Jesus is a hard guy to get away from… And the funny thing is that by trying to ignore Him, the cultural and academic elite only highlight their futile struggle.
I was recently reading an historical account of World War II, in which the author made repeated reference not to “1943” but “1943 CE.” The designation “CE,” of course, stands for “Common Era” – an Age of Enlightenment creation by German and French academicians eager to get Jesus out of their day. The author wanted his readers to know he was an academic, and not some Jesus guy.
Let me step back.
There is nothing biblical about using “A.D.” – Anno Domino, Latin for Year of the Lord – on the calendar. After all, we don’t equate calling the first month of the year “January” with worship of the Roman god Janus. Even today the Hebrew calendar, uses Anno Mundi – the year of the world – and references back to what they believe to be the first day of Creation. By their reckoning, this isn’t 2023, but rather 5783.
But the centrality of Christianity in Western Civilization has meant that the dating system developed some 500 years after the life of Jesus has taken sway. Our annual dating is based on imprecise work done some two hundred years earlier, when a monk named Dionysius attempted to determine how many years people had been celebrating Easter.
So while Jesus was most likely born three to seven years before 1 A.D., the calendar itself was nonetheless an honest attempt to set the dating of current events in relation to the birth of the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Whether it is the reign of a monarch or the creation of the world, every culture has set dates based on their perception of significant events. Our own Constitution notes that it was completed on Sept. 17th “in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.”
That is what makes the use of “CE” and “BCE” so laughable. Removing Christ from the dating – literally, in the case of “Before Christ,” isn’t the power-move the secularists believe it to be. At best, the vaguely confusing “common era” is an exercise in futility.
Whether one likes the existence of gravity or not, we are nonetheless held to the ground by it. However diligently we ignore its existence, there it remains. The use of “common era” is similarly an attempt to ignore the most pivotal event in human history… even while still using it as such.
The euphemism itself – “common” – demands questions. What is common about the era? Like it or not, the arrival of Christ. What were the years counting down toward prior to this “common era”? Inconveniently, the arrival of Christ.
Shun Him, ignore Him, mock Him… None of it is new to Him. Like the proverbial elephant in the room, the reality of Jesus is not impacted by our common dismissal of Him.
As was written by the Prophet Isaiah and the Apostle Paul, if not now then most definitely in the coming era “every knee shall bow… and every tongue shall confess.” In that day we will all, in common, recognize Him as Lord.