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“In a time when traditional ecumenism seems tired, the call to unity needs fresh voices rooted in action close to the ground.”

“John is issuing a challenge to reimagine our Lord’s yet-to-be-fulfilled prayer in John 17, i.e., to see church as a spiritual-relational community rather than an organizational entity.”

Tear Down These Walls:
Following Jesus Into Deeper Unity

John H. Armstrong, Author
Foreword by Richard W. McDaniel

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (John 17:20-21, NLT).

For most Christians these words of Jesus seem like an unreachable ideal. Or they promise spiritual unity without a visible demonstration between real people. Some even read these words with a sense of fear seeing this text used for a compromise agenda. How should we understand this prayer offered for all who follow Jesus?

What if Jesus really intended for the world to “believe” the gospel on the basis of looking at Christians who live deep unity in a shared relationship with him? What if there is way of understanding what Jesus desired so that we can begin anew to tear down the many walls of division that keep the world from seeing God’s love in us? Is our oneness much bigger and deeper than we could imagine? 

John Armstrong has devoted three decades to the work of Christian unity. His story and ministry have encouraged many around the world and now they are reflected in this memoir of a life devoted to unity. 

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Author

John H. Armstrong is the founder of The Initiative, a community of Christians from many backgrounds who walk together in a covenant with Jesus and his followers so that the love of Jesus might exceed all divisions. He is the author/editor of fifteen books and a minister of Word and sacrament in the Reformed Church in America.

“Walls separate. Bridges unite. John H. Armstrong is a bridge builder. Following in the footsteps of the great missionary statesman John R. Mott, he appeals for churches, despite differences, to cooperate in a common cause—missional ecumenism.”
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Use Promo code UNITY for 40% discount

What People are Saying…

It only takes a few pages (maybe only paragraphs) to determine whether this is a book you eagerly want to read or if this is a book you simply need to read.

Tear Down These Walls is wonderfully bothersome whether you are hungry for a grander, more glorious unity of the Church, or you know it is time to review and revise barriers and boundaries robbing you of the fullness of the Body of Christ.

John is issuing a call to all who believe-in/follow-after Jesus. A challenge to reimagine our Lord’s yet-to-be-fulfilled prayer in John 17. To see “church” as a spiritual-relational community rather than an organizational entity. To recognize, and declare to a radically and rapidly changing culture, that “Christian” applies to everyone who has authentic faith in the One of God, even those with doctrinal or political differences. 

Our need to reimagine Christianity begins not with new methods nor with a new slant on our message but with a fresh experience and a culturally clear explanation of Christianity. Elevating Christ, Truth-incarnate, above text, theology, tradition – Christ, the hope of glory.

Brick-by-brick. Prayer-by-prayer. Relationship-by-relationship.

Phil Miglioratti, The Reimagine.Network

I have not done as good of a job as I wished I would have of promoting a previous book of my friend John Armstrong, but I will admit — pushing a book called Your Church Is Too Small was hard. Especially since it was decidedly not about church growth or dissing small congregations: it would have been more prosaic, but it should have been called “Your View of the Church Is Too Small: Why Being More Ecumenical and Inclusive is Biblically Faithful and a Vital Part of Your Christian Discipleship and Our Mission in the World.” Or something like that.

I’ve told a bit of John’s story before, so you may recall that he was a pretty conservative, sectarianly Reformed revival preacher who cited great Puritans and fretted about the purity of the evangelical subculture. He was (and remains) a great communicator and fine preacher and he still longs to honor God by exalting Christ and his saving power. But yet, unlike most church leaders, he takes seriously the great prayer of Jesus Himself (John 17) about unity within the Body of Christ. Indeed, no lesser a Reformed, respected evangelical voice than J.I. Packer decisively set John on a path toward this calling (in the second half of his life) to be an agent of missional ecumenism.

His book Costly Love: The Way to True Unity for All the Followers of Jesus came out in 2017 (intentionally published by a Roman Catholic publisher) and explored the sort of Bible-based, gospel-centered, Sprit-given love that is needed if we are going to manifest the sorts of trans-denominational, ecumenical vision that he insists God desires. It is a great book, a rare work on love. I wish it were better known among us and remains a thoughtful, even profound read.

This long awaiting new rumination on discipleship, mission, and Christ’s call to unity, Tear Down These Walls, is largely drawn from and inspired by the less than best-seller status of the very fine Your Church Is Too Small. That is, it is absolutely not a reprint of that earlier work, although some of the material in that book has found its way in fresh reformulation in this new title. If you were one of the few who purchased that earlier great book you will surely love this one that expands that one with lots of new content, lots of new stories, lots of new insight, lots of new passion; it is more than updated but a fully new treatment. If did not read Your Church Is Too Small then you simply must consider Tear Down These Walls. It is a book full of gospel urgency, Biblical wisdom, and visionary in a way that will be sure to bless you. It is something, as you know, that means a lot to us and we are glad for this “best in class” sort of study.

No matter if you are a conservative evangelical, progressive nondenominational, Black or Latine or Asian, mainline Protestant, Anabaptist or Anglican, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox (or even a Mercersberger!) John knows something about your tradition, your insights, your concerns, your foibles. And you need this book, not only to learn about the Biblical mandate to work for unity, but to understand your own place in God’s choir. Of course, he is not striving for some giant One Big Denomination — duh — but he does inspire us to know the other believers in our own towns, to read widely, to draw on the best insights and gifts of Jesus folk unlike our selves, to long for more coherent worship, shaped by a beautiful orthodoxy. Rev. Armstrong is pleasant and wonderfully curious about so much (I happen to know some of the books he reads and, well, talk about what they call a voracious reader!) Such wide reading makes for good writing, and he has a lot on his heart to share.

You will be, as I have been, immediately engaged by Armstrong’s vivid description of Ronald Reagan’s bold and now historic call to Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down these walls” in the early pages of the new book. As you can guess, it becomes a metaphor for the work we must do if Christ’s church is to illustrate some of the unity He calls us to.

As my friend Alexei Laushkin, of Kingdom Mission Society, put it,

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.

Byron Borger, Hearts and Mind Books

“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.”  John 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.”

Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, author Without Oars: Castieng Off into a Life of Pilgrimage, and General Secretary Emeritus of th Reformed Church in America

Walls separate. Bridges unite. John H. Armstrong is a bridge builder. Following in the footsteps of the great missionary statesman John R. Mott, he appeals for churches, despite differences, to cooperate in a common cause—missional ecumenism. Starting with the premises that “God is Love” and “God loves the world,” Tear Down These Walls is clarion call for believers to love one another and take the gospel of love to a hurting world. This is an essential book, especially in a day when respect for the church is on a steep decline.

R. Alan Streett, PhD, Senior Research Professor of Biblical Theology Criswell College (Dallas, Texas)

“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
order now
What People are Saying…

It only takes a few pages (maybe only paragraphs) to determine whether this is a book you eagerly want to read or if this is a book you simply need to read.

Tear Down These Walls is wonderfully bothersome whether you are hungry for a grander, more glorious unity of the Church, or you know it is time to review and revise barriers and boundaries robbing you of the fullness of the Body of Christ.

John is issuing a call to all who believe-in/follow-after Jesus. A challenge to reimagine our Lord’s yet-to-be-fulfilled prayer in John 17. To see “church” as a spiritual-relational community rather than an organizational entity. To recognize, and declare to a radically and rapidly changing culture, that “Christian” applies to everyone who has authentic faith in the One of God, even those with doctrinal or political differences. 

Our need to reimagine Christianity begins not with new methods nor with a new slant on our message but with a fresh experience and a culturally clear explanation of Christianity. Elevating Christ, Truth-incarnate, above text, theology, tradition – Christ, the hope of glory.

Brick-by-brick. Prayer-by-prayer. Relationship-by-relationship.

Phil Miglioratti, The Reimagine.Network

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I will never share or sell your information.