Setting the Record Straight on "The boy who came back from Heaven"

Phil Johnson: More than two years ago, I wrote an article titled “The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine,” critiquing the insanely popular I-Saw-Heaven-and-Here’s-What-It’s-Like genre of Christian best sellers. We posted that article on the Grace to You blog in anticipation of a revised and expanded edition of John MacArthur’s The Glory of Heaven.One of the books I critiqued in that blog post was The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey. That book, published by Tyndale, is the story of Malarkey’s son, Alex, whose spinal column was completely severed at the neck in a horrific crash at an Ohio intersection on the way home from church one Sunday morning. Alex’s survival is a remarkable providence, and his courage and endurance through the whole ordeal is a true wonder. His experience is a compelling story, apart from the heaven-and-back element. Doctors said he would not survive, but Alex pressed on through numerous surgeries, countless inconveniences, and unbelievable adversity, always with a smile and a grateful heart.

Even at age six, recovering from an injury that would ordinarily be fatal, and coming to grips with total paralysis, Alex kept an unusually positive frame of mind. He pondered (as anyone would) troubling metaphysical questions like Why? What next? and What is God’s plan in this? One of the ways six-year-old Alex dealt with the trauma and the questions (while totally immobile and heavily sedated) was by imagining what had happened to him and what it all might mean. The tedium of hospital life was excruciating. So he answered people’s questions with stories he knew would get and hold their attention. Those stories became the seeds that planted the idea for Alex’s father’s book about heaven.

Setting the Record Straight|Phillip Johnson

Phil is the Executive Director of Grace to You. He has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of John’s major books. But he may be best known for several popular Web sites he maintains, including The Spurgeon Archive and The Hall of Church History.
Phil has a bachelor’s degree in theology from Moody Bible Institute (class of 1975) and was an editor at Moody Press before coming to Grace Community Church. He is an elder at Grace Community Church and pastors the GraceLife fellowship group. Phil and his wife, Darlene, have three adult sons, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, and Jonathan.