There is no shortage of Christian theological reference works in print. Moreover, the proliferation of web-based resources (most notably the increasingly comprehensive Wikipedia) means that basic information about even the most obscure theological terms is rarely more than a few mouse clicks away. Under these circumstances the production of yet another theological dictionary may seem unnecessary at best and reactionary at worst. Consequently, before embarking upon this project, we discussed at some length what possible justification there could be for The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology.
In part we were encouraged by our sister publication, Robert Audi's Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, which is widely recognized as having achieved remarkable compactness and accessibility without sacrificing accuracy or comprehensiveness. At the same time, we recognized that the extraordinarily pluriform character of contemporary Christian theology, including but also cutting across traditional confessional and juridical boundaries, raised particular challenges. Nevertheless, it seemed to us that there was a place – and, indeed, a need – for a single-volume reference work that was at once comprehensive in its coverage of topics, inclusive in the many perspectives of its contributors, and, most importantly, committed to a specifically theological examination of each topic considered. In short, we wanted a text that would exhibit what Hans Frei once referred to as a ‘generous orthodoxy’: coherent and capacious, but neither partisan nor blinkered.
In order to achieve these aims, we sought to enlist the services of a broad range of prominent theologians writing in English.