In 2004 at the age of six Alex Malarkey was in a horrible car accident. The accident left him paralyzed, and he was in a coma for two months with questions about whether he would survive. But when he awoke from his coma, he talked about having been to heaven. This became the basis for the book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. The book lists Alex and his father as co-authors, although I suspect that six year olds don’t really author books. The book became a New York Times Bestseller.
But the bestseller has become a recent scandal. Alex, now a teenager, has recanted the story. In fact, he has attempted for the past two years to get the publisher and booksellers to listen to him. This is what he wrote to the publisher, booksellers, and what he calls “the Marketers of Heaven Tourism.”
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.1
The scandal has more to do with when did the publisher and booksellers know. Emails would seem to indicate that in the case of one bookseller, they knew and did nothing. They have subsequently agreed to pull the book, and the publisher has agreed to stop selling the book (although the book had a reprint in 2014 and is still on Amazon.com). I feel badly for Alex. He was a child and is still a minor.
But why bring up a scandal? Partly because it is in the news. Partly because stumbling blocks to faith exist, and we need to be prepared for them. Christian scandals are not new; they go back all the way to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). We need to be reminded that our faith must be in Christ. People can disappoint.
I appreciate Alex’s statement: “They should read the Bible, which is enough.” I believe in heaven because of Jesus. He is the one with Old Testament prophecies pointing to him. The New Testament teaches that he had an existence prior to conception, that he came to us from heaven (John 1:1-14, John 3:13, Philippians 2:5-11). He is the one with witnesses to his resurrection and ascension, who were transformed and persecuted. I can have confidence about heaven, because Jesus is truly the one who came from heaven.