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Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

Professor of Systematic Theology

MA, Fuller Theological Seminary
MEd, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
DrTheol, University of Helsinki
DrTheol, Habil, University of Helsinki

Courses Taught

Master’s level courses:

HT501: The Church’s Understanding of God and Christ in its Theological Reflection

HT503: The Church’s Understanding of Church, Humanity, and the Christian Life in its Theological Reflection

HT504: Modern Theology in a Global Context

ST501: Systematic Theology 1: Theology and Anthropology

ST502: Systematic Theology 2: Christology and Soteriology

ST503: Systematic Theology 3: Ecclesiology and Eschatology

ST523: Theological Challenges of Religious Plurality

ST525: Pneumatology: Current Trends and Historical Developments

ST5XX: Lesslie Newbigin’s Missional Theology

TH550: World Religions in Christian Perspective

PhD seminars:

ST829/529: Theological Method

ST838/538: Ecclesiology: Current Developments Worldwide

ST855/575: Christian Theology of Religions

ST868/568: The Systematic Theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg

ST886/586: Contemporary Perspectives on the Trinity

TH836/536: The Constructive Theology of Jürgen Moltmann

TH846/546: Theological Anthropology in Theological and Scientific Perspectives (with Prof. Nancey Murphy

TH866/559: Pneumatology: Theologies of the Holy Spirit

TH563: Science and Religion (with Prof. Nancey Murphy)

Courses taught at the University of Helsinki (either in English or Finnish):

The Trinity in Contemporary Theology

The Doctrine of Atonement in Tradition and Contemporary Constructive Theology

Pneumatology: History and Current Developments

Theological Anthropology in Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Ecclesiology in Current Ecumenical Theology

Pentecostal-Charismatic Theologies and their Ecumenical Implications

Campus Affiliations


Patricia Codron Award for the theology book of the year in interdisciplinary studies for Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World and, in particular, for Creation and Humanity (2014), Pacific Coast Theological Society, Berkeley, CA, Nov 2015.

Areas of Expertise

Pneumatology, ecclesiology, ecumenics, Pannenberg’s theology, Luther studies, Pentecostal-charismatic theologies, theology of religions and missions, intercultural theologies, comparative theology


Current Research

A multi-year project tentatively titled "Flourishing, Suffering, and the End(s) of Humanity in Religions and Sciences: A Constructive Theological Proposal"

“The highest-level theological education for the third millennium has to be mature enough to live in the sometimes painful dynamic tension between affirming tradition and questioning its presuppositions, embracing the biblical authority and challenging our deepest hermeneutical assumptions, as well as retrieving the ancient sources and applying to their study the most recent critical tools.”


Dr. Kärkkäinen, in his lecture “Discerning the Mind of Christ in a Pluralistic World: Theological Education in a New Environment,” available here.


Rev. Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen is Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and Docent of Ecumenics at the University of Helsinki. Native of Finland, he has taught theology and lived with his family on three continents: Europe, Asia, and North America (USA). He participates widely in ecumenical, theological, and interreligious work. A prolific writer, he has authored or edited more than 30 books. His major project is the five-volume series titled Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World (Eerdmans 2013–17) which develops Christian doctrine in dialogue with four faith traditions and sciences. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and serves as an associate pastor in the Finnish Lutheran Church in California and Texas. He is also a world-renowned expert on Pentecostal-Charismatic theology and movements.

Prior to Fuller, where he has taught since 2000, Dr. Kärkkäinen taught theology and assisted in pastoral work in Bangkok, Thailand. Thereafter, he served as president and professor at Iso Kirja College in Keuruu, Finland. He has lectured and served as visiting professor in various schools around the world.

The widely-acknowledged five-volume A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World consists of the following monographs: Christ and Reconciliation (2013), Trinity and Revelation (2014), Creation and Humanity (2015), Spirit and Salvation (2016), and Community and Hope (2017). A distinguished international, ecumenical, and interreligious group of experts recently published a collection of essays to discuss and critique this landmark work in The Dialogic Evangelical Theology of Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen: Exploring the Work of God in a Diverse Church and a Pluralistic World, eds. Patrick Oden, Peter Goodwin Heltzel and Amos Yong (Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2022), 255-78. Another indication of Kärkkäinen’s scholarly standing is the publication of essays and other writings in Theological Renewal for the Third Millennium: A Kärkkäinen Compendium, eds. Andrew Ray Williams and Patrick Oden (Cascade Books, 2022). His most recent book is The End of All Things Is at Hand: A Christian Eschatology in Conversation with Science and Islam (Cascade Books, 2022).

Alongside articles, essays, book chapters, and dictionary essays, Kärkkäinen is co-editor with Bill Dyrness, Simon Chan, and Juan Martinez of Global Dictionary of Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2008). He is also well-known for a large number of widely used academic textbooks, the most recent of which are Christian Theology in the Pluralistic World: A Global Introduction 2019) and Doing the Work of Comparative Theology: A Primer for Christians (2020), published by Eerdmans. Other textbooks include An Introduction to Ecclesiology: A Historical, Global, and Interreligious Perspectives, rev. and expanded (InterVarsity Press, 2021) and the following three published by Baker Academic: Christology: A Global Introduction, 2nd rev. ed. (2016); Doctrine of God: A Global Perspective, 2nd rev. ed (2017); and Pneumatology. The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspectives, 2nd rev. ed. (2018). Other textbooks published by Westminister John Knox Press include Holy Spirit: A Guide to Christian Theology (2012); Holy Spirit and Salvation: The Sources of Christian Theology (2010, editor); and The Trinity: Global Perspectives (2007).

Kärkkäinen is an active collaborator and contributor to scholarly and academic networks and processes, including: “Pneumatology: Exploring the Work of the Spirit from Contemporary Perspectives: An Interdisciplinary Approach” funded by Templeton Foundation (2004); The Joint Project on Religious Plurality by Calvin College and Fuller, 2005–09; “The Spirit in the World,” an international joint research program of the University of Southern California and Templeton Foundation, 2006–09; Interdisciplinary Program “Neuroscience and ­­Soul,” Center for Christian Thought, organized by Biola University, La Mirada and funded by Templeton Foundation, 2012–13; SATURN (Scientific and Theological Understanding of Randomness in Nature) Interdisciplinary Program organized by the Center for Theology and Natural Sciences, GTU, Berkeley, 2014–18; and “Theological Anthropology in Conversation with Sciences” of Prayer, Love, and Human Nature: Analytic Theology for Theological Formation Project, organized by Fuller Theological Seminary and funded by John Templeton Foundation, 2017–19.

Noteworthy among Kärkkäinen’s international theological, ecumenical, and interreligious consultations and processes are his participation in many working groups for the World Council of Churches, including “Christian Self-Understanding and Religious Plurality,” in the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Athens, Greece (2005), and in the Edinburgh World Mission Conference (2010). His involvement in Muslim-Christian issues includes the Building Bridges seminars. His ecumenical experience includes long-term participation in several international bilateral dialogues, including Reformed-Pentecostal International Dialogue, Lutheran-Pentecostal International Dialogue, and the Joint Working Group between the World Council of Churches and Pentecostals.

Read Dr. Kärkkäinen’s CV. 

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