It is the 26th of July 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The longest word in the English language?
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis- “a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles, specifically from a volcano”
If you are of a certain age you might instantly think of:
Which is being against those who want to disestablish the church.
Which you can only do if you have an established church that some people don’t want to be established anymore, but you oppose them. And this was a real, concrete thing in Ireland about 150 years ago.
It was on this, the 26th of July in 1869 that Royal Assent was given to the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.
This was a big deal. Let me explain:
As an American Christian, the idea of an “established” church seems crazy. Like, the federal government has an official stance on baptism or the Lord’s Supper. But in the history of the church- especially in the west- an established church has been the norm. And people have liked it that way. Why?
1. It makes administration and control much easier when the authority wields both temporal and divine authority.
2. It doesn’t cause an unnatural distinction between the spiritual and physical
3. The church has a greater say in making laws
4. You get tithes from everybody as a form of tax
And of course, it was the English church that we might think of as “established” insofar as the Constitution of the United States reminds us that over here the government is expressly prohibited from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion.”
But those Englishmen lived in their established church. And they loved it, even more, when they could establish their church in its various satellites around the globe. Like in the land of their favorite red-headed stepchildren- the Irish.
No offense to the English, but Ireland isn’t some backward pagan land without Christians. This is the land of saints and scholars. The monks about whom one guy once wrote a book claiming that they “saved civilization”.
We’ve seen some of the Catholic-Protestant tensions in Ireland before, and much of this came out of the reforms of PM Gladstone who wanted Home Rule and Disestablishment from the church of England.
The Irish had spoken of a “Protestant Ascendency” overland with a proud Christian tradition. This was over with the disestablishment of the church of England and the restoration of an independent Church of Ireland. This church would attempt to continue the ancient Irish Christian tradition while embracing many aspects of the English reformation.
It was last year, pre-pandemic, that the Church of Ireland got together to celebrate 150 years of disestablishment. We remember the emancipation of the Church of Ireland 151 years ago, all of this was predicated on the Irish Church Act which received Royal assent on this, the 26th of July in 1869.
The last word for today comes from the Gospel of Matthew- Peter has just confessed that Jesus was the Messiah and Jesus responds:
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 26th of July 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who eats his Lucky Charms with Guinness, He is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man with better teeth than Shane MacGowan Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.