“While others have come to the concept of real presence through faith and or propositional biblical truths, I came to real presence through experience.” — Emilio Alvarez, Pentecostal Orthodoxy
Growing up Pentecostal, the theology around communion and baptism was centered on “symbolism.” We did not… we did NOT believe… Let me repeat that: We did NOT believe that the communion was the “actual presence” of Christ. That was Catholic and we all knew Catholics were going to hell.
The question on this side of my theological journey is this: How could we, as Pentecostals, believe in so much “reality” when it came to the Spirit (like healing and speaking in tongues) but we couldn’t understand the reality of Christ in the Table?
Like Alvarez, my understanding of “real presence” wasn’t reached by theological study alone. I did study. I read Luther when I was in seminary. I understood the Roman Catholic position. But I was completely “in” on this concept when I served bread in chapel at a Lutheran seminary I attended. I knew it was the presence of Christ overwhelming me as I served the bread and declared to each recipient, “The body of Christ for you.”
I appreciate Alvarez’s journey. Where he finds himself currently does indeed challenge me. I also identify with his experience as well as his intense study. There is a hunger that drives him and has driven me as well.