Update: On 15 January 2015, LifeWay announced it was returning copies of Alex’s book. The publisher, Tyndale House, also decided to take the book out of print. For more information, see our continuing coverage.
The plague of books by those who claim to have visited heaven has been undermining confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture for years. ‘Christian’ retailers, such as the Southern Baptist Convention’s 180 LifeWay Christian Stores, have collaborated with this doctrinal downgrade by peddling these sources of supposed extra-biblical revelation. It is therefore notable that the LifeWay Vision, Values, and Mission statement affirms the inerrancy of Scripture, but conspicuously neglects to mention its sufficiency:
We believe the Bible is the eternal, inerrant Word of God, and is the plumb line for all of our resources, and for everything we say and do. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
Ironically, given that LifeWay sells not only heavenly tourism books, but also works by the likes of Beth Moore, T.D. Jakes and Sarah Young, this statement is made under the ‘Core value’ heading of ‘Trustworthy’. (SBC members may wish to hold accountable LifeWay’s executive leadership, which includes well-known figures Dr. Thom S. Rainer and Dr. Ed Stetzer.)
In a welcome development, Alex Malarkey, subject of the book The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven – still sold by LifeWay at the time of posting – has courageously written an open letter in which he definitively repudiates the book’s claims, rebukes ‘Lifeway and other sellers, buyers, and marketers of heaven tourism’, and affirms the sufficiency of Scripture. His letter has been published through the Pulpit and Pen website in the article, “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers.
Photo credit: Liane Metzler.