Author Of Best-Selling Christian Book About His Time In Heaven Says He Made It Up

The author and subject of the book “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” now says that he never actually “went” to heaven, and wrote the story because he thought it would get him attention.

Upon its release in 2010, “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” marched up the best-sellers list, rivaling mega-hit (and now movie) “Heaven Is For Real” in sales. For its Christian audience, it represented proof that God exists, and that there is life after death. The story went that following a catastrophic car accident in 2004, six-year-old Alex Malarkey was left quadriplegic and in a 2-month long coma. After he woke up, and from some prodding from his (future co-author) father, Alex recounted his wonderful journey to Heaven where he met everyone from Jesus to a (somewhat theologically troubling) guest appearance from Satan.

Even at facevalue there were reasons to be suspicious of the story that Alex began spinning. Despite the supposed affirmation that God and Heaven exist, much of what the boy described sounded cartoonish and simplistic, even to people who really wanted it to be true. For example, here is how Alex described Satan as noted by the blog Pulpit and Pen:

“The devil’s mouth is funny looking, with only a few moldy teeth. And I’ve never noticed any ears. His body has a human form, with two bony arms and two bony legs. He has no flesh on his body, only some moldy stuff. His robes are torn and dirty. I don’t know about the color of the skin or robes—it’s all just too scary to concentrate on these things!”

Rather than giving believers any insight into the fallen angel, Alex’s version sounds like what a kid would come up with – scary in a Disney-like way, moldy and bony.

But if you were ever labeled a “kill joy” for being skeptical of the book, now it appears you had every right to be. Alex, who is now a young man, has penned an open letter admitting that he invented the tale wholecloth because he felt it might get him attention.

Directing the letter at the Christian publishers who took the story and ran with it (making massive profits in the process), Alex recants his story:

“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.

Alex is still a devout Christian, but he no longer claims to have met Jesus or Satan. Instead, he said that the attention he received pressured him into making up the story. There was also the financial gain, not for Alex necessarily, but for the book’s publishers. It’s no secret that the Christian book market is lucrative. Like, hundreds of millions of dollars a year lucrative. And a book like this is extremely enticing.

Alex isn’t the only one having second thoughts about his best-selling book. His mother had previously bashed publishers for pushing the book that she insisted they knew was not true. “It is both puzzling and painful to watch the book The Boy who Came Back from Heaven to not only continue to sell, but to continue, for the most part, to not be questioned.” Disturbingly, she also claimed that Alex had not personally benefited financially from it and that most of the book was written by his father at the urging of Christian publishers and religious leaders.

On her blog, Alex’s mother Beth, writes:

When Alex first tried to tell a “pastor” how wrong the book was and how it needed stopped, ALex was told that the book was blessing people.

Neither seem to find the story much of a blessing any more.

Despite all of this, the Christian publisher chiefly responsible for the book’s existence is still proudly selling it. Several different versions of it, in fact.

Alex’s story is not unique in Christian publishing. One high profile example of a book being released to roaring success on the Christian market only to be later debunked is the smash hit “She Said Yes,” the story of a girl who died at Columbine.

Within the tragedy of the Columbine shooting, one victim, Cassie Bernall, quickly became a Christian hero because she purportedly refused to disavow her Christian faith at the gunmen’s request – and died for it. The book, written by Cassie’s mother, was a huge hit, and even led to a “massive surge in Christian youth groups,” but was almost entirely untrue. Witnesses in the Columbine library where Cassie died say there was never any conversation like the one described in the book. No show of faith or myrtrdom. Just cold-blooded murder.

When the story broke that the book was probably not true, many of the investigators and local media quietly confirmed that they had known that all along, even while the book shot to the top of the best-sellers list. When asked why they had never said anything, their answers sound a lot like Alex’s pastor: they viewed it as a white lie, or maybe even a good one. Why rock the boat?

The Post’s Evan Dreyer admitted to conflicted feelings about tackling the controversy over Bernall’s martyrdom. “For a lot of these stories, it comes down to: We’re the local media,” he said. “We have to weigh lots of questions of sensitivity, caring and concern for the victims’ families, more so than a lot of the national media does.”

And just like “The Boy Who Went To Heaven,” you can still purchase a copy of “She Said Yes” at your bookstore.

H/T: The Friendly Atheist blog | Feature image via YouTube