Caricatures affect how we see and react to the world around us. It's nothing new, the caricature. It has been used in politics by way of the political cartoon for perhaps centuries. But the cartoon was only a type and shadow of the real influence that would arrive with motion media. The Church's overall image has suffered seriously with the advent of moving image caricatures. Caricatures paint an unrealistic picture of the Church and her people by accentuating negative aspects, both perceived and real while down playing or ignoring positive aspects.
This has in two ways built a wall between the Church and the culture it serves. The first, and by far the worst way is by distorting how Christians see themselves. One example of this can be found in the book "UN Christian", by David Kinnaman. (1) Kinnaman tells of A church in the Los Angeles area that did a five-week series of talks called "Confessions of a Sinful Church". To promote this event a team passed out postcards at local college campuses with a list of five apologies by the Church:
- We're Sorry for Our self-Righteousness and Hypocrisy.
- We're Sorry for Our Endorsement of Slavery
- We're Sorry for Our Mistreatment of Homosexuals
- We're Sorry for the Medieval Crusades
- We're Sorry for Saying the Earth Is Flat
Kinnaman doesn't elaborate on the content of these talks but the questions themselves seem to apologize for a portrait of the Church painted through the use of caricatures by men whom Jesus prophesied would hate and persecute her. (2) As a result these apologies appear pathetic. They center around a distorted view that the Church sees of herself when she buys into the assertions of a caricature that is at best a misunderstanding, and at worst hate filled and intentionally twisted. Perhaps it would be better if the Church apologized for seeing herself through the eyes of her accuser rather than the eyes of her Groom.
Secondly is the wall that exists because of the caricaturized picture that the culture has adopted of the Church. This is more understandable because the Church is supposed to be a light to the culture it serves and as Jesus said, men love the darkness rather than the light. (3) As a recovering heathen myself I personally garnered great comfort in pointing my finger at the failings and presuppositions I had of the Church and it's people. This of course allowed me to ignore my own failings rather than seek redemption.
(1) Un Christian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Baker Books. Page 55-56
(2) John 15:18-20
(3) John 3:19