“Personal Evangelism Tactics” by Edwin Jones

January 26th, 2020

January 26 2020 - Sunday AM Bible Class




Tactics, by Greg Koukl

A Summary of Sam Books and Thoughts, Blog


Diplomacy or D-Day - Be diplomatic. A diplomat tries not to be offensive but will still face
up to the other side rather than running away or screaming back at a challenge. Listening to
an Atheist's point of view and responding firmly but gently, rather than ducking for cover or
making empty accusations in return, this is the diplomat's way.

Reservations - If you have reservations about debate or argument, remember that people can disagree with each other without screaming at each other. Greg suggests that if anyone in the argument/debate gets angry, then you lose. So try and control the conversation to keep things civil. If you are calm and speak softly and controlled it is harder for your opposition to flare up. Also remember that division is okay if you are dividing the good from the bad - clearly it is good to keep Atheist ideas out when it comes to running the church. If we are searching for truth then we have to cut away that which is untrue!

Remember that you can't argue someone into the kingdom of heaven but having the right knowledge
is a good start for them. It is not your responsibility to get someone converted, that's God's part in the
process, you just have to step up and be willing to give it a go - defend God and his truth, and the rest
will follow.

Getting in the drivers seat: The Columbo Tactic (named after TV detective Lieutenant Colombo) - Learn to recognize when to engage someone in conversation about their ideas/beliefs. If someone makes a statement that challenges Christianity or some moral view from Christianity, ask them why they think what they do. You have roughly a ten second window to engage them. Use questions because this keeps the pressure off you and on them. Using questions you can direct the discussion and it is the other person who has to think more than you. Questions lead to thoughtful dialog rather than "loud statements" for and against. It's also a good way to really learn what the other person thinks. If you don't have an answer after that, just thank them for sharing and then think about what they said to come up with a response for next time.

Often people haven't thought through some of their ideas (which may be quite ridiculous) and just
asking "Why do you think that?" or "What do you mean by that?" or "Could you explain that idea
further?" these questions may make them stop and realise there is no reason for believing their ideas.

A classic example is the challenge to truth: "There is no absolute truth" or "Truth is relative". You could
ask if their statement that there is no absolute truth is an absolute truth, highlighting the contradiction.

Columbo step two: The Burden of Truth - Remember that others who make claims are the ones who have to defend them. Even Atheists or Pro-choice advocates have to justify their positions if they stand up and make statements. This is where questions come in handy - if you are not making statements and asking others' opinions then they have to justify their answers, not you. Use the questions "How did you come to that conclusion?" or "What evidence led you to believe that?" Never let someone change the subject when they can't answer. Always come back to the evidence for their opinion and then let them falter when they have none. Offer the Christian answers if they ask and be ready to defend the truth because you too have to defend your ideas and justify them using evidence.

Step three: Using Columbo to Lead the Way - This chapter covers a number of situations that come up, and how to respond using Colombo questions. How to respond if someone asks if non-Christians are going to hell (a straight yes, though correct, is not diplomatic. Try asking them about their understanding of justice and punishment for crimes and whether it is right to do so. Then share Jesus as a way for justice to be paid but for us to "get out of jail")

You can use questions to help someone voice something they already know, leading them through a line of reasoning.

You can use questions to ensure a safe discussion occurs, e.g. setting rules for conversation or clarifying that the other person understands we can disagree without hating each other.

Use questions to narrate the debate, e.g. "Do you realize that you just avoided answering my question?"

Don't forget to be diplomatic (nice) because it is too easy to use these tactics to beat someone rather
than love them and lead them to the truth. It's not about shaming them, it's about revealing something that needs to change and then lifting them up by helping them come to the truth.


Suicide: Views that self destruct - These are views or statements that, if they are true, prove themselves false. Variations on the theme "there is no truth" are common. Saying that "God doesn't take sides" assumes that God takes that side, proving the view false.

Pseudo-questions such as "Can God make a rock so big that he can't lift it" are nonsense questions. It's like asking if god is stronger than god and makes no sense.

"People make mistakes, so I won't trust the bible." But you're a person and could make mistakes, so I'll trust the bible.

"Saying that evolution designs by chance." Design implies a designer with a hand in events and is not
chance at work.

"Only science gives reliable truth." But science doesn't give itself its truth so is it true?

"All religions are true." But some deny the truth of all other religions, e.g. Jesus is the only way versus
other views.

Practical Suicide - These are views that fail when you put them into practice (even if they aren't
contradictory in them self), e.g. Saying that "arguing is wrong" is not contradictory but as soon as you try to defend that view you are arguing and proving it impractical.

"It's wrong to condemn people". But that condemns people who think that it isn't wrong to condemn

"You shouldn't force your morality on others". Isn't that view forcing your morality on others?

Sibling Rivalry and Infanticide - Sibling rivalry is a way of describing ideas that compete, i.e. both can't be true, e.g. "good people go to heaven" and "good and bad are relative, not absolute". How then do good people go to heaven if there are no truly good people!

Another example of sibling rivalry: "A loving God would never send anyone to hell" and "Why does God
allow evil in the world, why doesn't he punish bad people?" If you punish bad people you need a god
who will bring pain!

"Homosexuality isn't wrong because it's natural". This implies that anything natural is right, but when it comes to homosexual couples adopting children they are trying to do what is clearly not natural, or they would have their own children!

Infanticide is when prior concepts disprove what is being claimed, e.g. vocal chords do not exists first
requires vocal chords to exists if one is to say them.

"I can't believe in a God who allows evil in the world". This presumes the existence of evil, which can
only exist if God is in the world. Also, if morals are relative then how can the claim that evil exists
disprove God? If evil is relative, then the objection is nonsense.

Remember that Atheists can act moral, so don't accuse them of that, but they can't justify their actions in the absence of a moral law giver. Their defense of their own morality works against themselves!

Taking the roof off - Some views result in absurd conclusions if they are pushed to their limit. Saying that there is no objective moral good or bad means that we can't say that rape is bad, or that Hitler was wrong. To realize when an idea is absurd you will have to take it for a test drive to find out if the roof comes off.

Example - the claim that homosexual marriage is morally okay because the government supports it. The government also supported slavery at one time, so it is a non-argument to say that anything is okay if the government supports it.

"I was born homosexual so it's not bad". But people are born liars and murders too...

The philosophy professor who "proves" god doesn't exist by dropping a pen and saying god doesn't exist because he couldn't stop it hitting the ground. Say that the professor doesn't exist if you don't catch a pen and then choose to let it fall.

"That's just your interpretation of the bible!" But he will object if you interpret his words to mean that
you can have his car. It's not the interpretation that matters, it's what the words really mean.

Steamroller - Sometimes people will try to overpower you with words and ideas without listening to
valid counter-arguments. Learn to identify this behavior, stop it by saying, "stop right there. You
haven't answered my question". If they persist, shame them by pointing out exactly what they have
avoided answering. If they refuse to play ball after that there is no point in talking with them - just leave the conversation. Don't cast pearls before swine.

Rhodes Scholar - Just because someone is an academic expert it doesn't mean that they are basing their arguments on logical lines of reasoning. Be aware of when someone is trying to educate you or inform you. Informers don't try to justify their position. Educators make a case and leave the conclusion as a result of the evidence.

Sometimes two definitions of science are used to confuse. "Science deals with the natural world only" suits when evidence points to a supernatural designer. But when it suits to rubbish faith, "science is a method using evidence and experiments." So the right methods are expected and the right answers are also expected!

Historical science also includes assumptions about the expected findings, denying miracles even though we have records of eye-witness accounts.

The Rhodes Scholar tactic is merely to ask for the reasons for what the opponent believes, and not just accepting their statement as truth.

Just the facts ma'am - Use facts and figures to make a strong case. This is especially useful when
a claim is made that doesn't stand up to the facts, e.g. "Religion has caused more wars and death
than anything else" but 66 million were wiped out under Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev (atheistic
communists); between 32 and 61 million Chinese have been killed under communist regimes since 1949; etc.

Memories with precision any dates, figures, and facts that apply (the more specific the better) and then suggest that the person with the vague counter claim must face those facts. Facts are more powerful than a louder voice. Finding the right context for a reading can be used as facts to help interpret scripture too, e.g. using the log in your own eye verse against judging. This verse actually says you can judge if you do not have a log in your eye. IT is about not being hypocritical in your judgment so is actually telling you to judge!

More Sweat, Less Blood - Working hard in training means less blood in the battle. Spend time with
others who share the passion of learning these tactics and it gets easier to learn them. Face legitimate
objections to your faith - they will only lead to a clearer understanding of the truth and a stronger faith
(if your faith is correct). Don't be shy, you have the truth so give it a go at least. Have courage.


Duration 39:35

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