Game Theory and the Weakness in Christian Evangelism.

Economist John Forbes Nash won a Noble prize for game theory. He made two points. (1) The more valuable something appears to be in the minds of the competitors, the higher the price it generates. As an example, he noted that a beautiful girl created greater competition than just a pretty girl vying for the same group of young men.

(2) Competitors seek to keep the final price as cheap as possible, which he called equilibrium. For math-nuts there is a pile of equations which we will ignore here. Both theories apply to modern Christian evangelism.

Nash described a bar scene where a group of college boys discussed the girls. A pretty girl entered and several of the men, but not all of them, went over to get her attention. A little later on a drop-dead gorgeous girl came in and all the men gathered round.

The prize of the game – the girl – earned her value by her perceived worth to the men based on her beauty. Her actual value may have been very little – in fact she might be a tiresome pill. The merely pretty girl may be much more clever, intelligent and talented but this did not factor into the game.

Let us apply this to the issue of Christian evangelism. Clearly the most valuable thing available to humans today is the saving of their soul. Its loss is an eternal disaster.

If we apply game theory two things become obvious. Modern evangelism does not attach a high price to salvation. Television religious programming which reaches the largest audience focuses on the “love of God” to the point of leaving listeners to conclude that God is too nice and too tolerant to ever send anyone to hell.

Theologians dubbed this “sloppy agape” or “cheap grace” so what cost Him everything we regard lightly or not at all. It is one jump from there to the wrong conclusion that God saves everyone and that hell is a wild image from Renaissance literature, with gargoyles spitting and lashing out their tongues at us from the stone walls of ancient cathedrals. Some teachers even conclude that there is no hell at all except for a handful of really BAD people and we all know who they are! The rest they say end up in heaven.

There is a not a shred of evidence to support universal salvation or the absence of hell. To compare this with Nash’s theory, the beautiful girl that the men compete for is not all that beautiful, in fact, she may be very ordinary. Statistically we know that 30% of the born again believers do not go to churches. If there is no competition, no real loss in choices of life or death – why bother??

If hell is not really that big a deal, then being saved is not a big deal either. Many people already believe their sin is not so bad that anyone, much less they must die for it, but just to get their ticket punched each week they show up at church. Equilibrium for them is the uneasy self-satisfaction of knowing they have done their very least.


Originally printed in Pathway Press, 2013.

34 responses to “Game Theory and the Weakness in Christian Evangelism.

  1. Iཿve been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this kind of house .
    Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this website.
    Reading this information So i am glad to convey that I’ve a very good uncanny
    feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much indisputably will make sure
    to donཿt disregard this website and give it a glance on a constant basis.

    • Thank you for your appreciative words. It takes faith to speak to the ether and only hope someone is out there. Stay tuned. Life may imitate art but life also mirrors theology.

  2. At this time it looks like WordPress is the best blogging platform out there right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

    • I’m a novice at this and need to spend much more time in management but yes, I have tried other blog platforms and a web site but this is easier. I need to take a community college course.

  3. With havin so much written content do you
    ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My website has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself
    or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any solutions to help protect against content from being ripped off?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    • If I am quoted – fine. My purpose is for people to know God better. But if they are misquoting me, that is another matter. So far nothing of the kind has come up. Perhaps you can do a general search on Bing to see if some techies have written on this topic. Go9ogle has a reputation for scrambling the responses to favor their own political position.

  4. This is very interesting, You’re an overly skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and stay up for seeking more of your wonderful post.
    Additionally, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

  5. whoah this blog is wonderful i like studying
    your articles. Keep up the great work! You recognize, lots of individuals are hunting
    round for this information, you can help them greatly.

  6. Hello, after reading this remarkable paragraph i am too delighted to share my experience
    here with colleagues.

  7. Simply wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your submit is simply cool and that i could think you are knowledgeable on this subject.
    Well together with your permission allow me to take hold of your RSS
    feed to keep updated with imminent post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  8. I visit everyday some websites and sites to read content, but this web site presents feature based

  9. I was suggested this web site by my cousin. I am not
    sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble.

    You’re incredible! Thanks!

    • Thank you even though I don’t know what you really are responding to, but since you know, I don’t need to – I guess.

  10. What’s up, of course this article is in fact good and I
    have learned lot of things from it concerning blogging. thanks.

  11. you’re actually a just right webmaster. The site loading
    speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick.

    Also, The contents are masterwork. you have done a fantastic job on this matter!

  12. Currently it sounds like Expression Engine is the preferred
    blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using
    on your blog?

  13. This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  14. Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m impressed!

    Extremely useful info specifically the ultimate section 🙂
    I handle such info a lot. I was seeking this
    certain info for a very lengthy time. Thanks and best of luck.

  15. Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins
    to protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing
    everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  16. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Appreciate it

  17. The official release date off this significantly anticipated game is on the 3rd of Seeptember 2013.

  18. Hey there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I will certainly
    digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited
    from this web site.

  19. Nice answer back in return of this difficulty with genuine arguments and describing the whole
    thing concerning that.

  20. Reblogged this on Would you Consider? and commented:

    John Forbes Nash died this week.His Game Theory is the principle upon which this post is based. I still consider it my best work so far. I hope you all will read it, perhaps again.

  21. Every weekend i used to go to see this site, because i wish for
    enjoyment, as this this website conations truly nice funny stuff too.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.