Andrew Walls

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Andrew Walls

Andrew F. Walls.jpg
Born1928 (age 90–91)
New Milton, England
OccupationScholar of missions and religious studies
Known forHistory of the African church and a pioneer in the academic field of World Christianity
Spouse(s)Doreen (née Harden), Ingrid (née Reneau)
Academic background
Alma materExeter College, Oxford
Doctoral advisorFrank Leslie Cross
Academic work
DisciplineMissiology, religious studies
InstitutionsFourah Bay College, University of Edinburgh, Liverpool Hope University

Andrew Finlay Walls OBE (born 1928) is a British historian of missions, best known for his pioneering studies of the history of the African church and a pioneer in the academic field of World Christianity.[1]


Walls was born in 1928 in New Milton, England. He studied theology at Exeter College, Oxford, receiving a first-class degree in 1948, and completed his graduate studies in the early Church in 1956 under the patristics scholar Frank Leslie Cross.[2]

He taught at Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone (1957–62) and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1962–65). He was later appointed to a post in ecclesiastical history in the University of Aberdeen in 1966, before being the first head of the Department of Religious studies in the University of Aberdeen (1970). He would subsequently move to the University of Edinburgh in 1986. He is currently Professor of the History of Mission at Liverpool Hope University, Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh,[3] Research Professor at Africa International University's Center for World Christianity,[4] and Professor Emeritus at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture.[5]

Walls established the Journal of Religion in Africa in 1967 and Studies in World Christianity in 1995. He also founded the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World (now known as the Centre for the Study of World Christianity), first at the University of Aberdeen in 1982, before moving it to the University of Edinburgh in 1987, a year after he moved to Edinburgh.[6]

With his late wife Doreen Harden, whom he married in 1953, they have two children, Christine and Andrew.[2] After Doreen's death, he married Ingrid Reneau in 2012, a Research Fellow with the Presbyterian Mission Agency.[7]

On 26 November 2018, Walls received an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Edinburgh in recognition of his scholarly contributions to the study of Christianity in Africa and the non-Western world.[8]

World Christianity[edit]

Walls' most significant observations have concerned the geographical trends in Christianity in the 20th and 21st centuries, especially in terms of expansion in Africa, in what is generally termed World Christianity. Historian Lamin Sanneh commented that he was 'one of the few scholars who saw that African Christianity was not just an exotic, curious phenomenon in an obscure part of the world, but that African Christianity might be the shape of things to come'.[9] His pioneering research led the magazine Christianity Today to describe him in 2007 as 'a historian ahead of his time' and 'the most important person you don't know'.[9]

Liverpool Hope University has a research centre named in honour of him, which encourages and supports research in the field of African and Asian Christianity.[10]

Religious studies[edit]

Although he is more well known for his work in Christianity, Walls has also been a significant pioneer in shaping the field of religious studies as it is taught in universities of Scotland.[11] When he first returned to Scotland, Walls taught Ecclesiastical History in the University of Aberdeen in 1966. However, he recognised that the Faculty of Divinity in Aberdeen did not allow for a sufficient global perspective of religion, and founded the Department of Religious studies outside the Faculty of Divinity in 1970.

Significantly, Walls' work in Aberdeen would establish the first department of Religious Studies in Scotland.[11] In the mid-1970s, the department would be known for emphasising work in the study of what was then called 'primal religions'. Moreover, his vision for a global perspective of religion allowed for Walls to attract a number of significant members of staff and students who were interested in religions of the non-Western world. It would also be in this new department that the original Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World was established, before eventually being relocated to the University of Edinburgh in 1987. It has been known as the Centre for the Study of World Christianity since 2009.



  • Walls, Andrew Finlay (1996). The Missionary Movement in Christian History. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1-570-75059-5. OCLC 33948470.
  • ——— (2002). The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission and Appropriation of Faith. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1-570-75373-2. OCLC 47237613.
  • ———; Ross, Cathy (2008). Mission in the Twenty-First Century: exploring the five marks of global mission. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1-570-75773-0. OCLC 173243828.
  • ——— (2017). Crossing Cultural Frontiers: Studies in the History of World Christianity. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1-62698-258-1.


Select chapters and articles[edit]

  • Walls, Andrew Finlay (2015). "An Anthropology of Hope: Africa, Slavery, and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Mission Thinking". International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 39 (4): 225–230. doi:10.1177/239693931503900417.
  • ——— (2004). "Converts or Proselytes? The Crisis over Conversion in the Early Church". International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 28 (1): 2–6. doi:10.1177/239693930402800101.
  • ——— (2005). "The cost of discipleship: the witness of the African church". Word & World. 25 (4): 433–443.
  • ——— (2016). "Eschatology and the Western Missionary Movement". Studies in World Christianity. 24 (3): 182–200.
  • ——— (1959). "Introduction". The First Epistle General of Peter. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Tyndale Press. ISBN 978-0-851-11813-0. OCLC 978540.
  • ——— (2014). "Mission and Migration: The Diaspora Factor in Christian History.". In Chandler H. Im and Amos Yong (ed.). Global Diasporas and Mission. Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series 23. Regnum. p. 19–37. ISBN 978-1498209403.
  • ——— (1967). "Papias and Oral Tradition". Vigiliae Christianae. 21 (3): 137–140. doi:10.1163/157007267X00159.
  • ——— (2016). "The Transmission of Christian Faith: A Reflection.". In Lamin Sanneh and Michael J. McClymond (eds). (ed.). The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity. Wiley Blackwell Companions to Religion. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 685–698, chapter 51. ISBN 978-1405153768.

Full bibliography of works through 2011 can be found in William Burrows, Mark Gornik and Janice McLean (eds) Understanding World Christianity: The Vision and Work of Andrew F. Walls (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2011).


  1. ^ Burrows, William R.; Gornik, Mark R.; McLean, Janice A., eds. (2011). Understanding World Christianity: The Vision and Work of Andrew F. Walls. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
  2. ^ a b Stanley, Brian (October 2001). "Profile of Andrew Walls". Epworth Review. 28 (4): 16–26.
  3. ^ "Academic Staff". University of Edinburgh. 20 March 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Research Professor at the Center for World Christianity of AIU". Africa International University. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Academic Staff". Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture. Retrieved 13 May 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  6. ^ "Frost's Scottish Who's Who". Archived from the original on 16 May 2012.
  7. ^ "Dr. Ingrid Reneau Walls". Archived from the original on 30 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Honorary Doctor of Divinity: Professor Andrew Finlay Walls, OBE, MA, BLitt, DD, FSASco". School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b Stafford, Tim (February 2007). "Historian Ahead of His Time". Christianity Today. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Andrew F. Walls Centre – Liverpool Hope University". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  11. ^ a b Cox, James L.; Sutcliffe, Steven J. (March 2006). "Religious studies in Scotland: A persistent tension with divinity". Religion. 36 (1): 1–28. doi:10.1016/j.religion.2005.12.001.

External links[edit]

External video
Life and revelations in Sierra Leone (2013)
What is World Christianity? (2016)