One of the cited authors of a book from The New York Times 2010 best sellers list, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, now says the entire story was completely made up simply to get attention.
The young boy, now 16 and with a most satirical last name, Alex Malarkey, said that after he awoke from the coma he suffered during a spine-severing car accident that left him paralyzed at just 6 years old, he began describing what Heaven looked like and said he had met Jesus and Satan. The boy’s father, Kevin Malarkey, turned Alex’s “experiences” into a book, following in the footsteps of other popular books in the so-called genre of “heavenly tourism,” like 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is for Real. The father subtitled the book: “A True Story.”
The book gained popularity in many Christian retail stores, who marketed it heavily. But Alex’s mother, Beth Malarkey, has suggested that her son has seen no money from the sale of the book, nor has it properly funded his specific medical needs. In fact, the book’s publisher, Tyndale, only has a contract with the boy’s father, Kevin. Beth and Kevin are said to be separated.
For years, Beth has been complaining in letters and Facebook posts that Christian bookstores have been profiting off of the book while ignoring her assertion that it is based on a lie. Up until now, no one has listened. However on Thursday, LifeWay Christian bookstores finally decided to send back any copies of the book to the publisher. Others are expected to follow suit.
This decision was spurred after Alex sent a letter to Lifeway. It read:
An Open Letter to LifeWay and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the “Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.”
Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.
I did not die. I did not go 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.
Beth Malarkey was quoted by Phil Johnson, who has also been on this case for some time, saying, “Alex never concluded he was in heaven. He was a small boy who experienced something extraordinary. The adults made it into what would sell to the masses.”
According to The Washington Post, when LifeWay was asked why they didn’t respond to Beth’s earlier complaints that they were selling her son’s fabricated book, they said: “We receive letters and complaints about lots of products we carry. We don’t pull a book just because we get a letter or a tweet. We became aware that the author said this story isn’t true this week. That’s when we pulled the book.”