Tickling Ears; Deceiving Thousands

2 Timothy 4:3,4–“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Joel Osteen is not the first public teacher to fulfill Paul’s prophecy in his letter to Timothy. However, since I minister in the Houston area, I want to publicly address this ministry for the sake of the people in my church and all who will read this blog (probably 3 people).

If you missed the interview with Larry King, I would encourage you to check out the transcript at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/20/lkl.01.html

Now, I also want to mention that apparently Osteen received a lot of flack for the way that he dodged clear questions by Larry King. So, he apologized to everyone who was offended…Check out his apology here: http://www.joelosteen.com/site/PageServer?pagename=LarryKingLetter

The main issue in the apology was Joel’s squirming around Jesus as the only way to heaven. When plainly asked if Jews and Hindus and others who don’t trust Christ would be saved, he said that “I don’t know.” This is called universalism and it means that all roads, religions and practices can lead to heaven. It is heresy!

Some of you reading this may not be familiar with the reasons that I am warning people of Joel Osteen. Let me list a few: (by the way, he did not apologize for these in the above letter)

  1. He does not preach the Gospel! He spends his entire sermons on self-help tips and throws some Scripture in at the end…Followed by an invitation to “accept” Christ. This obviously leads people to false assurance of salvation and a misunderstanding of the nature of grace.
  2. He does not mention sin. (that’s a big problem when you are a minister of the Gospel and the Gospel is about God’s restoration of a people who are SINFUL by nature). The Bible is clear that the wages of sin are death. Not to discuss this is to deny the authority of Scripture and pervert the Word of God. He claims that he does not want to condemn people so he avoids sin. 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
  3. He takes no stance on abortion and same-sex marriage from the pulpit. See his reasoning on this in the interview. Basically he says that he interprets the Bible literally and that it is the inerrant Word of God. But–he does not mention abortion and same-sex marriage because they are political issues. (What does this say about his view of God’s Word? Public opinion trumps Romans 1?)
  4. He teaches a health and wealth prosperity gospel. In other words, the main goal of Christianity is to be blessed physically. (See article for more)
  5. He has a following of thousands! Thousands of people (57,000 + opening weekend) are attending Lakewood, thousands of people pack out arena’s across the country at his conferences and thousands more watch by television.

So my warning to you is not to be deceived by this false teacher. Do do say he is a “good preacher” with weak theology. Do not say that he is a “positive preacher” and I listen to him for a lift. Beware! This easy gospel is trapping thousands. Don’t trade “feeling good” for the truth. Perhaps I will write a review of the interview with Larry King in a coming blog, but for now, be warned! Test everything that you hear (including this article) and hold on to the good (1 John 4:1).


27 thoughts on “Tickling Ears; Deceiving Thousands

  1. Jennifer says:


    This is too great. Thank you so much for telling me about your blog. I think this could really help me out next year at college. whenever I feel like I’m missing out on one of your lessons, I can just log on and read for a bit.

    Lots of Love

    –Jennifer B.

  2. TBC – (aka the semi-smiling preacher, j/k)

    Thanks for putting this little section together. I’ve read it to people at work and my roomies and it is tragic what is going on there, but it is something we need to be aware of. Thanks for your commitment to preaching the whole counsel of God!


  3. Anonymous says:

    Well whatever you think about some TV preachers, at least I don’t see them putting stuff about his witch-crafting astroglogical signs in their profile….you might want to check out your moon and see if perhaps your are off in alignment right now.

  4. Lizzzzzzzy! says:

    Haha. Wowzers. You’re not mad at Joely are ye? Haha. My friend said she read an article where he said, “I won’t teach you doctrine but I will teach you how to feel good about yourself.” But I hope you find grace for this man.

  5. Dear Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous,

    You have a good point. Blogger just does that automatically when you put in your information. I’m not giving any subliminal messages in favor of witchcraft…


  6. Lizzy,
    Thanks for your comment. I’m troubled to hear about the quote that you gave (I’d like to see the source on it.) The intention of passages like Matthew 18 is to restore people to the Lord and protect the flock of God from wolves. That is my goal with this blog as well. I don’t think Joel O. is purposely trying to decieve people into Hell. However, I can’t stand by and say nothing when a “watered down” gospel gets so much press and attention. I hope you understand my heart and where I am coming from. I grieve for Joel O. and his congregation…I do not take this lightly…I think preaching is the most sacred task on the planet. May God raise up preachers who are bold enough to preach His Word! Thanks again…


  7. Kates says:

    Travis –

    Billy told me to read the transcript of that interview. Combined with your analysis it is very clear that Osteen does indeed tickle ears with his message of prosperity. It makes you wonder if he ever bothers to read about Paul’s being content in every situation or Jesus’ lack of earthly riches. Anyway, good post.

    Side note – What’s up with the “anonymous” posters always questioning a Christian’s sincerity because of the astrology stuff in our profiles? I happen to be an Aquarius who believes in the saving power of Jesus’ blood. I also happen to have been born on a Wednesday. Is that bad too? 😉

    Glad to hear the vacation was good….

  8. Anonymous says:


    I like comment #12, where you ask, “Do you have a rock to cling to?”

    Have a great week.

    Love ya,
    Debbie Cardwell

  9. Bro John says:

    I have got a big smile, but I also have a big heart for the Lord.

  10. Thanks Bro. John…errrrrrr Billy

  11. gz says:

    I’d say more than 3 people in Houston read your blog….
    I’m in NWA!!!!

  12. gz says:

    Glory to God for a generation of Men who honor their wives.

  13. Paige says:

    I love this! And couldn’t agree more. I like to research and not just take ppls opinions on things and I wanted to find out for myself what the entire Lakewood thing was about, so I went with a girl who is a hardcore Lakewood fan. When it came time for the ‘message’ – I reached for and opened my Bible. I waited, and waited and waited. After listening to Joel talk about ‘think outside of the box’ and be more ‘accepting of others and their ways of doing things’, I realized, THAT was the message. And then sadly put my Bible away. I realized that everything I’d heard was true and that he merely, is truly, tickling ears and it terrifies me of the many that need to know their Savior. I heard someone say not too long ago that they love to go to Lakewood – “IT MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELF.” Wow! Thank you again for this blog and God bless.

  14. Paige,

    Thank you for your comment. I think you said it right when you described your experience as “sad.” I wrote this a long time ago, but it still pains me to see the ripple effect of this ministry.

    I’ve really been comforted recently by the Lord’s wisdom and control in all things. I know He has a purpose for Lakewood, but I hope that it’s not increased judgement. We need to pray!

    Thanks again for reading!


  15. Rev Dr. Donald Weber says:

    There is nothing new under the sun. There is only a change in the name. What is called the “Health and Prosperity Massage” today, years ago was called the “Power of Positive Thinking.” I was an expert in the “Power of Positive Thinking and even taught it to others. I sat in Norman Vincent Peal’s and Charles Tremendous Jones’ classes. During that time there was a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) rally in our area and Earl Nightingale was the final speaker. He told the crowd that there were many tapes and books available from the speakers at the rally that we should buy. But then he said, “If you cannot afford them, just buy a Bible because that is where we got it all from.” Finally the Holy Spirit caught up with me and I realized that in the “Power of Positive Thinking” I had to do it. But if I just simply obeyed the Holy Spirit I was not doing it, but it was the power of God through me that did the works. Around that time a radio show host had a satanic priest on his program. He asked the satanic priest, “What is the difference between Satanism and Christianity.” The satanic priest answered, “Well in Satanism, you do it yourself.” The “Power of Positive Thinking” message, AK the “Health and Prosperity” message, pure and simple, is “Self” AK “Satanism”

  16. Rev Dr. Donald Weber says:

    Food For Thought

    Is Tickling Ears Deceiving Thousaands?

    2 Timothy 4:3,4–”For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

    Contrary to popular belief, Joel Osteen’s “Health and Prosperity Massage” is not fulfilling Paul’s prophecy in his letter to Timothy no more than Norman Vincent Peal’s “Power of Positive Thinking” message and Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s “Possibility Thinking” message does.

    These “Popular” messages are what Paul is referring to in his meassage to the Galations:

    O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Galatians 3:1 [KJV]

    This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2 [KJV]

    Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3 [KJV]

    Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. Galatians 3:4 [KJV]

    He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:5 [KJV]

    And now for what we have ALL missed:

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

    2 Timothy 4:3 [KJV]

    And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 2 Timothy 4:4 [KJV]

    Let me put this another way:

    For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for “A World Leader” who will tell them just what they want to hear.

    They won’t listen to what the Bible says, but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.

    Our current “World Leader” has a reputation of telling people of “The World” just what they want to hear, which ironically has nothing to do with what he is doing – Preparing for the “New World Order.”

    And So:

    Is Tickling Ears Deceiving Thousaands?


    Tickling Ears Is Deceiving Billions!!!

  17. Shawn says:

    I really agree with your message man. There are so many people out there doing that tickling and I’m so sick of it. When I go to church I want to learn what I’m suppose to be doing and how I might be messing up. Not how much god loves all his children no matter what you do crap. Your heart has to motivate you to want to learn about god but then your brain has to kick in at some point and actually learn something, lol.

  18. Mary Zahney says:

    Wow, thanks for the word.

  19. Kates says:

    Just wanted to drop a note and tell you that I referenced this blog post today in the course of a discussion with a friend.

    For anyone that clicks on this, also check out a word by John Piper on the prosperity gospel and why he abominates it – http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2069_Why_I_Abominate_the_Prosperity_Gospel/

  20. Nancy Houtz says:

    Good insights about Olsteen and others. Unfortunately this is going beyond the pulpit and Christians naively following those on the political right who are tickling their ears and substituting political action for following Jesus and sound doctrine. The Glenn Beck/Sara Palin gathering in Washington DC brought this to my mind and I discovered your website in searching for applications online. Scary! Many Christian friends have been deceived and honestly believe our President is a Muslim and not born in Hawaii, as an example. they seem to have stopped thinking, because their ears are being tickled instead.

  21. jt says:

    His sermons are so boring. I don’t listen to them anymore. But he is definately missing the gospel. I feel like its missing something….Christ! He is just another Tony Robins cloaked as a preacher. These people can not be saved by just motivational speeches. Does he even read the bible?

  22. leo d. lion says:

    Did you know Osteen was an actor on the “Welcome back Kotter” show.

  23. Mary Ann Hull says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! For being true to the gospel from God’s Word: that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace, that God will execute His righteous judgement on an unbelieving world, that the only way to salvation and eternal life is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Any teaching apart from this is “ear tickling:.

  24. melva ochoa says:

    We have to pray more that God will melt there hearts ,bring everyone down off our high horse,i will include myself in this to because I don’t want to exalt myself. Jesus LORD of lords King Of kings Mighty in Power Majestic Master. I bow down to my KING and LORD ,SAVIOR AMEN

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