NOTE: Just a bit of cursory research into this incident yields a strong feeling that there is more to the dynamic of the Malarkey family that is not being made fully public. That is perfectly okay. Most of us are not reality TV stars and have no wish to air our private lives. Of note is the lack of information about Alex’s father in this unfolding story. This article is written with the intent of supporting and applauding Alex Malarkey in telling the truth. Understand, he apparently has tried to tell the truth to the public at large for a long time, but only got national attention after the Pulpit and Pen website published his short open letter about the situation.
Alex Malarkey is listed as coauthor of the book, “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.” His father, Kevin Malarkey, is listed as the other author. An NPR website news article reports that Alex sent out an open letter that was published by the Pulpit and Pen website recanting the story, indicating he made it up to get attention. Alex was just a little boy when the book was published. He is now 16.
Alex Malarkey is reported to have been in an automobile accident in 2004 when he was only 6 years old. It is also reported that he was in a coma for two months after the accident. After emerging from the coma, he told a story about going to heaven. I do not have the details of what actually led to Alex telling the story he did. Was it due to questions posed to him about his coma, or did he volunteer the information from the beginning? Regardless, Alex himself indicates he did it to get attention.
Alex is not the boy of the book “Heaven is for Real” or the movie that has been released under the same title. That book was written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent about Colton Burpo (Todd’s son). “Heaven is for Real” was published in 2010 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and the Sony Pictures film was released in 2014. Alex’s book was also published by Tyndale House Publishers in 2010 (five years after Alex’s accident).
I wanted to see the movie “God’s Not Dead” when it came out. From what I heard about it, I figured it was at the least spiritually benign and at the most actually helpful in sharing the Gospel. I was asked around the same time if I wanted to see “Heaven is for Real.” I did not feel right about it in my spirit. My opinion is that these types of books and movies have a potential for harm due to their great potential for subjective error concerning spiritual matters and biblical truths.
This article is not written to debate the near-death experiences of people no matter what their ages happen to be. New Testament accounts of seeing heaven are limited. Some examples include where the apostle Paul referred to himself in the third person in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 in reference to being caught up to the “third heaven.” The apostle Peter saw a vision of heaven being opened up and a “great sheet” being let down to the earth in Acts 10:9-16. When Stephen was being murdered, he saw heaven opened and Jesus standing on the right side of God (Acts 7:55-59). There are also the accounts written by John as recorded in Revelation.
One thing of note about the dead coming back to life is that when Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, there is nothing recorded of what Lazarus experienced during the time his body was in the grave (John 11:1-46). There is also no indication that the “Lazarus” mentioned in the account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 was Jesus’ friend and Mary and Martha’s brother (John 11:3), who Jesus brought back from the dead. (I say “account” instead of parable because this seems to be more of a literal account of an event that actually took place rather than it being a fictionalized story used to make a point.) Since Martha obviously had a home and provisions to receive Jesus and others into (Luke 10:38-42), it is unlikely her brother Lazarus was the beggar of the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus who hoped to eat crumbs (leftovers) from the rich man’s table (Luke 16:21).
The intent of this article is to steer people to the word of God—the bible—as the authoritative source for answers to their spiritual questions. Of much worthy note is how it appears this is also the intent of Alex’s mom, Beth Malarkey, as well. A quote from her blog says, “Alex did not write the book and it is not blessing him!” Alex’s mom is not a trained writer, and that makes this blog post a little difficult to read. However, a couple of things become quite evident in her words. One is that neither Alex nor his mother support the book, and the other is that it seems he is not getting a financial gain from the book’s sales. She does, however, mention a fund that was started for Alex, but says that it is “dwindling.”
If you take a look at Alex’s picture at the NPR news website by clicking on the article link HERE, you will see that he was on a ventilator back in 2009. Obviously the car accident he was involved in was not just a fender-bender. Looking at pictures on his mom’s blog show that as of Christmas 2013, Alex was still in a wheelchair and on a ventilator.
Alex’s parents are erroneously being reported as now being divorced (see Beth Malarkey’s Public Statement here). Alex is likely to have a lifetime of extraordinary medical expenses. Still, he is going out of his way to tell the world the truth about the story he made up of dying and going to heaven. He is setting the record straight. He is not trying to milk profits out of a book that was just a fantasy story as told by a little boy of only 6 years.
One might think that as a Christian, I would be upset that another fraudulent story has come out to give Christianity a black eye. The truth of the matter is that God will expose all fraud that is put forth in his name. He will shed light on untruth that declares to represent his word or the Gospel of Christ as anything other than what it is. I cannot speak to why the book was written or the mindset of anyone involved in penning the story. I cannot even speak to any details of the story itself since I have not read it and have no desire to do so. I can only advise followers of Jesus, including Alex, his mom and his dad as well as all who are seeking answers about God, to look to the bible first. And, from everything I have read so far, it seems that Alex and his mom are doing just that.
The disciples at Berea were considered more noble because of how they received the Gospel message and how they searched the scriptures to read the truths for themselves (Acts 17:11). Unfortunately the mindset of many today is to seek out and put faith in fables (2 Peter 1:16, 1 Timothy 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:13-14) rather than seeking to know what God’s word actually says.
I could not think of a better closing than to punctuate this article with two things. One is that Alex said, “When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible.” The other is the first part of Hosea 4:6 where it says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge . . .”