Andrew Walker… ahead of the game
Posted on 25 May 2011, 3:32
I spent today at King’s College, London, at a one-day conference in honour of my old friend and partner in crime, Professor Andrew Walker. In the 1990s, Andrew and I jointly edited Leading Light, the journal of the CS Lewis Centre – which was not, I hasten to add, a fan club for Aslan, but an organisation launched by Andrew for studying and promoting ‘gospel and culture’ issues.
Andrew has just retired from King’s and was paid handsome tribute by his friends and colleagues, including Alister McGrath, Pete Ward, Martyn Percy, Luke Bretherton and Billy Abraham.
Martyn Percy focused on Andrew’s book from 1985, Restoring the Kingdom, which gave a brilliant guided tour of the House Church Movement, as it was then known. The book has Andrew’s characteristic blend of journalistic detail (he interviewed many of the big cheeses in the individual House Churches) and penetrating anaysis. He was the son of a Pentecostal household and so he was sympathetic to the movement, but was also only too aware of the history of how revivalism plays out.
I was also fascinated by the paper given by Pete Ward, the author of Liquid Church and Gods Behaving Badly. Part of what he said delved into the relationship between Andrew’s work and that of Lesslie Newbigin, the godfather of the gospel and culture movement. Pete said that in this (and other areas) Andrew was ahead of the game…
While his academic interests neatly coincided with those of Lesslie Newbigin I would argue that Andrew was more attuned to contemporary culture and the social reality of the Church and as a result his work, though less well known, was actually more useful to those who were buying into a missiological vision for the Church…
Andrew was deeply appreciative of Newbigin but it is my sense that he was too much of a sociologist to see philosophy as the arena in which to do battle. In Telling the Story, Andrew showed how theological ideas are situated in communities and communicative practices. He was one of the first to put his finger on the way that religious faith and ecclesial cultures arose from innovations in media.
Andrew has written and edited a large number of books. One of his great gifts is his enthusiasm in bringing people together to work on projects, and so his multi-author books are really worth reading alongside his solo works. Here’s my recommended Walker booklist…
Restoring the Kingdom (1985)
Different Gospels (1998)
Telling the Story (1996)
Living Orthodoxy (1996)
Remembering our Future (2007)