One of the most common forms of moral relativism is historicism, the notion that right and wrong are determined by the era in which one lives.
Though few could define the term or explain its philosophic lineage, historicism rears its head each time we dismiss a moral qualm merely because it is thought to be old fashioned or out of date.
History, in the view of certain post-Machiavellian minds, is the progress humanity makes in tearing down everything that thwarts its will. A firm belief that the world will give us precisely what we want, and nothing else, once we have eliminated all vestiges of order outside our own fevered brains, is an example of the madness lurking beneath the mask of modern enlightenment.
Logically, historicism is easy to explode. Progress is impossible to define without standards transcending time and place. Yet the force of this ideology is as inescapable as its vacuity. Those who resist a ceaseless series of revolutions in the direction of moral laxity and bureaucratic despotism are threatened with social exclusion or shaming. Few stick to their guns.
Wisdom teaches us a different way of “knowing the season.” No matter what our calendar or clock may say, “it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep,” to “cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:11-12).
The principles defining good and evil are unchanging and ineradicable in the human heart. We can tune them out, but God and nature are never intimidated into terminating their transmission.
History truly favors those who chart the course of life by their unceasing light.
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