P. Diddy and The Kingdom of God: Your Evangelism is Too Small

Diddy’s “Coming Home,” describes his hope for redemption. The refrain says

I’m coming home, I’m coming home! Tell the world I’m coming home.
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday.
I know my kingdom awaits, and they’ve forgiven my mistakes.

The raps make it clear the narrator is ashamed of the way he has treated his kids and girlfriend/wife. In the refrain he longs for his painful memories, the devastating mistakes of his past, to be washed away. He imagines his family waiting, having forgiven his mistakes. The narrator is drowning in the awareness of his own sin.This makes it clear that Ray Comfort is out of touch with reality. The popular author and open-air preacher’s method begins by asking “are you a good person? Have you ever lied? Never? Never in your entire life? Ah! So you HAVE lied. So you’re a liar. Ok, have you ever looked on a woman with lust?” and so on and so forth. His premise, widely shared, is that people do not know they are sinners. This is obviously wrong: Diddy is DROWNING in awareness of his sins. So is everyone else: most people are painfully aware of their own sins, and to rub their faces in it is not being an Evangelist, it is just being a bastard.

Has Diddy come to realize his need for a Savior, and entered into repentence? Nope. He’s only aware of his own sin and guilt. However, I would remind the reader of Gabriel Biel, the author of a text Martin Luther used in Seminary that sparked Luther’s distressing awareness of his own sin. Biel taught that one must recognize their own errors, stop sinning, turn to God, and begin to love God with their whole heart to gain salvation. Luther realized he was incapable of this list, particularly the “stop sinning” part, and this detracted from his ability to love the Creator. In fact, Luther learned to hate God because he thought God oppressed him with a situation he could not overcome. He wrote “I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners and…I was angry with God…(29)” This is BECAUSE Luther was aware of his own sin!

Bad evangelism teaches people to hate God. Luther was aware of his own sin, but unaware of the grace God freely gives, and therefore hated God. Diddy is aware of his own sin, but (presumably) unaware of God’s grace. Tell me, then: what do you expect to happen if an evangelist reminds Diddy of his own sin? He is likely to hate God, just as Luther did.

People need to know there is a kind King who offers amnesty to rebels. Jesus continually proclaimed the arrival of the Kingdom of God. In fact, that’s what the word “gospel” means. We think of it as a summary of the message of Jesus, but that’s only sort of true. Before it was a church word, it was a common Greek word. It meant something like “the wonderful proclamation of the new reign of a king.” So it was common to talk about the gospel of Alexander, as he marched across the world (“the wonderful proclamation that Alexander is now king!”), and dozens of other rulers. THAT is what it means when Mark begins “the gospel of Jesus Christ, who came into the world…” If we would translate meaning instead of words, it would say “Announcement: The Reign of Jesus Christ, who has come into the world is described in this document.” Look up references to the word “gospel” now, and plug that meaning in. It totally fits with Jesus’ motif of “the Kingdom of God is here!”

Now, it is clear what Jesus meant when He discussed the forgiveness of sins: the Kingdom has recaptured this territory, and amnesty is offered to rebels. This is what Diddy needs, not to be reminded of his crimes. He knows he is a criminal, he does NOT know an amnesty has been issued.

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  1. I’ve often heard the “If you’ve lied, you are a liar” argument. It seems strange to convince most people of their own sins, since most everyone recognizes they are at least wrong (morally) some of the time.

    More often than not, though, I’ve found that argument to be helpful in understanding why those sins are a problem. The argument is not against the belief that we are sinless, for no one truly holds that [except perhaps a madman], but rather the belief that our good outweighs our bad. Many people do have the “I generally do good things” attitude, and often weigh that against their “bad things.” Pointing out something like “You’ve violated 5 of the 10 commandments, which makes you viable for being arrested (morally speaking)” is often the goal of this argument, at least in my understanding/experience.

    I’m not saying that it is good evangelism, necessarily, but that the point isn’t to say you are a sinner, but rather a sinner who needs salvation.

    • Kristen Girard
    • June 2nd, 2011

    “…what the word “gospel” means. We think of it as a summary of the message of Jesus, but that’s only sort of true. Before it was a church word, it was a common Greek word. It meant something like “the wonderful proclamation of the new reign of a king.”

    Can you tell me where you got that definition/usage of the word? I couldn’t find anything on it.

      • Stephen Hale
      • June 2nd, 2011

      Sure.
      The idea is most thoroughly argued for, as near as I’m aware, in the introduction to Craig Evan’s commentary on the 2nd half of Mark in the Word Biblical Commentary series. He shows stuff like the following, but notes both the very very common political use of the term, and how well that fits with most NT usages of it. I don’t remember if I mentioned it above, but I would also point out that political usages of other NT words (like ekklesia) resonate strongly with this. Also Jesus’ harping about the Kingdom this, the Kingdom that. Also views of ethnicity/nationality/race and a lot of Paul’s injunctions, like Col. 3:11.

      Evans particularly highlights the reference to Caesar Augustus, which is reprint below. He also shows many more similar inscriptions/writings/etc.The word clearly meant proclamation of good news. Evans says “When we have done our background homework we will have discovered that this opening verse, or incipit, echoes the Roman imperial doctrine of the divinity of the emperor…”

      Mark 1:1-3, evangelion clearly refers to Isaiah 40 (which in the LXX uses the world evangelion and variants).

      The following is from Spicq’s Theological Dictionary of the NT, for evangelion and it’s variants. I’ve selected things that are related to my point.

      The verb evangelizomai, “announce good news,” is…always used in a context of joy, at least from the point of view of the messenger…Usually, the announcement concerns victory and peace: the bringer of good news (evangelos) arrives from the battlefield, sometimes by ship, sometimes by horse or by letter, but also on foot….any political or private communication that is considered happy may be so designated. For example, tyranny is overthrown and liberty recovered; two messengers announce to Marius his fifth election to the consulate and give him written notice thereof…”

      “It is the substantivized adjective evangelion, most commonly used in the plural form evangelia which considerably enriches the idea of evangel and confirms its religious and cultural meaning. An Egyptian functionary in the third century writes to his subordinate: “Forasmuch as I have become aware of the tidings of joy concerning the proclaiming as Emperor of Gaius Julius Verus Maximus Augustus, the son of our lord, most dear to the gods….In the introduction to the new calendar around the year 9 BC, I. Priene 104, 40 says “the birthday of the god (Augustus) began for the world the good news that be brought. J. Rouffiac, who edited this text, comments: “That idea that an evangel began for the world with the birth of Augustus is one of the most remarkable points of contact between our inscription and the NT…”

    • Kristen Girard
    • June 4th, 2011

    Thanks! I am always curious about word studies ever since Dr. Yoshikawa’s classes. Not that I am an expert. But I do like seeing the work that led up to their conclusions and seeing if I can spot any problems. 😀

      • Stephen Hale
      • June 4th, 2011

      Good! Let me know if you find any, if you ever get around to looking at it.

      -Stephen

  1. June 1st, 2011
  2. June 6th, 2011
  3. February 2nd, 2012

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