I don’t know if you heard of the book The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. It is the book about a boy who died and went to heaven. Only he didn’t really die, and he didn’t really go to heaven. He made the story up and then someone published it and it sold millions like every other worthless book of its type.
What makes this one interesting is that the boy, Alex Malarkey, came out recently after actually reading the Bible and recanted the entire story. He said it was a hoax. Really? You see, that is the real rub. Alex, a boy, actually had to come out and tell us the story was a hoax before we (the wider church audience) could actually discern that the story was a hoax. Every single story like this is a hoax. In fact, let me try to be clear as possible: if someone has a story of dying and going to heaven, and they have published a book about it, then they didn’t die and go to heaven. It is a hoax.
The reason I say this is that we have a standard that we can use to test such stories. It’s called… (and I wish the people at Tyndale Publishing would actually get one of these books and read it), it’s called the Bible. By reading it with eyes of faith, we can actually discern between what is real and what is a hoax, like the book written by Malarkey and the other popular book Heaven is For Real.
Back to the standard. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that it is impossible for someone to die, while on the operating table for example, and be with the LORD provided they are actually Christians. What I’m saying is that the standard for discerning is given by Paul when he had such an experience. He writes: And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows– how he was caught up into the Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter (2 Corinthians 12:3).
The key for knowing whether something is a hoax or not is whether or not the person actually talks about it, and tells us wild things like Jesus has a pet unicorn that is colored like the rainbow. The true believer, whom God might give the experience of being caught up to heaven, would not talk about it because he or she would know it was unlawful. I actually heard of such a man who was a dear brother in the LORD who died on the operating table. But when it came to talking about it, he couldn’t. He was too overwhelmed like Paul to say anything.
The problem with these Charlatans is that they don’t hesitate to say anything, or write anything or make a movie out of it, deceiving the undiscerning. And for this they need to repent.
According to the latest reports on this book, Tyndale Publishing has decided to pull all the books and paraphernalia. Gee, that is wonderful. But what they should do is repent of such greed and stupidity. Call it ignorance if you like, but they are in the business of publishing Christian books and this book is undecidedly not Christian. There is no standard by which to hold them accountable for doing what they have done. Are they going to give the money back to the people who were fooled by these lies? Are they going to actually hire some Christian theologians to help set a standard so they won’t publish such tripe in the future? Will they actually use the Bible as their standard for truth, instead of the bottom line?
I doubt it. I doubt they will actually even apologize. Again, their goal is the bottom line so pedaling spiritual lies is no sweat off their backs. The only remorse they will feel is the remorse of actually getting caught.
This is where the church needs to repent. The leaders need to repent for not protecting our flock from such false teachers. The leadership is actually charged with doing so, see 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus and every passage where Jesus speaks about sheep in wolves clothing, false teachers and Pharisees. The leadership of the church is far to timid in doing such things. Pastors will preach week after week and never address the spiritual lies that are floating about. The problem is that there are those in their flocks who are succumbing to such lies. It is not enough to preach the truth, we must also warn the flock about the lies that are present. It is our duty.
Again, Paul’s words: For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain (Titus 1:10-11).
I wonder if that might apply here.
But back to the main point as well. Not only should Tyndale Publishing repent of their … dishonest gain, but so should those in Christian leadership for not warning our congregations about such bilge. Not all in leadership are afraid to say such things, and many do, but in general, it’s just not “nice” to say something about a Beth Moore, or Rob Bell, or other such deceiver.
I know it’s difficult to warn people against such books with horrendous theology. They don’t like it. To try and warn someone against something like Jesus Calling insults the ones who read it because they have deemed it right in their own eyes. But we still must try. The general population of the church is not discerning. It’s a sad reality and lands back on leadership’s lap. They don’t know that such books are not worth the paper they are printed upon, theologically and spiritually speaking. They don’t know, because again, leadership has not spoken of such.
But the larger congregation is at fault too. They are too prideful to listen to those of us who are trying to warn others. They believe that since they have some degree from Big U., that they have enough education to know what is right and what is not right. This is why so many of them heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (1 Timothy 4:3-4).
The larger congregation in general loves fables more than they love spiritual truth found in Scripture. That is the reason why these books sell. They would rather listen to speculation about truth than actual truth itself. For this, the larger congregation needs to repent. Just because someone is talking about Jesus, heaven, hell, etc., doesn’t mean that what they are saying is true or has any real bearing to Biblical truth.
But I’m not sure any of these things will happen. For the most part, Tyndale Publishing will continue to print tripe for the Christian bookstores who are guilty of being undiscerning as well. People will continue to flock to those things that are but a shadow of truth. And we will see more books on people who go to, and come back from heaven.
I guess we should rejoice that one little boy, was used by God to do what the pastors and teachers should have been doing all along. Maybe a few will become a bit more discerning in the process.