Well, I figure I probably stepped on just about everyone’s toes already, I can’t possibly go wrong with speaking my mind on this topic.
For those who haven’t yet noticed this phenomenon, the means for denoting which “era” is being spoken of is changing. The system most of us are familiar with is this: BC and AD.
BC (before Christ), obviously, is used to denote dates prior to the supposed year of the birth of Christ. Likewise, AD (Anno Domini) denotes years since Christ’s birth.
Such a system has been in place for about 1,400 years or so.
However, for a few hundred years now (believe it or not, this began with Christians, not unbelievers!), efforts have been taken to replace BC and AD with BCE and CE.
The eras denoted by both sets of descriptors are the same.
However, as is typical with Christians, change is feared. Yes, something as absolutely trivial as era descriptors is set up as something sacred. Any attempt to “remove Christ from the dates” is seen as an attack on Christianity (again, such a removal was begun centuries ago by Christians). As an example, visit What is this C.E./B.C.E. Business?.
I couldn’t disagree more with such nonsense. My reasons follow.
- Christians are not the guardians of nomenclature.
- His name should be removed from dating schemas to avoid taking His name in vain. Further, using His names & titles in naming periods of time reduces Him to the level of any number of pagan deities — Thor, for example, who we named Thursday after — and Caesars, such as Augustus, who we can thank for the name August.
- “Before Christ” implies that there was a time before Christ. If He is eternal, there can be no “before.” He’s either the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending… or He’s not. Perhaps “before the incarnation of God in the body of a man” would work better. We could start dating ancient events thusly: “It took place in 1943 BIGBM“!
- Likewise, “in the year of our Lord” implies that He was not the Lord prior to this era. Again, this is a denial of His eternal Godhood.
- It’s fairly well established that Jesus was born between 8 and 3 BCE, several years earlier than the BC and AD system would have us to believe. In other words, it promotes a lie, and as Christians we ought to do our part in no longer promoting that misconception. Either we adjust all dates negatively by a few years — making this 1999–2004 CE — or we ditch the old nomenclature and use a more accurate naming scheme.
- One of the best parts about having a widely accepted dating system is that it makes the dissemination of information — including things like appointments — far easier. A great many people may not want to use such an obviously christocentric naming scheme, which is fine. There’s no reason we should be using one anyway!
- Making something an issue of dogmatism when the Scriptures teach no such thing borders on adding to the Word, which is a grievous offense against God.
- We’re commissioned to preach the Gospel, not to quibble over semantics.
And so on. If we really want to be super saints, then why not denote every year as being AM — anno mundi (in the year of the world) — as the Jews do. After all, according to the link given above, good Christians love the Jews. (Aren’t we supposed to love everyone?)
That would put us in the year 6010 AM according to James Ussher’s chronology, though there is (unsurprisingly) some variety in which year is considered the year of Creation.
So go ahead and use BCE and CE with confidence that in doing so, you’re not hurting your faith or Christianity. Rather, you’re subtly stepping out of the way of progress and standardization.
And by not pressing the issue, you’re affording yourself more time to spend with your family, to do good to others, and to preach the Gospel. You rock!