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Every Foreign Land is Their Native Country, and Every Land of Birth is a Land of Strangers

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The author compares three models of the relation of church and state. The Hungarian king Stephen(± 1000 AD) pleads for a plural society with different cultural and ethnic traditions. Different religious traditions easily fit into this model. The model of the Roman Emperor Constantine (beginning of the 4th century) provides an intertwining of church and state. The unknown author of the epistle to Diognetus (± 200 AD) describes a church that is spread among the nations and does not identify itself with any one nation. The first and the last model are compatible while both exclude Constantine's. The difference with the modern idea of religious freedom is that this idea deals with individual believers while the model of Stephen and Diognetus speaks of a plurality of communities. That is a more solid base for human dignity because the community provides people a place to be at home.

Affiliations: 1: Dean of the Theological Faculty of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, International Reformed Theological Institute (IRTI), Extraordinary professor of the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa)


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