I'd like to add my two cents to the interesting discussion by Bob Cargill and Daniel McClellan about whether Christians should abandon the customary "B.C." (Before Christ) and "A.D." (Anno Domini) dating system and adopt the "B.C.E." (Before the Common Era) and "C.E." (Common Era) in widespread use now in the academy.
Anyone who's ever taught or taken a class in biblical studies, much less published a book or article in the field, will have run into this question: Which dating system to use? And why?
With all due respect to Bob and Daniel, I wholeheartedly disagree with the specific proposal that Christians should abandon the B.C./A.D. system for the sake of following "the scientific community."
The primary reason is that "B.C.E." and "C.E." are vacuous: they don't mean anything. What actually is the "common era"? Can anyone actually tell me what is "common" about the years 1-the present? And what was it that happened "before the common era" so as to make it, well, 'un-common'?
It seems to mean the terminological shift is nothing but a rather facile attempt to take a dating system which clearly places the Incarnation at the center of human history and secularize it. But the attempt ultimately fails, since whether you use B.C.E/C.E. or B.C./A.D., the Incarnation is still at the center of the system. There's no other identifiable historical event that marks the transition from one age to the other, whatever one concludes about the chronological controversy regarding exact calendar date of Jesus' birth.
Second, as a Catholic, I actually believe that all human history does revolve around the Incarnation of Christ. While Bob Cargill may be right that the "use of B.C. and A.D." is not "the central identifier of a person as a christian," historically, the confession of faith in the Incarnation stands at the very heart of the Gospel. As 1 Timothy states: "the mystery of our religion" is that "He was manifested in the flesh" (1 Tim 3:16). If others find this confession of faith in the Incarnation offensive, then it seems to me that the consistent thing to do would be to create entirely different system, a secular system of dating that is based on some other event--rather than cloaking a Christocentric calendar in secular clothes.
So, until such a system is created and forced upon me, I will happily continue to use B.C. and A.D., as well as other such unfashionable terms like "Old Testament" and "New Testament," and hope that my respect towards people of different faiths will be judged on other grounds.
P.S. This is, of course, exactly what Bob said members of the Catholic Church would do ;).
As a sidenote, it's also worth pointing out the origin of the linguistic inconsistency in the B.C./A.D. dating system: Have you ever wondered why "B.C." derives from English ("Before Christ") and "A.D." from Latin (Anno Domini)? Pick up an old Catholic Bible, and you'll find no such inconsistency: in bygone days, the designation for the age before Christ was abbreviated "A.M." (Anno Mundi)--that is, "In the Year of the World." In this system, the dating was counted from creation to the Incarnation, following the biblical timeline, in a way similar to orthodox Jewish calendars.