Book Review: TACTICS by Greg Koukl


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Author: Gregory Koukl
Publisher: Zondervan, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-57476-7

Have you ever gotten yourself in a tangle while trying to answer a skeptic’s awkward questions about your Christian faith? Or is your preferred style to simply avoid these sorts of discussions, because you think it’s not right for Christians to engage in “lengthy disputations”?
In his book, Tactics, acclaimed Christian apologist Greg Koukl lays out some of his favourite systematic and practical approaches to dealing with the apparent verbal missiles fired at our professed faith by unbelievers. And he does so in an engaging way. He recounts several examples situations in which he used these tactics to address seemingly knotty issues and problematic themes concerning Christian beliefs and non Christian perceptions of it. Greg employs military terminology in describing the ways by which objections to core tenets of the Christian faith can be deconstructed and answered.
You might get the impression that Tactics is simply “formula peddling” dressed up in the finely spun apparel of well written literature. But the author actually reminds us that our role as witnesses or apologists is not to argue people into the kingdom of God, but to eliminate the excuses they give for not surrendering to Jesus- and let God work in their hearts to bring them to salvation. The ‘skill’ of finding the flaws in arguments against Christianity and exposing them for what they are should be honed so that we become more effective in witnessing for our Lord. But it is not in our hands to change the lost from the inside. Only God can do that. The persuasiveness of our arguments, on its own, cannot.
The contentious matter of debates and Christian virtue is discussed in the book, but not extensively. Greg graciously but uncompromisingly asserts that “argument is a virtue” (when performed within the boundary of decent conduct and on issues that are pertinent, of course). According to him, reason (demonstrated in argumentation, for example) and love are means God uses to bring people to Himself because “both are consistent with His nature” (page 41). He considers the popularly held belief that 2Timothy 2:14 and 23 forbid Christians from engaging in intellectual debates as erroneous, and notes at least one biblical instance of the apostle Paul successfully “persuading” people to believe the gospel (Acts 17: 2-4)- a suggestion that “persuasion” here involved some sort of argument.
The need addressed by this book is an ever present one. Because tackling the objections of non-Christians to the faith can be a tough thing to do without an understanding of what these objections hint at, Tactics should be considered important enough to be included in any intending apologist’s library and the book collection of Christians in general.

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