I think the analogy was quite helpful. You could turn it around several ways.
"Can you see things from my point of view? What if I found out your best friend <fill in the blank> was convicted of fraud/ is an axe murderer/is a prison pen pal?"
"I believe a strong organization can stand up to critical scrutiny. Is any question an attack? Might it make you a better Christian to search these things out for yourself so that you "have an answer for any man"?
"OK, I won't attack your best friend. I'll keep it friendly. But is it OK if I ask friendly questions about what you believe, as a good friend?"