Friday, June 12, 2009

Chess, Church and American Culture

"Years ago, Aron Nimzovich became the defining personality at the heart of a revolutionary and unconventional form of chess. It was called Hypermodern. It was a response to what is commonly known as classical chess. In classical chess, you control the middle, protect your pieces, and, by all means possible, leave yourself with no weak spaces. Hypermodern chess saw the board differently. You relinquish the center, you send your bishops to the edges, and you allow perceived and present weaknesses in exchange for the opportunity to return with greater strength.

I think there is much for the church to learn from this innovation. I am convinced that the friction of postmodernism can create tremendous traction for the church if we will do much the same. Concede the [cultural] center - the church is supposed to live on the edge anyway."

- Erwin McManus, An Unstoppable Force, pp. 60-61

4 comments:

Ken said...

What exactly do you define as the "cultural center"?

Andy said...

The 'cultural center' would equal things like politics, education, business, media and the arts. There are Christians who assume that we are to work toward and gain Christian supremacy in these areas. McManus rightfully points out that these foci often become a distraction to our biblical ministry, which is not 'taking back the cultural center' (who says we ever had it?) but humbly living as a gospel-focused counter-culture. This assumes that true believers will likely never be dominant in Washington, Hollywood or Wall Street. Conceding those areas can free us up to focus on our primary mission: living and proclaiming the gospel to lost people in our world. Condede the center, accept our marginalization, preach/live the gospel and hope in heaven. That's Christianity.

Ken said...

Once again Andy, you turn my confused mire into crystal clarity. Thanks.

thefourwinds said...

At first, I was disappointed with this analogy to the hypermodern school of chess, but then, I tend to take analogies too seriously sometimes.

I can definitely appreciate the analogous relationship of our evangelism to the extreme patience required to play the hypermodern chess systems. I think this is probably the best part of the analogy. The place where I think the analogy fails is that the hypermodern systems are not in the least bit bold. We need to be bolder than we often are with the gospel.

However, as I said, I do concur with the patience aspect of it. I certainly see his point, just don't think this was the best possible analogy to construct. Non-chessplayers will not relate to it and chessplayers, I would think, would see too many holes in it.