“Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy’s story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up.”
After much prayerful soul searching, I have arrived at a deep, heartfelt reflection to this gut wrenching story . . .
. . . So what?
I mean seriously, who cares?
From hearing all the buzz, there seems to be two groups that have made the biggest deal about this: Atheists . . . And Christians.
For the atheist, this is of course a chance to pounce on the, “See! I told ya so! The supernatural is bogus!” train. But then you have Christians saying, “See! I told ya so! The supernatural is bogus!” riding the caboose.
Believers, denying the extraordinary? Well, unless you’ve been living in a protective bubble your entire church life, this should come as no surprise.
Gut Check Time
Late last year I wrote a piece that challenged the Body of Christ with a very difficult question: do we really believe the Bible?
Our reaction to this recent story, I’m afraid, adds more evidence to the contrary.
There are some severe inconsistencies in how we are treating the testimonies that we hear from other Christians. If a guy claims God delivered him from fifteen years of drug addiction we celebrate and shout, hallelujah. If someone else gets up in front of the congregation and says they had to go in for minor surgery with a 98% success rate and came out of it alive, we say, praise The Lord!
But . . . If someone claims they went to heaven— we get all puffed up like a toad frog, holding our Bibles in one hand and the world’s largest microscope in the other and the interrogation begins.
“Hmph! Well, it’s because their experience of what they saw in heaven does not match the biblical description.”
I don’t want to be offensive or rude here so I’m going to attempt to say this nicely . . .
Can we all stop pretending like the Bible gives any real expository description of heaven? The idea of these experiences, “largely not aligning with what the Bible says” is baloney and we all know it.
Now, if you want to attempt to make an argument from silence by claiming these stories give descriptions of things not mentioned in the Bible, I can at least respect that. But this is where we run into the inconsistencies.
There is no Bible verse that mentions God delivering anyone from drugs. Nor anything about God, “guiding the physician’s hand” during a routine surgery. Yet we accept these stories without giving them a second thought.
So . . . What’s going on? How do we condemn a story in one breath because it’s, “not in the Bible” but then very clearly accept others?
Let me introduce one thought here that will cause all of this to come into crystal clear focus: The question of whether or not a story will be scrutinized and rejected among Christians does not depend on it being biblical, but supernatural. If it sounds like something that you would read in the book of Acts, it’s criticized and largely dismissed. If it sounds like something you’d hear at a Tony Robbins’ convention, we welcome it with open arms. “Wow it’s so normal and boring. It could have happened in any other religion on the planet. What a great testimony.”
Ugh . . .
Can you imagine replacing all the supernatural events in the book of Acts with the testimonies of today? “Good news everyone. Brother Philip passed his last kidney stone. And finally, after two weeks, The Lord saw fit to heal James of that nasty flu. Praise be to God.”
Ugh, again . . .
So . . . What does all this have to do with a kid who lied about going to heaven? Simply that if his story had been more, “normal” we wouldn’t even be talking about it. If we discovered that someone had lied about being delivered from drugs or someone else had never really had hand surgery, how many of us would gasp and say, “well, there you have it. God doesn’t do that stuff. All these others must have been lying about it too”?
The double standard in our treatment of these things is so glaring, it literally hurts to think about.
Here’s the thing . . . I can’t read people’s minds or hearts, but I suspect that there are folks in our ranks that, regardless of what the Bible says, do not believe in the supernatural today. And rather than admit it, they cover it up with long, drawn out explanations that really just amount to excuses.
If you’re one of these people—–and again I’ll attempt to say this nicely— please just own up to your true beliefs and stop adding confusion to the Body of Christ with wonky justifications for them.
You’re making the rest of us look bad.