Thanks to the folks over at Seedbed for publishing a piece that I was asked to write on the threat of being on “the wrong side of history.”
You can access that here.
Two brief snippets:
The gist of the “wrong side” argument is that in past centuries, great evils were defended in the name of God and tradition […] There is some truth in this of course. Great wrongs were, and continue to be, defended under the guise of “God’s will” and the oppressive cloak of tradition. Yet the meme is hardly absolute. And in many cases, it is simply wrong.
Here’s [another] problem: If history’s moral judgments are the unjust product of the victors’ power plays, then why trust them? If history is written by “those who have hanged heroes,” then perhaps the “wrong” side is actually closer to being right! Perhaps, as some suggest, justice lies more on history’s underside.
If this is so, then Christians have yet one more reason to discard the moral shaming of the “wrong side” argument.
For in a bit of beautiful irony, we believe that history’s crucified victim is also its great victor. The Lamb who was slain is seated on the throne, and his word is weightier than the shifting sands of public opinion. His verdict (not that of “history”) matters most.
6 thoughts on “Why the “wrong side of history” may be right (sometimes)”
Great article, Josh. I’ve always found the “wrong side of history” argument rather vacuous (at least when used as a rhetorical bludgeon, which I think may be its only purpose…), and another reason (in addition to the excellent ones you offered here) is the incredible epistemological difficulty presented in even understanding what history might say (if anything), its arcs and trends (if any exist outside of of anachronistically assessing them as such) and if the tools of history are even capable of illuminating such things. This difficulty is of course buttressed by how much of what passes for “history” in the popular conception is often mistaken if not flat out wrong in respect to the facts available, naturally intensified by how closely the subject in question approaches the cause or controversy du jour.
I also think your point about how history doesn’t have a necessary movement towards perfection is extremely important, and one which if taken to heart should hopefully help us to have some chronological humility.
Thanks Jason; I agree. Sadly, as you well know, we live at a time in which the most effective arguments are often little more than “rhetorical bludgeons” devoid of any critical analysis. Pathos > logos for the win 🙂