of books on the topic of apologetics, so I'm used to the standard fare. This book was not the standard fare, and instead of focusing simply on information, it focuses on how to graciously and effectively discuss opinions while making sure that the conversation continues according to the topic at hand. When I reflect on reading the book I am overly impressed with the graciousness, humility and practicality of what Greg Koukl says.
The intended goal of the book is clearly stated on page 24 when Koukl says he will teach "how to navigate in conversations so that you stay in control." Using the terminology of staying in control may seem as though Koukl is teaching rhetorical strategy so as to manipulate conversations. This is not the case, as he makes clear at the onset that readers should "beware when rhetoric becomes a substitute for substance" (28) and that "tactics are not manipulative tricks or slick ruses" (29). Instead, Koukl encourages the reader to intently listen to the other side of the discussion, asking questions for clarity so as to accurately understand their arguments. Koukl does not want his readers to combat strawmen, but instead to listen to opposing arguments, think through them and present the opponents with inconsistencies in their thinking that they may not have thought about previously.
Koukl makes it clear that knowledge alone cannot win a discussion, nor tactics alone. Instead, an adequate ambassador for Christ (or any message) will encompass the three traits of knowledge, wisdom and character. He says, "If [the reader] does not embody the virtues of the kingdom he serves, he will undermine his message and handicap his efforts" (26). The all too uncommon traits of discernment and graciousness are both admired and encouraged by Koukl for intellegent, yet civil, discussions.
The primary tactic discussed in the first half of the book is aptly titled "Columbo." Although the reference to Columbo is clearly dated and will not be clear to many readers, Koukl does an adequate job of describing Columbo so that the reader understands why he chose this title. The basic outline of the strategy is that you ask questions in order to not "misunderstand" or "misrepresent" your opponent (54), and then use their questions to critique the consistency of their view in light of your own view and knowledge of the subject. Such a strategy also asks your opponent to think further through their opinion. It is not uncommon that people have not adequately thought through their opinions and asking questions may help them to see how their thinking is imprecise in regards to the topic of conversation.
After asking questions that answer what precisely your opponent is saying, you should then move in this tactic toward questions that ask how and why they came to hold these views. What evidence (or lack thereof) lies behind their assertions? Is it justified? In civil discussions we desire arguments instead of mere assertions. As Koukl explains "an assertion simply states a point...an argument gives supporting reasons why the point should be taken seriously" (64). Koukl points out that very often people simply have an alternate explanation, but not a refutation of what they are arguing against. Instead of attempting to defeat their assertion, they should be asked to defend it. After listening to their defense of their assertion, the reader should then ask whether their alternate explanation is possible, plausible or likely to be the best explanation.
The final tactic moves from being passive in the discussion to using what you have learned so far through questions toward making your point. This is to be done with grace as Koukl says "we want to win someone over to our point of view, but we don't want to force our opinions" (77). At this point one should use the statements and questions asked thus far toward showing inconsistencies in their opponent's view that may more adequately be explained by their own position. Does their assertion follow the evidence? Does your view better explain the evidence and can you share your view in a gracious way?
The entire second half of the book, which I will not discuss in depth, focuses on particular logical errors and narrative strategies that people often employ to make their assertions. If anything, Koukl wants his readers to be better thinkers so as to better navigate through discussions. Koukl offers strategies for helping bring these inconsistencies to light in a gracious way that should not anger your opponent, but simply help them to see the inconsistency or error in their claim.
The book on the whole is full of good illustrations from real situations that illustrate Koukl's points. These were enjoyable for the most part, but the reader should realize that these illustrations are obviously the particular situations which lended themselves to being used as illustrations and that all conversations do not as easily play into your hand. More often than not, when using the Columbo tactic your opponent will stop the conversation early and not give valid reasons for their assertions.
I personally believe that the tactics discussed in this book are best used for personal face-to-face conversations. I do not believe the tactics described would work as well through the format of message boards, chat rooms, etc. where many people debate these topics online. Furthermore, since the primary focus is on two individuals discussing, clarifying and refining ideas, the book best helps the reader in one-on-one conversations, although some of the tactics are applicable elsewhere.
In terms of practicality, the summaries at the end of the chapters would be helpful for small groups working through the issues.
The choice of endnotes versus footnotes is unfortunate. The decision for endnotes should come when footnotes are too common or so long as to constantly distract the reader from the actual text of the work. In this case, the notes are neither too common or long. Instead, the reader is distracted by having to flip to the back of the work whenever a note of interest occurs.
This is a very practical book, that I highly recommend particularly for beginners in the field of apologetics, or those who are just interested in having practical strategies in sharing their faith graciously. The book would need to be read alongside a book that gives the "information" aspect of apologetics to the reader, so I cannot recommend it as the only book to which a beginning apologetics group should look.
This was a very entertaining and practical read, which I will highly recommend in the future. The unfortunate use of endnotes as well as the need to recommend it alongside another more informative apologetics book requires me to give it a four star rating instead of a five.