Thursday, November 5, 2009

Devils Advocate



I was recently accused of playing the devils advocate so in honor of that accusation I wrote this blog.

Devil's Advocate: Someone who takes a position he or she does not agree with for the sake of argument. This process can be used to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure.

The Devils Advocate was the common name for the position of Promoter of the Faith (a canon lawyer) in the Catholic church. It was the Devils Advocates job to argue against the canonization of a candidate. The Devils Advocate (Promoter of the Faith) would argue against God's Advocate (Promoter of the Cause) in the decision of rather or not the title of sainthood should be bestowed upon a candidate.

The Devils Advocate, although not always well liked, did play an important role in the Catholic chuch. Being called a Devils Advocate reminded me of a time when Iplayed the part of Devils Advocate in a very literal way. This happened years ago in the Sr. High Sunday School class that I substitute taught. The teacher had the idea of putting the divinity of Christ on trial. There would be two lawyers, witnesses and the teenagers would be the jury. I played the part of the devil. I tricked the witnesses into quoting scripture out of context, confusing prophecy, and twisting the truth. And, in the end, the unexpected happened, the devil won. At first that may sound like a Sunday School fail. After all, this was Sunday School and God is always supposed to win, right. The students went home confused, questioning their faith. A lot of them had never read the scriptures for themselves and just relied on what they were told. Jesus is God because the pastor said so or because their parents said so. But now, what was true? This forced them to wrestle with and take ownership of their own faith. They went home and they read the scriptures for themselves and in the end saw past my tricks. In the end I lost and God won.

3 comments:

Fran said...

The same dude also called you selfish and a dumb ass so he has no credibility with me.

Not Too Old said...

Being a devil's advocate, as you so point out, is not a bad thing. If we had no devil's advocates, there would be way more opinions out there being accepted as gospel truth. (I chose that phrase on purpose.)

From Fran's comment, I'd also say that this quote applies to you, from our man Al Einstein:

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

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