Original Research

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

Harls E.R. Siahaan, Johannis Siahaya
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2645 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2645 | © 2023 Harls E.R. Siahaan, Johannis Siahaya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 July 2022 | Published: 27 February 2023

About the author(s)

Harls E.R. Siahaan, Faculty of Theology, Jakarta Theological Seminary, Jakarta; and Department of Theology, Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Pelita Bangsa, Jakarta, Indonesia
Johannis Siahaya, Department of Theology, Sekolah Tinggi Agama Kristen Teruna Bhakti, Yogyakarta, Indonesia


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.


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


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