heavenly lies

Alex Malarkey, the boy who wrote “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” came clean this week and said his book is full of malarkey. It never happened. He said he just wanted attention, which is not unusual for a six-year-old boy. Here are five thoughts.

1. Give credit to the boy for owning this. That takes guts. It also points to some strange family dynamics, as he and his mother seem pitted against his father, who alone signed the book contract and is collecting the money. The Washington Post article doesn’t indicate that Kevin and Beth Malarkey are divorced, but it’s hard to imagine them living in the same house. Unless it’s as large as a New York Times Bestseller can buy.

2. It’s strange that so many Christians would put so much stock in the story of a six-year-old boy. Small children are reliable guides for Dora the Explorer and their physical condition—“Tell mommy where it hurts”—but it seems foolish to take their word on something considered to be so important.

3. I know one person who went to heaven and came back, and he claimed he “heard inexpressible things” that he was “not permitted to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). I’m suspicious of heavenly tourists who tell all, especially when there’s money involved.

Here’s my little joke on this subject from The Last Enemy (p. 111):

“Everyone wants to know what happens when we die, and they eagerly read books that promise to tell them. One such book is Don Piper’s description of what he saw and heard during his 90 Minutes in Heaven. This popular book spawned two other bestsellers which tell the stories of boys who went to heaven and returned: The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. It also inspired a book that went in the other direction, 23 Minutes in Hell. (Now we only need a Roman Catholic book to complete the afterlife trifecta—perhaps something with the title 7 Minutes in Purgatory, which seemed like forever, because, you know, it was purgatory).”

4. The Bible tells us almost nothing about heaven because heaven is not our home. It’s not the goal. Heaven is the intermediate state, where Christians go when they die to await our resurrection. Scripture only tells us that in heaven we are with the Lord (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 4:14). That’s all, and that’s enough.

5. I wish Christians would get over their fixation with heaven and put their longings where Scripture says, on the New Earth (Isaiah 65:25; 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1-4). I’ve just written a book that explains what practical difference this earthy focus should make in our everyday lives. Becoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? will be released on February 3, but you can purchase it already on Zondervan’s website.

Malarkey’s book may be full of what his name suggests, but the title is the truth for all Christians. We all will go to heaven when we die, and we all will come back.

Image by Theophilos Papadopoulos. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.






6 responses to “heavenly lies”

  1. Jack Horton

    Another attempt at shameless promotion of your books? Well at least that is better than using ResultSource Inc. 🙂

  2. mikewittmer

    Years of being a politician have made you cynical. Maybe you need to visit heaven.

  3. I also am so proud of Alex. He was only a little kid when he first told the story–he by no means intended to cause the media firestorm or controversy his the book caused. His father is entirely to blame for that (at least within his family–obviously low-class publishers out to make a buck at the expense of truth were mostly to blame). Sounds like he and his mother have been sounding the warning alarm about the book for quite a while. Shame on people who call themselves Christians who would rather hear fairy tales from toddlers than trust the word of God and shame on publishers who print lies and use the excuse that it “blesses” people. Yeah, it will bless them right into hell when they assume from these stories that everyone goes to heaven and God is not the just and righteous God who will destroy his enemies as the Bible says. Again, so proud of Alex and his mom!!!

  4. Craig Giddens

    Excellent article. You can’t blame Christians for having a fixation on heaven though since Colossians 1:5 refers to “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” and Revelation 21:1 says “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away”.

  5. Stephen

    It’s not really accurate to say that he came clean “this week” when both Alex and his mother have been saying this since at least 2012. It’s more accurate to say that the internet “noticed this week” that he’s been saying this for the past two years.

  6. Dan

    Give Phil Johnson credit for going to bat for Alex and his mom and taking their case to Tyndale, a publisher that has proven in this matter that it doesn’t merit the bearing of that name.

    Shame on Tyndale and ‘Christian’ book chains that chose to serve mammon rather than God, indiscreetly pushing tales that Scripture does not support.

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