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Chess Masters Show Our Need for Theology and Doctrine

Many Christians only see bits and pieces of the Bible, lacking a big picture of how the Scriptures hold together. Theology and doctrine provide that larger vision of the entire Bible. In his book The Social Animal, David Brooks illustrates the need for a big picture by using an illustration from the game of chess:

A series of highly skilled players and a series of nonplayers were shown a series of chessboards [with chess pieces] for about five to ten seconds each …. [Later], the grandmasters could remember every piece on every board. The average players could only remember about four or five pieces per board.

Why did the chess grandmasters have such an amazing ability to remember the pieces? They did not have superior IQ's or better memories. Instead, Brooks explains:

The real reason the grandmasters could remember the game boards so well is that after so many years of study, they saw the boards in a different way. When average players saw the boards, they saw a group of individual pieces. When the masters saw the boards, they saw formations. Instead of seeing a bunch of letters on a page, they saw words, paragraphs, and stories …. Expertise is about forming internal connections so that the little pieces of information turn into bigger networked chunks of information. Learning is not merely about accumulating facts. It is internalizing the relationship between pieces of information.

For Christians, theology and doctrine are essential because they provide the big picture so we can read Scripture and see not just "individual pieces" of information. Doctrine also enables us to see "the relationship between the pieces of information."

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