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How about a Nice Game of Chess?

By September 5, 2017 6 Comments

The premise of the 1983 film War Games is that a NORAD computer—that had been programmed to “play” a game called “Global Thermonuclear War”—goes rogue, takes over the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and is preparing to launch a fusillade of missiles.   The computer thinks it’s a game and locks out all human attempts to stop it.   At the last moment, the young computer whiz (Matthew Broderick) who discovered this potential mayhem mades the computer compare its Thermonuclear game with the game Tic-Tac-Toe.   He has the computer play itself in Tic-Tac-Toe and, of course, after thousands of iterations of the game, the computer realizes it will always be a stalemate.   You cannot win Tic-Tac-Toe.   The computer then runs through every conceivable nuclear scenario and realizes it is Tic-Tac-Toe writ large.   “A strange game” the computer concludes.  “The only winning move is not to play.  How about a nice game of chess?”

We are in a precarious moment when all Christians everywhere must beg our Almighty God for peace and sanity.   Alas, sanity seems to be lacking in the North Korean leader, whose seemingly suicidal nuclear gambit makes no sense.   No one on the planet doubts that North Korea can be ended in moments and without a superpower like the U.S. even needing to break a sweat.  But before that happens, millions of lives will be in the balance with a possible loss of life in Seoul, South Korea, alone that staggers the mind and burdens the heart beyond measure.  As I greeted our new students at Calvin Seminary last week, I met quite a few from Korea and most from the greater Seoul area.  My heart skipped a beat for them as I shook their hands.

I know I will take heat for this but I wish I could express confidence in our own President, but I cannot.  He has good people around him and we can trust the system.   But Mr. Trump has spent all of his 70 years viewing everything through the filter of winning or losing, and he must never be perceived as the loser.  Even when he does win—as he legitimately did in the election last year—the win needs to be clearer, bigger, more dramatic, and he will allege voter fraud and historic inaugural crowds if those deceptions help prop up his victory.

But as War Games displayed, the only way to “win” when it comes to nuclear weapons is not to play at all.  It is the North Korean leader who may not know this and what he may yet do—and so unleash—is genuinely terrifying.  We can end that regime and indeed pretty much that whole pitiful, suffering nation.  But let no one think this would mean we would have won anything.   Everyone will lose.   It would be a stomach-churning magnification of Winston Churchill’s observation about World War I.  The death tallies from that horrid conflict were monumental on all sides, leading Churchill to say that this was a victory “virtually indistinguishable from defeat.”

We pray for peace, for sanity, for safety for all the innocents who will get caught up in whatever may come.   It is not too soon, dear Lord, to bring the kingdom fully.  Maranatha, Lord Jesus.  Come quickly as the Prince of Peace we need now and into eternity.


Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Rodg Rice says:

    Checkmate? Praying. Amen.

  • Fred Mueller says:

    “…sanity seems to be lacking in the North Korean leader.” ? Morality is totally lacking in our leader, if not sanity. A woeful state of affairs as we watch two men like this squaring off. As always, prayer and God is our only hope. “What is your ONLY comfort in life and in death?”

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Scott, this is really good.

  • Mary Toppen-Palm says:

    Thank you for your honest appraisal of this threat.

  • mstair says:

    Let us not be so sure that …

    ” … no one on the planet doubts that North Korea can be ended in moments and without a superpower like the U.S. even needing to break a sweat.”

    God’s ironic nature, and His history of how He deals with the proud and the arrogant, indicate an opportunity to place “hooks in the jaws” of current world players so to deal with human insolence.
    As Christ’s Bride, we The Church, must pray indeed, on behalf of even the unbelieving world, for God’s mercy on our species and the continuation of His Grace through Christ.

  • Michael Van Ness says:

    Ha, How do you feel about the pseudo president we have now? As it pertains to North Korea

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