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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.


Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen joined the Fuller faculty as associate professor of systematic theology in 2000 and was named full professor in 2003. He also holds a teaching position at the University of Helsinki as Docent of Ecumenics.

Prior to coming to Fuller, Dr. Kärkkäinen served as president and professor at IsoKirja College in Keuruu, Finland. He has taught and lived with his family on three continents: Europe, Asia (Thailand), and North America (USA). He has also lectured and served as visiting professor in various schools around the world. He travels widely and has a command of several languages.

A prolific writer, Kärkkäinen has authored or edited about 20 books in English (and 7 in his native language, Finnish), including most recently Christian Theology in the Pluralistic World: A Global Introduction (2019) and Doing the Work of Comparative Theology: A Primer for Christians (2020). His other works include The Trinity: Global Perspectives (2007), One With God: Salvation as Deification and Justification (2004), and Trinity and Religious Pluralism: The Doctrine of the Trinity in Christian Theology of Religions (2004), as well as more than 150 articles that have appeared in international scholarly journals. He also edited the Global Dictionary of Theology (with William Dyrness, 2008), The Spirit in the World: Emerging Pentecostal Theologies in Global Contexts (2009), and Holy Spirit and Salvation: The Sources of Christian Theology (2010). He recently completed a five-volume series covering all topics of systematic theology titled A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World, published by Eerdmans (2013–2017): Christ and Reconciliation (2013), Trinity and Revelation (2014), Creation and Humanity (2015), Spirit and Salvation (2016), and Community and Hope (2017). Kärkkäinen is a member of several editorial boards, including the Strategic Initiatives in Systematic Theology series by InterVarsity Press and the Studies in Systematic Theology series by E. J. Brill. He is also a reviewer for the International Journal of Systematic Theology.

He has participated in a number of working groups for the World Council of Churches, most recently on “Christian Self-Understanding and Religious Plurality,” and has participated in numerous international theological, missiological, and interfaith consultations, including Edinburgh 2010 and the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches (Athens, 2005). His involvement in Muslim-Christian issues includes the Building Bridges seminars. His ecumenical experience also includes long-term participation in several international bilateral dialogues. For years he served as an external examiner for Wales University.

Kärkkäinen is ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Minister of Word and Sacrament, 2015) and has served since 2014 as associate pastor (part-time) for the Finnish Lutheran Church in California and Texas (ELCA).

Featured Publications