Gregory Koukl. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 208 pp. $10.19.
How do you go about telling the truth of your Christian convictions without either being harsh and abrasive or having someone run over you in the conversation? How do you ask pointed questions of a person who is raising an invalid point without coming off like a bully yourself? In Tactics, author Greg Koukl gives plain, powerful, and helpful advice for believers who would like to be able to discuss their faith with civility while not allowing the spurious logic of their opponents to derail the conversation.
As Koukl tells us early in the book. Using tactics in discussing your faith is not about winning arguments or making others look bad. This book is not about slick tricks and clever strategies. Instead, Koukl’s book is intended to help believers to use solid logic and reasoning to present the faith in a winsome and solid way. He helps believers to learn how to ask questions that will expose the inconsistencies of the views of others, especially when those inconsistencies should reshape the argument.
Koukl’s book is very easy-to-read. Some books on Christian apologetics—the art of defending the faith—are so dense that the average believer will not wade through them. Koukl writes in an engaging and understandable style with real-life examples to show how his tactics can help. Even his labels for his tactics are not formal philosophical terms. For example, Koukl calls his plan to steer the conversation through the asking of pointed questions “the Columbo method,” bringing to mind the TV detective who always had “just one more question.”
While Koukl’s work contains several examples of logical and biblical reasoning, it is not an apologetics textbook. The author is primarily focused on helping us know how to argue our point logically, not about giving us an encyclopedia of refutations of opponents’ salvos. So, do not assume that picking up this book will give you the ammunition that you need to defeat every argument. What it will do is teach you how to navigate the argument and spot when your interlocutor has violated the rules of sound reason. Yes, many of the examples in this book will give you solid answers to common objections to the faith. These reasons are not, however, the meat of the book.
One final thing that I will mention about this work is that I love the structure of the book. Koukl put this book together in a very logical way, with principles building on principles and with more complex concepts coming after simpler ones. But what I love most is the “What we learned in this chapter” section at the end of each chapter. If you read through this work and then want to review it to see what you may have missed, Koukl has made it possible with this very helpful section at the end of every chapter.
I would recommend Tactics to pastors, Bible study leaders, and any Christian interested in sharing his or her faith. The book is easy enough to read that high school students should have no problem following along. Its concepts are solid enough that even experienced thinkers and debaters will have something to glean. Koukl has done a very good job of helping believers to present the gospel with confidence while working around the false arguments often thrown our way.