The boy who came back from Heaven lied...

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Among magazines, none has a better reputation for rigorous fact-checking than the New Yorker. Every piece it publishes has been ripped apart and put back together only as the author's statements are verified by those who spend their lives trying to prove authors make mistakes and lie about big and little matters alike. But how do you fact-check a piece written by a boy and his father reporting that boy's experience of death and Heaven back when he was six years old? Do you pray and ask God if the story is true? If the boy really died? If Heaven is as the boy describes?

In this case, we're not talking about a magazine piece, but a book which has been on bestseller lists for years and has sold over a million copies. Published by Tyndale House Publishers (my in-laws' privately held corporation), for quite some time the boy and his mother have been trying to pull back the story of death and Heaven, but Tyndale House has declined to take action without a meeting with the boy, his father, and his mother. His father is the co-author of the book, the father and mother have been divorced for some time, and it's reported the father collects all the royalties with the son, a quadriplegic, getting none. No meeting of the three principals occurred so Tyndale House kept the book in print until this past week when the boy went public, admitting the book is a lie he made up to...

get attention:

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.

In Christ,

Alex Malarkey.

What are we to learn from this?

Christian authors writing, Christian publishers publishing, and Christian readers reading these accounts of life after death are gullible in the extreme. Stories about post-death experiences of bright lights, glorious music, and great warmth are devotional snake oil. Mr. Malarkey himself reminds us the Bible is infallible and contains the truth we need and it is right there in the Bible that our Lord says about Himself:

No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  - John 3:13

No one has ascended into Heaven but our Lord Jesus Christ and thus only the testimony of our Lord concerning Heaven is to be trusted because He is the Only One Who has descended from Heaven. This is the clear statement of Scripture. Is it not sufficient for us? Will we test our Lord as the scribes and Pharisees tested Him during His work here on earth, leading Him to declare:

Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  - Mark 8:12

If we turn away from the testimony of our Lord and toward the testimony of Mr. Malarkey, are we not the "evil generation that demands a sign?"

In Hebrews we read that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment..." (Hebrews 9:27), and Job refers to death as "the place of no return" (Job 17:22).

Yes, Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave and some approximation of Samuel returned to speak to Saul, but where is our Lord's power demonstrated in bestselling accounts of death and being drawn toward the warm light that have so well for so long? And why do these accounts tell of being pulled toward Heaven, and not Hell?

When I was a pastor and a young man in our congregation was paralyzed in a diving accident, he confessed faith in Christ explaining that it was a clear vision of Hell granted him by God through his terrible pain on the Stryker bed that led him to faith. Is it not true that in His shepherding of souls Jesus employed the fear of Hellfire as often as the hope of Heaven in calling men to faith? If so, why has God not seen fit to give us as many testimonies today of those who died and return to warn us of the fires of Hell as those who died and return to promise us the warmth and light of Heaven?

Even if Mr. Malarkey had not admitted his testimony is malarkey, it should never have been published and never been read.

God is true though all men are liars. It would have been difficult to fact check this book as the New Yorker fact checks its articles, but Christians trusting that every last word of the Bible is truth should have had no trouble turning away from this book long before its author confessed it was all a lie.

Shame on us for writing such books. Shame on us for selling such books. Shame on us for reading such books.

Shame on us for giving cause for unbelievers to grow even more firm in their conviction that the Christian hope of Heaven is delusional.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!