Caricature is defined by Google Search as:
a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.
Some of the synonyms listed are: cartoon, parody, satire, and lampoon.
The bottom line is that a caricature is an inaccurate depiction of, usually, a person. Some parts are exaggerated, which means that some parts are understated, or sometimes deemphasized or ignored. It is, in reality, a false image.
People have different views of God, and many of them are exactly that; a caricature. They exaggerate and distort His image. They create their own image of God. Sometimes it’s intentional, and sometimes not, but everyone’s caricature is a little different:
- One person inaccurately highlights God’s justice as genocide.
- Another person inaccurately highlights the happiness God can bring, while forgetting persecution.
- Another person inaccurately highlights God’s love for us, while ignoring the fact that He also calls us to repentance.
There are two different caricatures of God, but they are both negative. One shows God in a negative light, using false, negative descriptions, creating a false image. One famous example comes from Richard Dawkins1:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
The other shows God in a positive light, gushing about the great attributes, but ignoring the "uncomfortable," while still leaving a false image. An example of this comes from the "care for the poor" crowd. I’ve created a meme that highlights that:
Both are negative caricatures because they are both false. The thing about a caricature is that it’s close enough that you can you recognize who it’s supposed to be, while still remaining a false image. It’s the cliché: the most dangerous lie is the one closest to the truth.
What does your image of God look like? Is it a cartoon? A parody? A caricature? A false image is just that: false. It isn’t real. It’s man-made, and it’s no better than the images crafted by Demetrius2.
Or is your image Biblical? True? Both comfortable, and uncomfortable? Loving, but righteous? Do you conform to God, or does your god conform to you?
Do you worship God, or a parody?