Prof. Risto SaarinenProfessor of Ecumenics

    Research Profile

    Prof. Saarinen’s research focuses on two distinct areas: in ecumenism, he publishes mostly on the bilateral dialogues of the Lutheran churches.  He also  regularly update hsis Homepage on the various ongoing Lutheran-Orthodox dialogues.  In historical scholarship, he publishes on late medieval, Renaissance and Reformation thought.  His recent historical work involves the concepts of will, freedom and self-control, so-called “philosophical psychology,” and the theological applications of gift exchange, gratitude and hospitality.  As with freedom and gift exchange, in some cases historical topics intersect with modern ecumenical and theological discussions.

    Teaching Profile

    Prof. Saarinen’s teaching concentrates on the theological profile of Lutheranism in its ecumenical activities, in particular on bilateral dialogues and the role of the Lutheran World Federation.  He also teaches on multilateral ecumenism and the theology of religions.  He follows the discussion on religion and violence, with a special emphasis on the work of René Girard.  On the postgraduate level, he supervises work done on late medieval, Renaissance and Reformation thought.

    Selected Publications

    Gottes Wirken auf uns: Die transzendentale Deutung des Gegenwart-Christi-Motivs in der Lutherforschung. Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte 137, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1989.

    Weakness of the Will in Medieval Thought: From Augustine to Buridan. Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters 44, Leiden: Brill, 1994.

    Faith and Holiness: Lutheran – Orthodox Dialogue 1959-1994. Kirche und Konfession 40, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997.

    (with A. Birmelé/T. Dieter/M. Root) Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification: A Commentary by the Institute for Ecumenical Research. Strasbourg/Geneva/Hong Kong: LWF, 1997.

    ed. with M. Root, Baptism and the Unity of the Church. Grand Rapids/Geneva: Eerdmans/WCC, 1998.

    God and the Gift. An Ecumenical Theology of Giving. Unitas Books, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2005.

    ed. with J. Kraye, Moral Philosophy on the Threshold of Modernity. Synthese Historical Library, Dordrecht: Springer, 2005.

    with H. McLeod/A. Lauha, North European Churches from the Cold War to Globalisation. Tampere: Finnish Church Research Institute, 2006.



    University of Helsinki
    Department of Systematic Theology
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    Prof. Matti Nissinen