This seems trivial. But it is not. And if it was just Mark, it would be no big deal. But it has become common across the Christian Faith, and across all traditions: Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. This particular example seems small, but it points to the larger problem. And what is this trivial little example? Why, this:
Just as the prophets had warned, Judah and the monarchy descended from David were smashed to atoms in punishment for their infidelity to God, starting around 597 BCE. But that was not the end of the story, because God also promised they would be restored to their homeland.From this piece. The piece itself isn't bad, and I almost commented, hoping to encourage Mark to stick to these subjects, rather than the world of politics that has polluted his media pages. But what's the big deal? Read it again. What jumps out at you?
What jumped out of me was B.C.E. Now that's a designation that I believe came from Jewish scholars many moons ago. It means 'Before Common Era' (or, for AD, it's changed to CE, Common Era). They simply weren't going to use the designated BC/AD across the Western/Christian world. No references to Jesus for them, they picked their own designation. It's not really intellectually honest, since the reference point is still Jesus. But if it makes them happy, so be it. By the late 80s, however, following the increased sensitivities emerging in America due to the sins of the past where slavery or the Holocaust are concerned, there was a growing push to rethink the very existence of this Christian society that had sinned so much.
Soon, by the late 80s and early 90s, it was becoming common for scholars across the board to drop BC/AD and go to BCE/CE. By the mid 90s, some liberal Christians were following suit. By the early 00s, you began having more than just hard line liberal Christians using BCE/CE, especially in academic works that were aimed at mixed audiences.
But Mark is a Catholic apologist publishing this piece in a Catholic publication for Catholic audiences. He's not alone. I caught this being used about a year ago in a small book about the history of the Bible. A book written for Christians within a Christian context, deliberately avoiding calendar designations that refer to Christ.
That's surrender folks. That's giving up. That's literally saying we'll hide it under all the bushels you want. Those who demand such self-censorship from Christians, of course, have no problem proclaiming their own beliefs, their faith, their values, their morals, their demands on others. Christians alone are told to put Jesus in the closet and keep Him there. And more and more, Christians are complying with the demand.
As long as that attitude continues, don't expect the Church to stand up against the tidal winds that will define much of the coming storm. If we can't even use a traditional dating mechanism that references Jesus because we fear offending people who have no care about offending us, then do we think we'll stand when actual persecution comes?
This comes from a comment written on Rod Dreher's website:
Some sort of sub rosa maintenance of your Christian values and world view will simply not be possible in the long term, any more than the worshipers of Zeus could function as Rome became more and more overtly Christianized. When all the apparatus of the modern techno-information state is applied against you (and more importantly your children), nothing will be able to withstand such pressure. And it needn’t be camps and gulags. In fact, it almost certainly won’t be so over. It’ll be something far more insidious, subtle, and effective. A constant pressure, an inevitable squeezing, making life more and more difficult, more and more impossible, unless one stops offering pinches of incense to the old gods, and embraces the new.Persecution? You will beg for something as sweet as persecution.Christians will pray for mere persecution once the crap hits the fan. Because what will destroy the faithful is the same thing that has been destroying it for generations. Not gulags or death camps or gladiatorial arenas. But the steady drumbeat of '!Aw you meanies, don't be too Christian, that's offensive or we won't like you!' And it's been working like a charm.
Right now, we don't dare even say Before Christ in terms of a referenced date. My money is on the persecutors on this one. It will be generations, and likely a mere seed of the billions who call themselves Christians today, to replant the Faith and watch it begin again.