About the Author(s)

Harls E.R. Siahaan Email symbol
Faculty of Theology, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Jakarta; and Department of Theology, Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Pelita Bangsa, Jakarta, Indonesia

Johannis Siahaya symbol
Department of Theology, Sekolah Tinggi Agama Kristen Teruna Bhakti, Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Siahaan, H.E.R. & Siahaya, J., 2023, ‘The dialectics between the unity and diversity of the church: A jigsaw puzzle metaphor’, Verbum et Ecclesia 44(1), a2645. https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2645

Original Research

The dialectics between the unity and diversity of the church: A jigsaw puzzle metaphor

Harls E.R. Siahaan, Johannis Siahaya

Received: 22 July 2022; Accepted: 28 Oct. 2022; Published: 27 Feb. 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Conflict is often colouring the diversities of theology, besides church divisions, especially in the Indonesian context. In minimising the conflict, adequate knowledge is needed to understand that the diversity of theology is the essence of church unity. Apostle Paul explained the diversities in church unity using the metaphor of the body of Christ. This metaphor is inadequate to explain the differences in theological teachings as the essence of the unity of the church, especially in this postmodern era. This article offered a jigsaw puzzle metaphor to quickly understand the nature of the church’s unity in its diversity. This puzzle is a well-known game type played by many people in various age groups worldwide. By using descriptive analysis and analogy methods, it resulted in an understanding of the description of the church’s diversity through jigsaw pieces as an essential element in forming a complete and perfect image, namely the one and universal church, by arranging each jigsaw piece according to the pattern formed as the blueprint. In conclusion, theology can adopt this metaphor as a discourse in establishing church unity in the ecumenical project.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article discusses the diversities of theological and dogmatic forms that represent every church denomination as the essence of the one and universal church. This study offers a constructive theological model to understand diversity as the essence of church unity in an ecumenical project.

Keywords: church; church’s unity; church’s diversity; denomination; ecclesia; jigsaw puzzles.


The church’s unity is not a hot issue that emerged recently or even throughout the 20th century or even after the church’s reformation caused many church schisms. The issue of true unity has decorated the church’s journey as a theological discourse since the time of the Church Fathers. Some New Testament texts indicate the apostolic concern about potential divisions within the group of believers. The phrase of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21 (ut Omnes Unum Sint) shows how He is very concerned about unity that becomes the spirit that continues to be echoed, discussing the unity of the church from time to time. In addition, Paul’s writings about ‘one body’ (Rm 12:4–5; 1 Cor 12:12–31; Eph 4:3–6) also indicate that there is a diversity that must be interpreted as the essence of the community of believers (Campbell 2008). However, it does not mean that this old issue is no longer relevant to be discussed today, especially in today’s digital era, where the ease of access to information provides a comprehensive and free discussion space between members of the same church or denomination, even across organisations.

The discourse of church unity, generally, is inseparable from the issue of church schism, irrespective of the causal factors. Since the Reformation began in the 16th century, the church has sought its ideal forms through theological discourse and dogmatics, which later became the hallmark of each denomination. The church schism occurred with matters such as hermeneutic differences with non-principles, as is often the case in Pentecostal-Charismatic groups (Shastri 2014); in this article, Shastri emphasises that division is not only about differences in doctrine but also about different means of life of faith and commitment to ecumenical solidarity that can change society. This fact does not mean to weaken certain groups; on the contrary, it provides a reflective space for the church in formulating the essence of the unity of the church as the ‘body of Christ’, which is still being touted. The theme of unity is not only a discussion within Protestantism but also involves the thinking of Catholic theologians. Annemarie C. Mayer proposes a vision of church unity from a Catholic perspective by raising three basic questions: what the ecumenical goal of the Catholic group is, what is the practical form of that unity and how can it be achieved (Mayer 2013). In the end, Mayer proposed that the church be seen as a sacramental entity rather than a mere institution to achieve ecumenical unity.

Stéphanie Dietrich, in her reflective critique of the World Mission and Evangelization Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2018, emphasised that the concept of unity is not uniformity and diversity is not division, which must be followed by a fundamental acknowledgement of others in their differences, and acknowledging the diversity between people and church (Dietrich 2018). In their reflective journey, churches also realised that diversity is their essence, which requires recognition in presenting the space of togetherness. Several efforts were made to open a space of togetherness (Adiprasetya & Sasongko 2019), such as conducting a post-conflict reconciliation (Pakpahan 2013) or facilitating cross-denominational discussion forums. Some churches still consider their doctrines or theology as the truest or most biblical and tend to treat different theologies as unbiblical, even judging them as cults or heresy. That motivated Siahaan et al. to emphasise that the call to be united, as rooted in the phrase ut omnes Unum sint, must simultaneously call the equality (Siahaan, Siahaan & Hendra 2022). Church denominations are absolutely diverse; this is the essence of the one and wholly church, which must be recognised and understood for each denomination to respect that diversity.

This research provides a theological offer to understanding the diversity of church denominations characterised by each of its theology, using a jigsaw puzzle metaphorical approach. The use of metaphor is essential in theology because it helps to answer complex and abstract concepts with familiar objects. Thomas Aquinas used an analogy to solve the problem of using words linked simultaneously to God and creation (univocal and equivocals). Therefore, they function to communicate something true and divine without making it profane (Ryliškyte 2017). The analogy is an imaginative language capable of enriching theology. In line with C. S. Lewis’s analysis, Trevor Hart stated that imagination is not only the availability of material objects to be experienced but also the relationship in which those objects are understood (Hart 2013:14). Therefore, the image used is not the truth, but the understanding obtained from its representation with a metaphor similar to an analogy used to convey a sense of unity among various denominations.

The Bible generally uses the metaphor of the body of Christ in describing the nature of the church. The image of the body has been considered one of the most theological forms because it is a product of the Bible through inspiration from Paul’s writing of Romans, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 3. Paul uses the term ‘body of Christ’ in two forms: the first body is linked with the head, which is Christ himself (Eph 4:14–16) and what follows is a body made up of various members or organs (1 Cor 12:12–31). Both are explained in terms of ministry and faith growth; this is seen in Ephesians 4. While in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul relates the metaphor of a body consisting of various members with different gifts. The direction of the discussion in this article is not just to seek the ideal form of church unity but rather to show diversity as the essence that makes up the entity. The diversity here is indicated by each church denomination’s teachings or theological colour. That is why the jigsaw puzzle is the most suitable metaphor to describe the multiplicity of the church, especially regarding the various theological differences, as the true essence of the church in filling the space of togetherness to realise a perfect unity.

The usage of the jigsaw puzzle as a metaphor differs from the way A.James Reimer once made use of it. Reimer emphasises the use of scrabble rather than jigsaw puzzles as a metaphor for describing the dynamics of church dogmatics today (Reimer 2003:13). For Reimer, the game of jigsaw puzzles is very static because the images that have been formed are predetermined, so there is no freedom, even with a limited number of pieces. For a drawing game shown previously, jigsaw puzzles are monotonous and fixed; there is no imagination space to form what you want to fill every available spot, compared with playing scrabble. Reimer offers a dynamic church development that cannot be limited, as illustrated by the jigsaw puzzle. However, what is shown through the game of scrabble is not an attempt to build unity. The monotony of the jigsaw board, as Reimer considers it, must be seen as a frame of unity, a theological playing ground that no church should cross through its theological doctrine.

The metaphor of the jigsaw puzzle in this article reflects the diversities of church theology as the essence through the jigsaw pieces that also have various shapes and patterns. It does not mean that the metaphor of the body of Christ is ignored or annulled but is still used to provide an understanding that has been framed so far, namely about the members of the body as pieces in a jigsaw. What is imagined as utilising the body, especially in Corinthians, shows the relationship of each part, the body’s member, as a complementary unit through its function or gift. Meanwhile, the use of the jigsaw puzzle metaphor states that unity is composed of various jigsaw pieces through awareness of the nature of diversity as a blueprint that does not exchange places but is open. Several terms from the text of 1 Corinthians 12:27 are used to give the reader a proportioned description of the diversity of churches and their denominations, such as sw/ma (soma), me, loj (melos), me, roj (meros) combined with the word ecclesia.

The understanding of the terms must be rooted in the usage of 1 Corinthians 12:27. The term somaclesia was derived from the Greek words soma (body) (Watts 2008:193), and ecclesia (church) refers to the one church. Sometimes this term is clarified by adding the word eis (one), eisomaclesia, which is understood as the one and universal church, the church of over the world in which the Holy Spirit engages. Then, we propose the term meloclesia, from the Greek word melos, which means member (Watts 2008:125), added with the word ecclesia, which in this article refers to members of a local church or denomination. Finally, the term meroclesia formed with a combination of the words meros, which means parts in English (Watts 2008), and ecclesia, which in this context is interpreted as a denomination, or part of the one and unified church (somaclesia). From time to time, the one universal church worldwide is presented with the word eisomaclesia (sometimes somaclesia), which comprises various denominations that express the diversities of each theology. Those denominations are meroclesia that contain meloklesia, the local churches or church members.

The nature of the church in Jigsaw images: Somaclesia and Meroclesia

The uniqueness of one complete portrait, formed by the layout of each jigsaw piece, inspires the nature of diversity or partiality. Each jigsaw piece occupies a predetermined pattern without being allowed to switch places. There may be only a slight, very subtle indentation that separates the two parts of a jigsaw so that people think they can be interchanged. Instead of forming a complete and beautiful image, changing places, not in the pattern, will result in a blurry picture. The pattern refers to the line formed by the presence of each piece before the whole image is parsed or separated; so that, when it is rearranged it will gain the same image. This pattern can be associated with the term blueprint because each piece will not be able to choose an arbitrary place.

The existence of patterns or blueprints is not to ignore the whole picture of the church because it is precisely avoided that a piece of the jigsaw will consider to represent the entire picture. The part exists within itself and does not represent the whole picture; however, the image would not be completed without it. The blueprint pattern is not a rigid line or boundary that prevents the church from moving dynamically, interrelating another space, because openness is also essential, not an ‘intervention’ that results in fusion, either in a deliberate or ‘natural’ form. The pattern only functions as a doctrinal boundary so that each piece does not attempt to convert the other parts.

The nature of jigsaw parts reflects that the church must realise its diverse and personal existence. Diversity describes differences rather than just looking at a large number (plural). Paul uses the body’s image to show the various functions and gifts that characterise each church denomination: hand, foot, etc. Each piece is a part (meroclesia) and a member (meloclesia) of that part (1 Cor 12:27). Each meroclesia cannot switch places although it is possible for one piece to perform multiple functions. This is what distinguished the use of the jigsaw and the body in understanding the differences or diversities as the essence of the unity; the part of the body expresses the function, even could do multiple ones, and the jigsaw piece expresses a theological perspective or doctrine that reflects its church denomination. A part of the body can do another body’s function, such as a hand might do the foot’s or otherwise; however, a jigsaw piece cannot exchange its spot; it cannot place what is not belonging.

The use of meroklesia is related to the position or place, emphasising that each part is only a part of the one and complete picture, not the whole. Each jigsaw piece is arranged to form a whole image, which previously may have been shown before being dismantled. The most important thing is the art of composing a complete picture or playing a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of the jigsaw does not have to be played on a patterned board; this might be usual for children who play with the jigsaw by placing its pieces according to the pattern on the board. The art of playing it for adults is how to arrange each piece to fit others without a pattern on the board, even without seeing the image previously. Indeed, there is only one picture that will be formed because a series of pieces cannot create another picture according to the imagination of the people who compose it.

In the jigsaw concept, meroclesia is a piece that describes a church denomination, which may function as a leg or an arm in the metaphor of the body of Christ. Furthermore, as legs or hands, meroclesia has members called meloclesia. In the jigsaw frame, meroclesia is a body (soma) consisting of members, even though the subject is only the jigsaw piece itself. In the essence of its partiality, meroclesia must be understood as the perfect form of ecclesia (meros), which takes place in a whole unity with other meroclesia. Meros is ecclesia, like a local church, although different from a universal one, both are the only one church of God ever (Gros, Meyer & Rusch 2000:866). In the context of the church denomination, meros is the whole of soma, which in the jigsaw picture is limited by a pattern line as the space of the wholeness of the ecclesia. On the pattern line or blueprints, the meroclesia gets its perfect form; simultaneously, at each meros’s location, the eisomaclesia is manifested.

The pattern line of each spot of jigsaw pieces is not a universal playing ground for ecclesia but a part of many types of equipment on the playground. The playing foundation of ecclesia is a jigsaw board used to lay and arrange each piece side by side on its only spot. How each meroclesia can be (are) part of eisomaclesia is caused by having the same playing ground. It means there is the most fundamental core of the one and universal church, which allows every meroclesia to see its blueprint in a jigsaw board. The identity that cannot be separated from any theology that most characterises a denomination or meroclesia is the Trinity. Thus, Trinity becomes a playing ground, like a jigsaw board, for every church, either meroclesia or meloclesia (Gros et al. 2000:280–284). Any church that refuses the Trinity cannot be placed on the spot of a jigsaw board; however, this article does not address the topic of the Trinity specifically.

Trinity also becomes a grand design of this playing jigsaw because the church unity must reflect on the Trinity relationship (Volf 1998). This does not mean that the triune God is the end point of the church’s journey towards unity, but the church’s participation in trinitarian space and movement (Zizioulas 2009). Here is the big picture of the jigsaw, a trinitarian space encompassing diversity. Each meroclesia has an area of theology that becomes a blueprint rather than a rigid boundary that avoids the room of togetherness. The triune God as the mastermind has made a complete portrait with each of its parts as a point of interest and a source of imagination for setting the church unity today, like placing jigsaw pieces on its spot, side by side. The existing jigsaw pieces are not a matter of number or physical form but the nature of the diversity that exists in unity. In the end, it was realised that playing jigsaw is entirely about placing diversity in forming unity or entity.

The Churches such as Protestant, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Charismatic and even Catholic are meroclesia, which has pattern line to be put side by side and open to one another, to establish an eisomaclesia (one church). Pentecostal is meroclesia in eisomaclesia to create a one and universal church, along with other meroclesia, like Reformed, Evangelical, and other denominations (Vondey 2011). However, within that blueprint spot as the authority of the meroclesia line, Pentecostals become one and complete ecclesia, likewise the others. Thus, every denomination will be a perfect church in its meroclesia line. The meroclesia church cannot change places for any reasons previously mentioned, but in eisomaclesia, every meroclesia was reconciled (Gros et al. 2000:449–450). Each denomination has a theological colour that characterises itself; persons will be identified as Protestants, Evangelicals, Pentecostals or Charismatics because of living the theology they understand. And in the end, the diversity of denominational identities exists in each of them and occupies their meroclesia space. Pentecost takes up space in its jigsaw-piece blueprint and will never become the final form of the church’s journey to perfection. Pentecost theology did not encapsulate all the theologies that had existed before in their historical development phases lines, such as Evangelicals and Wesleyan, because Pentecostal theology is perfected in Pentecostal meroclesia, not in eisomaclesia.

Church unity: Recognising and respecting diversity

The church’s unity, in principle, is mainly related to the expression of maturity. Remember what Paul said to the church at Ephesus in reaching maturity through the unity of faith and the knowledge of Christ (Eph 4:13); he begins with the phrase ‘keep the unity of the Spirit’ (Eph 4:3) (Mayer 2013). This kind of formulation cannot be ignored, which a mature church (andra teleion) can only be achieved by maintaining unity (enotes). On the other hand, unity requires maturity in understanding and giving space for plurality. However, through this phrase in Ephesians 4:3–13, Paul seems to emphasise the point of ‘seeking unity’ as a way and the first step to reaching church maturity.

Unity as the point of the journey of the church maturity, in the form of unity of faith and knowledge of Christ, begins with the church’s efforts to maintain the unity of the Spirit. The concept of the unity of the Spirit is a fundamental thing that, according to Veli-Matti Kärkäinen, is defined by the unity based on the Triune God (Karkkainen 2017:278). The form or model of the unity of Trinity is further elaborated by Kärkkäinen, citing Robert Muthiah’s proposal that must link unity in the church: relationality, presence for others, equality, non-dominance, unity, difference (Karkkainen 2017:286). Just like the three Persons of the Trinity God who are interrelated, and each is different but still equal, the church is essentially practicing and striving for the unity of the Spirit. The church, composed members and parts related to each other in diversities, does not dominate or even claims to be superior because, factually, each denomination is equal in unity (Siahaan et al. 2022).

The church’s unity in a jigsaw frame provides a space of togetherness for each denomination to show its distinctive identity. The characteristic shown through church teachings, liturgy and the gift of ministry is an opportunity to be opened without having to remove the borders. The inter-denominational relationship must be understood as a manifestation of the Trinity relationship, which is based on true love that is eternal. Joas Adiprasetya clarified the nature of this relationship by emphasising the use of the term perichoresis, which has implications for life and gives space for multiplicity, where one denomination is a friend to another (Adiprasetya & Sasongko 2019). Within the framework of the integrity of the body of Christ, which is depicted through a jigsaw puzzle, the openness of each denomination does not have to remove the border that maintains each other’s uniqueness so that one meroclesia can penetrate the other. The unity that removes barriers is like ignoring the nature of Personal differences of the triune God, which is embodied in the church’s life. At this point, unity demands maturity, which has the purpose of maturing the church.

Unity as a maturity language

Maturity is articulated as the language of spiritual growth or the growth of the Christian faith. This growth leads people to a level of spiritual maturity that cannot or should not be generalised, beyond the meroclesia borderline even though the Bible provides the indicator of spiritual growth, the language of meroclesia limits it so as not to measure the level of people’s spirituality to other groups. Being spiritual should make the church open to other denominations, both in meloclesia and meroclesia contexts.

This jigsaw puzzle metaphor provides space for spiritual growth together by recognising and understanding the diversity of the churches. Diversity is the language of unity that embraces the fellowship of the diverse. The word meroclesia reflects the diversity of the church, each of which has its theological characteristic or colour. The growth of each church member is the responsibility of each church and its denomination, which is moving towards maturity or meroclesia wholeness, not eisomaclesia. The entirety of eisomaclesia is a construction formed from each meroclesia, which at that point is the achievement of a completed jigsaw form (teleios). Each denomination has a way of experiencing spiritual growth (Adiprasetya 2020), even in states that might be considered profane. If the growth of meloclesia at the point of its finality is to reach eisomaclesia (one church body), then openness to other meroclesia becomes inevitable. This openness is the expression of a mature love, which, borrowing a lens of Matthew 5:48, that maturity is a form of wholeness (perfect): ‘You must be perfect’.

In the line of the meroclesia pattern, there is a boundary that becomes the space to grow as a whole. The way Pentecostal-Charismatic people grow is not something that bothers and worries other theological groups because they are on the way to Pentecostal meroclesia maturity. Likewise, other meroclesia do not make their growth an ideal pattern for different groups. There is then no room for criticising the deviations. Criticism can occur or be carried out as a discussion or a dialogue expression of openness on the playground. Criticism is not to be used as a way of converting or dominating, for the simple reason that theology will again become a tool of colonialism as in the postcolonial era.

The Bible articulates perfection (teleios) as the language of accountability because teleios means to accomplish, that is, to complete responsibilities in the call of the Christian faith (cf. Jn 17:4). Completing duties can also be imagined by reaching the finish line in a runner’s trajectory (cf. 2 Tm 4:7). That is the responsibility that must be completed as a reflection of the perfection or maturity of the church. If this is the maturity and model of the church, then the measure is the achievement of the finish line, which does not always have to be a straight line or a circular shape of the runner’s trajectory that starts at the start line and ends at the finish line. Achieving the finish line may take filling the entire space of the meroclesia blueprint, the line that forms the pattern for placing each piece of the jigsaw.

The maturity of meroclesia occurs in the ability to put oneself entirely and wholly in the blueprint already existing in the eisomaclesia frame. The piece must be intact, not torn, with no broken parts, so as not to create spots that can remove value from the entire image. If one piece is not intact or torn apart, the other pieces placed next to it, even if they conform to the pattern (whole), will not be able to make a complete and perfect image. The imperfection becomes a value for each part (meroclesia) even though the other parts are already intact in the jigsaw piece pattern. The perfection of meroclesia in the blueprint will create a complete picture of eisomaklesia. Thus, the unity sought at the meloclesia and meroclesia (Eph 4:3) will make maturity (teleios) the ecclesia, shown through the unity of faith and knowledge.

Embodying the unity of the church: What does it take?

Recognising the nature

The unity of the church, finally, which is depicted through the complete picture of the jigsaw puzzle, does not merely fill the theological discourse space but is embodied in a formula or strategy that should be considered in the future. The formula is clear: the jigsaw shows denominational diversity as the essence of meroclesia, which must, first, be recognised for its existence and then arranged by placing it according to the line of the blueprint pattern. That line is not a barrier to sharing, filling each other and opening to others with a purpose to maturate each other by understanding the unity of faith through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This line will not disappear because it becomes a boundary for the uniqueness or characteristic of identity where each denomination cannot go too far to judge the doctrinal differences.

The struggle to embody church unity continues to be echoed, and forms of praxis are sought, including in the era of advancing digital technology. In today’s post-digital age, the church has also taken its liturgical form in a virtual space, where all forms of physical limitations can be bridged and even broken through. The benefits of digital functions are getting stronger through pandemic situations that force all records of attendance and physical gatherings to be limited at levels that still provide tolerance to strict ones. The church has also built virtual buildings through the digital technology (Dwiraharjo 2020), so church worship has shifted to a house worship (Widjaja et al. 2020). Unconsciously, the church is forced out of the physical building and wanders in the digital world to carry out its ministry spiritually.

The digital church becomes a ‘catholic’ space with great potential to embody church unity. In this digital space, the freedom to access church services or worship is as easy as choosing a menu on an online shopping order. In the digital space, the jigsaw line still exists as a form to determine the menu variants that are presented according to the desired theological tastes through church worship schedules. If the digital space can provide wide-open access for every Christian to enter the wished virtual church, then it is not impossible that universal church unity can be embodied.

However, a disruptive reality becomes a shadow of this advanced digital technology, so the threat of disintegration should not be ignored and underestimated. Today, the behaviour of attacking each other for popularity among theologians has become an exciting show for some on digital social media. The unity of the church, which is understood correctly in this jigsaw frame, will minimise negative attitudes such as attacking each other because the unity of the church in the concept of the body of Christ is maturing. The openness, as a characteristic of the Trinitarian church, must continue to be echoed, both in the form of ecumenical appeals as well as discourses in theological dissemination spaces, so that the church’s maturity is much more mature and able to provide space for others.

Hospitality: A discourse

If the effect or consequence of maturity is openness, then the impact is the attitude of accepting differences (strangers) or hospitality. Simply, hospitality is understood as an action to welcome and make friends with strangers (Adiprasetya 2013, 2018; Jeffress 2017). Allan Sutherland gives a biblical narrative about this hospitality in Matthew 25:31–46 (Sutherland 2010), how should Christians treat the differences. The stranger can be understood as people who are different, in culture, religion and even church denomination identity. Not every church is ready to take discrepancies, especially if it is about dogmatic differences. Some church denominations still consider themselves very biblical and refuse to recognise the differences as maturing or even complementing each other. The nature of non-domination in the fellowship of the trinity of God implies equality and the non-superior attitude of one denomination towards other denominations (Siahaan et al. 2022). God’s love for the world is an act of His hospitality, so the church must do the same, to love others with an act of hospitality.

Why does the church experience so many cases of intolerance, especially in Indonesia? Those cases are not only supposed to be understood as a point of achievement for ‘suffering with Christ’ but also as a reflective question of church involvement in the social sphere. The church must make a social encounter just as a social relation, without any intention to convert the differences. The first church born on the day of Pentecost became a community that was ‘having favor with all the people’ (Ac 2:47) (Andersen 1988; Noble 2018) although they risked being suffered as well. Amy Oden says that the early church did hospitality (Oden 2001), which is the same perspective as that of Amos Yong (2008); that is why they were welcomed and loved by many people. Hospitality teaches one how to welcome and overcome differences in strangers, even if the result is an unfavourable risk (Lakawa 2011).

Hospitality stimulated the equality (Rinukti, Siahaan & Putri 2022); this attitude can make differences accepted and respected. In arranging the jigsaw pieces by placing them side by side, as a metaphor to establish the church unity, the attitude of hospitality is mostly required. Church denominations must be hospitable to other denominations that have different theology; thus the eisomaclesia may be fulfilled. The attitude of hospitable that is built out must start from among the members of the body of Christ, from every meroclesia. The church must get used to being a host for fellow Christians without distinction of denomination and church doctrinal, without intending to win over and make them church members. It is possible that meroklesia is seemingly very hospitable but tends to make the conversion in the evangelisation Field (Park 2002), which is still practiced by certain churches. Openness and hospitality must be free from intrigue (Shepherd 2014). Hospitality becomes an attitude that must be continuously developed among Christians because it can reflect spiritual maturity. Hospitality also fosters an ability to receive diversity as a reality that cannot be ignored.


The metaphor of the Jigsaw Puzzle offers an understanding that diversity is the essence of church unity, and unity is the essence of diversity. The aspiration of embodying church unity is not like creating a fellowship by uniting a plurality of churches but understanding it in a trinitarian nature through the image of a jigsaw puzzle, that the one church is the one with multiplicity as essence. While the multiplicity needs to be conscious of their identity as pieces (meroclesia), so each piece is a complete form as a church (meroclesia), which, together with the others, forms a unified whole church body (eisomaclesia) through reflecting the Trinity relationship.


Special thanks to Professor Joas Adiprasetya for his guidance with this research article.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

All authors contributed equally to this work.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors.


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