Glen G. Scorgie, ed. Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. 852 pp. $39.99.

Glen Scorgie has been professor of theology at Bethel Seminary San Diego, CA since 1996. He has served as academic vice-president of North American Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and as president of the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association. He has authored various books on Christian spirituality and on biblical and theological themes, and he presently teaches and preaches at Chinese Bible Church of San Diego.

In the words of its general editor, the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality seeks to provide an “accessible and reliable academic resource” on Christian spiritual theology, spirituality, and spiritual formation “that will offer a discerning orientation to the wealth of ecumenical resources available while highlighting the distinct heritage and affirming the core grace-centered values of classical evangelical spirituality” (p. 8).

To achieve this, Scorgie sets out seven characteristics as goals for this project, namely, that it be:

  1. biblically engaged
  2. accessible and relevant to contemporary Christian practitioners
  3. generous in its regard for the full range of Christian traditions of spirituality
  4. attentive to otherwise neglected topics, concerns, and formative figures in the evangelical tradition of spirituality
  5. global and international in both topical scope and contributors
  6. reflective of interdisciplinary engagement with related fields of inquiry
  7. reasonably priced

Two hundred thirteen contributors to this work come from a variety of disciplines (OT, NT, spiritual formation, church history, to name a few) and roles (professors, associate deans, emeritus professors, rectors, pastors, recent graduates, PhD candidates, seminary vice presidents, etc.), from formation communities/organizations and churches, each offering knowledgeable expertise. And so far-reaching is this book’s global cast of contributors that every continent except Antarctica is represented.

One need turn only a few pages to discover this book’s unique format. Part One is comprised of thirty-four “Integrative Perspectives” essays that together form 25% of the volume. Each of the six-to-eight-page essays ends with “Sources Cited” and “Further Reading” components. The integrative subjects include chapters on the OT and NT Foundations of Christian Spirituality, Doctrine of Assurance, Angels and Demons, numerous chapters giving historical surveys or developments of Christian spirituality, Music and the Arts, Spirit Baptism, the Illumination of Scripture, Incarnation, and the Sabbath.

As for the dictionary itself, entries cover a wide range of topics and persons related to Christian spirituality. These topics, comprising over 60% of the total number of contributions, include Addiction/Recovery, African and Russian Christian Spirituality, the Internet, Technology and Spirituality, Marriage, Poverty, Puritan Spirituality, Saints, Yoga, and Zen. Each entry is concise yet without absences of substance or insight. Entries about people who have made a lasting impact on Christian spirituality—both classic and more recent figures—include the likes of Ambrose of Milan, Athanasius, Anne Bradstreet, George Whitefield, William Wilberforce, Fanny Crosby, Toyohiko Kagawa, Billy Graham, David Yonggi Cho, and Dallas Willard.

The breadth and depth—though limited by space—of both the essays and topical entries included in theDictionary of Christian Spirituality will pleasantly surprise readers.

For the rest of the review…