In my reading of contemporary articles, I recently came across a clear example of historicism. This article by Eduardo Eccheveria examined the proclamation from the “Fundamental Text of the German Synodal Way” (Eduardo J. Echeverria, “The Faith Once for All Delivered”, https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2021/03/13/the-faith-once-for-all-delivered/). Dr. Echeverria reported that the text states that revelation is limited to the encounter between a person and God : “The experience is revelatory, and not the content of faith, doctrines, creeds, confessions of faith, catechisms, and the like.” (Ibid.). Thus, anything beyond the encounter with God is not revelation: “St. Paul affirmed that ‘Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.’ (Rom 10:17). What, then, has been revealed by His word? Nothing at all, according to the Text, because there is no revealed data, that is, no propositional revelation, mediating determinate knowledge of God, man, and the world, in other words, no revealed truth.” (Ibid.).
As John Paul II writes, “The fundamental claim of historicism, however, is that the truth of a philosophy is determined on the basis of its appropriateness to a certain period and a certain historical purpose.” (John Paul II, , Section 87). Thus, according to Dr. Echeverria, the above “Fundamental Text” shows an underlying historicism in its isolation of Revelation to the experience of any particular person, denying the capability to communicate Revelation between persons much less across historical periods. This variant of Modernism highlights the cost of absolutizing subjectivity—that Truth can not be communicated beyond a particular person’s consciousness—and exemplifies John Paul II’s point that ”the history of thought becomes little more than an archeological resource useful for illustrating positions once held, but for the most part outmoded and meaningless now.”. This philosophical narrowness limits access to the Truth and any hope for communicating it.
Thus, historicism denies the communication of Wisdom either across the ages or even between persons, since each person’s historical context is not identical. In the end “this form of modernism shows itself incapable of satisfying the demands of truth to which theology is called to respond.” (Ibid.)