Latino Leadership Circle Attends Emegent Conference at Yale

By David Ramos


From February 6th—8th members of the Latino Leadership Circle, Jose Humphreys, Luis Alvarez and I attended the Emergent Conference at Yale Divinity School.  The featured guest was Dr. Miroslav Volf who openly shared with the attendees and answered our questions.  Volf used his textbooks, Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, as well as his, Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, as points of departure for his discussion.  Mclaren_volf

Miroslav Volf is the son of a Pentecostal minister.  His work, personal struggle and passion for war torn Yugoslaviawas described by one of his former students who visited him in Croatia during the war.  Volf contends that the hermeneutical circle is informed by life not merely thought and argues for a “theology for a way of life.”  He reiterated Jurgen Moltmann’s claim that “theology has been marginalized because theologians are afraid to pick up issues that move people in daily life.”  As opposed to a staid, rigid monolithic theology, Volf says that, “Theology is not a system, it is imaginative, fluid, and progresses toward something; it is a constructive effort towards a way of life that is consistent.”

Volf lamented the practice of many churches that seemed to shy away or even feel embarrassed for some of the claims of the gospel and attempted to assist it.  He said that in many churches he attended he felt, “psychologized, and socialized.”  People attempt to “help” the gospel with their language and categories instead of trusting the story, “The heart of our faith is about what someone else did for us and not what we do; I am not a Christian because I hold but because I am held.”  Volf went on to say that “we are so obsessed with ourselves” and that “many in the church are drugged by the consumerist culture, petty pleasures and are divorced from the great struggles of the world.”

Volf’s breath of knowledge and active engagement with Barth, Moltmann, Luther, Nietzche, Foucault, and Said (to name of few) keeps one oscillating in a nexus of past and present, church and culture, history and vision, theory and praxis.  With regards to Nietzche, Volf says, “I think of Nietzsche who is so engaged with God—he is angry at God; the indifference of many Christians troubles me—to be angry with God is much closer.” 

During these few days I sensed a spiritual restlessness of many, keen desire of participating in crafting a new vision for the church and ministry, along with a great sense of hope for the future of the organic, deliberate and conscientious communities we are called to create.

Special “Shout-Outs”:

To the ubiquitous, man-in-demand, cyber-guru and visionary Rudy Carrasco—it was great hanging out with you man.  Let’s keep dreaming and weaving. 

To my man Anthony Smith, a.k.a. “Post-modern Negro,” who was droppin’ science during our whole time there; I truly enjoyed our fellowship—you are a blessed brother, please, let’s stay in touch.

To Tony Peterson, thanks for the laughs, the honesty and the fellowship.

To Jay Voorhies for your engagement and openness.

To Brian D. McLaren, whose great spirit, humility and life epitomizes someone who not only thinks grace filled thoughts but does grace filled deeds; thank you for taking the time to embrace us.


  1. Dave,
    Welcome back to the blogosphere! I’ve missed your commentaries recently. I so wish I could have attended the Yale event with you guys. Any interest in coordinating an emerging church conversation here in NYC?

  2. Jeremy,
    Thanks, I’ve been buried. I haven’t posted since December. We had a good time there.
    LLC has been in some discussion with Rudy and some others for such an event. There is a new cohort in NYC that we would like to hook up with as well. Jeremy, we have to catch up. Let’s talk more about this. We need a discussion like this in NYC.

  3. Arnaldo Mejias

    Are “emerging” cults part of the emergent discussion? I recently learned of a fast-growing cult based in Miami, FL, led by former Pentecostal Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda (Puerto Rican). I am dumbfounded as to how people have fallen for this guy. Here is an example of a gospel composed of Word of Faith teachings, Mormonism, Charismatic Neo-Pentecostalism, and plain spiritual blindness:
    Jesucristo hombre,
    Apóstol José Luis De Jesús Miranda
    Bienvenidos a la página de
    Jesucristo hombre, Apóstol José Luis De Jesús Miranda
    Presidente – Fundador
    del Ministerio Internacional Creciendo en Gracia, Inc.
    Aquí encontrará saludos periódicamente en escrito, en audio y en video.
    Jesucristo hombre:
    1. “Porque hay un solo Dios, y un solo mediador entre Dios y los hombres,
    Jesucristo hombre,…” 1ª a Timoteo 2:5.
    [other texts deleted for space]
    Also read Mariah Blake’s article, “Jesus Redux,” in the Miami New Times:
    This “ministry” is growing–and fast! It has “churches” in many Latin American countries and U.S. cities. They even have a motion picture titled “Love for Rent,” produced by a follower who became a millionaire. Ironically, they confront orthodox Christians the way we should confront heretics (but fail miserably to do so for the sake of “tolerance”). In a sense, that makes for two autochthonous Puerto Rican religions: Mita en Aarón and now Creciendo en Gracia (aka, the cult of De Jesus Miranda). Sad, indeed…

  4. Arnaldo,
    While I am not a spokesperson for the Emergent Church discussion I can share a little of what I do know. To begin with this is an important question because as Christians we ought to be concerned with Christian orthodoxy. To answer your question I don’t think the key players of the Emergent discussion view themselves as an “apologist” movement as much as daring to claim a vital Christianity that moves beyond a mere spectator sport to a relational, organic and responsible Christianity that is informed by past, present and future.
    Some of its values include:
    1. Missional living
    2. Narrative theology
    3. Christ-likeness
    4. Authenticity
    Some of its pioneers include:
    -Brian McLaren
    -Leonard Sweet
    -Karen Ward
    For more information you can go to:
    Arnaldo, I’m not sure if you are using a word play on “emerging” or are suggesting that there are cults stemming from the emergent discussion; I think that you are suggesting the former.
    While there are many naysayers of the Emergent discussion (I think that critique is healthy and keeps everyone accountable and I’m sure that the folk at Emergent would agree with this), I have not experienced another discussion that is as deliberate and serious about theology as the Emergent discussion.
    On the note of the cult in Miami, I agree on how sad this state of affairs is and how many are led astray by often charismatic leaders. However, I had approximately five people send me a link to an article about this. Upon reading it, three words into the lead sentence the first thing I learn about this heretic is that he was Puerto Rican. This made me wonder why so many of my anglo brothers suddenly sent me this article. I remained silent, however, my visceral reaction was like I was being told, “There go those freakin’ Ricans screwing things up again.”
    When I think of David Koresh or Jim Jones I don’t immediately think of, or even now know, their ethnicity. By immediately describing him as a Puerto Rican I came away feeling that there was a suggestion that somehow his heresy was related to him being Puerto Rican. I think it is important to point out these subtle innuendos if we are to have an authentic pan-ethnic dialogue.
    Arnaldo, thank you for your observations and comments.
    David Ramos

  5. Arnaldo Mejias

    Thanks for your response, as it challenges me to write clearly. First, I pointed Miranda out as Puerto Rican because of the context of this blog. But I see your point; certainly cult leaders have come (and will come) from all ethnic backgrounds and both genders. For example, at present there is a Chinese woman who says she is Christ; another example is Rev. Moon. I’m not sure if the Anglo brothers implied anything more than “this cult is close to home [for Latino brothers].” At least that’s how I felt when I learned of the cult’s growing presence. Second, I know some people are critical of the Emergent discussion, but I wasn’t aware of the charges related to cults stemming from it. Indeed, my use of the term was only a play on words. Blessings!

  6. Arnaldo,
    I’m not suggesting you are doing this, I’m just reacting, and more than likely reacting to my own misperceptions. A stressful week, not enough time or coffee may lead to some grumpy responses directed at journalists’ framing of this issue. My apologies if I came off wrong to you and/or erroneously inferred negativity upon my anglo colleagues who sent this to me.
    Still wrestling with my own flesh.
    Peace & Blessings,

  7. Arnaldo Mejías

    Greetings and blessings, all! I thought you’d be interested in the conference at Harvard Divinity School on Black Pentecostalism. I hope you enjoy the lectures!
    En la lucha,
    Arnaldo (Tampa, FL)

  8. Dear Sir,
    I would like to know your ministry, so please send me application so I can attend your conference. with love K.J.Babu

  9. Dear Sir,
    I would like to know your ministry, so please send me application so I can attend your conference. with love K.J.Babu

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