CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) -- A young man who claimed to have visited Heaven after being in a car crash in 2004 apparently has recanted, saying he made up the story. Now his publisher and Christian retailers are pulling his book and related materials.
Alex Malarkey was 6 years old when he and his father Kevin were involved in an accident that was nearly fatal for Alex. He was in a coma from severe head trauma for two months and when he awoke, he allegedly told of seeing God, angels and also demons and even the devil. Kevin, a Christian therapist, co-wrote with Alex about these supposed experiences in "The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven," published in 2010 and listed as a bestseller for 2011 by Publishers Weekly.
Now 16 years old, Alex who is confined to a wheelchair and has limited motor skills but can speak, has published an open letter saying he did not die nor go to Heaven.
"I said I went to [H]eaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible," he wrote. "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 not the first time Alex has tried to alert the public about the fraud, he even posted a comment on his fan page on Facebook, "after which the comment was deleted by moderators and he was blocked from the group."
His mother Beth, who is his primary caretaker, also has tried to expose the deception and set the record straight.
In a comment about a "Heaven Tourism" article posted on Christianity.com, she shared Alex does have a story to tell, but what has been published is "bits and pieces of truth wrapped inside massive embellishment, to gain enormous profits" using Alex's name.
She also communicated with Hank Hanegraaff, president and CEO of the Christian Research Institute, about her concerns with what was being published in her son's name.
"Hank, my son is being exploited..." she wrote to him via Facebook. "My son has tried to speak (as best he could) on the wrongs of this book but he has been silenced."
The continued lack of response from his publisher and major retailers apparently prompted Alex to finally release his concerns in an open letter earlier this week so he would no longer be ignored.
"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 the work of man," he continued. "I want the whole world to know the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough."
The book's publisher Tyndale House, a major Christian label, told Washington Post on Thursday, Jan. 15, it "has decided to take the book and related ancillary products out of print." Meanwhile, retailer LifeWay Christian Resources released a statement saying it was "informed this week that Alex Malarkey has retracted his testimony about visiting [H]eaven ... Therefore, we are returning to the publisher the few copies we have in our stores."