Daily headlines prove that Christian persecution has reached epidemic proportions, creating a global humanitarian and political crisis, most notably in the Middle East and Africa.
Concurrently, all Christians throughout the world are experiencing another form of persecution. On the surface it is peaceful and silent, but underneath just as deadly as the physical kind sans the torture, beheadings and refugees. This subtle form of Christian persecution is so quiet that Christianity’s 2.4 billion followers are largely unaware that it is even happening. The “persecution” to which I refer comes from pressure by society and popular culture to abandon traditional B.C./A.D. time dating in favor of B.C.E./C.E dating now quickly gaining worldwide acceptance. For those unfamiliar, let’s define all the terms.
B.C. stands for Before Christ and A.D. represents Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of our Lord.”
B.C.E. stands for Before the Common Era, while C.E. means Common Era.
Given my religious background as a Jewish convert to Christianity since 1975, I feel compelled to take a stand against this “time dating persecution,” which is also a de facto war against Christianity and one Christians are slowing losing.
For me, it all started back in 1963 when my 8-year-old ears first heard the historic dating terms B.C.E. and C.E. while attending Hebrew school at our local temple.
After asking my teacher what the initials B.C.E. and C.E. represented, she mouthed the words, but neglected to define “Common Era” itself. I remember wondering why, if this Common Era was so “common,” I had never heard of it – not an unreasonable thought considering that I attended public elementary school where the term “B.C.” was always associated with ancient history – especially dinosaurs and cavemen.
As the 20th century progressed, and throughout my education and adult life experiences, the terms B.C. and A.D. reigned supreme as the demarcation line separating ancient from “modern” history.
Now, 15 years into the 21st century I have begun to notice a vast increase in the use of those old Hebrew school terms B.C.E. and C.E. in museums, online, in print and on television. In fact, while watching the recent Eastertime CNN series, “Finding Jesus,” I noticed the exclusive use of B.C.E./C.E. dating. That show became the impetus for this piece and launched my new mission arguing against Common Era dating.
Besides my husband and myself, I wonder if other Christians who watched “Finding Jesus” appreciated the irony that Common Era dating – the term itself a euphemism to diminish Jesus’ impact on history and all mankind – was the dating system CNN used for a series about Jesus.
There is no doubt I have just offended someone by calling Common Era dating a “euphemism.” That word defined by Merriam-Webster, “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant,” perfectly explains why the traditional historic markers, B.C. and A.D., used since A.D. 525, are being pushed aside for B.C.E. and C.E.
Let’s face it – invoking the name of Jesus “may offend or suggest something unpleasant” when applied to our increasingly secular, politically correct nation and world order.
Back in 1856, when Rabbi Morris Jacob Raphall first introduced B.C.E./C.E. dating in his book, “Post Biblical History of the Jews,” he could not have imagined the impact those simple initials would have in the 21st century.
Raphall’s dating concept – built on the notion that Jews do not believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and thus should not have to count calendar years from before or after his birth – has since been widely adopted throughout the world. Common Era dating is now embraced by such cultural trendsetters as the British Broadcasting Corporation, History Channel, World Almanac, College Board history tests and preferred by the Smithsonian Institution.
Surely Rabbi Raphall and other Jewish academics who fostered Common Era dating in the mid-19th century, would have applauded an impactful speech justifying its use in 1999 by then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan when he said:
“The Christian calendar no longer belongs exclusively to Christians. People of all faiths have taken to using it simply as a matter of convenience. There is so much interaction between people of different faiths and cultures – different civilizations, if you like – that some shared way of reckoning time is a necessity. And so the Christian Era has become the Common Era.”
Global embrace of the “Common Era,” while sounding so innocent, inclusive and non-offensive, is actually a bloodless way to persecute Christians with its goal, the slow diminishment of the entire “Christian Era.” The key element in achieving this goal is negating the historic facts that Jesus Christ so changed and shaped the world that since A.D. 525, human history has been calculated and divided into time before and after his birth.
Exploring this topic is one of my all-time favorite books, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?’ Co-authored by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, this 1994 book details how Jesus impacted the world in ways that we observe and live every day, but most people are unaware that they resulted from Jesus’ works on earth.
For example, Christ’s influence on architecture, art, charity, education, human equality, history, hospitals, literature, music and morality – just to name a few – are greatly diminished when bundled into the phrase “Common Era.”
However, even if Jesus and the works he inspired are demeaned through increased use of Common Era dating, one must still acknowledge that Jesus is the Common Era. If not, fully one-third of all mankind loses its historic Christian roots, and that itself must be considered a form of persecution.
Furthermore, attempts to extinguish the “Christian Era” by substituting the “Common Era” creates a vast knowledge void from which future generations will have much difficulty understanding mankind and the world.
In a small way I experienced that knowledge void as an 8-year-old sitting in a Hebrew school with a teacher who did not bother to explain what was meant by the Common Era.
Fortunately for those who believe, we know that His truth will always prevail and Christ’s spiritual influence on the world will never wane. Meanwhile, Christians must be aware that the secular world and popular culture together are moving full steam ahead promoting Common Era dating. Therefore, Christians must band together to stop this trend. Additionally, Common Era dating must be branded as a form of persecution, albeit subtle – but still threatening. Otherwise B.C. and A.D. dating, like Christians in the Middle East, will slowly be annihilated.
Finally, NBC deserves kudos for currently airing a mini-series called “A.D. The Bible Continues.”
But one wonders if “A.D.” had aired on CNN, would it have been called “C.E.”?