Book Review of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World

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A story of God's faithfulness and provision

With a title like "A boy who came back from heaven" I expected something like "Heaven was really cool." "The streets were gold." "I got to talk to Moses - he was really old." Standard, hokey, fake. In other words, I went in entirely skeptical. And, let's face it, the authors having the last name of Malarkey didn't bolster confidence. Sorry.

I believe in Jesus and the Bible 100%. I also know that near death, out of body, and resurrection experiences sometimes do happen. In those cases, though, the burden of proof is entirely on the person. I don't go in expecting to believe them.

Instead of the story I expected to read, I found that the focus of the book actually wasn't the heaven experience (a relief), but instead an account of God's faithfulness to the Malarkey family.

I read the book waiting to pounce on any statement that contradicted Scripture - the ultimate litmus test. What I found was that while I might have phrased a few things differently, there was nothing that jumped off the page screaming that it contradicted God's word.

Two things that impressed me most with this story as it relates to Alex (the boy who came back from heaven) are
1) he remains silent on many things that he saw or gained knowledge of while in heaven - because God told him not to tell. This is very consistent with the Bible.
2) Alex doesn't want the story to be about him, he wants people's focus to be on God. He says that he isn't a special Christian because of what happened, he just had a special experience. Alex's father also notes that Alex gets very uncomfortable when people make the story about him, and ignore God. Alex always redirects to God. Again, this is very Biblical - the Spirit always draws attention to Jesus, not to self.
These two things, are huge points in favor of an accurate story.

Another point in that favor is that Alex was six when all of this happened - according to his parents and friends, his story has never wavered. As he relearned how to talk, a few details were added in, but the substance of the story never wavered. If he was making all of this up, he would've been sure to start contradicting himself. Also, some of what he talks about he had to way of knowing because he was dead/in a coma. Yet he relayed that information accurately.

Some people have said that Kevin (the father, and the book's main author) complains too much about finances in the book. Those people miss the points that Kevin is making - whenever he mentions money it is to praise the Lord for his provision.

Kevin also doesn't try to sugar coat the shortcomings of him and his family. This also provides another ring of truth to the story - if he said that there were never any times of short tempers or bumpy roads I wouldn't believe him. That's not how life works.

Some have also criticized the parts of the story in Alex's words saying that the vocabulary isn't that of a six year old. That's true, it's not, but is consistent with the vocabulary of a twelve year old (his age when this book was published).

I think that this book can serve as an illustration of God's provision and faithfulness, but no one should ever let it stand above the Bible. Kevin Malarkey even makes that point in the book - that everything Alex portrays is and should be compared against Scripture. They haven't found where his story doesn't meet that test. In fact, the older Alex grows and the more he learns about the Bible, the most excited he gets. He loves finding out that something he saw is mentioned in the Bible.

Do I recommend this book for others? Yes, I do. I didn't expect to when I started reading it. But only with the qualifier that this work should never take the place of the Bible - either in your life or in your outreach to others. The Malarkey's cannot save anyone. Jesus can.