Monday, October 10, 2011

Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, just released by Zondervan, is another wonderful addition to their growing line of reference works. General Editor, Glen G. Scorgie of Bethel Seminary San Diego, along with Consulting Editors Simon Chan, Gordon T. Smith, and James D. Smith pulled together over 200 contributors which include most of the top names in the field of Christian spirituality/spiritual formation.

Upon hearing dictionary, individuals usually think of an A to Z list of terms and subjects. Dictionary of Christian Spirituality includes this and so much more. Upon first opening this volume, readers will find the first 240 pages of the book actually consist of 34 chapters which introduces major concepts and provides a brief historical introduction and insights into the future growth of this field. Each chapter in this section titled “Integrative Practice” is written by experts in the field and includes through works cited and further reading suggestions. This section would lend nicely to being used as a textbook for an introduction to Christian Spirituality class.

The remainder of the 850+ page volume contains standard entries on every topic one can think of concerning Christian spirituality and many more. Topics include not only historical and current spiritual masters, spiritual disciplines, and a variety of theological concepts but also a variety of topics related to the fields of Christian counseling. Careful attention has been made to include a broad cross-section of topics from around the globe and from many theological streams. Each entry is a minimum of one column long with several extending to several pages in length. Each entry is signed and most include suggestions for further reading. Extensive see also suggestions are included to assist readers in making the most of this book.

The combination of the typical dictionary entries and the integrative practice section makes this volume useful for a variety of contexts. As indicated previously, this volume would be highly useful as a textbook. However, unlike many textbooks, at the end of the course this volume would continue to be valuable as a reference tool. Users will find themselves reaching for this volume repeatedly as a companion when reading other works or preparing lessons and sermons. Dictionary of Christian Spirituality is highly recommended as a inter-disciplinary work which will be useful to anyone who is serious about becoming more like Christ.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by Zondervan (via Koinonia blog) for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.