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Why Talk Tactics?

Written By Wade Mobley on 08/22/2013 | Posted in Current EventsDaily Christian ThinkingNews
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. -1 Peter 3:14-16 (ESV)

Tools, Tactics & Strategies

There is a difference between tools, tactics and strategies: If you desire a better view from your picture window, you may well desire to cut down a tree (strategy) by using a chainsaw (tool) and doing so in such a manner (tactics) that you don't break your window, the chainsaw or your head. The message of 1 Peter resonates with Christians in the United States better now than ever before. In past times the culture embraced by non-Christians looked a lot like that of Christians. Not so much today. The culture in which we live looks a lot more like where Peter's audience lived.

As "normal" in our culture becomes less Christ-like, followers of Christ have a more complex task on their hands. Making disciples (strategy) with the Word of God (it is God's means of grace, not just a tool, but give me a pass on that one) is best done in a manner that is tactically wise. By doing so, one maximizes the impact of the Gospel by avoiding pitfalls like silence, inaccuracy and cultural accommodation.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

If you need convincing, I give you this story:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation today that bans counselors from working with minors interested in changing their feelings of same-sex attraction. According to the Associated Press, Christie also plans to release a statement later today saying he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. If he does issue such a statement, Christie will become the highest-ranking Republican, and rumored 2016 presidential hopeful, to come out in support of homosexuality. The issue has created a rift in the GOP, dividing its evangelical members and their supporters from more moderate social and economic conservatives (World Magazine, August 19, 2013).

While I understand that many followers of Christ (I'll be charitable) have punted on this and many other social/sexual/gender-related issues, many others know that Governor Christie is wrong. But I think that most Christians would miss completely the tactical bobble contained in Christie's statement. That's a shame, for in the bobble lies our tactical opportunity for the Gospel.

Here it is: According to the Associated Press, Christie also plans to release a statement later today saying he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin.

First, that statement is actually two separate assertions- each without an argument to support it. A tactically wise approach must differentiate between assertions (The Vikings Rule!) and arguments (reasons to support such assertions- oddly, I can't come up with one for this example). If you treat assertions like arguments you will always find yourself on the defensive, talking into the wind while you make ethical ("this is right or wrong") statements that sound to your audience like simple personal preference ("I like this or not").

Not Born This Way

Second, Christie's first assertion- which supposedly undergirds his view of homosexuality- is baldly false. It is one of the patently false ideas that very few people think through or challenge, yet large percentages of people quote and act on. The American Psychological Association (APA) doesn't say "born that way," despite decades of telling us otherwise. Alfred Kinsey, often-cited as a "born that way" advocate, never even claimed it- and his studies were largely discredited statistically soon after they were published. In short, people sing the praises of "born that way" with all the research certainty of Lady Gaga.

Christians have (in great part) lost an argument because they accepted as true something that was false- and that without any justification. Why? We KNOW the truth, but we lack confidence either in that truth or our ability to process and discuss that truth. To put it another way, quoting Charles Malik, as found in Nancy Pearcey's book Total Truth (p. 63): The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world at all.

Thus, we study tactics along with Scripture, that we might both win souls AND save minds.

Learning Tactics at Living Word

Sunday and Monday, September 8-9, Living Word will host J. Warner Wallace from the ministry Stand to Reason. Mr. Wallace is a 35-year veteran of the LAPD, having served as a cold case homicide detective for much of his career. In his retirement, Wallace, a former skeptic and atheist, applies investigative techniques to the claims of the Gospel. As he does so he will teach you both factual accuracy and tactical wisdom.

I will also teach a class called "Tactics for Defending the Christian Faith" on Wednesday nights this fall. The course will follow (rather roughly) a text I have used before in instructing college and Bible School students. It has helped them (it has me) to be factually accurate and tactically wise, and I believe it will help you.

Lord, make me tactically wise,
Pastor Wade

PS- You may ask, "Where do you get this stuff?" Years of thinking, first of all, and also some good resources. If you are interested in more along this line of thought, Alan Shlemon and Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason wrote an excellent book on homosexuality, from which the following chapter is excerpted. The sheer quantity of homosexuality-related conversation in my ministry has led me to write something myself, but this is probably a better "born that way" chapter than I will write.

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Thankful to the Living God for life, redemption and His many blessings. Doing my best to reflect His character in all I do.

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