Goal of the CDC: Making understandable the complexity of present-day Christianity by clarifying the contextual character of C

Goal of the CDC:  Making understandable the complexity of present-day Christianity by clarifying the contextual character of Christian theological views, practices and movements through history and cultures.





Topic:  A specific Christian movement be it a major, world wide denomination or church, or a small local denomination, or trans-denominational movements like the “charismatic movement” or a movement within a marginal group.  As much as possible, this is to be a self-presentation by a scholar belonging to the tradition of this movement (obvious exceptions to self-representation include movements that exclusively belong to a remote past). 


Audience:  It is to be written for “curious and bright undergraduate students” (beginning university students whom we nicknamed “curious Georgia”) and yet must be informative enough to be a solid quick reference article for Christian clergy, professors and students in Christian seminaries and religious studies departments throughout the world.   These readers might not know anything about Christianity– your self-contained entry should give them sufficient information to give them the assurance they know the essential about your topic – yet; they will have access to the rest of the dictionary for surveys of the history of Christianity in the world and in each region, as well as for explanations of concepts, Christian practices, events, history of Christian movements and denominations, and entries on women and men who are representatives of all of these..


Type of Entry and its Goal:  A very concise presentation of a given movement, which is quite informative because it clarifies the distinctive character of each of its phases.  For this, the entry emphasizes the extent to which the given movement is presented as the on-going interpretation, prolongation and implementation of certain Christian traditions and/or practices in particular religious, cultural, social, political contexts.  This presentation is designed to promote the comparison “on its own terms” of a given Christian movement with other Christian movements in diverse historical or contemporary cultural contexts and to avoid the marginalization of any of them as “heretical” (accordingly, because it would deviate from an orthodoxy or an orthopraxis).  This is a condition for appreciating the cultural and contextual character of any Christian movement, including the main line Western churches.

The CDC is committed to “self representation,” allowing contributors to emphasize the features of Christianity that are most significant in their own tradition.  Yet, these entries need to remain descriptive.  In other words, the contributors are asked to avoid apologetic statements and absolute claims (non-falsifiable statements), for instance by making explicit that “X (a particular group a person) believes that…” or “X reports that….”


The following classifications are to be used to facilitate the cross-cultural comparison of Christianity in diverse contexts: (The order may vary; categories may be re-grouped, but all must be considered in preparing an entry.  A fair representation of Christianity in a movement should account for the fact that at least 50% of Christians are women.)  Presenting churches and denominations as “movements” is designed to help underscore the major phases of their history.



(To insure consistency for the CDC, please include the following [[Phrases  Between Brackets]] in your draft B to  be subsequently removed by the editor. The order of the points is to be determined in each case by the author.)


[[Introduction]] Setting this movement in time (dates) and space (contexts)—a time-line might be appropriate for major movements with a long history--, identifying the kind of movement it is, and taking note of the tensions (ambivalences; diverse commitments; unresolved issues) that are reflected by divergent understandings of key theological concepts, or emphases on certain practices in the different phases of its development. 


[[Several Distinctive Conceptions of this Movement]] (e.g., at different periods of the history of this movement; in controversies among factions within the movements; or conceptions by insiders and by outsiders or opponents), often represented by certain authoritative figures (to be identified here; yet some with their own entries; see Entries # 7) emphasizing their distinctiveness through the use of four heuristic questions. 

1)   What particular theological concept(s) or Christina Practice(s) is viewed as most significant in this specific conception of the movement and how is it interpreted?  What are the authoritative traditions and/or text(s) – including the Bible—which are the basis for their understanding of this theological concepts or Christian practices?   Is it a biblical or Christian tradition/practice interpreted in terms of a particular religious or cultural perspective?  Or the interpretation of non-Christian religious or cultural traditions interpreted from a Christian perspective?

2) What particular religious experience (experience of the Sacred, or Holy, or Other) does this understanding or phase of the Christian movement reflect?  What locus or loci of the sacred?  What sacred time(s)?  What rituals?

3) To what particular life-context is this conception or phase of the theological movement related?  What aspects of this life-context does it affirm?  What human predicaments in this life-context does it denounce? 

4) Who are the members of this movement?   Who are its leaders?  What kind of authority do they have? What are the respective roles of different members of this movement?  (Do not overlook the place and role of women, at least 50% of most movement.)


[[Conclusion]]   Theological and ethical issues raised by this Christian movement for the developing global Christianity, or raised by the developing global Christianity for this movement. This movement as representing Christianity for non-Christians:  consider both positive (constructive, liberating) and negative (destructive, oppressive) aspects of this movement


[[Related Entries]] presupposed:  These should be signaled in the body of the entry with an *  after the word designating the entry.  A few essential cross references may be listed at the end of the entry between parentheses:   “(see also xxxxx).” 


Short Bibliography (not included in the word-count):  List the main resources for further studies of this topic to be included in the Bibliography of the Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity on a web-site that will be regularly up-dated.  Usually not more than 5 to 10 titles with full biographical data (see style sheet  at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/religious_studies/CDC/  ).