It is appropriate in this season to point out that the world has good, objective reasons for making 0 CE the turning point in history. Now when we ask, “What exactly happened in Israel about 2019 years ago?”, many worldviews offer completely different answers. Indeed, they zealously disagree on how to even ask the question. Why? Perhaps it is because the authority to explain the past wields tremendous power in shaping the future. This is just as true about ancient events as it is about conflicts of the past century and even the past decade. Nevertheless, only one of these questions is objective:
- Gnosticism’s Question : “What secret knowledge about Jesus of Nazareth did various teachers say that God revealed to them through angels or visions?” Gnostics presupposed that the mystical revelations about history were true.
- Islam’s Question : “What did the prophet Muhammad say that the angel Gabriel revealed to him about Jesus of Nazareth, starting in the year 622 CE?” (The current Islamic year is 1441, for they started counting in 622 CE and then have a lunar calendar with 354 or 355 days in a year.) Muslims presuppose that the mystical revelations about history true.
- Mormonism’s Question : “What did the prophet Joseph Smith say that the angel Moroni revealed to him about Jesus of Nazareth, starting in the year 1823 CE?” Mormons presuppose that the mystical revelations about history are true.
- Hinduism’s question : “What can we learn from Jesus of Nazareth about living edifying, uplifting, and fruitful lives?” (There are several Hindu calendars, but the primary ones start counting in the year 78 CE. The origin of these calendars is highly controversial.) Although they admire Jesus and his teachings they presuppose that the Biblical account of Christ cannot be accurate, for they believe that there are many gods.
- Buddhism’s question : “What can we learn from Jesus of Nazareth about compassionate living?” (The current year for Theravada Buddhism is 2562, for they started counting in 544 BCE, when Siddhārtha Gautama attained nirvana.) Although they admire Jesus and his teachings, they presuppose that the Biblical account of Christ cannot be accurate, for they say that there is no one personal God.
- Naturalism’s question : “What fits within the naturalistic worldview?” They presuppose materialism, so accounts of the miraculous are unacceptable.
- Christianity’s question : “What did the eyewitnesses claim to see and hear?” (Luke 1:1-4; 7:22-23; John 18:20; Acts 4:20; 1 John 1:1-3; 2 Peter 1:16; etc.)
How do we view history? On what basis to we believe historical claims?