Fordham University’s Distinguished Professor of Theology, St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, stands in the dock, so to speak. Accused by an undisclosed number of individual U.S. bishops of failing to reflect clearly the church’s teaching on God in her 2007 book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine seconded the original accusation. There were, indeed, the doctrine committee found, serious problems with Johnson’s book on God (NCR, March 31).
I read Quest for the Living God soon after it was published. As with many of her previous works, I remembered the author’s gift for taking rather sleepy church doctrines and bringing them to life. Deeply rooted in our faith’s tradition, Johnson engaged these truths, plumbed their depths, wrestled with their mystery, and presented them afresh to her readers. Hers was not only a world-class intelligence, but a world-class imagination steeped in the church’s history, theology and spirituality. I so wanted to hear this theologian preach.