Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Devil's Advocate

I've been thinking a lot lately about what a friend said during a time of fellowship recently. He was talking about what someone had said on a local Christian TV station. This person said that he was going to play the "Devil's Advocate" on a certain subject matter. Did he really know what he was saying in using that phrase? Unfortunately, like many others, I too have sometimes used that phrase myself. Did I really know what I was saying?

Time for a little word definition. What is an "advocate?" According to the Gage Canadian Dictionary, an "advocate" is: "v. speak in favor of; recommend publicly. n. 1. a person who pleads or argues for; 2. a lawyer who pleads in a law court; barrister."

So, if we were to use the word "advocate" properly in accordance with its dictionary definition, then a "Devil's Advocate" is a person who pleads or argues in defence of the Devil. The "Devil's Advocate" is essentially the Devil's defence lawyer.

Does a Christian really want to plead the Devil's case before God or man? Obviously not! If they do, can they rightly then even be called "Christian?" Hmm, there's a interesting question. Some might say that "Devil's Advocate" is just a saying that really means nothing. Perhaps yes, and perhaps no. Perhaps that's exactly what the Devil wants us to think.

Maybe it's time we all thought a little more about what we intend to say before we actually say it. Maybe it's time to "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one" (Matthew 5:37). Why would we want any association with the Devil, much less be his defence lawyer? How can we do that and then be devoted to Jesus at the same time? If we don't  mean that sort of definition with that phrase, then why is it that we still use that phrase, given what it really means to be a "Devil's Advocate?"

One thing is for sure, and that is that I will be much more careful in using certain phrases and expressions in the future. I certainly don't ever want to be a "Devil's Advocate!"

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  1. I too, have used that phrase. The expression refers to someone who is arguing a position that is not his own. So, though I agree with you, if I look at the other side of the coin, it could easily be argued, that only a Christian can "play the devil's advocate".

    You are right that we should watch what we say. Another expression to consider is: "Speak of the devil" people forget the second part of that, which is "... and in he walks."

    Thanks for giving us something else to ponder.

  2. I agree that "devil's advocate" is only an expression. However, does that then make it OK for me to use it? Just because our society may accept something as being OK, does that make it right for the true believer? If I use it as an expression, like many others do, am I not ultimately playing into the hands of the devil (as previously quoted Matthew 5:37) where Jesus said that "anything beyond this comes from the evil one"? I wonder. Likewise the Apostle Paul said, "Watch your life and doctrine closely" (1 Timothy 4:16). Just a thought.