Friday, 23 October 2015 16:14

From Anno Domini to the Common Era

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From Anno Domini to the Common Era

Thomas Martin

Thomas Martin teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. You may contact Thomas Martin at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Forget public schools' religious wars about intelligent design and evolution, students' religious songs and artwork, after-school Bible clubs, graduation prayers, and gay sensitivity training. The latest fuss involves letters. The staff of Kentucky's education department proposed guidelines this year that would eliminate the conventional designations of years as B.C. ("Before Christ") or A.D. ("Anno Domini," meaning "in the year of the Lord"). The proposed secular substitutes to shun references to the birth of Jesus Christ were B.C.E. ("Before the Common Era") and C.E. ("Common Era"). Several other states have shifted to that nonsectarian style in history curriculums, since it is preferred by Jews and increasingly observed by secular scholars.

After reading this in the local newspaper, I asked a student in my Introduction to Ethics class, for the date. Surprised, [what a simple question] she responded, "September 22, 2006." "That is right," I said, "but is there any more that needs to be added to the date." A puzzled look came over her face, "No, that is the date." I wrote the date on the board, added A.D., and asked the students what that meant. No one knew what the letters represented, although two students thought A.D. stood for "after death," to which I responded, "After the death of whom?" "Christ," they knew. [Apparently, the edict from Kentucky's education department has not permeated the history curriculum in Nebraska-it will only be a matter of time.]

The students are partially right. A.D. does have to do with Christ; however, A.D. does not stand for after death but for Anno Domini, meaning in the year of the Lord, which is marked from the year of Christ's birth. Therefore, it is September 22, 2006 A.D.

In this age of cultural sensitivity and secular, state-run high school education funded by the taxpayers, it is not surprising that somewhere in Kentucky some group or board of culturally sensitive people are worried about the possibility of offending Jews. Then again Christ, himself a Jew, had that effect on the Jews. Imagine a man claiming to be the Messiah of which the prophets spoke. Why it is blasphemy!

The very idea of Anno Domini, of this being the year of the Lord, is a replay of Jesus' trial before Caiphas in which he is charged with being a blasphemer. Here is how it went: Caiphas, after hearing witnesses who claimed that Jesus said, "I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it again in three days," asked:

I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

To which Jesus responded,

Thou hast said; nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

At this point it is easy for Caiphas to judge:

He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, ye have heard his blasphemy.

Now the question for us is, either Jesus is a blasphemer (as Caiphas charged) or he is who he claimed to be--and the apostles professed him to be. This is not a question that ought to be decided by a committee, school board, or "secular scholars." Yet this is exactly who is deciding what is being taught in the public schools without any sense of the implications of what changing the date from Anno Domini to the Common Era means to the freedom Americans hold to be God given.

Jesus' claim is unique. Mohammed did not suggest equality with Allah. Moses was never placed on a par with Yahweh. Nor did Buddha or Confucius ever make assertions of divinity. Not one of these religious figures professed to be the Son of God, who had come to earth to redeem man, destroy death, and be present at the end of human history for the final judgment of the living and the dead.

We are living in an age in which the "secular scholar," for lack of a better term, wants everyone to adhere to his dogma of cultural relativism which claims there are no universal absolute values; however, there are varieties of cultures whose beliefs and values are true for them. So out of respect for people from other cultures in America the date will be changed from Anno Domini to the Common Era. All cultures are entitled to their beliefs and that entitlement ought to be tolerated and appreciated by others in America. Here is an example of the tenets of secular scholars, which come from a group calling itself the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance:

Since only one in three humans on earth is a Christian, some theologians and other authors felt that non-religious, neutral terms like C.E., and B.C.E. would be less offensive to the non-Christian majority. Forcing a Hindu, for example, to use A.D. and B.C. might be seen by some as coercing them to acknowledge the supremacy of the Christian God and of Jesus Christ. Consider the analogous situation in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance. The most recent version of this pledge includes the phrase: "Under God." Imagine what a Wiccan (who believes in a God and a Goddess), or many Buddhists and strong atheists feel when having to recite those words. Consider how a Christian would feel if the pledge read "Under Buddha" or "Under Allah."

We are asked to be sensitive and imagine what a Wiccan, Buddhist, Moslem, or a strong Atheist [as opposed to a lukewarm atheist?] might feel [this being the operative word] when having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. We are not asked to think what a Wiccan, Buddhist, Moslem, or weak or strong atheist thinks when having to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, because the relativist dogma of all truths being relative to the people who hold them leaves no room for a thoughtful discussion of the tenets of religious dogmas.

All truths being equal means there is but one truth: There is no truth. Therefore, why discuss the truths of other cultures that are not true.

Back to the Pledge of Allegiance and the notion of how a Christian would feel when forced to say he believes in "one nation under Buddha" or "one nation under Allah." This analogy does not work for two reasons: first, America is not a nation under Buddha; second, America is not a nation under Allah. This does not mean Buddhists and Moslems are not free to worship in America; it simply means that America is not, nor could it ever have been, a nation founded on the tenets of Buddha, Mohammed, the gods of Hinduism, or the philosophies of the weak or strong atheists.

Man is not made in the image of God for a Buddhist, Moslem, Hindi, or, obviously, a strong or even feeble atheist. A Buddhist does not believe that he has a free will; a Moslem knows all is the will of Allah, a Hindi is lodged in a caste system; and an atheist does not have a soul, free will, or a conscience, as man is only a biological accident ultimately signifying nothing.

It is not as though changing A.D. to C.E. will change the nature of creation or alter what Christ's birth means to mankind. However, acquiescing to the secular scholar will have Christians hearing the cockcrow for the third time along with Peter each day they forsake the Christian era for the Common Era for fear of not being culturally sensitive. Alexander Solzhenitsyn says somewhere, "To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots." What better way to destroy the roots of America than by teaching students in public schools they are living in the Common Era.

There have been other attempts to displace Anno Domini: The movers and shakers of the French Revolution marked the date from the September 22, 1792: 1 Vendemiaire and I of the First French Republic. The Italian Fascists used the standard system along with Roman numerals to denote the number of years since the establishment of the Fascist government in 1922. Therefore, 1934, for example, was Year XII. [The secular scholars and staffers in Kentucky are in good company.]

There is a difference between living in the year of the Lord and living in the Common Era. Living in the year of the Lord means that man's life is not his own; he is living in God's creation and ultimately subject to His will. This is why Christians freely pray, "Thy will be done," as opposed to thinking freedom is permission to be led by their own wills. Furthermore, man entered creation in the image of God and entered time with his fall from grace, in an era known as B.C. [Before Christ], which extends to the redemptive time of Anno Domini with the birth of the Messiah, the savior of mankind. For lack of knowledge or lack of belief, the secular scholar has arbitrarily replaced A.D. with C.E. without having a point of demarcation, e.g., the French Revolution, the establishment of the Fascist government of Italy, or the birth of Christ, with which to mark history.

Living in the Common Era is an appropriate term for a cultural relativist who denies the tenets of every religious dogma. In the Common Era, American students will have to "return" to the pre-American countries of their forefathers who were commoners, ordinary people, without rank or distinction of any kind, lodged beneath lords, knights, and squires.

The secular scholars have chosen well. C.E. is a fitting expression because, as a commoner, man is not made in the image of God, a sacred creature worthy of respect as a god-"what you do to the least of these you do unto me."

In all of this, it is important to remember the party slogan of Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984: "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." Let the staffers at state departments of education and secular scholars rule the present, and we forsake the inherent dignity of man who is meant for God.

So it goes. *

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." --Cicero

Read 1763 times Last modified on Friday, 23 October 2015 21:14
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