Amidst the Battle Cry

By David Ramos

“For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.  For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”  II Corinthians 10:3—5 Amplified Bible

            In the movie Jarhead, there is a scene where in the midst of a mortar attack, the protagonist apparently seems disembodied from the event—it is his first encounter of actual warfare.  There is a nearby explosion, he is abnormally calm as sand pelts his face and he almost seems to savor his baptism into the theater of war.  This morning I seemed to have a similar experience.  During the worship service a few benches behind me a brother begins to scream, “I LOVE YOU JESUUUUUUUUUUUUUS!!! I LOVE YOU JESUUUUUUUUUUS!!!  I LOVE YOU JESUUUUUUUUUS!!! 

Normally I would consider such outbursts undisciplined, or (how proud) I would regulate such behavior to new Christians—but not this time.  There, in the midst of a wonderful worship service, is this shriek of pure, unadulterated, unselfconscious cry for God.  No one seems fazed as they continue to praise God.  I am at once transfixed and transported by this moment—I am both participant and observer, time seems to go in slow motion as I take in all that is going on around me.  I feel that I am in the midst of a battle cry.  This shriek, of a son to his God, cuts through all the neat theology we learned in seminary, cuts through the carefully constructed modalities of church culture, cuts through the manicured etiquette of decorum, but it is there where it is most powerful!  In this cry I heard the cry of Bartimaeus who when rebuked about his shouting, shouted all the more!  (Mark 10:46—52).  In this cry I heard the bitter tears of Hezekiah crying out to his God for mercy!  (II Kings 20:1—7).  In this cry I heard the voice of a criminal hanging on the cross saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  (Luke 23:42).

In the midst of our postmodern turn we need to be careful of what we let in, what we deem as “old school,” “passé,” and irrelevant.  With my life often undergoing “spin cycle” I find it helpful to have a healthy suspicion of my own theology, philosophy, ideologies, political persuasions, and cultural preferences, to be careful of the “new and improved” the “We’re in the know, everyone else is outside,” the latest “shake and bake” church planting methods.  Ever so often it’s great to have your world shook up by the mortar blast of a nearby shriek.  Thank God for people who still believe that God answers prayer!  Thank God for those who still believe in miracles!  Thank God for those who still cry out to their God!  My prayer is that once the bullets start flying, I will be a courageous and effective soldier for God; keep me in your prayers. 


  1. This is wonderful Dave. I agree and this is certainly something that we should aware of. In my own journey this is what I am scrutizing and analyzing because in many conversations amongst those in the ‘church emerging’ the Spirit (as many Pentecostals have come to understand) is left out or regulated to the fringes. I see your roots coming out brother in your writing. As we all seek to minister effectively in this society, we MUST remember that the power to transform lives still rest with the power of God to invade our situation. It is important to have the ‘tactics’ in place but that in and of itself will not make the difference. A good looking program, a pastor with credentials up the wazoo is not what will make a person realize their wretched humanity, it is God and the personal encounter with a merciful, grace-full, loving God…oh oh I feel a preaching comin’ on…but I’m feeling your post bro. God is certainly up to something with you…with all of us…hence, we wise up, listen up…

  2. Devo, Liz
    You both remind me that theology is not a fixated endeavor, but prophets have always been there to remind us of other things that matter too (or even the most), in essence causing a good theological dissonance. In our limitedness, we all tend to emphasize some aspects of God more than others…This only demonstrates how we truly need the body of believers, because we all need both the Word and the Wind (Viento recio).

  3. Liz,
    Preach my sista! Predica! I like you appreciate the ground many of us have had to trod upon and am well acquainted with the price many of us have had to pay and some are continuing to pay to own their voice and break through the fallow ground of religion. Many of us have been forged in the fire of Pentecost and to lose that inheritance would simply be foolish. Paul is a great example of a “lit academic” someone with “knowledge on fire” as my brother Luis Alvarez says. Liz you are a voice crying in the wilderness. I truly appreciate gift of who you are and what you offer to our community and others. I guess we must fan each other’s flame.

  4. Jose,
    I love the idea of “theological dissonance” because dissonance is discomforting, disconcerting and disturbing. Often dissonance is a precursor to necessary change. Many of my breakthroughs in life were preceded by me feeling significantly miserable. Perhaps this theological, and dare I say soul dissonance, may just be a good sign that we are plowing towards some healthy growth. It’s becoming rather cool to witness all the change that is happening in our lives. Adelante mi hermano!

  5. These are great comments Liz and guys. I believe that the Charismatic renewal that took place a couple of decades ago must be a part of the emergent dialogue. As a matter of fact if it is not, emergent churches will simply be reshuffling the deck of cards of varying traditions, producing a conglomerate that will be relevant but devoid of power. That’s what Pentecostals or Convergent Pentecostals (coining Devo’s phrase) have to offer. This is what we have to bring to the table.

  6. Luis,
    It’s interesting that often Pentecostals are viewed by many as their “backwoods cousins,” they know they are out there but they wouldn’t necessarity invite them to dinner. This prevailing idea contributed by many (Mark Noll and others) argue that Pentecostals have contributed little to theological conversations (i.e., through the establishment of institutions of higher learning, etc). It is exciting that we are seeing a growing number of theologically trained Pentecostals who are changing this. Perhaps it is true that Pentecostals do not merely worship at the altar of Mars Hill, but also know the importance of the upper room. What would it look like to use (to use the phrase again) to have “knowledge on fire?” How will the Emergent movement negotiate its highly cognitive “dialogue” (this is good) with others for whom the gifts of the Holy Spirit is as important?

  7. Dave,
    I would argue that Pentecostalism has contributed heavily to the church movement. It has enthused it (literally from the Gk. EN THEO), put God back in it. In that respect it has contributed to a theology “from the south,” a practical theology, not necessarily articulated till recently.

  8. thanks for this blog. I am neither Latino nor Pentecostal. As a church planter in the Bronx, I am immersed by both. Thank you for being my teacher.

  9. Jared,
    I am truly blessed by your comments; while Latino identity and Pentecostalism are points of departure for theological and practical analysis and discussion, our prayer is that it isn’t limited to this but that it can contribute to the larger metanarrative. Please stay in touch, we are planning a special event for the end of January. More details will follow.
    Grace & Peace,

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