While millions flock to the Left Behind series of books and movies Christopher Ricci warns Christians that if they believe in such false doctrines they will be left behind.
The Left Behind series depicts the tribulations leading to Armageddon and has become so popular Newsweek recently put authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins on their May 24 th cover. The magazine called the two who have sold 62 million books “pop prophets.”
For East Toledo author Christopher Ricci the publicity poses another threat to Christians looking for an easy answer for everlasting life.
Ricci, who must feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, also sent his book to Newsweek. The magazine chose not to review False Doctrine and the Wrath of God. That leaves Ricci more than frustrated. It leaves him concerned that Christians who form false beliefs from the books will feel the wrath of God.
Ricci’s book, which was recently published by Publish America located in Baltimore, Maryland, seeks to expose what he believes are three false doctrines that have found purchase in American society with the popular rise of the Christian evangelical movement. They are Antinomianism, the pretribulation rapture and the millennium concept.
Antinomianism is the belief that Christians are “saved” by faith and grace alone and they will not be held accountable for their sins or their inaction. Since these people believe they are destined for heaven they believe they can sin with impunity and that good works are unnecessary. But, Ricci writes that if belief were enough Satan would be in heaven. He says Christians need to make the most of their talent, do good works and refrain from sin.
In the Left Behind series, believing Christians are raptured into heaven to spare them the tribulations of the end days. These end days will see mankind suffer cataclysmic phenomena such as floods, earthquakes, wars and pestilence. Many Christians believe they will see these end days in their lifetime, so it’s no small wonder many have fallen for this false concept, Ricci says. Who doesn’t want to avoid such events? But, Ricci believes no one will escape the tribulations before judgment day. To believe otherwise is to risk the wrath of God.
Ricci also believes Christ’s second coming, the rapture and the last judgment are all one event. There is no millennium between these events. He cites numerous passages in coming to his conclusions. His view of the final judgment is not unique. Paul Thigpen, PhD, three years ago wrote the popular book, The Rapture Trap: A Catholic Response to ‘End Times” Fever.
Ricci doesn’t have a doctorate degree. He works in the hunting and fishing department at Woodville Surplus. He comes by his beliefs the old-fashioned way--through introspection and diligent study of The Bible. Ricci was raised in East Toledo and attended Central Catholic High School. Upon graduation, he moved to Nevada and spent many long days alone in the desert and began writing his book at age 19. Evangelists Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart and Herbert Armstrong were gaining popularity back then and what they had to say about the end days didn’t jive with what Ricci was taught. Ricci says he immediately recognized the inherent dangers of the rapture concept—that those who believe in false doctrines would be condemn.
“It’s disastrous. These people think they’re going to be raptured and they’re not. They will be left behind,” he says. His life’s mission, formulated at that tender age of 19, was to present the other side of the three major concepts that make up the core of his book. In the following 25 years his book has evolved from a handwritten manuscript bound in a spiral notebook to the current 173-page professionally-published book. He’s rewritten it 15 times, first by hand, then by typing with one finger, then by typing with two fingers, then by use of a word processor and finally through use of a modern computer. As you can see, Ricci is not the typical author. But, while his formal education ended at high school, his spiritual education has been a life-long journey of personal discovery and the search for religious truth. That journey has been not only spiritual in nature but also apostolic. Ricci spent his early years hitchhiking across the United States to meet personally with evangelists in an effort to change their views. He went to South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana and California but, as you might expect, he was unsuccessful.
“People who make a lot of money on things are going to be more reluctant to admit error than the John Doe on the street,” he says.
Ricci’s travels also took him to Israel to see first hand the Christian Holy sites.
All the hardships of traveling and of writing and rewriting his book over a 25-year period hasn’t deterred this father of three from giving his testimony nor has the threat of being labeled a “false minister of Satan.”
“I’ve been around the block a lot of times and I’ve been knocked off the block a lot of times. But, I’ve never lost sight of what drives me. The spirit within me drives me. I know these things are false. I know they need to be reputed,” he explains. “So long as there’s breath within me, it’s not going to die. Right now this is a ball and chain to me. It‘s time that this doctrine is put down.”
Ricci’s next project is writing a book about the similarities in the Koran, the Torah and The Bible.
If you are being swept up by the Left Behind series Ricci urges you to read his book and see the other side of the coin. “Be careful what you believe. You need to look at it yourself. Don’t let other people teach you. Only God can teach you about God. Man can’t teach you about God. Man can teach you about man.”