Daring the Messiah’s Gate and Infallibility

Doesn't look so tough

When I was an atheist, my Evangelical friend (now a Reformed Baptist pastor) told me of a way I could know Christianity was true: It was prophesied, he said, that no one could walk through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem except Jesus when He returns in glory.

I laughed at the notion but was quite pleased: all I had to do was go to Jerusalem, walk through this stupid gate, and Christianity is disproven! Now that’s the kind of prophecy I can get behind. One that can be demonstrated to be false.

Of course, I never went to Jerusalem to try it out, and soon I forgot all about it. A year later I became a Christian in the most unexpected way and soon learned about Protestant and Catholic differences. I wanted to prove Catholicism false (because I believed it was false, given what I had been taught in my Baptist church).

After talking with my Catholic friend, I learned about infallibility: the Catholic Church claimed that it taught infallibly on faith and morals and would never reverse a dogma. “Blood in the water!” I gleefully thought. “All I have to do is prove that the Catholic Church reversed a dogma or that one of its supposedly infallible teachings was false, and Catholicism would be proven to be a sham.”

I searched. I read. I tried to find one. And came up empty-handed. Sure, there were a few marginal cases from the past where this or that pope may have personally taught something erroneous. But nothing big and obvious and indisputable. And I knew that something as big and old and human as the Catholic Church must have reversed a dogma in an obvious way over the course of two thousand years. Or at least teach a falsehood.

So I focused on the teachings. Contraception in particular. “Who on earth could be against contraception?” Remember I was an atheist my whole life; contraception was unquestioned. As a Protestant, I never heard anything against it, either. So I studied the subject, waiting to laugh at the ridiculousness of Catholic doctrine on it. But as I read, I didn’t laugh, and the smile was quickly wiped off my face. “These arguments are pretty good,” I thought. “What else is there to this teaching?” And I kept digging, and the more I dug the more it made sense.

I presented this information to my Protestant friends and played “Catholic advocate” as we debated it. They didn’t have good counter arguments. They mostly thought I was crazy for even questioning whether contraception was wrong. That was an important milestone in my journey to Catholicism: on the doctrine I “knew” was most patently wrong, I had been the one who reversed my beliefs on the subject, contrary to everything I had expected. There was something to this Catholic thing, and I had to investigate further.

The rest is history. I never found a reversal of dogma. All the doctrines I examined had solid grounding in Scripture and/or Tradition. They were also good reasons supporting them. So I became Catholic.

I don’t put much stock in no one being able to walk through this Eastern Gate before Jesus, but I do put stock in the Spirit guiding the Church, leading her into all truth and reminding her of all that Jesus taught.

10 thoughts on “Daring the Messiah’s Gate and Infallibility”

  1. Hey Devin!

    I’m curious what other teachings you believed, at that time, that the Church had changed its mind on.

    1. Hi Justin!

      Well, the first thing was that it didn’t seem like the Catholic Church had changed its mind on much. I was looking for something big and glaring. The “best” example I could find of this ostensibly happening was on “outside the Church, no salvation.” Recently this same issue was brought up by a Reformed Protestant and the Called to Communion guys wrote a reply–both articles are worth reading: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/10/vandrunen-on-catholic-inclusivity-and-change/

  2. Hi Devin,

    I know you were using a metaphor, but I hope someday you make it over to the Holy Land. They call it the 5th Gospel. You’ll never hear the mass readings the same way again
    Case in point is that very gate. We had Mass in an outside amphitheater adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Agony. We could see from our vantage point across the Kidron Valley and see that very gate.

    When we were back home, the first time my wife and heard the Palm Sunday gospel readings, my wife and I both wept.

    As fate would have it, one of the elderly ladies I bring Communion to told me she had a book about Jerusalem she wanted me to borrow.

    Among other things, it talked about the Golden Gate. If you zoom in on the picture you have, you’ll see a small wrought iron fence. In the 20th c. there was a person who was taking pictures outside the gate, and fell in to a sink hole. He took pictures when he was in that sink hole, and you can make out the top of an arch UNDER the gate. According to the book, It was immediately back filled by the Muslim authorities.

    Pictures here (the website is kind of hinkey, but the photos are the real point: http://n7qvc.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/the-eastern-gate-of-jerusalem/
    I haven’t found the reference outside of that book, but it was chilling to consider the archway HE rode through on a donkey may be under the current gate, and may still there
    Pax

  3. Contraception was the one Catholic teaching that actually made sense, long before Mary or the Pope or Tradition did.

    It just made sense. I long ago reasoned if non-chastity was okay, then premarital sex, extra marital sex, prostitution, and porn are okay and all sorts of Rule #34 sex are also legitimate. I knew that the later set of things were not legitimate, especially from natural law (you just have to observe the effects such as disease, broken families, abortion, loneliness, time wasting, devaluing women and men, etc). Chastity outside of marriage just made sense, but I didn’t see how one could be chaste within a marriage, until I learned about the Catholic teaching against contraception.

    BTW, for fun, you might want to look up what Calvin, Luther, Wesley, and Zwingli have to say about contraception. Those guys didn’t mince words. Too bad Protestants have forgotten their roots.

  4. Contraception was the turning point for Dr. Scott Hahn, too! Pretty much his wife, as well.

    Both of them chose Contraception to “go after” because of the same thought-process you had. They, too, ended up coming to the same conclusions and went “contraception free” several years before they ended up doing the full conversion!

    Interesting how the Holy Spirit calls us to look deeper for the Truth!

    1. Darn it, and now you had to make me go learn about this Eastern Gate! LoL.

      What an interesting concept! I’ve never heard of it before, but as I was reading it, something popped into my head.

      Jesus, Himself, was (and is) the new Temple. When His Heart was pierced by the lance, couldn’t that be seen as the “opening of the Eastern Gate”?

      After all, through this final wound, His Precious Blood and water flowed forth (which we now recognize as His Divine Mercy through Saint Faustina).

      This would explain the other quotes from the article (which, BTW, mostly consist of OT prophecy). Jesus did, in fact, walk on the Mount of Olives. He now dwells with us forever through His Eucharist. And for as much as folks don’t like to picture His Passion as glorious, He gained for us salvation upon that gruesome Cross. His Death and subsequent Resurrection are about as glorious as it gets.

      Just some thoughts… a blog entry might just spawn from this. Ha ha! Thanks so much for the snippet, Devin! 🙂

      1. Oh, and while I’m on it, Dr. Reagan is incorrect in stating that it was the same “fickle crowd” that both blessed him and called for His Crucifixion.

        Those waving palms were followers of His and likely the Essenes who originally followed John the Baptist.

        When Christ was taken before Pilate and all that jazz, these folks wouldn’t have been present (as it would’ve been in his court). The Pharisees, Sadducees, and their cohorts would’ve been those calling for His Crucifixion as they’d’ve really been the only ones present.

        Okay… I’m done now. LoL.

      2. That’s a good question, one I don’t know the answer to. But I would find it more likely than the “prophecy” that no one (after 1560-whatever AD when the gates was sealed) will walk through it (again) before Jesus.

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