A CARICATURE is 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. We often see this in political cartoons – with President Obama’s ears/toothy smile or Bill Clinton’s nose and chin.
While we may grin and recognize who the caricature is of, it certainly is nowhere near a legitimate representation of the person’s likeness. Spiritual movements do the same thing, not when for a season we draw attention to a particular truth that the Holy Spirit is bringing an emphasis upon, but when spiritual leaders audaciously declare that this truth isn’t just the latest trend, but it IS the GOSPEL!
In my short 51 years, I’ve seen it happen with the messages of healing, Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (full gospel) faith, prayer, authority/submission, prosperity to name a few. All of these are Biblically-solid ideas that needed emphasis and were each being illuminated by the Holy Spirit to bring some balance for the purpose of maturity to the body of Christ. I believe and preach every one of those truths. Unfortunately, a spiritual emphasis became a whole camp that declared it had a “corner” on the truth. Every one of these became a caricature that so overemphasized one particular component of the Gospel image that it became a distortion and did injustice to other underemphasized “parts.”
For example, take the recent phenomenon of the “prosperity Gospel.” It pulls all the great verses of the Bible that do promise God’s favor and abundance in benefits and blessings and equates material prosperity with spirituality – all the while ignoring all the “key passages” of Scripture that the camp on the opposite end of the spectrum uses to support the idea that “poverty is spiritual.” After all, we should lay up treasure (not on earth, but) in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt!”
I shouldn’t have to even say it – but here we go again. I recently heard the phrase – “this isn’t just another spiritual trend or wind and wave of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) but it is the Gospel! It came out of the mouth of a leader preaching the FINISHED WORK of CHRIST as it relates to the message of GRACE. The same pattern that has happened over and over and over and over again is going on here. Don’t get me wrong! The FINISHED WORK of CHRIST is critical to our understanding as NEW CREATION believers. But when it is preached to the point that it de-emphasizes the FINISHING WORK of the HOLY SPIRIT, it is out of balance. GRACE is huge. It is paramount. But when it is extruded from its Biblical and covenantal relationship to the LAW of God in the life of the unregenerate sinner and the regenerated believer, then it has become a caricature, an exaggerated grotesque misrepresentation.
Just like true Biblical prosperity doesn’t identify with gross consumerist American materialism, Biblical GRACE doesn’t hate the good and holy LAW of God. People who are honest and acknowledge that there are still “things” in their lives that aren’t “DONE YET” will do one of 2 things with this out of balance, caricature of GRACE: they will become frustrated with the obvious difference in the message they’re hearing and what they obviously see as still yet “undone” or they’ll just learn to live in denial. And one more time, the body of Christ has been tossed to and fro by another “wind and wave of doctrine.” Selah!