A young boy who penned a best-selling novel, claiming he went to heaven and met Jesus during a near-death experience more than a decade ago, recently recanted his story, saying he made up the entire narration just to seek attention. The shocking revelation from Alex Malarkey, whose 2004 experience was published in the 2010 book titled “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” authored by both his father, Kevin Malarkey and himself, has caused publisher Tyndale House to withdraw the text from print.
The revelation surfaced last week after Malarkey wrote a letter to Pen and Pulpit, saying the entire story was concocted.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
In his statement, Malarkey expressed his belief in Christ and the Christian doctrine, reiterating that Jesus died for mankind’s sins, while urging those marketing his false claims to repent.
“The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” tells the story of Malarkey’s survival after experiencing a car accident when he was only 6 years old in 2004. After he fell into coma, experienced paralysis and recovered, Malarkey said he had visited heaven.
“Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels who took him through the gates of heaven itself,” reads a description of the book. “Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. And most amazing of all… of meeting and talking to Jesus.”
With this account now in dispute by the book’s author, Tyndale House released a statement saying it plans to withdraw the book and associated ancillary material from print. Others like LifeWay, for instance, plan to stop selling the book as well.
Critics have long dismissed such “heavenly-tourism books” that claim to recount trips to heaven during people’s near-death experiences, saying the details mentioned in these books often fail to align with the Bible and contradict its claims. Malarkey’s confession of course does little to save this perception.
Apparently, this is not the first time that Malarkey’s story has been questioned, as a blog owned by his own mother, Beth Malarkey, has already warned readers of the inaccurate details in “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.”
Here’s a portion from a blog post published under her name April 2014:
“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. I could post facts and try to dispel many of the things contained within the pages of that book(have done a bit of that), I could continue to try to point out how Biblically off the book is(a few strategically placed scriptures does not make a book Biblically sound) and how it leads people away from the bible not to it (have done that as have others including John Macarthur and Phil Johnson), 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 monies from the book nor have a majority of his needs been funded by it (a fund that was set aside by a friend a few years ago has actually been paying for most things in the past few years but that fund is dwindling), I could…..but it seems like many people want to believe what they are given despite the wrong that it may be doing or the wrong that was done in the making of it.”
Reportedly, Beth and Kevin Malarkey are now divorced and Alex lives with his mother.
After Malarkey’s confession last week, another young boy, who rose to fame making similar claims in his best-selling book “Heaven Is For Real,” clarified that his account was indeed true. Fourteen-year-old Colton Burpo told readers of his novel that he had not lied about his experience in heaven.
Burpo issued a statement on the website for Heaven Is For Real Ministries on January 16, reacting to the controversy surrounding Malarkey and insisting his account is but accurate.
“I know there has been a lot of talk about the truth of other Heaven stories in the past few days. I just wanted to take a second and let everyone know that I stand by my story found in my book Heaven is for Real,” the statement read. “I still remember my experience in Heaven. I want to keep telling people about my experience because it has given hope to so many people.”
Skeptics have pointed to the fact that Colton never actually experienced a flat-line during his surgery, something they say would prevent him from visiting heaven. The young boy’s father Todd Burpo did not dispute claims that his son had never stopped breathing or had really died on the table during surgery; he explained Colton had spent a lot of time reading the Scriptures and soul-searching, which is why his experience is quite plausible.
“In the Bible there’s several examples of people who actually died and came back, but there’s several examples of people who never died,” he explained.
Photo Credits: Gospel Prime