Perhaps no other theologian of the second half of this century has shaped theology so profoundly as has Jürgen Moltmann. He appeared on the world theological scene with his Theology of Hope (1964) and took most of its capitals by storm. His subsequent works have kept him at the forefront of the modern theological enterprise, and the power of his vision and the originality of his method have inspired a host of new theologians. In terms of fecundity, Moltmann's opus remains unmatched among his generation of theologians. More than 130 dissertations written so far on his thought — most of them in the past decade — testify eloquently to its continued attractiveness.
In honor of Moltmann's 70th birthday, twenty-six of the world's leading theologians — his friends, colleagues, interlocutors, and former students — have contributed to this volume on the future of theology. Moltmann himself has always sought to be both contemporary and future-oriented: his theology can be viewed as an exercise not only from the perspective of God's future but also toward a new human future. Thus, a book on the future of theology takes up an aspect of "his" theme and "his" concern.
Yet this volume also makes a significant contribution to theology in its own right, seeking as it does to address the present crisis of theology. As Miroslav Volf writes in his introduction, "On the threshold of the third millennium, the presumed queen of sciences has grown old and feeble, unable to see that what she thinks is her throne is just an ordinary chair, uncertain about what her territories are, and confused about how to rule in the realms she thinks are hers, seeking advice from a quarrelsome chorus of counselors each of whom thinks himself the king, and ending up with a divided, even schizophrenic, mind."
The essays in this volume attempt to revitalize theology as it confronts a difficult future. Despite the formidable obstacles that threaten the very survival of theology in the next century — religious and cultural plurality; the marginalization of theology in public discourse; increasing abstraction in the practice of theology; pressing issues of gender, race, poverty, and ecology; the seemingly archaic voice of theology in post-Christian societies — the contributors to this volume all believe in the future of theology as a vibrant discipline.
The Future of Theology is organized in three parts. "Challenges" deals with the external or internal problems that theology is facing. "Perspectives" offers proposals on how to meet the challenges. "Themes" concentrates on various issues that need special attention today. Together, these essays succeed in setting the theological agenda for the future of theology, and thereby serve as a fitting tribute to this volume's esteemed honoree.
John B. Cobb Jr.
James H. Cone
D. Lyle Dabney
Ingolf U. Dalferth
Douglas John Hall
Ellen T. Charry
M. Douglas Meeks
Johann Baptist Metz
John Howard Yoder
Rosemary Radford Ruether