A bit of autobiography: I have always been sceptical of a lot of apologetics. In my younger days, I wondered whether there was any point in it - shouldn't we just proclaim the gospel? Over my time at Uni, I moved to a more appreciative position. I began to see that reasoning and persuading went hand in hand with proclamation in the New Testament. As my thinking on the subject matured a little, I discovered presuppositionalist apologetics, and the semi-presup apologetic of Francis Schaeffer. All of this was very useful to me. I started to bash evidentialism in apologetics as a failure to understand the epistemological effects of sin. More recently, though, I've started to doubt the presup position. Mainly because it is so strong.
The thing about presuppositionalism is that it is an unassailable position. It is a closed circle position. On Christian presuppositions, Christianity is true and reasonable. On other presuppositions, not so. The strength of the position is that it does not expose the gospel to the twisted logic and arationality of unbelief. The presup apologist is clear that there is no neutral ground from which the truth claims of the gospel can be evaluated. And this is surely true - everyone brings their own worldview to the party.
But that doesn't seem to fit with the way God acts in history. He seems to make himself weaker than this - to base his claim to his people's loyalty on actual events in history. Think about the OT. How often do you get a phrase like "then you will know that I am the Lord"? Answer: quite often, directed both at Israel and at others (notably Pharaoh in the Exodus narrative). God stakes his reputation on contingent facts, and expects human beings to be able to discern from those facts that his reputation has been vindicated, regardless of their initial worldview. God exposes himself to the critique of a watching, sinful world - most notably in Christ.
Presup apologetics is too strong for the gospel. I think evidentialist apologetics is also too strong, for different reasons - it tries to make the evidence unambiguous, clear, solid. I always find it unconvincing. Too strong a claim is being made - did people find Jesus unambiguous, at the end of the day?
So am I retreating, setting the clock back to my 'apologetics = bad' days?
Well, no. Because I note that the answer of many in the no apologetics camp is to disengage, to stop trying to communicate, to just repeat the words of the Bible again and again until people are convinced. It is just as much a power play as sophisticated arguments of the apologists.
Is there an apologetics of the cross?