Dustin Germain is doing stellar work covering the unfolding scandal of LifeWay peddling notoriously unbiblical materials. In his latest article, Germain provides explosive emails from a May 2014 exchange between respected contender-for-the-faith Justin Peters and LifeWay President and CEO Dr. Thom Rainer. This postscript from one of Peters’ emails appears damning:
(PS – if you are not already aware, the book The Boy Who Cam Back from Heaven detailing the story of Alex Malarkey is fiction. It did not happen. I know this because I have exchanged numerous emails and have had personally spoken with Beth Malarkey, Alex’s Mom. Alex does not support the book. His Mom tells me that his father, Kevin, is exploiting his own son for financial gain but is not financially supporting his son with the profits of the book. She is doing everything she can to get the truth out. You might want to pull this, too, if you haven’t already. I know LifeWay used to sell it. I will be glad to give you Mrs. Malarkey’s phone number and email address if you would like to verify that I am telling you the truth.)
Germain reports that Rainer did not respond to this email. For seven further months, until this month’s overwhelming public outcry, LifeWay continued to sell a book containing unsound doctrine that it apparently knew to be based upon a fabricated story.
Germain’s detailed post is essential reading and demonstrates that neither Dr. Thom Rainer nor Dr. Ed Stetzer wished to heed Peters’ appeals. Germain concludes with this plea:
These questions need to be answered. Why did Rainer not seek to stop the book from being sold once he knew the truth? Do Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer really believe that the experiences conveyed in heavenly tourism books are real and have enough sound biblical character to be passed on and sold to the masses? Why did Lifeway not listen to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2014, who repudiated these books and passed a resolution accordingly? Do Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer believe these accounts to be true? Could not a lot of shame and embarrassment been spared Lifeway if its executives would have only listened to SBC messengers and honored their wishes? Will Southern Baptists hold Lifeway’s executives to account? Will Christian consumers from across the evangelical spectrum hold book publishers to a higher standard?
Brothers, please. We can do better. We must do better. The love of Christ and the faithfulness to the truth and sufficiency of his word compels us to do better.
discern.org continues to await a response from LifeWay to our own enquiries.
Photo credit: Liane Metzler.