As the pagan Aristophanes points out in the parabasis of his comic play The Clouds, history will be the judge of our generation. With the judgement of posterity Tim Challies compares our contemporary view of such people as Stonewall Jackson with regard to slavery. It’s bad to be so tied to the past that we’re unable to speak to the present, but it’s worse to be so caught up in the present that we destroy our future. We do remember the past for the sake of the future, not for slavish devotion.
But if we know John Chrysostom’s strong rhetoric was effective in his time, even if it got him into trouble with the empress, we may know that today’s world isn’t as different as we sometimes imagine. I tend to be naturally nostalgic, I admit, though I know intellectually that there has never been a golden age to replicate for today. Nevertheless, nostalgia or not, the solutions for the future must draw on the faith of the fathers and the wisdom of the past. It may be that those who keep the old faith are the real progressives.