Book Review -- By: Anonymous
CTSJ 14:2 (Fall 2009) p. 108
Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, edited by Glen G. Scorgie. Published by Zondervan, 2011. 852 pages. Hardback. Available as eBook at
This volume falls into two sections: “Part 1: Integrative Perspectives” includes 34 contributions by a wide range of international authors with equally wide ranging theological backgrounds. The articles cover historical movements, practices, theological foundations, concepts, concerns, and formative figures in Christian spirituality. “Part 2: Dictionary Entries” includes about 700 shorter, alphabetized entries from “Abandonment” to “Zinzendorf.”
What do the authors mean by spirituality? General editor, Glen Scorgie, sets the tone in chapter 1 saying “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” [p. 27].
The Dictionary does not embrace the sufficiency of scripture as evidenced by chapter 27, “Spirituality in Relationship to Psychology and Therapy.” In addition, the inclusion in chapter 2 of this comment is enlightening: “Because God not only revealed himself in history and in his Word in the past but also continues to reveal himself in the lives of believers through the indwelling Spirit, the church has also been interested in understanding the lives of the saints and the present work of the Spirit. In that sense, we should expect that comprehensive investigation of the spiritual life will integrate study of the Scriptures with study of his extracanonical work in human lives (which two things, taken together, comprise spiritual theology)” [p. 34]. Later the author adds, “Thus, the
CTSJ 14:2 (Fall 2009) p. 109
study of spiritual theology is a reflective enterprise involving study, observation, reflection and opening the heart to both the Bible and the Spirit’s work in human experience” [p. 38].
Part two’s 700 entries by numerous contributors manifests obvious quantity, but varying quality. Good entries for example are those on the “Fear of the Lord,” and the brief profiles of such people as C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, Calvin, Luther, Billy Graham, etc. Other personalities, even though heretics, are viewed through rose-colored glasses, such as Tolstoy and Harry Emerson Fosdick. Not all entries can be categorized as good because they are wide of the biblical mark. For example, “Assessment of Spirituality...
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