by Shaun Willcock
In my article, The “Islamic Antichrist” Deception, exposing the Futurist theory that the Antichrist will be a man from the Muslim world, I stated that a prominent author promoting this error, who many consider to be a Bible teacher and “prophecy expert”, is Joel Richardson. Well, in 2017 he brought out his latest book, Mystery Babylon, in which he went even further into error, not only continuing to push his “Islamic Antichrist” deception, but sharply criticising the truth regarding the Roman Catholic institution’s connections to ancient Babylon, and arrogantly mocking and belittling Alexander Hislop, the nineteenth-century author of The Two Babylons (in which he proves that the Papal system is the true “Mystery Babylon” of the New Testament period); a man whose research so far exceeds that of Richardson as to make the latter appear to be a pygmy standing in the shadow of a giant.
Richardson a “New York Times Bestselling Author” – So What?
In an article about his book, Joel Richardson is praised as a “New York Times bestselling author and biblical teacher”. This is how he is described on his own website as well. It is deeply disturbing when professing Christians fall for this lie that because someone is a “bestselling author”, he is somehow correct, or that he somehow deserves to be regarded as knowledgeable, intelligent, and sound in the faith. Yet being a “bestselling author” means nothing more than that a large number of people have been persuaded to buy and read his books. And large numbers of people may read an author’s book for a variety of reasons.
One reason may be that he writes well. But “having a way with words” is not the same as being sound in the faith. In fact, when an author attracts a vast readership, this usually means the very opposite – that he is not sound in the faith! For biblical truth is never popular with the world. And if it is argued that his books are popular among multitudes of “Christians”, this, too, is a danger sign. For we live in a day when true Christians are a very, very small minority. They are not sufficiently numerous to turn an author into a “bestselling” author. The only way for this to happen is if his books are bought by the “mixed multitude” filling the pulpits and pews of the vast majority of “churches” today – goats pretending to be sheep, who have departed from the true faith and are proclaiming all kinds of unbiblical errors. What did the Lord Jesus Christ say? “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Lk. 6:26).
Another reason why large numbers may read an author’s book is that publishing houses know how to “puff” a book up, with slick advertising and all kinds of gimmicks, thereby turning it into a “bestseller”. But this has nothing to do with its contents.
Now it would be bad enough for a professing “Christian” publishing company to have a “bestselling” list – as if, because a book is a “bestseller”, it is somehow doctrinally sound and of value to the Church. But note: Richardson is a “New York Times bestselling author”. And not only is the New York Times a secular newspaper, but its “bestseller” list has been criticised by authors, publishers and others for not providing an accurate picture. A report in Book History found that many professionals in the industry “scoffed at the notion that the lists are accurate”. Manipulation of the list by authors and publishers has been known to occur. In 2013 Forbes magazine published a story entitled “Here’s How You Buy Your Way Onto The New York Times Bestsellers List.” And in 2014 the Los Angeles Times, in a story entitled “Can Bestseller Lists be Bought?” described how heretical “pastor”, Mark Driscoll, contracted a company to place his book on the New York Times bestseller list for a fee of $20 000. The contract stated that the company “will be purchasing at least 11,000 total orders in one week.” It worked – Driscoll’s book reached No.1 on the hardcover advice bestseller list in January 2014.
Besides, the list itself becomes self-fulfilling in determining which books sell in large numbers and remain on the list. “Each week millions of readers look at the New York Times bestseller list to see what everybody else in the country is reading. And as soon as a title hits the list, booksellers typically push the book to the front of the store and slash its price by as much as 40 percent. So it seems reasonable to assume that once a book makes the list its sales will really take off – if not for the lower price then because readers might view bestseller status as a sign of quality or because they don’t want to miss the action.”
Given these facts, describing Joel Richardson as a “New York Times bestselling author” is nothing but an attempt to make gullible readers believe that he has something really worthwhile to say. Modern man worships at the idol of celebrity. The truth, however, is that being a “New York Times bestselling author”, or any other kind of “bestselling author”, means that every true Christian should regard the book with suspicion even before opening it.
As for Richardson being a “biblical teacher”, his false doctrine concerning an “Islamic Antichrist”, and his arrogant dismissal of the careful scholarship of Alexander Hislop, is a refutation of that claim. Let us examine what he says.