Sunday, October 09, 2011

Book Review: Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011)

Spiritual formation and spirituality have increasingly taken center stage in the evangelical world. In recent years, there has been a more concerted effort to ground spirituality in the worlds of biblical truth as well as generating cultural and historical awareness. The recently published Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (Zondervan, 2011), edited by Glen S. Scorgie seems to continue this trend.

The work is divided into two sections, a series of 34 “integrative perspective” essays and an alphabetical section of around 700 entries. The logic of this division is clear: to provide a reference work for the work of Christian spirituality that is both concise and comprehensive. These two sections perform this task well. Depending on one’s need, each of these sections can fit a variety of situations.

The authors represent many well known authors in the field of Christian spirituality (e.g., James Houston, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, Ruth Haley Barton, etc.) as well as theology (e.g., J.I. Packer, Clark Pinnock) and Christian history (Justo Gonzalez) and Biblical studies (e.g., Mark Strauss, David M. Howard Jr.). This wide selection of authors provides the work the grounding and breadth it seeks to convey.

My only criticism of the work is the failure to provide an index of any kind. The value of the work would have been significantly increased had there been indices that catalogued biblical, author and subject references. Though one can easily scan the table of contents to navigate the integrative essays, there is no such tool for the alphabetical section.

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