At the bottom of the front cover are the words A True Story. The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven recounts the story of six-year-old Alex Malarkey who was seriously injured in an automobile accident that left him paralyzed. While in a coma, Alex was taken to heaven and given the grand tour. He returned to earth and reentered his body so he could later share with all of us what he saw and heard. The book also records post-coma trips to heaven by Alex and even includes an angel appearance to Alex’s father Kevin Malarkey.
I almost stopped reading the book after reading the Introduction. Kevin Malarkey, an Evangelical Christian therapist in Columbus Ohio wrote:
I’m not here to beat a drum, convince you of a theological argument, or force you to validate Alex’s experiences. But I humbly offer a challenge: suspend your judgment for just a few chapters. I think your life may be changed forever.
If Alex’s story is a TRUE story then why do I need to suspend my judgment? Should not the truth of the story be clear to all who read it?
According to Kevin Malarkey:
Heaven is real. There is an unseen world at work—an intensely active spiritual realm right here on earth, all around us. And much of this activity keeps us from focusing on our future destination, the place where we will spend eternity. Alex has been there….
The only thing The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven actually proves is that some people believe there is a heaven. Alex’s story “might” be true, but there is not one shred of evidence in the book to prove such a claim. In other words, we have to accept at face value the words of six-year-old (or 11-year-old by the time the book is written) Alex Malarkey; that what he shares is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The story begins with Kevin and Alex Malarkey involved in a horrific automobile accident. Kevin, while talking on his cellphone, turned in front of an automobile coming in the opposite direction. The driver of the other car was a woman with two young children. Alex was injured far worse than anyone else. The accident left him paralyzed and in a coma for 2 months.
At the accident scene unconscious Alex saw:
- Five angels carrying his father outside the car. Four were carrying the body and one angel was supporting his head and neck. (the police report said Kevin Malarkey was ejected from the automobile)
- The devil sitting in the front seat of the automobile accusing Alex of causing the accident.
While in a coma, Alex was taken to heaven. According to the book, here is what Alex experienced and saw:
- His father was in heaven too, but only for a short time.
- Alex saw the five angels that carried his father’s body outside the automobile. The five angels stayed with Alex so his father could have time alone with God. His father prayed to God to let him trade places with Alex but God told him no. God sent his father’s spirit back to earth and Alex remained in heaven. God told him that he would heal him later on earth to bring more glory to His (God’s) name.
- While in the emergency room, Alex watched everything that was going on from the ceiling. Jesus was standing right there beside him. Alex felt safe and he was not afraid to die.
- While in the emergency room, Alex saw 150 pure, white angels with fantastic wings who were all calling his name. After awhile they said “Alex Go back.” Alex did go back and Jesus came with him and held him during his time in the emergency room.
- Alex found himself in the presence of God. God had a human-like body but a lot bigger. Alex was only allowed to see God from the neck down because the Bible says anyone who looks on the face of God dies.
- There is an inner heaven and an outer heaven. The outer heaven has a hole that leads to hell.
- There are lots of colorful, beautiful things to see and beautiful music too.
- Heaven is a lot like earth but it is perfect in every detail.
- Angels are white, have wings, and are sexless.
- Some angels are short, 2 feet tall, and others are much taller.
- There are different types of angels with different jobs to do.
- There are lots of buildings in heaven but Alex only really noticed the Temple. God never leaves his throne in the Temple. There is a scroll in a glass container that only Jesus can read.
After Alex came out of a coma he continued to see not of this world beings. Angels were present in Alex’s hospital room.The angels helped and talked to Alex and he talked back to them.
One day, Alex told his father that he had something important to tell him. He wanted to make sure his father would not be sad after hearing what Alex had to say. Alex said:
There are two days I look forward to more than any others in my life. The first is the day I die. You see, I can’t wait to get home. It’s not that I want to die right now; I’m not sad…. The second is the day when the devil goes to the Lake of Fire. I can’t wait for him to be gone for good.
According to Alex, demons and evil spirits came to visit him. He is thankful that his father taught him how to pray and how to take authority over the demons.
Alex had this to say about the devil, demons, and evil spirits:
- They are evil, scary, and ugly.
- They accused Alex of things, bringing him doubt, making him feel sad, telling him he will never be healed and that God won’t protect him.
- The devil has three heads and all three heads have hair of fire. (is the devil a redhead?) Each of the heads speak different lies at the same time.
- The devil has beaming red eyes with flames for pupils. His nose is nasty and torn up.
- The devil speaks English to Alex. His voice is screechy like a witch and changes into different sounds.
- The devil’s mouth is funny looking with only a few moldy teeth.
- The devil’s body has a human form but has no flesh.
- The devil wears a torn and dirty robe.
- The devil personally appeared to Alex. Sometimes the devil came along with evil spirits but other times he came alone.
- Demons are often green and have hair made of fire. Their skin and robes are just like the devil’s. Their eyes are like the devil’s and they have long fingernails.
According to Alex, demons walk around telling lies. In Frank Peretti style, Alex says that there is a spiritual war going on—angels against demons.
Towards the end of the book Kevin Malarkey lets readers know that Alex has continued to take periodic trips to heaven. Readers are also told that Kevin himself had an experience where an angel named John appeared to him.
The angel John gave Kevin a message:
I have anointed you with a message of hope…for the church….for the body of Christ…and for those who will be the body…..that He will be raised up and seen in His true glory…This is the word of the Lord given to you by the angel John.
Speak of Me, for Me, and about Me. Use Alex to show who I am. I have chosen him as a screen upon which to show myself. (a precursor of the book being made into a movie?) I am unity, the Trinity, a complete circle. Your story will lead to praise and worship, there will be altar calls. Your bills are the least of my worries. I will be with you all the days of your life. I will speak to you, I will guide you, I am in you. I am about you, you be about me. My love is unconditional. My vengeance is restricted for the holy. My apostles died for Me, will you die for Me? I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.
Most of the book is Kevin Malarkey’s explanation of Alex’s trips to heaven and how God is using them to reach other people. One chapter is devoted to the things that Alex knew about while he was in a coma. To many people, this is proof above all proof. Alex talked of things that were not possible for him to know.
The story is what it is. Either you believe it or you don’t. Just like the book Heaven is for Real, you have the story of a young child being taken to heaven. Both boys waited for years before their story was put to print. Both stories show clear signs of being shaped by adult human hands. (whether by parents or book editors)
I have no doubt that the Malarkey family believes what is written here. Like many Christians, they are desperate to know their lives matter and that when death comes there is a new life that awaits beyond the grave.
As a non-believer, the story said little that I would consider proof of the existence of the Christian God, the devil, heaven, hell, or life after death. I found The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven to be the story of a mythical God who paralyzed a young child in an automobile accident so he could get some sort of perverse praise and glory. With all the suffering, sickness, disease, and death, in the world it seems to me that God has done very little that is worthy of praise and glory.
My conclusion? Kevin Malarkey asked me to suspend my judgment as I read the book. I could not do so. I found the book to be, from a Christian perspective, heretical. From a non-Christian perspective, I found the book to be laughable, another sorry attempt to sell the public the Christian myth of heaven, hell, and life after death.