Over at the great Apologetics 315, Donald Johnson has posted a very good piece of advice entitled The Most Common Mistakes when Talking with Skeptics which a Christian may ust to better address or approach his or her skeptical friends. Donald's most basic piece of advice is that the Christian should not immediately launch into a response to the doubts or accusations expressed by his or her skeptical friends about Christianity. Rather, he argues that it is better to ask questions to learn more about the skeptic's own worldview as it deals with matters of religion. In other words, a cold, sterile, logical argument is not nearly as effective as responding to the individual's underlying concerns.
Instead of jumping right in to address some objection or present an argument, Christians would be much better served by asking a few important questions and then listening carefully to the answers.What Donald is suggesting is, at least in part, based on Greg Koukl's "Columbo Tactic" -- a very good tactical approach which Greg has recommended for years at one of my favorite sites, Stand to Reason. Essentially, Greg Koukl says that when you are puzzled about how to respond to a particular claim, you should ask a question. Asking a question allows the Christian to understand better the nature of the objection being offered. In fact, asking a question provides at least three important benefits: it allows the Christian to gain more information that can be used to respond to the person's actual objection, it opens up flaws in the skeptic's worldview, and it can be used to shift the burden of proof to the skeptic.
What Donald Johnson suggests in his post at Apologetics 315 seems to be a bit more of a relational use of the Columbo Tactic. Rather than asking questions to simply learn more from a tactical standpoint, he suggest (even citing Koukl's book) that we use the questions to build a rapport with the person raising the objection.
First, it builds relationship and defuses animosity. As Hugh Hewitt writes: “When you ask a question, you are displaying interest in the person asked. Most people are not queried on many, if any, subjects. Their opinions are not solicited. To ask them is to be remembered fondly as a very interesting and gracious person in your own right.” (In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition, p. 172). Greg Koukl adds “[Questions] invite genial interaction on something the other person cares a lot about: her own ideas.” (Tactics, A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions p. 48)