Bill Hodgson: Developments and Independence Day

I was happy to read the Guest View article, “American Insights: The right to resist” in the Cassville Democrat last week, outlining from a faith background, the history of how our nation’s founders reached conclusion that resisting tyranny can be reconciled with passages about respecting governing authorities.

I have been sharing a similar historical journey with my congregation the last two weeks, regarding how many contributors, religious and secular, were contributors to the development of the foundational statements that open our Declaration of Independence.

To me, this is encouraging because, more and more, people are recognizing that, while the scriptures, understood as inspired of God, don’t change, our human understanding grows and develops. Jesus gave example of this by the way he explained the commandments and teaching of Moses in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount.

Six times Jesus uses the phrase “You have heard it was said…but I say to you” in reference to a teaching that Moses had given. Jesus, as he said in (Matthew 5:17) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

In 5:21, he addresses the commandment not to kill. In 5:27, the commandment not to commit adultery. In 5:31ff, he addresses Moses’ provision about divorce. In 5:33, he addresses false oaths, in 5:38, he addresses “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.” In 5:43, he addresses that love of one’s neighbor extends to enemies as well.

It is significant that Jesus used the words, “You have heard it was said…” Moveable type printing wasn’t developed until the middle of the 15th century. Hearing was the main way scripture was given and received. Only a few possessed scrolls or books, which were handwritten.

Development has always been a matter of cooperation of many people together, sharing together what makes for growth. The Old Testament account about Cyrus, King of Persia, gives a wonderful example of religious freedom and even promotion from a foreign king.

The Acts of the Apostles reminds us from the first chapter that the remaining 11 apostles quickly began enlisting others to complete their own number and assist them in sharing the good news and with other needs as well. The book of Acts gives us numerous examples of a developing community working out new insights into their mission.

It was this same cooperative development that helped spark the beginning of our nation.

Pastor Fr. Bill Hodgson is the priest at St. Edward Catholic Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-4948 or stedwardcassville@

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