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Just the Facts, Ma’am.

Taken from the old television show “Dragnet”, Just the Facts, Ma’am is a method of sticking to factual information in your conversations with others. Of course, this particular tactic requires that you do your homework and know the facts in the first place. Consider this challenge against Christianity: “More wars have been fought and more blood has been shed in the name of God than any other cause. Religion is the greatest source of evil in the world.”[1] Author Greg Koukl lists two steps in the Just the Facts, Ma’am tactic:

  1. Ask, “What is the claim?”[2] This might seem unnecessary but it’s actually a crucial step in that, oftentimes, people do not speak clearly. They speak in inexplicit and ambiguous terms buried under a “layer of rhetoric and linguistic maneuvering.”[3] It is your duty to zero in on what is specifically being said. The Columbo tactic can help you do this.
  2. “Is the claim factually accurate?”[4] In the case of this challenge, the statistics don’t support the claim. Since millions were killed due to Communism, “[The true] carnage of unimaginable proportions resulted not from religion, but from institutionalized atheism.”[5]

Remember, Koukl’s Ambassador Model aims for a tone and character resembling relaxed diplomacy rather than lawyerly sharpshooting. It is often the case that correcting an opponent’s mistake can easily turn into a self-satisfying enterprise. However, we must never forget that the goal of engaging others for the cause of Christ is not to win the argument but to win the person.

Check back next week for the final entry in our Tactics series, Chapter 14: More Sweat, Less Blood.

*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), 176.

[2] Ibid, 179.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 177.

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