A few months back, when the ALS ice bucket challenges was flooding my newsfeed, I found it interesting how so many people wanted to express their unique opinion on the matter (as I’m pretty much doing right now). After the challenge went viral, the haters came out of the woodwork. They made the case that by blindly giving to this cause, we are withholding money from other important causes (boohoo). In response, the haters of the haters fought back and brought their insightful rebuttals. Then finally, we heard from individuals who actually had ALS, and let’s just say it shut everyone up.

I notice these kind of online battles occur a lot when an issue arises. Everyone wants to input an original thought to the conversation, something that hasn’t been said yet. And the thing that got me thinking is that I tend to do this a lot in the way I form my opinions and values in life. I find that I base a lot of my convictions and beliefs out of a reaction or a need to go against the grain. But I find that an opinion birthed in reaction doesn’t always produce a sound position. In fact, I find that my desire to play the devils advocate distracts me from actually articulating an accurate, well thought out opinion that I can believe in.

This happens a lot when it comes to my theology. Many of my strong opinions on church and Jesus stem from a reaction I have to an ugly encounter I experienced in my past. Or in many cases, they birth out of a reaction to a mainstream belief that everyone jumped on the bandwagon to (i.e. Purpose Driven Life/Church campaigns, Prayer of Jabez book sales, ACT LIKE MEN conferences etc.). For some reason, I loath bandwagons. It’s like when I’m in a worship service and everyone is standing, something in me just wants to sit down. And the irony is that when they all sit, I all of a sudden want to stand. I’m messed up huh?

And so as I grow up a bit (note that it’s just a bit), I’m beginning to realize how strong my convictions stand up to the reality of life. Because when my opposing view point isn’t blazing back at me, and I no longer have a dragon to slay or an opponent to overcome, I’m left with opinions that I’m not so sure I believe in all that much. So many of my thoughts make a lot of sense in the context of a debate, but when the antagonist disappears, the true colors of my convictions are revealed.

And the funny thing is, the convictions I end up coming back to are pretty boring and unoriginal. But none the less, they remain true and trustworthy. I like how G.K. Chesterton puts it:

“It may be, Heaven forgive me, that I did try to be original; but I only succeeded in inventing all by myself an inferior copy of the existing traditions of civilized religion. The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.” G.K. Chesterton

Amen to that!


One thought on “Playing Devil’s Advocate: The cost of trying to be original

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s