Alex Malarkey, the boy featured in the best-selling book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, recently admitted that his inspiring story of visiting heaven following a life-threatening accident was entirely made up.
In 2010, Tyndale House published the story of then-six-year-old Alex's experiences in heaven after a car accident in 2004, which included meeting and talking to Jesus. The book, which was authored by Alex's father, Kevin, sold over 8 million copies and was also made into a documentary in March 2010.
However, Alex, who was left paralyzed by the accident, recently penned an an open letter to booksellers including the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway business recanting his story and condemning proponents of "heaven tourism."
Addressed to "Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven", the letter says: "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."
Alex's mother Beth, who is divorced from his father and who is their son's primary caregiver, had previously denounced the book, writing on her blog: "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." She also claimed that Alex's journey has been "capitalized on," as he has not benefited financially from the story.
"There are many who are scamming and using the Word of God to do it," she wrote.
"They are good, especially if you are not digging into your Bible and truly studying it. They study their audience and even read "success" books to try to build better and bigger..."ministries/businesses". Please, examine what you see and read. I see many things from a different vantage point because of how much I have witnessed and am witnessing first hand...not second hand. I will remain puzzled and remain seeking truth in the Word of God! One more time..Alex did not write the book and it is not blessing him! Saying that it is blessing others to try to justify its wrong is just that...justification of wrong!"
As of Thursday, January 16, Lifeway and other Christian bookstores that carry The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven have not pulled the book from their shelves.