Research (?!) Committees
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 10:22:09 AM EST
One of the strategies used to steeplejack a church is the creation of an "Independent Research  Committee." The term `independent' is a bit deceptive. It implies that this will be a group within the church free from the constraints of presumption and influence. It requires that any person who has any tie to, or affection for, or appreciation of the teachings and traditions of the denomination to which the local church is affiliated be prohibited from serving on this committee.

Well, while that may afford them the ability to appear `Independent,' the truth is it is they are anything but. None of the people who serve on this committee are `independent.' Each one is beholden to a movement working behind the scenes with an agenda: to determine that the denomination to which their church is affiliated has abandoned its roots; has disassociated itself from the teachings of scripture; and has abrogated doctrines essential to Christianity.

They are self-created, and - as the term `independent' implies - are not accountable to the church council. They will report to the council, but not be accountable to it. This - they argue - keeps them free from an influence that would compromise the data. After all, the council of any church is going to want to find information that supports the teachings of their denomination.

Often, fomenters of dissent, activists intent on demise and destruction, will circulate a petition calling for the creation of this `independent research committee'. Committee members' names will come from this petition, which is a clandestinely accrued list of allies they have found by methods of which the leaders of the church have been unaware. Even the existence of this `petition' is something often of which the council and the pastor have no knowledge - and I have often seen it to be the case that when asked to see such petition, it is not produced (calling into question whether or not it even exists). Often times, just the threat of a petition is enough, and church leaders find themselves reacting to a force that is thrust upon them, and giving in to demands without asking appropriate questions. The petition in question should always be demanded, and the names on the list should be contacted personally to find out exactly what they were told when they signed this petition, and what they thought they were agreeing to when they signed it. This crucial step is often missed.

The `research' committee will then begin its `independent' work. Which means that they will accrue articles `downloaded from websites' (read here `handed to them by an outside agent who has written this material and circulates it to a number of churches'), or gathered from trusted (yet unnamed) sources - probably professors of very conservative seminaries, pastors of `evangelical' churches, or authors of theologically fundamentalist bent. The research team is often then the group that `produces' (read `copies and amends'), copies, and distributes their findings in the format we have come to call "the Matrix." (see my article printed on this site: 27. The Matrix  (Shadow War On Mainline Churches, Battle For Mainstream Faith)

All of that is to say they do no research: they are a channel through which the work of others has been funneled. They are not honest about their agenda. They are not honest about their motivations. They are not honest about their allies. They are not honest about their tactics. They are not honest about their methods. They are not honest about their conclusions.

Some of the findings of these `independent research committees) include the following:

·    The denomination in question does not believe in God: evidence is cited, often quoting out of context a target of the steeple-jacking movement - a liberal biblical scholar, pastor, or theologian who is then arbitrarily chosen as the spokesperson of the entire denomination.
·    The denomination does not believe in the authority of scripture - again, a voice is cited, only here a scripture passage is found that controverts the statement made (again, out of context) by the denomination's `chosen representative'. An example of this would be the one found on the Biblical Witness Fellowship website:

"I live in a very inclusive culture you can see that, right now as part of China in that . . . we have 722 gods and goddesses and I think for your friends it might be too much, so three is better than one at least. Why monotheism used in the wrong way can be extremely dangerous, you understand. We live in a culture with many gods and goddesses, we know other people have their own points of devotions and they are equally sacred, and divine for them just like our Jesus, our spirit, our God is very important for us. That is radical inclusivity".

-    Kwok Pui-lan, formerly of Hong Kong, Assoc. Prof. of Theology, Episcopal Div. School, Cambridge, Mass.

Quotes like these, pulled out of context, are used to lead people to believe that the denomination itself has gone awry. No member of the church will have even heard of the theologian, and would have no idea how her teachings are or are not received by the denominational leaders. But because they are both taken out of context and then recontextualized by the `research committee', lay members are shocked into believing that the more radical teachings quoted have become the accepted teachings of the entire denomination.

What the `independent research committee' does, then, is serve as a conduit of information for outside agitators who design is to foment dissent and disrupt the internal workings of the congregation.

They are effective only IF the church leaders let them operate by their own rules. A United Church of Christ congregation in central Missouri - which had been targeted for attack - took the invitation to `form an independent research committee' seriously, only they took over the creation and authorization of it. They took all of the questions to be researched and did three months of real research. They consulted denominational leaders, other pastors, and biblical scholars and theologians and produced for their congregation 65 pages of objective material. It was a very balanced presentation, and quieted much of the dissent in their church and sent the agitators, for a time at least, into hiding.

Churches who are approached by an invitation to form such a committee must be very, very wary and should do everything in their power to uncover who is behind this request, and should do everything in their power - if any research is to be done - to control the manner in which such research material is accrued and circulated.

However; what group is EVER "from the constraints of presumption and influence."

Please don't cite the judiciary. My own personal experince has destroyed THAT myth.

by Kris W on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 11:07:58 AM EST

that any group is immune from bias - only to show that the 'independent research committees'  purport to be such a group. Any time I meet as a judicatory authority with any congregation engaged in this kind of conflict, I express openly a list of disclaimers: I tell them that I am present as an advocate for the church's affiliation with the denomination; if we are debating theology, I always inform them that my personal tendencies lean toward a more liberal view of the world. These are just a couple of examples, but the point is: I make clear before I engage with them from where I am coming, whom I respresent, and what my personal biases are. Only then are they able to make good decisions about how to hear what I am saying.

I also need to ask: I am not sure what I wrote that has anything to do with the judiciary. Can you help me understand that?
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 02:19:35 PM EST

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