I recently stumbled across the old copy of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity that I swiped from my parents lo these many years ago... I'm considering doing a reread and posting my chapter-by-chapter comments here. Anyway, a web-searching mishap lead me to discover a peculiar blog devoted to an apologist named Cornelius Van Til. According to what I could glean from scanning a few of his devotees'commentaries, his key thesis was more or less as follows: Apologetics screwed up by trying to get non-Christians to meet on neutral ground with a "come, let us reason together" approach, because WE DON'T NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS. Non-Christians are so totally wrong and out of wack with God's truth that there's no point in ceding any ground to them; all apologetic discussions must begin with the assumption that Christianity is true, from which starting point reaching the intended end-point of "Christianity is true" becomes rather a simple matter.
Well, I have nothing to say against his faith in Christianity, but there are any number of problems with that ideology. Isn't the whole point of apologetics to persuade the unpersuaded? Also that basic paradigm probably works just as well to sell Guru Schecky's Tabernacle of Potato Worship as Christianity.
But I didn't want to blow the guy's ideas (Not about God, but about converting the heathen) off without actually sampling his ideas; I know better than to assume that his followers speak for him. I soon found this article, which has a surprisingly different tone from the raised-fist belligerence I found on some Van Til-related websites. He's strikingly humble, even confessional, as he acknowledges that he cannot see any way for him personally to think his way out of Christianity. Van Til doesn't seem to be insisting that anyone accept the accuracy of his faith as a given term; only that we engage his testimony. I'm still not sure that testimony is particularly persuasive to the unpersuaded, and I suspect C. S. Lewis has changed many more minds, but I respect Van Til on the basis of this admittedly hasty glance. Some of his enthusiasts come across as if he had given them permission to disregard and belittle anything that's outside their worldview, but if they'd follow his example I suspect they'd be more humble, more effective, and certainly more Christlike. It's an interesting example of how a good or at least reasonable stance can get lost in the shuffle.