In a world of “Wiki-everything” and an abundance of information at the touch of a button or screen, pastors in the Church of the Nazarene need a good dictionary of theology. It has arrived (all 605 pages!); it is The Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, which has been edited by Al Truesdale, professor emeritus of philosophy of religion and Christian ethics at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He was assisted by a literal “Who’s Who” of Wesleyan scholars from around the world. The need for resources that reflect the increasing interdependence among people of the world makes this resource especially important. A global denomination like the Church of the Nazarene needs holistic and culturally inclusive resources that mirror the global character of our fellowship.
As a pastor who preaches weekly, often multiple times, I dream of being able to read widely in a variety of different theological fields and specialties. The demands of ministry in the 21st century have dramatically restricted my dreaming and my expectations in this regard, but a dictionary of theology like this one is invaluable because it provides accessible articles with suggestions for additional reading: this is the best of both worlds. The dictionary offers readers an exposure to ideas and movements about which we may have been unaware or misinformed. Furthermore, the contributors provide direction for additional reading. What an amazing resource for pastors: bi-vocational or otherwise, Sunday School teachers, and church libraries!
When I began to scan and read the GWDT, I was astounded by the number of articles written by such a diverse group of scholars: not a few scholars writing a wide-ranging collection of articles, but a plethora of scholars writing articles that are squarely within their field of expertise or particular interest. The compilation includes 316 articles and essays written by 126 different scholars and contributors. The essays are all from a Wesleyan theological orientation. A resource such as this for Nazarene pastors has not been previously available, at least not since the Beacon Dictionary of Theology, published in 1983 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.
The primary purposes, as indicated in the preface, are worth noting;
- To define major biblical and theological terms, themes, and movements and, where appropriate, to offer a characteristically Wesleyan assessment of each;
- To define terms that are basic for understanding the Wesleyan tradition and theology;
- To reflect the global character of Christian faith and doctrine;
- To provide a Wesleyan assessment of the sciences, technology, the arts, and so on, and
- To provide a guide for understanding the richness of the Wesleyan tradition and articulate that faith in a global context.
Without slight to anyone, I would simply note that the articles revolving around Wesley and the Scriptures are particularly insightful, three in particular: “Science and the Bible,” “Scripture, Theology of,” and “Scripture, Wesleyan Approach to” are helpful in understanding our own Article 4 on “The Holy Scriptures.” This is simply one example of how such a resource may be beneficial to pastors and teachers who are living and leading in the Church in this not-so-new millennium.
BRAD ESTEP is lead pastor of Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene.