You’re at lunch and your co-worker looks at you a bit oddly and says with a smirk. “Hey you’re a Christian just like those folks at Westborogh Baptist Church, why do you believe in gay-bashing?”
At a family reunion, you are catching up with a cousin you haven’t seen in awhile and she says that Christians are intolerant, and even Jesus says that the Father desires that none should perish….
What do you do? You have 10 seconds…
Tactics: A Game plan for discussing your Christian convictions is a book by world-class apologist Greg Koukl and provides a framework for responding to worldview issues like those in the intro. I’m going to share with you the main tactic for responding to others about their claims and your beliefs, and it’s named after this guy… Lieutenant Colombo.
This book goes beyond just rhetoric for defending the Christian faith however and gives you the ability to steer a conversation so each person can be heard and offered the opportunity to see the strengths… and weaknesses of their views.
While most of the world in the 21st century communicates entirely emotionally, this book is built on the premise that in order to converse successfully in the world of ideas one needs three skills. From pg. 25.
- Knowledge: An accurately informed mind.
- Wisdom: An artful method
- Character: An attractive manner
Tactics is structured around building wisdom and being artful in your conversations with others. To build Knowledge, it really depends on the subject- although in apologetics the Bible is always a great start for Christians. I recommend the book How to Win Friends and Influence People for building an character and an attractive manner with others.
Note: This tactic we are going to cover is extremely powerful and can be used to verbally bludgeon another person. Please don’t use this if you’re going to be a jerk about it. Speak the truth in love, and realize that many in our society are emotionally driven and when confronted with logic can resort to anger or attacks on you.
Let’s get down to the heart of the book.
This guy again.
The Colombo tactic is built around questions.
Questions are friendly, they are educational, and they put you back in the drivers seat.
Never make a statement, at least at first, when a question will do the job. p.47
Here’s your first Colombo Question that you can always return to when someone makes a claim. “What do you mean by that?”
“All truth is relative” What do you mean by that?
“Trump is a terrible candidate” What do you mean by that?
“All Christians are hate mongers” What do you mean by that?
The other person then has to take the time to respond (remember, some people are simply blowing steam or merely repeating slogans they heard) and clarify exactly what they are asserting. General statements like “You’re a man. You shouldn’t have an opinion on abortion” are vague and need refining before you can move on to your second Colombo question.
Once the other person responds and clarifies, your second question is this:
Now, how did you come to that conclusion?
Say for example you are told, “Well there are thousands of universes and ours just happens to be the one that looks designed.”
How did you come to that conclusion?
This question puts the burden of proof back on the person who put forth the view instead of asking you to respond to the assertion. (Are they going to visit the other universes to figure out if they appear to be designed? How did you find out there are other universes?)
In order to stand up, their explanation needs to not only be possible and plausible, it also needs to be probable or more likely than the idea you hold. To determine this, you’ll need the third point of the Colombo tactic.
You can use this third question method to lead the other person to a logical conclusion. This “leading with questions” step of the Colombo tactic requires practice, as well as listening carefully to their line of reasoning and being able to respond to assumptions one at a time as they appear. When a new idea surfaces, go back you your tried and true “What do you mean by that” and take it from the top. Your most non-threatening approach is to continue to point out errors of logic with questions.
While you won’t be prepared to respond to every conversation after watching this 5 minute video or reading one blog post, I encourage you to use this knowledge for building others up by strengthening their thought process. You don’t have to convince everyone that they are wrong and you are right, but you shouldn’t let them get away with making assertions you know are false.
Lastly, don’t be a “logical justice warrior” and go looking for fights with your new found tactics. Build your knowledge. Grow in wisdom. Develop your character.
Thank you so much for reading, The next two weeks will continue to be apologetics books since I’m prepping for a couple classes in July. Go Subscribe on youtube, like the page on facebook and I’ll see you next week for book #22.
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