The Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (DCS) is an evangelical reference work for the emerging field of study that analyzes the Christian life (or “Christian formation” or “Christian spirituality”) from a globalist and ecumenical perspective.
“Broad” and “global” are fitting descriptors both for DCS’ intended audience and for its international cast of contributors. The latter is primarily comprised of Protestant scholars from a wide array of Protestant traditions. Contributions from Roman Catholic scholars, Eastern Orthodox scholars, “and even a few [scholars] who are not going to church at all right now” also appear throughout the volume, albeit less frequently (p. 11).
DCS is arranged into two parts. The first contains thirty-four short essays on propaedeutic and substantive topics such as:
- the nature of “Christian spirituality,”
- various methodological approaches to the field,
- Old-Testament and New-Testament foundations for the field,
- the history of the field,
- surveys of Christian spirituality throughout various times and places in the history of Christianity,
- liturgy and spirituality,
- spirituality and interfaith relationships,
- spirituality and missions,
- and the future of Christian spirituality.
Each of the essays conclude with a bibliography of citations and suggestions for further reading.
Part two is a dictionary with nearly 700 concise entries that cover all manner of people, places, events, and ideas that have influenced Christian spirituality from its inception in the New Testament era through its contemporary global expression. Including everything from African Christian Spirituality and Alfred the Great to Zen and Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, the dictionary’s wide scope is impressive even if its entries are modest and brief. Interested students will appreciate the suggestions for further reading that are appended to each entry.
In sum, anyone who is seeking a broadly-evangelical, contemporary introduction to the vast field of contemporary Christian spirituality that is
- biblically engaged,
- accessible and relevant to contemporary Christian practitioners,
- generous in its regard for the full range of Christian traditions of spirituality,
- attentive to otherwise neglected topics, concerns, and formative figures in the evangelical tradition of spirituality,
- global and international in both topical scope and contributors,
- reflective of interdisciplinary engagement with related fields of inquiry,
- and reasonably priced,
will benefit heartily from this fine reference work (list quoted from “Preface,” p. 8).