Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tactics in Defending the Faith Part 8: The Power of Columbo

I pray that you all will have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and weekend.  Be careful shopping out there this weekend, if that is your thing. 

Remember every day is a day of Gratitude and Thanksgiving.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Subject: Tactics in Defending the Faith

Stand to Reason

Stand to Reason

Tactics in Defending the Faith Part 8: The Power of Columbo

Once you've learned the Columbo tactic, you'll be amazed at how deftly you can navigate through a discussion. Many people you talk to will struggle when you turn the tables and they're being asked to provide evidence for their views. They will try to change the subject or simply reassert their views, sometimes because they haven't thought much about the issue you're discussing. Dodging your question may be their only recourse. 

It is critical that you "narrate the debate" at this point. Take a moment to stop and describe what's going on in the conversation. This will help your friend (and others listening in) to see how she's gotten off course. You can say, "Hold on. First you made a fairly controversial statement, which I challenged you to clarify and defend.  So far, you haven't done that. You've just taken off in another direction. Before we move on to a new topic, can we finish this one?" 

Don't let your friend get off the hook by dodging the issues. This approach keeps the pressure on while keeping the conversation cordial. Encourage your opponent to clarify herself. Forcing her to face the music may be the first step toward a change of mind.

The Columbo tactic can also help keep you out of the "hot seat." Sometimes the fear of getting in over our heads is enough to keep us from saying anything at all. We especially dread the possibility of some aggressive critic blasting us with arguments, opinions, or information we are not equipped to handle.

The Columbo tactic questions help control the conversation when you fear being overmatched by the person opposing you. To buy yourself some thinking time, simply switch into fact-finding mode. Begin by slowing them down with, "Hold on a minute; this is new to me." Next say, "I want to understand your point, so can you carefully tell me what you believe and why you believe it?" (the first two Columbo questions)
Finish by saying, "Then let me think about it." Then work on the issue later at your leisure when the pressure is off.

Think for a moment how useful this approach is. Instead of trying to resist the force of another's attack, practice a little verbal Aikido just step aside and let him barge right in. Give him the floor and invite him to make his case. However, he must do it slowly and carefully so you'll have an opportunity to fully understand his point. 

When you are being overwhelmed, this move to fact-finding mode takes you completely out of the hot seat.  It deftly shifts control of the conversation back to you while shifting the spotlight and the pressure back on him. You are no longer under any obligation to answer, refute, or even respond because you've already said you need to give the issue more thought. 

This is easy. Essentially you're saying, "Oh, you want to beat me up? Fine with me. Just do it slowly and thoroughly." This is a move that even the most delicate, retiring, shy, bashful, skittish, timid, or reserved personality can employ with great effect. 

The advantage of the Columbo tactic is not having to assert something you want someone else to believe in.  You aren't taking the burden of proof on yourself. Instead, your question makes the point for you. This accomplishes your goal in an entirely different and much more powerful way.

Next time:  The art of asking questions

For more extensive tactics training go to and look for Tactics in Defending the Faith Mentoring Series or STRi DVD interactive training in our online store or call Stand to Reason at 1-800-2-REASON.

TellAFriend | View Message | Unsubscribe | Update Profile

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In the INN: "The Preached Word"

Here is this week's broadcast of an interview with a United Methodist Bishop on preaching the Gospel.   I challenge you to listen to it.
Yes that's right a "United Methodist".  I grew up in that denomination and I had lost all hope for the United Methodists, until I found out about Bishop William Willimon.  I've also added a link to his blog, so go visit and say hello from the friends at Reform-Shire.  He can teach us evangelicals how we can avoid downgrade that his denomination has gone through.  There is a local United Methodist congregation who's slogan is "Not Your Ordinary Church."
I often thought their slogan should be "Not a Church at All." 

Thank you Lord for William Willimon, the Peculiar Prophet.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Subject: In the INN: "The Preached Word"
Join us for our 2009 series "Christ in a Post-Christian Culture"

The Preached Word


William Willimon author of Peculiar Speech: Preaching to the Baptized.

Listen Now: "The Preached Word"

Listen by Real Audio Player Listen by Windows Media Player Download MP3

Peculiar Truth
William Willimon

Wanted: Ministers Who Preach Christ
Michael Horton

Immodest Speech
John Stott

Read Kim Riddlebarger's Blog

The Centrality of Preaching the Gospel

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:14-17).

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4:1-5).

(All passages from The English Standard Version)

Click here to see more Scripture passages...

View all "Terms to Learn"

You can help us recover gospel-centered preaching, teaching, and worship in our churches.

Find out how!

Send this to a friend

About Us | Radio Stations | Previous Programs | Receive a free MR and WHI CD
White Horse Inn | 1725 Bear Valley Parkway | Escondido, CA 92027 | (800) 890-7556

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tactics in Defending the Faith #7

Here is Tactic #7

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Subject: Tactics in Defending the Faith

Stand to Reason

Stand to Reason

Tactics in Defending the Faith Part 7: Columbo Step 3 - Exposing a Weakness or Flaw

Greg Koukl

Knowing what a person believes and why he believes it things you learned from the first two steps of the Columbo tactic allows you to ask new questions that challenge that person's ideas. This is the final stage of Columbo.

The first two questions are somewhat passive, but the third Columbo question takes you on the offensive in an inoffensive way.

The conversation may alert you to some weakness, flaw, or contradiction in the person's argument that can be exposed and exploited. There is no special formula for making this discovery. You'll uncover it by listening carefully and then thinking about what was said.

The key to this step is paying close attention to the answer to the question, "How did you come to that conclusion?"

 Are there any blatant weaknesses in the view?
 Do the conclusions follow from the evidence?
 Can you question any underlying assumptions?
 Is there a misstep, a non-sequitur, a fallacy, or a failing of some sort?

Address any inconsistency you discover with a question, not a statement. 

This step takes more practice than the rest, but in time you will improve. It requires some insight an ability to see the flaws in the argument which is a demanding request. It is easy to "stall out" in the beginning, so don't be surprised or discouraged.

Once you learn the Colombo tactic, you'll realize how few people can answer for their views. It's easy, once you see this happen, to drift into pride and take pleasure in another's failings. Therefore, take care to show concern for the other person. Establish common ground whenever possible by affirming points of agreement. Encourage the other person to think further on the subject if he or she doesn't have a satisfactory answer. Assume the same best intentions you'd like others to assume about you when you're in the hot seat. 

Next time:  The Power of Columbo

For more extensive tactics training go to and look for Tactics in Defending the Faith Mentoring Series or STRi DVD interactive training in our online store or call Stand to Reason at 1-800-2-REASON.

TellAFriend | View Message | Unsubscribe | Update Profile

Tactics in Defending the Faith # 6

I have been quite busy at work and with church activities over the past couple of weekends so I have missed posting the latest tactics in defending the faith by Stand To Reason. I'll post 2 of them today.

Not long ago several people were surveyed at a Christian Broadcasters convention about when they defend their faith what tactic do they use. The question asked was, "Why is Christianity True"? they answered by their personal experience, life transformation, and testimony. These are the "tactics" they used to defend that Christianity is true. But, it is conceivable that Christianity is True, and no one believes it.
Then they were also asked: When passing on the faith to others, would you share Gospel doctrine or would you share your personal testimony. The answers were predominantly personal testimony except for one who pointed to Gospel doctrine. It was as if they were inclined to give more authority to themselves and their life story rather than giving authority to God's Word and Christ's testimony. There is a big difference between sharing the testimony of salvation from sin, than what being a Christian has meant in your personal life and moral standing. Below is Rev. Ken Jones' response to some of these answers presented on a White Horse Inn broadcast.
"If the primary message people are hearing is a message about them, then it makes sense that their apologetics is based on them, which also makes sense that the message they would deliver in evangelism is about them!" Reverend Ken Jones

There is a time and a place for our own stories and they can be compelling to us and maybe those around us. But, when sharing the Gospel message this personal story or the display of oneself should not be the basis of convincing someone that it is true and is not the basis or the reason for anyone to come to faith in Christ. But, often times our story is presented as the basis for convincing others to come to faith by saying "just look at my life lived out." "Just see that my life is so much better now." But, to an atheist or an agnostic, that is just so arrogant to say that we have the answers to live "Your Best Life Now". Then they see us blow it, and they see us have a major fall like Ted Haggard, and other outspoken and up front people who have had major crashes in front of the public and having it broadcast for all to see. If they had spent more time sharing the Gospel and pointing to Christ and to show how we are all beggars in need of a savior. Those whom we share the Gospel with need to see how we are all in need of salvation from the wrath of God. Only, then is our story part of His story as He has done everything and I am only a recipient of Grace. What distinguishes us and our faith in Christ from any other religion that has the burning in the bosom, or a better life now, or a purpose for life. If we are to be hated or persecuted, it should be for our love of Christ and for Christ alone and no other reason. Sometimes, people will need to hate God, before he can break through that heart of stone and show them they absolutely, and desperately need God to save them.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Subject: Tactics in Defending the Faith

Stand to Reason

Stand to Reason

Tactics in Defending the Faith Part 6: The Professor's Ploy

When executing the burden of proof tactic, beware of the "professor's ploy."

Some professors are fond of taking pot-shots at Christianity with remarks like, "The Bible is just a bunch of fables," even if the topic matter has nothing to do with religious issues.

Well-meaning believers sometimes take the challenge and attempt a head-to-head duel with the professor, but this approach is rarely successful.
One rule of engagement governs exchanges like these: The person with the microphone wins. Never attempt a frontal assault on a superior force. The professor always has the strategic advantage, and he knows it.

Don't get into a power play when you're out-gunned. There's a better way. Don't disengage; instead, use your tactics. Raise your hand and ask, "Professor, what do you mean by that?" Next ask, "How did you reach that conclusion?" Make him the teacher and the one making the claim shoulder the burden of proof.

This approach enables you to stay engaged while deftly sidestepping the power struggle. The "professor's ploy" comes into play when he attempts to make you shoulder the burden of proof. He may sense your maneuver and respond by saying, "You must be one of those Christians who thinks the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Okay, since I'm a fair man, why don't you prove that to the rest of the class?"

In one quick move, he's cleverly switched the burden of proof back on you, the student. Don't fall for this unfair move! You aren't the one making a claim; he is. He must defend his own claim. He's the teacher, after all.

You can respond to the professor's ploy with dignity and tact. When he shifts the burden of proof on you, calmly respond by saying, "Professor, first, I haven't revealed anything about my views. Second, my views don't really matter right now. You're the teacher and you've made a strong claim about the Bible. I'm just trying to learn your reasons for it."

If he gives an answer, thank him for it and either ask him another question or let it go. Recognize that the burden of proof tactic takes the pressure off you but still keeps you in the driver's seat. You don't have to be the expert on every subject.

If you keep the burden on the other side when they're making the claim, you don't have to have all the answers. In fact, you can be effective even when you know very little if you ask the right questions.

Next time: How to properly exploit a weakness in an argument

For more extensive tactics training go to and look for Tactics in Defending the Faith Mentoring Series or STRi DVD interactive training in our online store or call Stand to Reason at 1-800-2-REASON.

TellAFriend | View Message | Unsubscribe | Update Profile

Thursday, November 19, 2009

J. Gresham Machen - Confronts Protestant Liberalism

Below is a quote from J. Gresham Machen when challenging the liberal protestants around the 1920s.  It seems that the Evangelical Movement that once took the same position as Machen and championed the cause to make sure that the Gospel was at the center of the preaching and especially for evangelism.  However, it seems as if the Evangelicals of today need to hear Machen saying this to us all right now.

"Evangelism does not consist in the rehearsal of what has happened in the evangelist's own soul. Christian evangelism does not consist in a man's going about the world and saying "Look at me, what a wonderful experience I have, how happy I am, what wonderful Christian virtues I exhibit. You can all be as good and as happy as I am if you just make a complete surrender of your wills and obedience to what I say." That is what many religious workers seem to think that evangelism is. But they're wrong. Men are not saved by the exhibition of your glorious Christian virtues. They're not saved by the contagion of your experiences. We cannot be the instruments of God in saving them if we preach only ourselves. Nay, we must preach to them the Lord Jesus Christ, for it is only through the gospel that sets him forth that men can be saved."

-J. Gresham Machen
Coram Deo!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The State of The Church - Christless Christianity

In the 1930s Yale Professor H. Richard Niebuhr offered a poignant description of liberal Protestantism’s message then, and I think the emergent church’s message now in his book,The Kingdom of God in America:

A God without wrath brought men without sin into a world without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I need a Hammer and a Nail

Martin Luther wrote his 95 Thesis in 1517 which ignited the Reformation.
It seems as if we need a Second Reformation, especially in America and anywhere American churches have influence around the world.

But, I don't know how or which door to nail a Thesis to, and I'm not saying that I'm the one smart enough to do it, but Luther also believed that a "plow-boy" with the Word of God in his language was more powerful than any Pope.

So, here is just a taste of what we are up against.

As I write this I am in turmoil over the things that I see going on in the church. I wonder how far from the Gospel the church will go and use marketing "schemes" and demographics to determine how to lure people into the church and move to a "seeker sensitive" worship service.

Many churches have a disdain for any kind of tradition, without even understanding why the tradition was brought about in the first place. A simple example is, the removal of the pulpit which has been replaced by a bar/ pub table.
Also, when ever they talk about evangelism and "sharing the Gospel" it has come to a whole new meaning. It is now sharing your "personal testimony" or "your story."

Ironically, The only person I see sharing their story in the Bible is Paul in Romans leading up to these words that sum up his testimony 7:24-25.

24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from(AC) this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

I'm not sure this is a testimony that most people have in mind. Usually, what people mean is they will tell their before and after story. But, you can have this same story from any religion, or even from a 12 step program, or from meeting a beautiful girl and end up getting married. You'll have a wonderful experience and a story, and it may very well be true to you. But, it does not tell of what Christ has done, it takes the focus off of Christ and puts it on the individual person.

If Satan can figure out a way to get us away from telling Christ's story especially in a subtle way, then he has accomplished his task.
I'll just get them to focus on themselves, that always works
And he has been doing this since the beginning.
This kind of direction, and focus by the church would be called worldliness.
If you want to see what kind of churches are doing this, here are a couple examples

NewSpring Church

Real Life Chruch

The messages are claimed to be "relevant" and "practical" and the emphasis is on how you can apply these things to your daily life. The doctrines and creeds, and confessions have been pushed aside.
The excuse or the reason of, "We need to be about deeds not creeds" as if we have over-done-it with the creeds and the head knowledge and now we need to do something.
However, it has always been the doctrines, and the creeds (oh no traditions, yuk!) that point to the foundation of our faith which is the person and works of Jesus Christ. The only true motivation there is for us in life is the motivation which comes from knowing what Jesus Christ has already done for us. If we are to be the evangelists presenting an evangelistic message, then why would we do everything else but share the Gospel? Here is the Gospel message as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15 The Resurrection of Christ

1Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel(A) I preached to you, which you received,(B) in which you stand, 2and by which(C) you are being saved, if you(D) hold fast to the word I preached to you—(E) unless you believed in vain.

3For(F) I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died(G) for our sins(H) in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised(I) on the third day(J) in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that(K) he appeared to Cephas, then(L) to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to(M) James, then(N) to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born,(O) he appeared also to me. 9For(P) I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because(Q) I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary,(R) I worked harder than any of them,(S) though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The worship service is not a place for evangelism, it is for the delivering of God's word to edify the saints. It is God speaking through the message preached to remind us of what He has already done for us through His Son Jesus Christ. And it has become apparent we are being swayed and deceived by smooth talkers and flatterers. Lets see what Paul says about that and these tactics that distract us from the Gospel.

Romans 16:
Final Instructions and Greetings
17I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles(I) contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught;(J) avoid them. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but(K) their own appetites,[f] and(L) by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19For(M) your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you(N) to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20(O) The God of peace(P) will soon crush Satan under your feet.(Q) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

In closing here is what Martin Luther said at his trial, as he had written against the smooth talk and flattery of a huge empire that answered to nobody but itself.

Martin Luther "(reply to the Diet of Worms) Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns or teeth. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason (I do not believe in the authority of either popes or councils by themselves, for it is plain that they have often erred and contradicted each other) in those Scriptures that I have presented, for my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen." Martin Luther

And here I stand... I also can do no other.
God help me.

I have removed the parts that may have been deemed offensive to those who have read them and I'm truly sorry for the harshness in my tone and manner. I do believe graciousness should always be the manner in which we challenge each other. Even if you know for certain you have the right view or position. We all have a lot to learn.

It is for the sake of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that these things must be dealt with and not sit silently by. These are not superficial, or secondary issues, or about preferences, traditions, or even about being relevant or about methods. It is about being faithful to Jesus Christ and His message. It is all about Him and anything outside of that ought not be done, at least not by the church.

The church will never die. Even if we never evangelized, the church would somehow continue to grow. Jesus said He will build His church, and that's exactly what will happen. But, we of course will go and evangelize because we are grateful for what Christ has done for us.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Tactics in Defending the Faith

Here is another tactic in Defending the Faith: Columbo step 2.

Grace and Peace,
Coram Deo!!!

Subject: Tactics in Defending the Faith

Stand to Reason

Stand to Reason

Tactics in Defending the Faith Part 5: Columbo Step 2:

"How did you come to that conclusion?"

The first application of the Columbo tactic helped you understand what a person thinks; the second application known as reversing the burden of proof helps you learn why they think the way they do. 

The burden of proof is the responsibility someone has to defend or give evidence for his or her view. The burden of proof has one cardinal rule: Whoever makes the claim bears the burden. Don't allow yourself to be thrust into a defensive position when the other person is making the claim.

This rule means there are no more free rides. It isn't the Christian's responsibility to refute every story a nonbeliever can spin or every claim he can manufacture. When your opponent advances a view, make him or her defend it. Steer the burden of proof back on their shoulders, where it belongs.. Make them give you their arguments, not just their points of view.

In the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy, "they've got a lot of 'splaining to do!"

The second Columbo question enforces the burden of proof rule: "Now, how did you come to that conclusion?" This question graciously assumes that the non-believer has actually reached a conclusion that he has reasons for his view and has not merely asserted it carte-blanche.

It will give him a chance to express his rationale, if he has one. It will also give you more material to work with in addressing his objections. It ultimately shifts the burden of proof to the other person, which is where it often belongs.

Since many people have never thought through their views and don't know why they hold them, don't be surprised if you get a blank stare after asking this question.Alternate options are, "Why do you say that?" or "What are your reasons for holding that view?"
Sometimes the simplest, most effective question you can ask someone is a variation of the question, "How do you know?" This tactic can also take the form of the following questions:

 "Why should I believe what you believe?"
 "What makes you think that's the right way to see it?"
 "I'm curious. Why would you say a thing like that?"  
 "Why should I trust that your organization the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower speaks for God?"

We can spend hours helping someone carefully work through an issue without ever mentioning God, Jesus, or the Bible. This doesn't mean we aren't advancing the Kingdom, though. It's always a step in the right direction when we help people to discover truth. It gives them tools to assess the bigger questions that will eventually come up.

Further, when we challenge people to think carefully, we acknowledge they bear the image of God. This affirms their intrinsic worth. For a discussion on the value of human beings apart from the cross, see the commentary "Gospel Fodder."

Remember: The two most important questions you can ever ask are, "What do you believe?" and "Why do you believe it?"

Next time:  The Professor's Ploy

For more extensive tactics training go to and look for Tactics in Defending the Faith Mentoring Series or STRi DVD interactive training in our online store or call Stand to Reason at 1-800-2-REASON.


TellAFriend | View Message | Unsubscribe | Update Profile