I’ve always squirmed at those stories of people who nearly die and go to heaven. At least if they also include coming back to tell about it. It’s not that I believe in a small god who can’t do something like that. Nor am I uncomfortable with God intervening supernaturally in some fashion.
I just can’t get around the nagging voice that repeats something someone said who did go to heaven and return. …I was caught up into paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. (2 Corinthians 12:4)
I get even more skeptical when the source for the account is a child. Those who minister to children have to be so careful not to manipulate children since they’re so eager to please (alright, alright, except at bedtime–or Sunday school story time). Even for parents, children sometimes “pray a prayer” if they know it’s what mom or dad wants–without grasping the meaning of the gospel. Which in turn may mask their unregenerate condition for years–even decades.
In 2010, Tyndale published The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. Six year-old Alex Malarkey was in a terrible car crash and lay in a coma for two months. During that time angels purportedly took him to heaven and he saw the face of Christ.
Alex and his dad co-wrote the book and it was a smash hit for Tyndale–even inspiring a documentary film. Now 16, Alex admits it didn’t happen. This week he wrote to Christian retailers, “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention.”
Tyndale has stopped publication & LifeWay Christian Resources have pulled their copies in the wake of Alex’s riveting words: “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.”
I suspect there’s some kind of parental struggle going on here since Alex’s parents are now divorced. But the caution remains: better to be enamored by what God says, than what people say.