Do you remember what it was like to tell a lie and then, to your surprise, it grew out of control? It grew to the point that you felt it was surely impossible for you to squelch. The tale had been retold to so many people in your life that the possibility of drawing the lie back seemed next to impossible. This can and has happened to so many of us over the years, and especially when we were young. I believe this might be at the heart of what happened with Alex Malarkey when he was ten.
Alex was in a serious car accident when he was 6-years-old. The accident caused Alex to slip into a coma for two months. When Alex woke, he told his parents that he had died and went to heaven. From this story, he and his dad authored a book called, “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.” This book supposedly detailed this trip to heaven.
Christiannews.net reports Alex made these statements in an open letter recanting his claims. We read:
“I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” Alex Malarkey, co-author of “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven,” wrote in an open letter. “I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention.”
“When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible; people have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”
This really is not news, though it is commendable. It is not news for two reasons. First, the fact is that this is what Alex’s mother has been saying for years. She posted this on a blog post early last year:
“It is both puzzling and painful to watch the book ‘The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven’ not only continue to sell, but to continue, for the most part, to not be questioned,” Beth Malarkey continued. “Alex’s name and identity are being used against his wishes (I have spoken before and posted about it that Alex has tried to publicly speak out against the book), on something that he is opposed to and knows to be in error according to the Bible.”
The second reason this announcement is not news is that, for those of us who trust the Bible, we knew he had not gone to heaven. It is contrary to the Word of God; not just that he went, but that he claimed to come back. Here is the problem. The Bible clearly tells us that there is a gulf of separation between there and here (Luke 16:19-31). There is no going and coming back. It is important to notice what Christ quotes Abraham as saying. We read:
But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'”
God has not chosen to reveal Himself, His ways, or His Heaven through sending people back from the dead. Why? Because they have His Word, and if they do not listen to His Word, they will not hear one who has risen from the dead.
Tyndale House Publishers and LifeWay have both pulled the book. Tyndale has stopped publication of both the book and all related materials. With Tyndale, it is hard to find fault. They are not the Church, but a publishing house seeking to profit from the production and sell of books. LifeWay, on the other hand, is another story entirely.
As a Baptist minister, it is extremely disconcerting that an SBC funded and operated bookstore is not more aware of heretical material. This blindness on the part of LifeWay or the SBC for that matter is nothing new. The book does on the other hand point up a critical issue with this organization. It has been stated by smarter and more influential men than myself that the SBC has this issue.
It has for years been the practice of most LifeWay stores to sell and push material that was known to be teaching things contrary to the Bible. They have done this because it is what is popular and profitable, even though it is not the Church’s responsibility to sell what people want, but to offer biblical truth.
It is my hope that this will force Baptists of all theological stripes to take a closer look at what their respective Associations are doing and why. Thanks Alex for having the courage and Christian conviction to do what was right, while most of your adult examples chose the easy or more profitable path.