"Reflecting on a lifetime call for Christian unity, Tear Down These Walls is a must-read for anyone who has a ministry call of healing wounds in the body of Christ. This work invites us into the life-giving relationships made possible by a Christ who calls every part of his church to follow him more closely, and in that process to love their fellow Christians more deeply."
--Alexei Laushkin, founder, Kingdom Mission Society
A fascinating and awesome book which--taking start from the narration of the biographical events that led the author to a lifelong commitment to the cause of ecumenism--provides an honest and insightful glance at the issues at stake in the journey to unity. Bridging past and future, personal conversion and ecclesial identity, biblical perspective and confessional sources from various Christian traditions, the book proposes the key concepts of a 'new ecumenism,' such as 'missional ecumenism,' 'cooperative love,' 'relational unity,' and calls for a concrete individual and communal involvement in the ecumenical enterprise that is costly, but possible.
--Teresa Francesca Rossi, associate director, Centro Pro Unione, Rome
"Armstrong lays out his passion for ecumenism and rehearses much of his personal journey from a rigid, doctrinaire stance to an open appreciation of and readiness to work with (and learn from) Christians of all sorts of backgrounds. He invites readers to embrace what he has styled 'missional ecumenism,' an approach to seeking the unity of Christ's followers that is deeply relational and welcoming. This book offers renewed hope for the ecumenical future."
--James R. Payton Jr., professor, McMaster Divinity College
"Through his very rich faith experiences, Armstrong shares keen insights into the crucial work of the ecumenical movement for the twenty-first century. For anyone who wholeheartedly accepts Jesus' words, 'That they may be one,' Tear Down these Walls is an engaging and encouraging read. In a secularized world searching for answers, Christian unity is essential for the new evangelization. Tear Down these Walls provides a hope-filled framework for the task that lies before us: to give witness to the power of unity we have in Christ in overcoming the divisions that have plagued the Christian church for over one thousand years."
--Mitchell T. Rozanski, archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri
"Tear Down the Walls is an ecumenical memoir in which John Armstrong (once again) invites us to participate in costly unity for the love of God and others. As a dear friend, John has helped lead me into a deeper historical, theological, and practical understanding of Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17, and this great work has certainly contributed to that process. Tear Down the Walls will leave you challenged, convicted, and encouraged!"
--Jeff Gokee, executive director, PhoenixONE
"Promoting Christian unity begins with spiritual ecumenism. Armstrong's theological story teaches that Christian unity is the result of grace, not works. The unity Christ wills for his church displays to the world a revelation about the nature of God. 'Missional ecumenism' is grounded in the nature of God expressed as 'relational love.' If Christians abide in God-love, the unity Christ prayed for will make it more possible for the world to believe."
--Thomas A. Baima, provost, University of Saint Mary of the Lake
"This book helps one see how both the character of God (love) and the nature of the church are profoundly interrelated and expressed via relationships. Armstrong's stories and reflections help us make friendship--not buildings and programs--central in church life. These pages will motivate you to devote more time to personal relations with other Christians, for the ecumenical movement is a work of grace rooted in friendships."
--Tom Ryan, national director, Paulist Ecumenical Relations
"John Armstrong's journey is full of integrity and courage. His arguments in this book are completely persuasive and inspiring. In a time when traditional ecumenism seems tired, the call to unity needs fresh voices rooted in action close to the ground to bring new and needed vitality to 'tear down these walls.' Armstrong provides this with rich biblical insight, historical clarity, and theological creativity. His examples of 'new ecumenism' and his insistence on rooting the call to unity in the imperative of the missional church are deeply compelling. This is required reading for anyone who knows that Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17 remains an indisputable and unmet challenge to the church today."
--Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, author of Without Oars: Casting Off into a Life of Pilgrimage
This is a beautifully written book on Christ's call for Christian unity, its title derived from President Reagan's famous and effective challenge regarding the Berlin Wall. John
Armstrong, scholar, pastor, and ardent ecumenist, uses his own unfolding experience to elaborate the gospel foundation for ecumenism. He emphasizes (as does Pope Francis) that the church's mission to the world should be a powerful unifying factor, helping the churches to transcend their differences and conflicts while retaining a healthy diversity. Armstrong calls this "missional ecumenism." His study offers strong and well-grounded biblical, and theological reflections emanating from his own faith journey.
Donald Senior, OP
The Bible Today, September/October 2022