About This Blog

Welcome to Building a Church Without Walls, a website for people who are excited about how Christianity is developing in the 21st Century.

My idea of Building a Church Without Walls is inspired by Ephesians 2:14-15:

“For Christ himself has brought us peace by making Jews and Gentiles one people. With his own body he broke down the wall that separated them and kept them enemies.”

For me the ‘church’ is people from all backgrounds working together, no matter their denominational loyalty, to break down walls of social, political, and spiritual division and to build up something better – a more just and loving world for us to live in.

I think that many, if not most, of our Western church institutions are broken and not up to this task. I think our best hope lies in people realising that we are the church, and reforming or replacing those institutions. This is not just a task for clergy and pastors; it is for all of us.

On this blog I share some of my observations, questions and insights about how Christians are getting on in Building a Church Without Walls.

I am a Reader in Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast. On this blog, I draw on my own academic research, as well as comment on religion and current affairs.

My main interests include:

  • The role of religion in violence and peacebuilding, and its contributions to conflict transformation and social justice
  • Re-form in the Irish churches, especially how the Irish Catholic Church handles the fall-out from the sexual abuse scandals
  • The contribution of the emerging church, especially its critique of North American, British and Northern Irish evangelicalism and how it may prompt wider patterns of reform
  • The role of ecumenism, including questions about its continued relevance for peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland and further afield
  • How Christians in the West can learn from global Christianity, especially the churches in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Previously the tagline for this blog was ‘perspectives on religion and politics.’ This reflected my research and teaching interests, with expertise on the Northern Ireland conflict. I am now writing my political posts on the Slugger O’Toole blog.

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