Denying the greatest event in the history of the world
First published in CMI Extra, CMI-US, December 2022
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed a quiet revolution taking place in most Western countries. For centuries, our calendar was based around the birth of Christ. The years before His birth were designated as BC (before Christ) and the years after His birth were designated AD (Latin meaning “Anno Domini” for “In the year of the Lord”).
But today, academics have adopted an alternative terminology. BC is instead BCE (before the Common Era), and AD is now CE (Common Era). The change started innocently enough. It goes back to the great creationist astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1650): annus aerae nostrae vulgaris (year of our vulgar [i.e. common] era) to distinguish it from the regnal year: the number of years of a monarch’s reign. Some English publications in the 18th and 19th centuries used “Vulgar Era” or “Common Era” to reinforce the fact that our calendar centered on Christ. Another reason is that Christ was likely born several years “BC”,1 so “Common Era” was used for normal dates while distinguishing it from the true year of birth.2 Then some 19th-century Jewish history books used the term, sometimes said to stand for “Current Era” or even “Christian Era”. Some non-Christians today even object to BCE/CE as colonialist imposition, because it still implies that the calendar depends on Christ’s birth.
In the last half century or so, the change has been pushed in the halls of academia. Academics know that students and children are more likely to be turned away from the beliefs and traditions of the past, including their parents’ views, if they can erase Christian thinking from their teaching and make materialism look ‘scientific’. There is absolutely no question that the dropping of BC was to sideline Christian belief in the name of accommodating non-Christian views and political correctness.
Some might argue that in a ‘pluralist society’ we should accommodate all views. However, the fact that some historians are pushing this change is quite staggering because BCE and CE are used in exactly the same way that BC and AD are used—that was Kepler’s point! It is based upon the Gregorian Calendar which uses the nominated first year as being from the birth of Christ. If our modern calendars are historically based, then today’s historians who are supposed to engage in truth and present the facts of history, are in some ways denying it and even rewriting it. So much for being scholarly!
“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future!”
You may recognize this quote. Adolf Hitler said it in a speech at a Reichsparteitag (“Reich Party Day” = Nazi rally) in 1935.3 You might think the analogy is a bit extreme, but it was a stark reminder of Hitler’s ambitions to shape the thoughts of future generations. This is one of the reasons he started the Hitler Youth Program. But it is similar to what is taking place in public institutions today. Indeed, at CMI we’ve continually pointed out the stark facts about youth leaving the church. Our FALLOUT4 campus survey showed that believing in evolution was the major reason for youth abandoning the faith of their parents.
And it is not made easier by compromising churches that host organizations like Biologos, Reasons to Believe, and apologists like William Lane Craig, etc. who are only too ready to diminish the facts of biblical history and make them subservient to the alleged facts of ‘science’ (i.e. evolution and/or billions of years). In the UK, even Religious Education classes have been forced to abandon BC and AD in favor of the more politically correct terms. The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Lord Carey, noted:
“‘I have never met a Muslim or Jewish leader who is offended by the Gregorian calendar’ while leading Imam Ibrahim Mogra said: ‘I don’t believe it causes Muslims offence’. A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: ‘I don’t think anyone would mind if in mainstream schools they use BC and AD.’” 5
So much for political correctness then!
Thus, one can see that this is not really an issue for non-Christians. The birth of Christ and His existence cannot be disputed—there is the evidence from the Bible, and also from other sources.6 Will Christmas be next? Don’t let it be so. As we approach the Advent, I encourage us all to be on the front foot in this battle. There has never been a better time to give a gift with real meaning, and which has a real basis in history unlike the modern BCE and CE attempts to deny it. Creation ministry and resources do make a difference. As you ponder your own call to be a faithful witness, I will leave you with a few testimonies from the many thousands that we have received.
“CMI and its various ministries were critical in clarifying a very confusing world for me. Tragedies that I always pondered the meaning and source of—such as the Holocaust in Nazi Germany—I never received correct answers from public school, but thanks to CMI I was able to find them. CMI has already changed my life for the better, and might yet prove to be a continual source of blessings. I am very grateful for this ministry.”—Erik M.
“I can’t imagine life or ministry without Creation.com! God bless you in all you do! Thank you for so clearly and accurately proclaiming the truth.”—Gayle T.
“I love this ministry—it genuinely is so underrated and not enough Christians (let alone pre-believers) know about it. God led me to CMI through my mum during an angsty time in my high school life, where I was seriously drifting from my faith due to personal strife. Refuting Compromise by Dr Jonathan Sarfati is the name of the first book I bought from a CMI church stall, and it has really set the tone for my personal growth. I’m so glad that at a time when I believed Christianity should conform to ‘science’, that I was proven so wrong.”—Danie K.
Making a difference
Be encouraged. Our combined efforts are not in vain. Making a difference may not include changing governments or changing the culture. Scripture says there is rejoicing in Heaven when one person comes to know Jesus. Our Christian call is to help change individual lives for Christ. And this is something we can all be a part of.
References and notes
- The date was calculated by the monk Dionysius Exiguus (“Dennis the Short”) in AD 525, then widely promoted by the Venerable Bede in 730. But Dionysius’ dates were most likely off by a few years. Return to text.
- E.g. Cornish clergyman and historian Humphrey Prideaux (1648–1724) wrote: “I have made uſe of no other æra, but that of the years before Chriſt, reckoning it back from the vulgar æra of Chriſt’s incarnation, nor from the true time of it.” The Old and New Testament connected in the History of the Jews and Neighbouring Nations, 1715–17. Return to text.
- Education in the Hitler Youth Movement, nazismproject.weebly.com, accessed May 2022. Return to text.
- See creation.com/fallout. Return to text.
- Petre, J. and Hastings, C., Now schools are ditching AD and BC in RE lessons to avoid offending non-Christians… but critics blast the ‘capitulation to political correctness’, dailymail.co.uk, 30 Sept 2017. Return to text.
- See our book Christianity for Skeptics, available from creation.com. Return to text.