God's still in his heaven, but (with apologies to Robert Browning) all's not yet right with the world. Moreover, in modern times the doctrine of God has been in a deep funk; this despite encouraging signs that a number of theologians have finally cleared their throats (to use Jeffrey Stout's metaphor for mucking about in methodology) and begun to speak of God. And just in time, for as Jürgen Moltmann observes: “It is simple, but true, to say that theology has only one, single problem: God.” God is “the future of theology,” just as he is its past and present. While God transcends time, however, the doctrine of God does not.
There is no more powerful name to drop than that of God, especially in the midst of discussion concerning proper social values. “God” is the ultimate ideological warrant. But what is God's name and what does “God” mean? There are theologies “of” hope, art, literature, music, work, marriage, sex, play, liberation, etc. in which the theme in question overshadows God. The adjective “theological” is similarly promiscuous: ethics, method, imagination, science, education, etc. are all “theological” yet, here too, God typically remains off-stage, a notional rather than operative concept. I am as guilty as anyone of procrastinating in the prolegomenal fields. In Is There a Meaning in this Text? I tilled the textual ground with small conceptual tools (e.g., speech acts) and heavy hermeneutical equipment (e.g., Paul Ricoeur).