Author Contact, CV


Risto Saarinen
Professor of Ecumenics

Faculty of Theology, PO Box 4
(Vuorikatu 3, 4th floor)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Tel +358294122510
google: tuhat risto saarinen


Curriculum vitae / Risto Saarinen (born 1959)

Dr. theol. (theology, Helsinki, 1988, Gottes Wirken auf uns
Dr. phil. (philosophy, Helsinki, 1994, Weakness of the Will in Medieval Thought
KAVAKU (Diplomatic training, Finnish Foreign Ministry, 1986)


Assistant and Researcher, University of Helsinki, 1984-1992 (tutkimusavustaja, assistentti)
Professor, Institute for Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg, 1994-1999
Acting Professor in Social Ethics, Helsinki, 1992-1993, 1999-2001 (vs. professori)
Full Professor of Ecumenics, Helsinki, 2001- (professori)
Visiting Adjunct Professor, Institute for Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg, 2003-2007
Guest Professor, University of Aarhus, 2005-2010
Guest Professor, Catholic University of Leuven, 2011-2014
Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2006-2008


Historical and contemporary religious studies from philosophical and systematic perspective.

Funded Projects:

1998-2001 “Early Modern Thought” network funded by the European Science Foundation, member of the coordination committee (Director: Knuuttila)

2001 – 2004 “Churches and European Integration” Project Funded by European Commission, member of the steering group. (Director: Lauha)

2002-2013 Team Leader of the “History of Mind” and “Philosophical Psychology, Morality and Politics” Centres of Excellence, funded by the Academy of Finland (Director: Knuuttila)

2005-2007 Beyond Fideism, Director, 3-year research project, University of Helsinki

2006-2007 Senior Researcher one-year grant, Academy of Finland

2007-2008 Senior Researcher one-year grant, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

2012-2016 Director of the Research Community “Religion and Society”, University of Helsinki. The joint first prize (1.-2.) in the International Evaluation of University of Helsinki Research (Category: Societal Impact)

2012-2016 Director of Academy of Finland four-year project “Ecumenical Recognition and Toleration of Otherness”

2014-2019 Director of “Reason and Religious Recognition” Centre of Excellence, funded by the Academy of Finland

Most Important Recent Books 

Recognition and Religion: A Historical and Systematic Study (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2016, 268 pp.

Luther and the Gift (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2017, 320 pp. I

Oppi luottamuksesta [On Trust], 208 pp. Gaudeamus, Helsinki 2017.

Oppi rakkaudesta [On Love]. 200 pp. Gaudeamus, Helsinki 2015.

Weakness of Will in Renaissance and Reformation Thought. 248 pp. (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011).

(edited with Simo Knuuttila) Theology and early modern philosophy (1550-1750). 200 pp. Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 2010.

Summary Publications

The Helsinki University TUHAT database lists 410 publications, of which 75-80 are refereed publications during last ten years.  Most of them are in English, but I regularly also publish in German.  Although I increasingly focus on journals classified on the A-level by the European Science Foundation and levels 2 and 3 of the Finnish Julkaisufoorumi, the monographs and collected volumes published by best publishers remain the most prestigious and influential channels in my fields.

Encyclopedias and Handbooks

Associate Editor in: Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther (three volumes, 2017)

I have contributed to several standard encyclopedic works in my fields, e.g.

Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie

Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (engl. Religion Past and Present)

Theologische Realenzyklopädie

Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception

Dictionnaire critique de Théologie (engl. Routledge Encyclopedia of Theology)

The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity

Global Dictionary of Theology

Three Oxford Handbooks (Trinity, Luther, Early Modern Theology)

Summary Supervision and Doctoral Training

During my full professor tenure in Helsinki since 2001, twenty-three dissertations have been completed under my supervision. Among these are Vesa Hirvonen’s Passions in William Ockham’s Philosophical Psychology (Kluwer 2004); Minna Hietamäki’s Agreeable Agreement (T&T Clark 2010); she was the doctor primum locum tenens in the Faculty Conferment Ceremony of 2011, and Timo Nisula’s Augustine and the Functions of Concupiscence (Brill 2012). Several of these doctors have also completed their habilitation (Hirvonen, Olli-Pekka Vainio with his Beyond Fideism, Ashgate 2010, Jari Jolkkonen, Risto Jukko). I have currently ten doctoral students working with their dissertation in Helsinki. In addition to my regular supervision, my work as Research Dean of Theology Faculty (2004-2006 and 2010-16 ) has been connected with doctoral training in various ways. I have organized trips with doc students to Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Leuven and Oxford and promote their work in the contexts of AAR and the Heidelberg-based Global Network of Theology faculties. In 2014-2016 I was in the LERU universities theology group.

Summary Congress Work

Between 2001 and 2016, I have attended 6-8 international congresses annually, most of them with a paper. I have been the primary convener of two big ventures:

  • 12th International Congress for Luther Research in Helsinki 5-10 August 2012. This congress brought 230 participants to Helsinki
  • Plenary Congress of Societas Oecumenica in Helsinki, 90 participants, August 2016

Review and Referee Work

In the last ten years, I have worked as doctoral examiner in Berkeley, Leuven, Lund, Oslo and Tartu and have written review reports of professoral candidates for Aarhus, Uppsala, Copenhagen, Heidelberg and Catholic University of America. I have further been reviewing research projects for various European institutions, e.g., Belgian, Norwegian and Austrian Research Council and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, and do regular peer review work for several international publishers (5-10 times annually)

International Academic Boards

Europäische Melanchthon-Akademie (Bretten, 2003-2009)

Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (Mainz, 2005-2010 and 2011-2015)

Forschungszentrum für Internationale und Interdisziplinäre Theologie (FIIT Heidelberg, 2008-).

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2010-13)

 Editorial Boards

Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie (de Gruyter, Germany), Dialog (Wiley-Blackwell, UK), Berliner Theologische Zeitschrift (HumboldtUniv. Berlin), Pro ecclesia (Rowman & Littlefield, U.S.) Theophilos (Luth. University of Brazil), Reformed Historical Theology (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Germany), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Martin Luther (OUP, UK). The first journal has the highest level 3 in Finnish publication ranking Julkaisufoorumi.

Other Organizations

University of Helsinki (UH): Faculty of Theology, Vice-Dean for Research 2004-2006 and 2010-2016. Scientific Council of UH 2007-2009 and 2014-2016; UH Library Board 2010-2014.

Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, member since 1999. Chair of Theology and Religious studies group 2008-2012.

Academia Europaea, member since 2015.

Finnish Theological Literature Society, chair 2010-2016.

Finnish National Matriculation Board (Ylioppilastutkintolautakunta), member 2004-2009.

Crisis Management Initiative, member since 2005.

Ecumenical Expertise and Positions of Trust:

Lutheran World Federation: Finnish delegate in 1984 Budapest assembly. LWF advisor in 1997 Hongkong assembly and responsible there for the ecclesiology working group. Delegate of Finnish Church in Winnipeg assembly 2003. Council advisor at Stuttgart assembly 2010. Member and drafter of the LWF ecclesiology group 1994-1996. Adventist – LWF theological conversations 1994-1998, advisor and drafter. Lutheran – Orthodox Joint Commission, 1995-1998 advisor, 1999- delegate, since 1995 in the drafting group. From 2004 to 2010 advisor to the council of the LWF and member of its board of Theology and Studies.

Institute for Ecumenical Research, Strasbourg. Full-time employment from 1994 to 1999, organizing ecumenical meetings and steering the dialogues of the LWF. Visiting professor from 2003-2007, continuing this work. Annual participation in the ecumenical specialists’ meetings at Klingenthal from 2001 to the present day.

World Council of Churches, Finnish Ecumenical Council: Regular contacts

Societas Oecumenica. Board member 1994-1998, convener of Strasbourg plenary conference in 1996 and Helsinki plenary in 2016.


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