LifeWay issues second misleading statement, is ‘committed to becoming even more proactive’ in evaluating resources

continues to cover the unfolding Boy-Back-From-Heaven scandal that has so far implicated both publisher Tyndale House and SBC bookseller LifeWay.

On 16 January 2015, LifeWay provided radio show host Janet Mefferd with a statement regarding The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven book, which she has shared in a Twitter message. The statement repeats almost verbatim that issued to Dr. Warren Throckmorton on the previous day, but goes further in asserting that LifeWay will be ‘even more proactive’ over the coming months in evaluating the resources it carries.

Here is the statement provided to Mefferd in full:

LifeWay Christian Resources Statement regarding “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”
January 16, 2014 [sic]

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 have returned to the publisher the few copies we had in our Stores.

LifeWay is committed to becoming even more proactive the next few months [sic] in evaluating the resources we carry.

Marty King, Director of Corporate Communications and Spokesman
LifeWay Christian Resources

This latest statement from LifeWay is, like that given to Dr. Throckmorton, particularly worded. It implies that LifeWay only found out about the book’s falsehood last week, but careful parsing reveals it merely to assert that LifeWay was informed last week, which it was. The statement neither confirms nor denies that LifeWay was also informed previously.

The impression given by the statement, if not its precise wording, is incongruent with the evidence showing that LifeWay’s Dr. Thom Rainer and Dr. Ed Stetzer both knew that the book was false back in May 2014, but chose to keep selling it anyway. It also does not explain why LifeWay ever decided to carry a book that contains supposed extra-biblical revelation and false doctrine.

continues to await a response from LifeWay to our own enquiries. We suspect they may be rather busy at the moment.

Photo credit: Liane Metzler.

Emails suggest LifeWay’s Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer knew ‘Boy Who Came Back From Heaven’ book was false, chose to keep selling it anyway

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.

continues to await a response from LifeWay to our own enquiries.

Photo credit: Liane Metzler.