On 13 January 2015, Alex Malarkey, subject of the book The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, definitively repudiated the book’s claims.
In response to a subsequent enquiry by Dr. Warren Throckmorton, Martin King – the Director of Communications at LifeWay – issued a statement saying that LifeWay stores are returning remaining copies of the book to the publisher, Tyndale House:
LifeWay was informed this week that Alex Malarkey has retracted his testimony about visiting heaven as told in the book “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.” Therefore, we are returning to the publisher the few copies we have in our Stores.
Dr. Throckmorton also notes that Alex’s mother has been campaigning against the book for some time. Writing on her blog in April 2014, Beth Malarkey explained that the Gospel was missing from the book, that it ‘leads people away from the Bible not to it’, and that Alex’s ‘name and identity are being used against his wishes’. She also recounted how Alex had previously attempted to enlist the support of a ‘pastor’ to have the book stopped:
When Alex first tried to tell a “pastor” how wrong the book was and how it needed stopped, Alex was told that the book was blessing people. Ok … first, Alex said that while he was struggling physically and trusting this person as someone who seemed to be concerned, so the person was invalidating Alex’s feeling while justifying the wrong that Alex was trying to make that person aware of. The person told Alex to “trust” him.
The real scandal here is that supposedly ‘Christian’ organizations – including LifeWay, which is operated by the Southern Baptist Convention – ever thought that such material was fit for distribution. As discern.org has previously noted, though, LifeWay continues to sell works by notoriously unsound authors such as Beth Moore, T.D. Jakes and Sarah Young.
Why do Christian retailers and publishers seem to be so persistently and wilfully undiscerning? Certainly, at least in the case of the SBC’s LifeWay, it is not for lack of an illustrious executive leadership team – theirs includes well-known figures Dr. Thom S. Rainer and Dr. Ed Stetzer. These men surely understand the doctrinal issues involved and the deep human cost of false teaching. Sadly, Todd Pruitt, Lead Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Harrisonburg, VA, offers what seems to be the likely answer:
And yet Beth Moore’s books and studies are published by Broadman & Hollman (B&H) and sold in Lifeway stores. Both Lifeway and B&H are Southern Baptist entities and Beth Moore a member of a Southern Baptist Church. So why does the Southern Baptist Convention publish, promote, and sell teaching that clearly departs from historic Protestantism and is against its own doctrinal positions? Follow the money my friends. Follow the money.
discern.org has reached out to LifeWay to ask whether there may be a more charitable explanation.
Update: The Washington Post reports that publisher Tyndale House has ‘decided to take the book and related ancillary products out of print’.
Photo credit: Liane Metzler.