Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Church's Messages Spark Debate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Church's Messages Spark Debate

Article excerpt

The white frame Church of Christ is nestled unobtrusively among the homes that line Elm Street in St. Charles. It sits across from two public schools and not far from the busy Elm-Hawthorne intersection. A message board stands outside the church near the street. Church of Christ preacher Steve Harper changes the messages periodically.

To some who pass the church, the sign's phrases appear to be anti-Catholic. One Catholic woman, who asked that her name not be used, expressed dismay at the messages. She cited several that have appeared in the last few months. They were "The Pope is Not Head of the Church," Col. 1:18, and "Pope Says Evolution and Bible says Not," Ge. 1:26-27.

"We feel as though they think of us as their enemy," she said. Not so, Harper said. He explained that his missives are targeted not only to Catholics but to people from all denominations who seek religious truth through doctrines formulated and dictated by men. He said the goal of the Church of Christ is to get passers-by to challenge their faith by reading the New Testament, rather than to accept what has come to them through religious traditions, evolutionary doctrines and their pastors and families. "It is everyone's individual responsibility to search the Scripture dai ly to discover the things that Paul spoke of as truth," he said. "We believe that the New Testament condemns division. While a couple of the messages may not agree with Catholic doctrine, I would call them Scripture-based. We have also put up messages that take issue with other doctrines, including Calvinism." Harper rejects the concept of ecumenical interchange among those of differing beliefs. "It would violate my conscience to join those who would teach what I consider contradictory. It would be like going into business with someone who is your opponent," he explained. The Church of Christ membership numbers about 65, Harper said. They meet at 10 a.m. every Sunday for Bible classes followed by a worship service and a Bible lesson by Harper. …

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