In recent decades Christian spirituality, spiritual formation, and spiritual theology have become important concepts in the global evangelical community. Consequently, an accessible and reliable academic resource is needed on these topics—one that will offer a discerning orientation to the wealth of ecumenical resources available while still highlighting the distinct heritage and affirming the core grace-centered values of classic evangelical spirituality.
The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality reflects an overarching interpretive framework for evangelical spiritual formation: a holistic and grace-filled spirituality that encompasses relational (connecting), transformational (becoming), and vocational (doing) dynamics. At the same time, contributors respectfully acknowledge the differences between Reformed, Holiness, and Pentecostal paradigms of the spiritual life. And, by bringing together writers from around the world who share a common orthodoxy, this reference work is truly global and international in both its topical scope and contributors.
Entries give appropriate attention to concepts, concerns, and formative figures in the evangelical tradition of spirituality that other reference works neglect. They offer a discerning orientation to the wealth of ecumenical resources available, exploring the similarities and differences between Christianity and alternate spiritualities without lapsing into relativism. The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is a resource that covers a wide range of topics relating to Christian spirituality and is biblically engaged, accessible, and relevant for all contemporary Christians.
“Christian spirituality is the domain of lived Christian experience. It is about living all of life—not just some esoteric portion of it—before God, through Christ, in the transforming and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. And precisely because this lived experience of the Christian is the existential heart of the faith, its careful examination and nurture are vitally important.” (Page 27)
“Fourth, God not only must reveal himself for people to know him, but God by his Holy Spirit must do a work in the human heart for people even to ‘receive’ his Word and work.” (Page 35)
“Second, the Scriptures being the authoritative divine interpretation of certain realities gives a centrality and importance to studying the Bible above all other things in understanding the spiritual life.” (Page 34)
“It is not fundamentally from human intuition or self-discovery that we learn of true spirituality, but (1) in the light of God’s revelation in Scripture, which provides an authoritative interpretation of the spiritual life (‘In your light we see light,’ Ps. 36:9), and (2) on account of the Spirit opening within believers the ‘mind of Christ’ by which we receive his revelation (1 Cor. 2:16).” (Page 35)
“If spirituality is understood broadly as experiencing God’s activity and presence, then the New Testament writers uniformly understand spirituality to be Messiah-shaped. That is, New Testament spirituality centers on Jesus Christ, as revealer of God and redeemer of those who trust in him, and as the human expression of full covenant loyalty.” (Page 46)
The very publication of this work speaks to the contemporary interest in spirituality. So much spirituality, however, is uninformed, shallow, and vague. All the more reason to welcome this important dictionary. It is impressive in its scope, wide in what is included, and deep in the intent to strengthen life in the Spirit of Christ. Scan a few entries, and it will be evident what a valuable resource this can be.
—Leighton Ford, president, Leighton Ford Ministries
The combination of substantial reflective essays on major themes in Christian spirituality and sharply focused articles on major figures and topics provides a rich mixture of insight, information, and inspiration. ‘Spirituality’ can be a subject that wafts into the ether, but in this broadly ecumenical and very well-balanced work, it is presented with real substance and genuine edification.
—Mark A. Noll, professor of history, University of Notre Dame
The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is a well-researched, comprehensive study of Christian spirituality from a broad evangelical perspective. . . . I give the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality my highest recommendation.
—Richard J. Foster, professor of theology, Friends University
Engaging, comprehensive, informative, broad in perspective. Who thinks it is fun to read a dictionary? This one is! This is a dictionary to be read for enjoyment as well as information. The essays and articles are freshly written, thorough but concise. The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality reflects the deep respect and appreciation the writers have for their topics. Reading this dictionary is like taking a finely tuned course in the topics included. . . . I was fascinated and drawn from article to article . . . appreciating the fine scholarship, depth of research reflected, and careful writing that make the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality an excellent resource.
—Jeannette A. Bakke, faculty associate, Bethel Theological Seminary
This is not the only dictionary about Christian spirituality in town. There are many around and some of them are very good. But this one, with its global interests and spiritual zeal, has an energy and breadth that lifts it into a new league. Moreover, as well as making a very good job of expanding our knowledge of Christian spirituality and all the sources that have shaped it, this important volume steers the reader through the people, movements, and issues with a reliable, generous, and grace-focused wisdom. It is a source not just of information about Christian spirituality but of real formation, through the Spirit, in the life of Christ.
—Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of coventry, Church of England
The more I read in the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, the more I wanted to read more! The initial essays provide a thoroughly excellent foundation, and the alphabetized entries that follow leave us intrigued to read others. I highly recommend this dictionary for all Christians, especially those who want to grow in their active practices of various spiritual disciplines, their devoted love for God and neighbor, and their fervent thanksgiving for global saints and the myriad ways God works in the world.
—Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College
Scholarship with a soul! This is a book like no other—scholarly breadth with spiritual depth in a dictionary. So many have written so much about Christian spirituality that it is difficult to connect the parts. Here is a readable resource that brings everything together. I kept turning the pages . . . not to read through, but to explore. Every article led me to another journey on a different page.
—Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals
The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is a remarkable balance of broad, integrative essays and more than 700 succinct, informative dictionary entries. It combines a wide survey of the great movements in Christian spirituality while giving attention to the main contributors from all parts of the globe, past and present. The contributors include some of the great heavyweights of the movement while also incorporating significant voices from a variety of related disciplines and perspectives. The work is a must-have resource for every able scholar, pastor, and follower of Jesus.
—Gayle D. Beebe, president, Westmont College
Glen G. Scorgie (PhD, St. Andrews) is a professor of theology at Bethel Seminary San Diego since 1996. Previously, he was an academic vice-president of North American Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is a past president of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association. For the past decade he has also been involved in the ministries of Chinese Bible Church of San Diego, and lectures regularly in Asia.