Tactics (a brief review)

tacticsIn 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.

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