By Michael Foust, Crosswalk.com
Best-selling author Gregory Koukl’s new book, Street Smarts: Using Questions to Answer Christianity's Toughest Challenges, posits that issues such as abortion, gender, and the Bible can be broached best with friends and family by posing the right questions at just the right time. Koukl is the founder and president of Stand to Reason.
“The standard way of doing it is telling the person what's wrong with their view. Now that has a place, and it can be done graciously -- and [for] many years I have used that approach,” Koukl told Christian Headlines. “But we have to be very careful with it because it's borderline confrontational. I found that using questions to answer these challenges is much safer.”
A question-based model of apologetics, Koukl said, is grounded in Jesus’ ministry.
“He was a good example of that -- absolutely. He asked, like, 238 questions in the Gospels. And there's a tremendous advantage to asking questions.
“We want to come in casual [and] relaxed, not combative.”
Street Smarts is a follow-up to an earlier book, Tactics. In Street Smarts, Koukl explains common mistakes in apologetics and lays out the best questions to ask when discussing such topics as atheism, the problem of evil, the Bible, Jesus, abortion, sex, and gender. Koukl also explains the Christian position for each subject.
“Of course, this could be abused. It could feel like we're setting people up. And this is not our project. This is not a gladiator event. What we're trying to do is help people see something true, but we're using a somewhat shrewd way of accomplishing it the way Jesus did many times.
“These are all the kinds of controversial issues that Christians are going to run into as they try to make a difference in the culture for Christ.”
The field of apologetics, Koukl added, has grown more challenging in the past few decades, with the same old questions still arising -- the problem of evil, the deity of Christ -- but with new ones, such as about gender, added to the mix.
“What's required is more courage than ever before,” he said.
Too many Christians, he said, “are not engaging” the culture -- “partly because they're afraid.”
“I get it -- the disciples were afraid, Paul was afraid -- Acts 18. … So that's understandable. There are giants out there,” Koukl said. “But we shrink the giants down to size by getting more information and getting a game plan that will allow us to maneuver.”
Photo Courtesy: Zondervan. Used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.