The Nation like an Idol: Apostle Paul on Nations and Borders
The rise of the national state is the result of the rise of the Enlightenment in the West, in which the Rousseauian citizen and civilian religion fill the void of the expelled Christianity. This leads to the phenomenon of seeing Christianity as inseparable from one's nation, state and its governing apparatus. In a challenge to this view, I offer a theological observation based on a text written by Luke, Acts chapter 17. Using exegetical and hermeneutical principles, my argument aims to emphasize the main points of Paul’s speech at the Areopagus. The apostle signifies that there is mutuality between the nations and the created world as they are derived from the same creator – God. This fact implies that God created the world and all its resources for an overall spiritual and physical well-being of humanity. Receiving life, breath and all (Acts 17:25), humanity has been given a distinctive role in the creative act of God, by using natural resources for the common good. Within the framework of the creation and its resources, God has arranged a specific context of time and space. The goal for this time/space provision is for God to have a relationship with all nations (Acts 17:27; cf. Deut. 32:8). Nationalism is idolatry, and idolatry is the wrong way to search for God. He is the ultimate judge, and the confirmation of this is the historical act of Jesus’ resurrection.