Tyndale House, a leading Christian publisher, is in serious damage control. “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life Beyond This World” is being pulled from shelves after the story was retracted.
The book tells the story of Alex Malarkey (unfortunate last name today) who slipped into a coma after a 2004 auto accident. Alex’s story, told with the help of his dad, Kevin Malarkey, tells of visions of angels and meeting Jesus. Published in 2010, it was a runaway hit for the publisher. In 2014, Tyndale did a reprint, adding “A True Story.”
Earlier this week, Alex penned an open letter explaining he had made the story up in a bid to seek attention. He also regretted ‘people had profited from lies.’ “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” he wrote. “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.”
Even in Christian circles, the book has been widely debated. Leaders have challenged the veracity of the book and the other bestseller, Todd Burpo’s ‘Heaven is for Real.’ A leading critic of the book has been his mother, Beth. In April 2014, she wrote a blog post saying that Alex has been exploited throughout the process.
“I could talk about how much it has hurt my son tremendously and even make financial statements public that would prove that he has not received moneys from the book nor have a majority of his needs been funded by it,.”
“What I have walked through with Alex over the past nine years has nearly broken me personally and spiritually. I have wept so deeply for what I have watched my children go through, been made aware of how ignorant I was of some things, how selfish I was, and how Biblically illiterate I was which allowed me to be deceived!”
It’s easy to start pointing fingers over this, and some people made a lot of money. But, I’m going to have to side with the kid here. This story came out when he was a kid. How many of us have made something up to get attention?
He had a horrible car accident and was in a coma. Sure, readers may be hurt by the deception, but don’t forget the context this was borne out of.