Inside Scoop on New Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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      Members of the Bethel San Diego Spring 2011 Class on Spirituality & Prayer

 

Zondervan Q&A with Glen Scorgie, general editor, Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

 

Congratulations on the publication of the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. In terms of the writing and editing, what kind of work hours do you think the project represents?

The Dictionary project took four years of focused effort. The workload ebbed and flowed across these years, but I’d estimate it involved 10-20 hours a week on average. The other editors and I managed to keep organized with an Excel spreadsheet; each entry involved 17-19 discreet steps.

 

Writing for this book was certainly not a sensible strategy for getting rich. Sometimes I cajoled reluctant contributors to join the company of the cheerfully exploited. Usually that phrase won them over. But I must say the whole project, from start to finish, was an absolute delight. For one thing, the DCS team got to interact with some of the finest people on the planet. I’ve often said that without the excuse of this project, how else would I get up the nerve to bother Eugene Peterson in his cabin up in Montana, or Dallas Willard or J. I. Packer?

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New Dictionary of Christian Spirituality Just Released

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Zondervan publishers has just released the hardbound Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. After four years of effort, we are delighted to see this unique volume finally in print. It is a biblically engaged, reliable and accessible resource for contemporary Christians. Writers from across the globe have contributed thirty-four “integrative perspective” essays and nearly seven hundred alphabetized entries. Together these offer a discerning orientation to the wealth of ecumenical resources available today while still highlighting the distinct heritage and core grace-centered values of classic evangelical spirituality.

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Does Christianity Grow or Just Move On?

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I have just returned from Manila this week, where I had the privilege of teaching on Christian spirituality to a wonderful cohort of eager Filipino-Chinese and Mainland Chinese students. The latter are the “tip of the iceberg” of a remarkable, grass-roots movement of vibrant Christianity emerging out of a country that has been officially (and sometimes repressively) atheistic and Communist since 1949. Most of these bright, passionate young adults are university-trained students, and many of them possess Mac computers and international cell phones. Yet they have come to accept the prospect of suffering, and have embraced radical consecration, to a degree only sometimes seen nowadays among their North American Christian counterparts. What’s going on? Is Christianity really dying out in the West while growing up in Asia and Africa? If so, it raises another, somewhat troubling question: Does the Christian faith actually expand, or does it just migrate elsewhere?

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Love Wins

Northern Ireland

The son of a prominent American judge, Rob Bell is a young (born in 1970, now 40 years old), media-savvy and very “cool” dressing graduate of Wheaton College and Fuller Seminary. He is a rock musician, and now an evangelical pastor who founded and leads a large, new church (Mars Hill Bible Church) in suburban Grand Rapids, Michigan—the American Midwest home of numerous evangelical publishing houses.

 

Rob Bell is a captivating speaker who has attracted consistently large crowds to a number of well-organized national and international speaking tours. His innovative short video clips on spiritual themes circulate widely, and since 2005 he has written an impressive list of books that until just recently were almost all published by Zondervan, one of the larger evangelical presses right in Grand Rapids. He has a gift for arresting titles, which include Velvet Elvis and Sex God. But his most recent book, Love Wins (2011), published for a more mainstream market by HarperCollins, Zondervan’s big market parent company, is by far his most important and already his most controversial.

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Judgment Day May 21?

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I was down at San Diego’s Earth Day a few weeks ago, helping to staff a booth run by Christians for Earth Care, and took a break to browse the area. The atheists were there in full force, exposing what they believe to be the idiocy of religion and people of faith. I stopped to chat with them for a bit; it became immediately apparent that they weren’t the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, but on some points they were relatively coherent . . . and they were enjoying lots of traffic.Then I spied the Day of Judgment guy.

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Financial Debt and Religious Freedom

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A profound social transformation has been taking place right in front of us, and we have barely noticed. Very quietly a revolution in attitude has occurred. It is simply this: debt has been normalized. As a professor I see it every day where students preparing for the (generally underpaid) Christian ministry blithely assume enormous debt to finance their seminary education. They are in effect committing themselves to long-term financial hardship. In some cases their only hope will be to declare chapter 7 bankruptcies. But this is simply a reflection at the personal level of a much larger national disposition. America is staggering toward its own bankruptcy, and we cannot seem to get a handle on the problem. This week I discovered another reasons why our growing debt should be a particular concern for Christians. It came out of a news report from China.

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Resisting the Poison Green Dragon?

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Some Christians in San Diego recently hosted a conference to protest what they see as pernicious environmentalist trends (conspiracies, even) to undermine the Christian faith and the general welfare of American society. The language and images employed throughout were strident, confrontational, and designed to alarm. The conference featured a keynote public lecture entitled “Resisting the Green Dragon: One-ist Environmentalism and its Noxious Influence on the Church.” We are dismayed that any Christians would take such a message seriously, and we’ll tell you why.

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Walking Away from Church

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Americans don’t attend church like they used to. But that doesn’t exactly make the United States another mission field of unreached people. A striking recent discovery is that most unbelieving outsiders are actually old friends, yesterday’s worshipers, children who once prayed to Jesus. They walked away for a number of reasons, including this: the church from which they have walked away appears to be broken.

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Pipe Bombs and Confessionals

San Diegans have become callous to the daily reports of crimes in “America’s finest city.” Nevertheless some stories stand out because of their particularly disturbing or shocking nature. The story this past week of a middle-aged man suspected of planting a pipe bomb underneath his wife’s vehicle fits this category. His homemade bomb exploded as he planned when she started for home after a day’s work at a daycare. Though the bomb did not kill her, it destroyed her car and left her in critical condition. The 52-year old wife, by all accounts, is a lovely and gracious woman. The husband is being held without bail on suspicion of attempted murder. It turns out he is an evangelical Christian. Ouch.

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As Theology Totters in the West

Renmin Business Faculty


The People’s Republic of China has enthusiastically embraced Western science and technology, and modernity’s materialistic worldview. Pictured above is the imposing business faculty of China’s Renmin (the People’s) University. Here this leading Communist university trains a new generation of Chinese business leaders, offering MBA degrees in global economics along capitalist lines. What you won’t find at the university, however, is a faculty of Christian theology. China is still disdainful of religion, and a robust program in theology would only encourage it. But how different it is in the West, right? Well actually, not so much. Christian theology is in serious decline in the West, even in evangelical seminaries and other institutions of higher learning. Pretty soon it may be on life support here as well.

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