In his book Tactics, Gregory Koukl unpacks several conversational guidelines designed to help his readers become diplomatic ambassadors.
The “modest goal” that Koukl aims for in his own conversations is this:
All I want to do is put 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.
One effective, low-risk way of “putting a stone in someone’s shoe” is by asking questions rather than making statements. When you ask questions, you don’t need to defend a position (you haven’t presented one). Further, your questions may cause the other person to examine his own position more thoroughly.
A couple of great questions you can use are:
- “What do you mean by that?”
Ask this when you are trying to better understand what another person believes.
- “How did you come to that conclusion?”
Ask this in order to find out why a person believes something.
Koukl spends about half of the book identifying and explaining various types of faulty reasoning. He gives these flaws names such as:
- Formal suicide — views that are internally contradictory and that self-destruct.
Example: “There are no absolutes.” (Is this an absolute?)
- Practical suicide — you can hold a view, but you can’t promote it.
Example: “It’s wrong to say people are wrong.”
- Sibling rivalry and infanticide
Friendly, intelligent, respectful, and engaging throughout, Tactics offers something that few other apologetic books do: maneuvers that are specific enough to help you navigate purposefully through conversations, yet flexible enough to keep you from sounding like a parrot.
One minor criticism…
I can only guess why this may have happened, but the cover of the book clearly depicts elements from the game of chess — a chessboard, and in place of the letter “i” in the title, the silhouette of a pawn. Yet on pp. 26-27, Koukl explains the tactical method this way:
The tactical approach requires as much careful listening as thoughtful response. You have to be alert and pay attention so you can adapt to new information. This method resembles one-on-one basketball more than a game of chess. There are plans being played out, but there is constant motion and adjustment.