Hope and Community, the final installment of Fuller professor Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s historic five-volume systematic theology project, A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World, has just been released. This ambitious book series, now complete, develops a constructive Christian eschatology and ecclesiology in dialogue with the Christian tradition, the sciences, contemporary theology in its global and contextual diversity, and with Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
“For a long time I dreamed of writing a new kind of systematic theology series that would engage the whole of Christian tradition, including the diverse global and contextual views,” said Dr. Kärkkäinen, who serves as professor of systematic theology at Fuller. “I realized that alongside Christian tradition, I had to also engage other faith traditions as we live in a religiously pluralistic world. To my surprise, I also discovered that the sciences had to be incorporated into the discussion as well, particularly with the doctrine of creation, of humanity, and of eschatology—the end times.”
This book series project is historically the first of its kind to be undertaken in theological publication. “With this kind of vision and an array of materials to be engaged, a new kind of approach, or method, to doing Christian theology was developed and tested,” Kärkkäinen explained. The result was A Constructive Christian Theology for the Pluralistic World, a five-volume exploration of Christian systematic theology in critical dialogue with four living faiths—Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu—and the natural sciences. The set includes volumes on Christ and Reconciliation, Trinity and Revelation, Creation and Humanity, Spirit and Salvation, and now concludes with Hope and Community.
“My primary goal is to show the relevance and significance of theological reflection for the church and her mission in a religiously pluralistic and secular world of the third millennium,” said Kärkkäinen. “I wish to demonstrate that a dynamic and contemporary way of doing theology, while deeply embedded in biblical-historical tradition, has the power to speak to issues of today's world and also reach out to domains of life and constituencies outside the church. A thoughtful and creative constructive theology helps us keep tradition alive and come up with new solutions to problems and challenges of a complex world.”
In reflecting on what it feels like to complete such a momentous work, Kärkkäinen said: “It is like having finished running a marathon. The writing schedule—the five-volume, almost 3,000-page writing project took five years, with more years of careful planning and gathering of resources—was exhaustive and very demanding. That said, the whole project was highly enriching and exciting, as well as spiritually and intellectually nourishing. For me, there is no return to doing theology only in the way it is still practiced in much of the academia: predominantly white males talking about things of the past with little attention to the diversity of the global church, including gender, location, and sociopolitical issues, when we live in a religiously pluralistic and secular society.”
To purchase Hope and Community or any of the five-volume set, visit here.
To study with Dr. Kärkkäinen, visit here.