Examining the Heaven is for Real Hoax – Is the Devil in the Details?
Not To Be Confused! These Are Two Different Children’s Heavenly Stories: Malarkey, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, and Burpo, The Boy Who Went To Heaven
“The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” is the tale of an imaginative six-year-old boy who was frightened and in shock after a terrifying accident and his alleged near-death experience. His bestselling book quickly sold more than one million copies and created a stir in the evangelical community. In the book, Malarkey suffers a near-fatal accident, breaking his spinal column at the neck. Doctors all but give up hope on him – yet, miraculously, he lives.
During his hospitalization, Alex tells captivating stories to the people who surrounded him during his medical crisis. The stories intrigue his family and friends, and at the tender age of six, he uses these heavenly stories to gain attention. His father, Kevin Malarkey, saw hope and opportunity in his son’s tales, and the father-son duo later collaborated to write “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”, a book that tells a story of how the youngster went to heaven and returned.
Yet many discerning believers wondered about Alex’s confusing heavenly details because “God is not a God of confusion but of Peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33
For many people who are familiar with scripture, Alex's recollections were cause for alarm. For example: Alex recalls Heaven as a mostly dark place where he often saw the devil going in and out through a hole in outer heaven. Alex describes the devil: “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 just too scary to concentrate on these things!” We find hope in confirmation of the heavenly! Perhaps this is the reason why so many people were attracted to Alex’s story. Aside from that, it is hard to believe that an injured child could make such things up … so we assumed he was offering an honest account.
Though unflattering, these details are helpful in understanding what caused Alex to conjure up his near- death experience and his fictional visit to heaven as described in the book. It was a tall tale that created a Heaven is for Real Hoax - and many were left confused after Alex revealed the truth.
Malarkey Recants His Fabricated Story Shocking Everyone … Except His Mother
Admitting wrongdoing can be both painful and a source of freedom! Alex, now a teenager, has been reading his Bible – that is Good News! Recently, Malarkey realized his actions were wrong and he posted a comment on his Facebook page recanting his original story. He confessed to making up everything in the book – a comment that, oddly, was deleted by the page’s moderators. After this, his mother, Beth Malarkey, posted his retraction on her online blog and tried to reach booksellers, but was given no heed. John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven contains the disclaimers of both mother and son. According to Beth, the predicament arose because “Alex never concluded he was in heaven. He was a small boy who experienced something extraordinary.
Furthermore, Alex wrote the following letter in a desperate attempt to recant the contents of his book and to stop the profiteering from his fable. It was entitled “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 my brevity, but I have to keep this short. Alex says:
- I did not die.
- I did not go to heaven.
- When I made the claims, I had never read the Bible.
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
So, the bad news, six-year-old Alex fabricated his story. The Good News, teenaged, Alex encountered the Lord and admitted his mistakes after reading Scripture – So we are believing Romans 8:28 for Alex and his family "…that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose."
Despite Confusion Created By the Book and Critics – Colton Knows Heaven Is For Real
A young Colton Burpo also tells of his own near-death experience in the books “Heaven is for Real”. The New York Times bestseller has sold over 6 million copies, has been published in 39 languages and was made into a blockbuster movie in 2014. The Burpo family has a global, evangelical family ministry. Colton’s greatest desire in life is to let people know how much God loves us … sometimes through music. Yet, because of the Malarkey “Heaven is for Real hoax,” Colton Burpo has come under much pressure about the authenticity of his heavenly journey.
Did you know even though Colton’s father is a minister? Colton much prefers singing his message to people in the audience at the Heaven is Real Ministry events?
Some critics are responding by creating a negative image of the heavenly experience. The genre of ‘spiritual journalism’ has recently been called ‘Heavenly Tourism.’ In an attempt to cast a shadow on the validity of Colton Burpo’s visit to heaven, many media sources (many of them Christian) have gone out of their way to lump the heavenly stories of Malarkey, Burpo and Don Piper (author of 90 Minutes in Heaven) together. Some critics have even dubbed the phenomenon the Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine (adding the emphasis on ‘Malarkey’) to characterize heavenly encounters. This has created confusion about the reality of Heaven and personal discernment.
Here’s what Colton Burpo has to say about the recent Heaven is for Real Controversy
Colton Burpo, now 14, responded with the following message.
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.' (from: http://www.HeavenLive.org)
Despite Diabolical Interference - Colton Burpo Confirms - Heaven Is for Real!
Malarkey’s recantation of his story ironically coincided with the release of the 2014 blockbuster movie, Heaven is For Real, which gave people hope of a Heaven to look forward to the timing of Malarkey’s recanted story is interesting and worth examining. The release of Malarkey’s false narrative was so coincidental and disruptive it seemed to have intentional and damaging spiritual roots. Who would intentionally want to see works of God fail?
God is the Creator and Lover of Souls. The enemy is a liar and seeks to destroy. He can only copy and counterfeit what God creates. Divide and separate is a key strategy the enemy employs in his attempts to destroy the Godly. His clear intent is to distract us from what is important – the real issues of life such as our relationship with God, Our Eternity and the fact that Heaven is real and that the resurrected Jesus resides there and is waiting for us, his children. In fact, here’s a glimpse of from “Heaven is for Real for Kids” written by Colton Burpo
Although the Malarkey book was fiction, the truth about heaven and heavenly experiences are real.
You can read what Colton Burpo in Heaven is for Real, or Don Piper’s account reveals in 90 Minutes in Heaven or explore the heavenly art by Akiane. There are many, many life-changing accounts of those who have had near-death experiences. We believe these accounts can encourage us! These heavenly experiences are just one way that God can bring us closer to him and to take us deeper into the word of God presented in the Bible.
God is so creative! In so many ways believers are given inspired opportunities to enter into positive Christ-Centered conversations with others. Consider the portrait to the left of “Prince of Peace” painted by the child of atheist parents. This painting of Jesus speaks 1,000 words! Or consider the millions of lives touched by Colton’s trip to heaven and back! Did you know there is a book and stories about Heaven for all ages? If you are curious about how heaven looks,check out the other images in “Heaven is for Real for Kids” and see some great illustrations that give a sense of what to expect! Share the books! What a wonderful way to support and encourage others who have lost loved ones! Dear One, do you believe that Heaven is For Real and that our resurrected savior, Jesus, resides there? We certainly do! If you do too - let’s double up on taking every God-given opportunity to encourage one another! Always remember, sharing is caring, and it is an act of Love to point people toward Jesus and the hope of Eternal Life in Heaven!
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