"Heavenly tourism" has been a book category that has been criticized by secular and orthodox Christian groups alike. But Thursday, heavenly tourism took one of its biggest hits yet when publisher Tyndale House pulled 2010's bestselling book The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven from the shelves after the titular boy admitted that he never went to heaven. He made up the whole story.
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life Beyond This World describes the aftermath of a horrific car accident, which put 6-year-old Alex into a coma. Despite medical predictions to the contrary, Alex survived his life-threatening accident, and when he awoke two months later from his coma, he told quite the story. Alex told his family, including his co-author father Kevin, that angels took him through the gates of heaven, where he met and spoke to Jesus.
But, nearly five years after it was published, Alex has recanted his story in an open letter:
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.
It's certainly brave of preteenager Alex, who was paralyzed in the accident, to set the record straight so openly. But it just has to be noted that in what can only be described as a strange twist of fate, Alex's last name is Malarkey. ... See what I'm saying here?
Tyndale House has opted to remove Alex and Kevin's book from the shelves in light of his admission. Alex's mother Beth has spoken out against the book already on her blog, saying that Alex had been silenced in the past when he tried to discuss his objections to the book. Remember: He was 6 years old when this book was written and published, so really, who can blame anything on him? He has a vivid imagination, and we should probably be encouraging that instead of raking in the cash off of it and then getting very upset about this "scam" a child tried to pull off on you and backpedaling as quickly as possible.
Heavenly tourism got spotlight earlier this year when the movie adaptation of Tyndale House's other title Heaven is for Real hit the big screen with Greg Kinnear. But, after this, publishers will approach little kids' depictions of heaven with a much stricter screening process before they seek to line their pockets. Sighs.