We currently live in a world where there are multiple books revolving around the idea of people skimming the edges of the afterlife and traveling to Heaven and Hell. We’ve covered the clan behind Heaven Is For Real around here before, but now another boy who had visions of heaven is putting his family in the headlines. That would be Alex Malarkey and his father Kevin, the duo behind the best seller The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. From The Washington Post:
The best-selling book, first published in 2010, describes what Alex experienced while he lay in a coma after a car accident when he was 6 years old. The coma lasted two months, and his injuries left him paralyzed, but the subsequent spiritual memoir — with its assuring description of “Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World” — became part of a popular genre of “heavenly tourism,” which has been controversial among orthodox Christians.
Heavenly tourism sounds perfect for a genre of religious travel books, but there’s one little problem: the entire thing is fake. Alex Malarkey admitted as much in an open letter shared via the web site Pulpit & Pen, stating that he never died and never went to Heaven:
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.
It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible…not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.
This revelation has forced the book’s publisher, Tyndale House, to pull it from sale and has many Christian bookstores sending their unsold copies back.
This is reportedly the first time that Alex Malarkey spoke out against the claims that were made in his book, but his family hasn’t been as quiet. His mother, Beth Malarkey, has been speaking out against the story over on her personal blog since April of 2014 :
“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.” She goes on to say that the book is not “Biblically sound” and that her son’s objections to it were ignored and repressed. She also notes that Alex “has not received monies from the book nor have a majority of his needs been funded by it.” (via)
It’s easy to point at this and laugh, especially considering the irony of their last name. But at the same time, it shines a light on another of the troublesome portions within organized religions. It’s an industry as opposed to a belief system and it isn’t opposed to taking advantage of someone’s tragedy to make money.
The words in Alex Marlarkey’s letter denouncing the book ring far more spiritual than anything you’d probably read in this book or many like it. But instead of taking that route, people seek comfort in visions of puffy clouds and The Pearly Gates, neglecting the positive aspects of their own faith.