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Sibling Rivalry and Infanticide.

In the two previous chapters, author Greg Koukl discussed two ways that arguments or points of view self-destruct. He coined them Formal Suicide and Practical Suicide. In this chapter Koukl introduces two more ways: Sibling Rivalry and Infanticide.

Sibling Rivalry is when two objections (to the Christian faith, let’s say) that may be legitimate separately are logically inconsistent when presented together. “Since both objections cannot be simultaneously legitimate, your task is cut in half… Graciously point out the conflict, then ask which is the real concern.”[1] For example, consider the person that simultaneously objects to God allowing evil in the world (i.e. The Problem of Evil) but also objects to God sending people to hell. In other words, “If God appears indifferent to wickedness his goodness is challenged. Yet if he acts to punish sin, his love is in question.”[2] This usually springs from the old “God should do what I think He should,” mentality. However, these objections are in conflict with each other in most cases.[3]

Infanticide is a lot like Sibling Rivalry. Instead of two ideas being merely logically inconsistent, Infanticide is when an objection is dependent on a prior notion that ends up denying that prior notion altogether.[4] Consider (again) the objection to the existence of God based on the Problem of Evil; that is, God cannot exist because evil is in the world. But there can be no evil without an objective moral standard to measure good and evil. Since Christians believe this objective moral standard is God then that negates the original objection to evil being in the world in the first place.

These two particular tactics may seem a bit abstract at first but, with practice and mastery, they can bear much fruit in conversations with unbelievers. Koukl reminds us that, “the Suicide tactic is not an end in itself, but can be used as a bridge to further questions.” As always, in every interaction, remember to display the characteristics of the Ambassador Model: knowledge, wisdom, and character.[5]

Check back next week for Chapter 10: Taking the Roof Off.

*Greg Koukl is Founder and President of Stand to Reason. Please do yourself a favor and buy his excellent book here!

[1] Greg Koukl, Tactics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 130.

[2] Ibid, 133.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 135.

[5] Ibid, 24.