Tear Down These Walls: Following Jesus into Deeper Unity John Armstrong (Cascade) $23.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $18.40

My friend John Armstrong has devoted three decades or more to the work of Christian unity. His story and ministry have encouraged many around the world and now they are reflected in this study, which includes some of his own story, almost like a theological memoir of a life devoted to unity.

“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).

As John notes, “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?”

The publisher explains:

What if Jesus really intended for the world to “believe” the gospel on the basis of looking at Christians who live in deep unity in a shared relationship with him? What if there is a 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?

I adore this important work, growing out of John’s important work as an evangelical commitment to inter-denominational unity — shaped by a vision to reach the watching world (which he calls “missional ecumenism.”) He is the founder of The Initiative, which is described as 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.

A few who follow BookNotes know that we used to promote his early book on this topic, Your Church is Too Small, which meant, of course, that your idea and experience of the church is often too small. We think of the church as our congregation, our denomination, our tribe. That book formed the basis for this greatly changed and significantly reworked new volume, written with the same heart for the gospel and loyalty to the people of God, where Christ’s church is found. This is inspiring, good stuff, helping us live out in church life the sort of love he wrote about in his excellent 2107 book Costly Love: The Way to True Unity for All the Followers of Jesus.

–Byron Borger. Hearts and Minds Books

Read the review on the Hearts and Minds Books web site.

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