Accusations of watered-down Christianity are nothing new, as some well-known preachers are regularly accused of touting messages that are unbiblical and sanitized. Tackling this issue head-on, author and radio host Dr. Michael L. Brown recently penned an op-ed warning about "ear-tickling preachers."
This term refers to faith leaders who offer up false teachings, while attracting massive attention for delivering positive and uplifting messages -- sermons that critics say are devoid of mentions of sin and the ramifications for violating biblical tenets.
While Brown wrote that "it is arrogant for any one of us to think that we alone have sound doctrine while everyone else is in error," he offered up some of the characteristics to be cautious about in his article, "5 Signs of Ear-Tickling Preachers."
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The first attribute, he said, is pastors' failure to embrace self-denial. Since the Bible preaches that Christians must first follow God, Brown argued that a failure to do so and to deny oneself certain worldly pleasures is the first sign that can alert believes they're dealing with an ear-tickling preacher.
Next, he said these faith leaders "go light on sin," meaning that they don't focus intensely enough on the ramifications for negative actions and behaviors.
"Of course, it is absolutely true that through the death and resurrection of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit we have been given victory over sin. And it is absolutely true that the message of grace, rightly understood, turns us away from sin," Brown wrote. "But that doesn't mean that as leaders, we no longer need to warn our hearers about the deceitfulness of sin or urge them to vigilant against sin."
Third, Brown argued that ear-tickling preachers "are loved by the world," something that he believes shows that they are "of the world." He cited 2 Timothy 3 in the Bible, noting the the Apostle Paul said Christians would endure persecution -- something he said ear-ticklers seem immune from.
"But the world doesn't hate ear-tickling preachers because they are 'of the world' in their approach to the gospel," he added. "It is one thing to have a good reputation for integrity and purity and to live out what we preach. It is another thing when our message does not offend sinners."
Piggybacking off of this idea, the fourth attribute Brown highlighted is that "ear-tickling preachers tell the flesh what it wants to hear," noting that there are times when these pastors simply ignore sin rather than urge people to turn from it.
For his fifth and final reason, Brown said that "ear-tickling preachers get away from the Word and give way to myths," claiming that they use scripture here or there, but that they rely mainly on their own "worldly ideology."
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"Some even get into the realm of complete fantasy, preaching alleged heavenly or angelic revelations that titillate the ears of the pseudo-spiritual but do not exalt Jesus, do not turn people away from sin, and do not produce lasting spiritual fruit," he wrote.
Brown didn't specifically name any pastors in his piece.
The term "ear-tickling" comes from 2 Timothy 4:3-4, which reads, "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 their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."
There is quite a bit of disagreement and discussion surrounding "ear-tickling" when it comes to today's preachers. What do you think? Does Brown have it right when it comes to these attributes? Let us know in the comments below and read the entire piece here.
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