The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven

THE BOY WHO (never really) CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN

One of the major breaking stories this week is the decision by Lifeway (the Southern Baptist Convention bookstore chain) to pull The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven from its shelves because one of the authors, Alex Malarkey, (the boy who “came back from heaven”) has recanted his story, saying “I didn’t die. I didn’t go to heaven.”

Alex was six years old in 2004 when the car his father, Kevin, was driving was hit broadside by another car. The horrific accident left Alex paralyzed from the neck down, and he became the youngest person to receive the Christopher Reeve breathing device at the age of ten.

Not only has the book been pulled from the Lifeway bookstore chain, the publisher, Tyndale House, the publisher, has known about the situation for at least a couple of years, but is just now discontinuing its publication. This book, although not as well-known as Heaven is for Real, (and the movie of the same name that debuted in April 2014) is one of many in the genre that has come to be labelled “heaven tourism” and has sold over one million copies.

From the back cover of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven:

An accident. A miracle.

And a supernatural encounter that will give you new insights on Heaven, angels, and hearing the voice of God.

In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered a terrible car wreck. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and it seemed impossible that he could survive.

“I think that Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad.

When Alex awoke from a coma two months later, he had an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels who took him through the gates of Heaven itself. And, most amazing of all . . . of meeting and talking with Jesus.

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is the true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see Heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love.

​I have personally spoken with Beth Malarkey (Alex’s mother) on the phone in a 90-minute conversation and have corresponded with her on several occasions. There are a number of very troubling things related to the book which I will leave to her to discuss publicly, but the bottom line is that both she and her son have both stated that the book is largely a fabrication, not only because of the made-up story of Alex going to heaven, but because of a number of inconsistencies and inaccurate information concerning various events and situations throughout the book.

It is also worth noting that although both Alex and Kevin (his father) are listed on the front cover, the copyright information page lists only the father as the copyright owner. In this regard, Beth Malarkey has stated more than once that Alex hasn’t received any royalties from the book, even though he has been left a quadrplegic who requires nearly 24-hour care.

In studying the phenomenon of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) (which is a misnomer, because most say they actually died), I have read somewhere between 25 and 30 different accounts – and there are a number of things that need to be noted:
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There are four things that are generally uniform in every account. a) The sense of rising up out of the body and looking down upon it, b) going through a dark tunnel, c) seeing a bright light or ending up in the presence of a bright, unidentified being, and d) experiencing a feeling of overwhelming and unconditional love and acceptance.
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These things, being fairly uniform, are said to be experienced by everyone, regardless of their faith and beliefs or no beliefs are all.
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There is reportedly a substantial number of those who have experienced this who have been conservative, Bible-believing Christians, who afterward leave their churches, declaring that the “Jesus-is-the-only-way” message is false and that everyone is accepted into heaven.
_________

Beyond the four common things noted above, everything else is almost completely different concerning what these individuals saw and experienced. In fact, out of the 25+ of which I’m presently aware, there are NO TWO that agree on virtually anything – whether it be their accounts of the “gates of heaven” (if there is such a thing) – with some saying they are made of wood, others say they are of gold, while others say pearl – and some not mentioning them at all – or their accounts of seeing angels, meeting Jesus, or what they did or what they heard or what heaven looked like in general.

This presents an overwhelming problem – because if they all really did go to heaven – which is a very real place (as described by John in revelation) – then their accounts should have some similarities concerning what they actually saw – but they don’t.
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In a number of cases they were completely unbiblical. For example, one person stated that he first went to a “cold hell” before being whisked to heaven. In the case of Colton Burpo – he maintains that a) he sat on Jesus’ lap and talked with him, b) that Jesus has a rainbow-colored horse, c) that everyone, including dead people, have wings, d) that they brought a chair to him so he could sit beside the Holy Spirit who was “kind of blue” – and the list goes on.

The obvious question that begs to be asked is, Do these sound like biblical descriptions or something that comes from the mind of a 3 to 4 year old – and particularly one who is the son of a pastor and who had undoubtedly seen many “biblical” pictures in story books and pictures both at home and in church?
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The reasons given for Colton Burpo’s parents believing are a) he reportedly met a sister who had died in a miscarriage – and about whom his parents say he didn’t know, b) he knew about his father’s angry prayer to God in the hospital’s chapel and a phone conversation his mother had in a waiting room while Colton was in his room, c) he claimed to have met his grandfather whom he only recognized from a picture of him at age 25, rather than pictures of him at an older age near within years of his death.

Again, the question that must be asked about these three things is, Is a “trip to heaven” the only possible explanation. All things being equal, if what Colton saw and experienced closely reflected what is found in the Bible, then that might be a different situation. However, since that is not the case, this demands further examination. First, how many times have we been totally stunned that one of our children knew about something that we were sure they could not have known. This can easily happen when we think our kids are asleep or in another room or outside—when they are actually just around the corner listening to a conversation. And is it not possible that he was in another family member’s house and saw a picture of his grandfather and told who he was by an aunt or uncle or grandmother?
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Further examining Colton’s story reveals other problems, as well. For one, approximately 100 people die every minute worldwide. If we take a conservative estimate that 5% of those who die are born-again believers in Jesus Christ, then that would mean 5 Christians would be entering the Lord’s presence every minute – or one every twelve seconds on average. This raise the question of how he could sit on Jesus’ lap for an extended conversation – and nothing be mentioned about the growing crowd of people who would also be entering the Lord’s presence?

In this regard, some might argue that since Jesus is God, he could be multiple places at once. However, that is not a biblical answer because at the incarnation, the eternal Son of God took on human flesh and became a man – eternally. After the incarnation, Jesus is only ever seen at one place at one time – including after his resurrection and ascension. He was seen by the two on the road to Emmaus, and then he disappeared to be seen by others – as many as 500 at one time in one place (1 Cor 15). As Stephen was dying from being stoned (Acts 8) he saw Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Paul saw him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). John saw him multiple times in Revelation – including a glimpse of his return on a white horse (Rev 19). While  fully God and is omnipresent by virtue of His deity, Jesus’ has a single, physical, resurrected and glorified human body that is never in more than place at once.
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As I frequently tell my students, sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to think logically. Of course spiritual things and matters of faith are far more than simple logic – but they aren’t less.

In one discussion in the comment section under an article about this issue where Colton Burpo maintains that what he experienced was a genuine trip to heaven, one person brought up the matter of Enoch, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul and John to suggest that these stories of trips to heaven can be found in the Scriptures. However, there is a significant difference between what happened with them and what is claimed by Colton Burpo in Heaven is for Real or by others who believe they, too, went to heaven during an NDE. The first major difference is that none of these people came back from the dead to relate their experiences, but where shown these things while they were alive, except for Enoch and Elijah, who didn’t die and never came back to tell us what happened or what they saw. And, In the case of Paul, he couldn’t even express what he saw and was harassed by “a messenger from Satan” to keep his pride in check. (2 Cor 11).

Furthermore, for the few in Scripture who did actually die and were brought back to life, there is not a single account by any of them concerning what they experienced. If the Scriptures are sufficient to thoroughly equip believers, then this lack of any discussion of NDEs (or rather, “DEs”) is extremely significant.

Going back to the four common experiences of rising out of the body, going through a tunnel, seeing a bright light and feeling peace / love – it must remembered that “we are all made of the same stuff.” In other words, at the threshold of death, the things that all of our bodies go through in those moments when life and death are balanced on a knife edge – the release of chemicals in the brain, the bio-chemical process of bodily functions shutting down, the last fading firing of neurons in the brain, the rapid reduction in oxygen to the brain and vital organs, etc. would be virtually identical in every case – and so could produce nearly identical experiences of some kind. We know our brains are more than capable of producing experiences that seem very real such as when we have vivid dreams.

It is also important to note that there is a significant difference between being “clinically dead” and being “biblically dead.” To be clinically dead is to have no detectable physical vital signs. However, to be dead from a biblical perspective means that we are separated from our physical body—which is left behind as a believer enters the presence of the Lord, awaiting the resurrection of the body. Therefore, it is very possible for someone to be clinically dead, but without that person actually leaving their body when the bond between the spirit and body is broken. And in the case of Colton Burpo it is even stated in the book that there are no hospital records of him ever being clinically dead – which must happen either before or simultaneously with leaving the body. That being the case, Colton could not have “gone to heaven.”

This is not to say that I don’t believe that some may experience some glimpse of the spiritual realm while balanced on that knife edge between life and death, but that is far different than someone claiming to have died and then returned from heaven to speak about their experience, which has no biblical precedent.

Nor is this to suggest that there aren’t great mysteries that transcend our ability to comprehend them – or that the normal Christian life is devoid of powerful spiritual experiences and the ongoing work of the indwelling Spirit. However, all experiences must be evaluated in light of the Scriptures’ clear teaching to establish their validity and to discern their meaning. Conversely, we cannot allow our experiences to be the final arbiter in interpreting Scripture.

Concerning The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, there are probably revelations still to be made public and more twists and turns the story, because the family of Alex’s father, Kevin Malarkey, has come to his defense. Time will tell.

However, no matter how this particularly story ends (if it ever does), we must be extremely careful about the types of books we allow to influence our theology, whether they be “Christian” fiction, or supposed non-fiction accounts of someone’s claimed spiritual experience. We live in a sinful, fallen world that is under the influence of the god of this world who is the enemy of all that is true—and no one is exempt from the possibility of being deceived. When so many Christian publishers are now owned by major secular publishing empires (a fact of which most Christians are probably not aware), the bottom line can, unfortunately, be primarily financial.

Caveat emptor.

50 Comments
  1. Excellent article. I appreciate the clarity of Mr. James’ explanations. Heard he is writing a book on the Charismatic Movement which I am looking forward to reading. Hope it will soon be available. Thank you, Mr. James!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Dawn.

      • Interesting summary. On the item of ‘Christians per time frame entering heaven’ – one must remember THAT is a temporal figure. Heaven is not on our time base since it is an eternal non-time. Yes, I believe that Colton COULD have sat on the lap of Jesus for what SEEMED to be that amount of TIME without disrupting any other events in heaven.

        Thank you for this opportunity to give my point of view. Shalom

        • Hi Ted,

          Thanks for taking time to comment.

          You have noted one reason why you believe Colton’s story may be true. However, your reasons are purely speculation, based on what you believe heaven is like that is not based on anything we find in the Bible. In fact, it contradicts what we find in the Bible. God created humans as 3-dimensional beings who experience time in a linear fashion. In this sense, time is simply a succession of moments. Every encounter in the Bible when a human experiences anything related to heaven seems completely consistent with that. There is a difference between heaven being eternal – meaning it has no end – and saying that time does not exist. Are you suggesting that we has humans will experience all of eternity in a single moment – or will we experience it as a succession of sequential moments? The first possibility makes no sense – meaning that the second option suggests that we will experience heaven just as we do time in this life. Anything beyond this is purely speculation and adds nothing to understanding what happened. Nor does it deal with the long list of other very serious issues with the entire story.

  2. Wisdom dictates that one should receive claims of other world experiences with skepticism, for though Scripture says that “Charity believes all things” It also commands that we should “try the spirits.” When money is involved as “the love of money is the root of all evil” we should be doubly skeptical. The four generally “uniform” experiences shared by those who have had these experiences indicates that there must be a reality behind these claims. How to understand and interpret these experiences is the question. The man made doctrine formed from a false religious interpretation of the Scripture “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” to mean that “accepting” Jesus Christ the man as Messiah is the only way by which one might enter heaven is a problem. (When did the words “Father” and “heaven” become synonyms?) Those, especially non-believers, who think that their experience proves that all go to heaven no matter the life they have led, might also be getting carried away. What about those who follow Jesus’ way, love His truth and imbibe His life but have never formally accepted Him? (“But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” [Acts 10:35]) What about those “professing ‘Christians'” who give themselves over to sin easily and willfully because they supposedly “know” they are “saved” because they made some little confession of faith (“…whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”)? What if a loving and merciful God has a kind of “landing” place for those who have just died, a place where people can adjust to their new life in the spiritual realm before they are let down into their “interiors” which will determine where they choose to spend eternity? This temporary place of love and acceptance (for “God is love”) might be misinterpreted as being heaven to those who only “know in part.” As for the “lack of agreement” among individuals who saw and experienced different things, my question to you is, “How vast might heaven be?” (“In My Father’s house are MANY [my emphasis] mansions.) Scripture states that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him,” yet you are willing to limit God’s possibilities into a small religious box. If an extraterrestrial expeditionary force came to earth to explore and one was dropped into Antarctica, another into the Sahara, another into the Amazon jungle, another into New York City and another onto a beach in Samoa, when they later compared notes they might think that they were each visiting a different planet. Might the heavenlies also have a corresponding variety of places and societies? The omnipresent, omniscient God chose to limit Himself severely when He became the man Jesus in this natural realm. Your very carnal, understanding of time, space and being in the spiritual worlds severely limits your understanding of the possibilities for Jesus on the other side.

    • Mr Spencer,

      Thanks for taking time to comment.

      Unfortunately, your thinking seems to reflect a poor understanding of many clear and plain statements in Scripture. There are just too many problems to get into – and a debate would almost certainly not be fruitful.

      Your lack of understanding and concern for the context of Scripture is evident with your quote from 1 Corinthians ch. 2 (“eye has not seen”). You will find that the very next verse demonstrates exactly the opposite of what you’re arguing for. I would encourage you to carefully re-read that passage.

      I do find it interesting, however, that you are so confident in your view of things that can’t be known with great certainty that you can accuse me of thinking carnally. Are you saying that your understanding of time, space and being in the spiritual worlds is so complete that you know with certainty that I’m severely limited in my understanding of possibilities on the other side?

      I find that very interesting. Can you support that biblically?

      • Please forgive my poor choice of words, I didn’t intend to offend you. Perhaps the word “natural” or “unspiritual” would have been more appropriate than the word “carnal.” I tried to express quickly and concisely certain ideas that probably could be expanded into a book, so lack of space and time might be a hindrance. If you think discussion would be unfruitful then that will probably and unfortunately become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So if 1 Cor 2:10 contradicts the point I was trying to make in v.9, does that mean that God has revealed all of the possible “eye hath not seen” things by His Spirit to believers like yourself? Scripture also says, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.” (1 Cor 13:9) And, “…[we] have an unction from the Holy One, and [we] know all things.” (1 John 2:20) Two Scriptures that might be viewed as “contradictions.” “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” might help us understand our limitations of “knowing” here on earth. Even Jesus in His humanity did not know everything (Mark 13:32). When I hear you say things like this child’s experience couldn’t be real because he saw Jesus riding upon a “rainbow horse” when Scripture only speaks of Christ riding upon a white horse, I see that as a limitation of the possibilities that could come from an infinite God.

        Time and space in the natural world is a function of our natural world. We organize ourselves into communities and societies based on where we physically choose to live and be. In the spiritual realms our spiritual “location” is based on our relationship to God and we are organized into societies based on the degree to which we love and the amount of truth we have put into practice. Therefore, the distance we are from others there depends on our likemindedness. Those in closely similar states of love and truth will live in the same society. Jesus spoke of there being the “least” and the “greatest” in the kingdom of heaven; and then of “many mansions” in His Father’s house, showing that there are organized divisions in the heavens and it is not just some kind of giant hodgepodge of everyone thrown together in a big room or something.

        • First, I wasn’t offended. I just don’t get offended by insults, jabs, accusations, etc. – particularly by those who don’t know me at all.

          Second, I’m not sure how “natural” or “unspiritual” is supposed to be less offensive than “carnal” since they mean exactly the same thing.

          And finally, the rest of the post is essentially the theological equivalent of psychobabble, with no Scriptural basis – particularly the last paragraph.

          Your ability to use the Scriptures to extrapolate and speculate seems to know few boundaries.

          I’m normally not this blunt, but that seems to be the way you choose to dialogue – which is unfortunate.

          • First, I did not “insult, jab at, accuse” (the devil is the accuser of the brethren), etc. you. You also don’t know me at all.

            Actually carnal, natural and unspiritual have differing definitions if you discriminate, though they are similar.

            Finally, Jesus had a problem with the religious class of His day as at the end of the day He had a grand total of 2 half hearted formally trained religious “believers.” To paraphrase His words to Nicodemus: “You’re one of the biggest of the religious big shots in all of Israel and you can’t even understand simple natural truths. How can you therefore begin to understand heavenly truths?” Forgive me for not kowtowing to your apparently superior Biblical intellect but remember, at Christ’s death the curtain veiling the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom so that all could see into it.
            The Church was set up to be “one body” (Eph 4:4) yet today we have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of denominations and sects which somehow “become” the Body of Christ. Many antichrists were infiltrating the Church over 1900 years ago; if that was the case less than 100 years after Christ can we assume modern Christianity has gotten it right these many years later? “The times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3) is quickly approaching. If Christianity has gotten it right, then why do all things need to be restored?

            If you wish to lecture me on the nature of time and space in the spiritual world, please do. If you have a way of disproving my use of Scripture or my theological “psychobabble” feel free to do so. You seem to be smugly content just to dismiss my words without giving it much thought.

            Blunt is not a bad thing especially if it concerns the honest discussion of ideas.

          • I’m not going to get into a tit-for-tat with you on this.

            If you call someone unspiritual, carnal, or whatever, even though you don’t know them, I’m not sure how else to accurately characterize this except as an accusation or a jab or an insult. If you wish to parse it another way, that’s up to you.

            Also, you didn’t use Scripture to support your views. Rather, you made a unsubstantiated, speculative claim about the spiritual world – and offered Scriptures that you interpreted in light of that speculation. That is far different than an inductive exegetical study of the passages. Using the Scriptures this way, you can suggest and “support anything.”

            It’s no different than you suggesting some Israelites were exiled to Mars because Nehemiah 1:9 says “some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens” – and then suggesting I should try to disprove your theory which you believe is based on Scripture.

            I don’t see this discussion yielding any fruit, so I will be leaving it at this.

          • David, let me pipe in. I wonder why you are avoiding his statement of “many” houses and his belief of an organized divisions in heaven.

            Some thing heaven is other planets (Mormons), some thing it is another universe (Copeland) so it would be interesting in instead of trying to correct his method of presentation to actually address one.

          • Just because I didn’t address a specific point doesn’t mean that I’m “avoiding” it.

            The reason I didn’t get into details of the substance is because his presuppositional foundation and logic would not allow for a critical analysis and would be rejected out of hand.

            It seems unlikely that anything I would say would be accepted as meriting a reconsideration of his philosophical position from the outset.

          • David Spencer”Forgive me for not kowtowing to your apparently superior Biblical intellect but remember,” your sarcastic tone is offensive, not to mention the insincere mocking request for forgiveness which you obviously do not mean. It is a serious to play with an issue like forgiveness, something that was paid for by such a high price. Your to be pitied.

          • Jerrry,

            I don’t know if you meant to reply to me as “David Spencer” – but if so, I don’t know where you got your quote from.

            If you’re referring to me and judging my heart with respect to forgiveness while adding things I just never said, then you have crossed a very inappropriate line.

            If your statement “Your are to to be pitied” is not sarcastic and offensive, I don’t know what would be.

            I would prefer that discussions here would be more restrained and reflect a more Christ-like spirit.

      • How do you explain Jesus telling the man being crucified beside him, “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”?
        Thank you for pointing out 1 Corinthians 2. I re-read it and better understand it now.

        • I think I answered this in the previous response, I will be glad to help with other questions.

          • what previous comment are you referring to?

          • I was referring to the my suggestion that “Today you shall be with me in paradise” meant the place of comfort in Sheol, the bosom of Abraham, rather than the place of torment in Sheol.

        • Jesus, who as God in the flesh could not lie, was in a place called “paradise” that day with that man after they both had died. After three days the resurrected Jesus walked the earth again. He spoke to Mary Magdalene, saying, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father…” (John 20) So we can conclude that He had spent time in “paradise” with that man and that “paradise” is not heaven because He hadn’t yet ascended to be with His Father. Note that the man He met up with in paradise was not with Him; where was he? Is the religious assumption that the malefactor/thief was heaven bound purely because of his “deathbed” confession accurate?

          • Paradise was the place of bliss to which the dead went until Christ’s ascension into heaven – and can be seen in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

            That he was actually saved was affirmed by Jesus on the cross when he was contrasted with the other thief on the cross.

            Your comment about the possibility of the lack of salvation based on a supposed deathbed confession does not square with the biblical record.

    • I sincerely hope and pray, Sir (or Ma’am) that you’re not talking about the mythical unbiblical place called “Purgatory.”

      • I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I teach against the unbiblical doctrine of purgatory.

    • I like your comments Mr Spencer, and I tend to agree with you, even though I have read some reviews of David’s on books, and have been grateful for his attention to details that I would have unintentionally not have noticed.
      All the same in this case I see it exactly as you do, I believe that we wouldn’t all have the same experience in an NDA, God knows each one of us individually, even more than we know ourselves! Therefore He reveals what He wants you to know and see, and besides a child of 6 or younger is only a baby who would most certainly be lifted up on to Jesus’ knee, as He did on earth He does in heaven also. And like you said, there are many mansions there, and like the aliens we would all have different stories to tell on return, as we are all uniquely different in every way, our experiences would also be for His purpose in our own lives when and if we came back. I cannot! see everyone having exactly the same experience! that’s ridiculous thinking indeed!

      • Anney,

        The question of whether we would all have exactly the same experience is not the issue.

        The two issues are:
        1. There are four things that everyone claims to experience – whether they are Christians or not
        2. No two Christians experience ANYTHING that is even remotely similar. There is not even agreement on the material of which the gates of heaven are made. If heaven is a real place, then at least there would be some agreement concerning what people see when they go there, but there is not.

        The comment about the death of a child sitting on the knees of Jesus has at least two problems:
        1. It is pure speculation with no biblical support
        2. Jesus still has a human body – meaning his body is in one place at one time (which is what the Bible describes) – and many children die every minute around the world. There is no mention of other children being seen by anyone who has had a supposed NDE who are waiting to sit on Jesus lap.

        Thinking logically, theologically, biblically and spiritually all at the same time for the believer is in complete harmony with what we find in the Scriptures – not at odds with one another.

      • Anney I cannot! see everyone having exactly the same experience! that’s ridiculous thinking indeed!
        This brings to mind the parable of the blind men describing the elephant they could only feel not see, regardless of what each of the blind men “felt” the elephant was still and elephant. I have to wonder who here is doing the ridiculous thinking indeed? One common thread to all these NDE’s is the great amount of feeling(experience) and very little seeing(Biblical truth).

        • Jerry,

          I’ve noted this multiple times, but I will repeat it one more time:

          1. I have never suggested that everyone’s experience would be absolutely identical
          2. I have stated that if they go to the same place, and it is a real place, then they should see similar things that are not contradictory – the “elephant illustration” just doesn’t fly here
          3. The common things are experienced by everyone – including atheists and those of other religion. So is everyone going to heaven?

      • Thank you, Annie, for having an understanding for how vast God’s universes must be, and how small we become when we try to pigeon-hole Him into our little man-made religious doctrines.

        • This has nothing to do with “putting God in a box” – and everything to do with the fact that nothing about these stories square with the biblical record nothing.

          • “But as it is written,’Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for them who love Him.'”
            And yet you know better than this Scripture?

          • Not at all – but the fact is I do know the Scripture and the verse you quoted you took completely out of context – and I would dare say you have no idea the context of the verse, such that it teaches exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to make it say.

            Paul’s point is that there is the wisdom of men (as noted in preceding verses) and that this wisdom did not allow them to understand the truth because it was beyond human understanding in previous generations – and then in the next verse it says that those things which could not have been conceived by men (namely that God would come to earth as the Savior) has now been REVEALED to those of us in this generation who have been born again and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

            So, if you’re going to try to prove your point with Scripture, you should at least make sure you understand the passages you quote.

            As it stands you only served to prove my point with greater clarity than I had.

  3. My experience over the years is that the Charismatic Movement is spiritually dangerous. The gift of tongues has ceased. I thought tongues was not being pushed any more but I have found out I am wrong. My experience makes me feel that the movement could be what Jude says that crept into the church and the church was unaware. When people call charismatic ministries for prayer they might ask if you speak in tongues and if you say no they ask to pray with you so you can receive tongues. The Women’s Aglow laid hands on a lady and she got tongues. The tongue tested was not of God. Dr Hanks testimony of what happened to him and his deliverance is a testimony that proves deliverance is possible for those who seek truth and freedom”. Prayerfully your new book will open spiritual eyes and ears to the truth

    • Thanks for your comments, Gloria.

      • So from reading your response I would be correct in thinking you David do NOT believe in tongues for today as a gift?

        It is hard to tell someone in a swimming pool the water isn’t there to swim in.

        • First, you’re assuming you’re in a swimming pool with water in it. You may be in the pool, but I believe the Bible teaches there is no water – to use your analogy.

          Just because people believe they are speaking in tongues does not mean they are. A child learning to talk thinks he is speaking a language, but he is not, although there are similarities.

          In the same way, the “speaking in tongues” being done today are not the work of the Holy Spirit, because that was always, in every instance, the speaking of a genuine language unlearned by the speaker.

          God designed language to have three components – grammar, syntax and vocabulary and if the syllables being spoken do not collectively have grammar, syntax and vocabulary, then it is not biblical tongues, but at the most, ecstatice utterances – the very thing Paul was arguing against in 1 Corinthians 13-14.

          Even though I believe 1 Cor 13:1 is simply a rhetorical device used by Paul to make a point, even if the angels speak a language unknown on the earth, it must still have grammar, syntax and vocabulary when verbalized or they cannot communicate.

          Thousands of recordings of “speaking in tongues” have been analyzed by linguists – and none have yet been discovered that pass the biblical test.

          • What if Paul, when he writes of “…speak[ing] with the tongues…of angels…” isn’t just using a “rhetorical device?” Just because you, Mr. James, may not have had that experience does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Speaking in “the tongues of angels” and “the gift of tongues” might be two different things. I agree that the perversion of the experience of speaking in tongues in parts of today’s “Christian” church is great but that should not lead one to conclude that speaking in heavenly tongues is impossible, even if by so doing the results don’t quite fit into the natural worldly standards of earthly linguists.

          • This thread is not about the sign gifts.

            However, to respond to your post, whether I have experienced it or not – or whether you believe you have or not – is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is what the Bible says – and since those claiming to speak in tongues today are neither speaking a language nor requiring an interpreter, nor calling for women to not speak in tongues or prophesy in the church, then nothing that is happening is the genuine gift of the Spirit as given and used in the first century.

            Even if there is a “heavenly language” – since God designed languages to have grammar, syntax and vocabulary – and what people are doing today has none of these, then they are not speaking in a “heavenly language” either.

    • I truly do hope the upcoming book will open some hearts and minds to truth. I am sincerely thankful for God-given discernment!

    • which Dr. Hanks are you speaking of? I knew of a Hanks who had a great testimony how he got out of the tongues movement, was wondering if the one you refer to is the one I knew, I cannot remember his first name.

      • Yes I am sure it must be the same one, I cannot remember his first name either, he either went to Baylor or the Baptist seminary in Ft Worth. I keep thinking Billy Hanks but still does not seem right. Just wondering where he could be and what he is up to but probably past on by now as he was older than me.

  4. Fleece gullible Christians, many who are not true believers to begin with. How sad that the present day Church does not have enough Biblically literate teachers to decry such nonsense!

  5. David, Thank you for this excellent article. I’ve always had a fascination with NDEs since the book “Life after Life” by Raymond Moody in the 70s. What always came to my mind when reading these books is that Satan disquises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Thank you again and well done!

    • Thanks for your kind comments.

  6. Sir – do you believe Jesus is in the flesh now?

    • What is your real question?

  7. That is my real question.

    • I would suggest that until Jesus ascended into heaven, without further detailed discussion of Sheol in the OT, that the only things we have to work with Scripturally, is that the dead went to a place called Sheol – the grave, the place of the dead.

      Based upon the account of Lazarus and the rich man in the flames (which I do not believe is a parable for multiple reasons) – that paradise was the “bosom of Abraham” – the place of conscious comfort in Sheol and that the rich man, an unbeliever was in the place of pain and suffering in Sheol. I think this is referenced in Revelation 20 where it it says death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire at the Great White Throne judgment.

      At the ascension of Jesus, those souls in paradise were taken into heaven with Him, awaiting the resurrection of the their bodies at the end of the Tribulation period – Daniel’s 70th week.

  8. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but there is no place to reply to your replies to my statements so I’ll reply here. When Matthew quoted the Scripture from Isaiah 7 concerning Jesus Christ being born of a virgin he took that prophecy “completely out of context” and applied it to something that had nothing to do with the original text. Would you tell Matthew that he “doesn’t understand the passage he is quoting?” Some verses have the power to stand on their own with more than one meaning or application. I believe 1 Cor 2:9 is one of them. You don’t.
    At a point in my life I was an agnostic at best, an atheist at worst, believing that truth could be best found in man’s science. I was given a dream/ vision/ out of body experience that left me quite flummoxed for awhile where I was taken to another world, possibly heaven, where the sights and scenes, colors and sensations were similar to this world but so far beyond the scope of this world in vibrancy and “aliveness” that 45 years later I can close my eyes and “relive” the experience as if it were yesterday. Thankfully Jesus found me and over time it all began to make sense. A few years later, while experiencing the difficulties of this life I grew very weary and decided to give up this whole “God-thing” and return to my former easier sinful life. God then “blessed” me (it didn’t feel like a blessing at the time) with three separate trips to hell, which actually helped me to see and confront the negative spiritual things that had quashed God’s reality in my life. My experiences probably wouldn’t fit into your limited religious beliefs just as this young boy’s also wouldn’t so you’ll probably refer to the Bible to explain away what happened to me and others. I know what happened to me and so does God so that is enough. I didn’t even want to talk about this, I’d rather talk Scripture but you’ve forced my hand. (See Luke 16:24-31.) The Bible is completely true and real but it is also an abridged expression of God’s Reality and Universe. (See John 21:25.) This is also not to say that every extra-Biblical thing should be accepted as Truth on face value. I pray that you can get beyond your religious pride and need to be the smartest Biblical scholar in the room. “Charity… believeth all things… For we know in part, and we prophesy in part…”

    • David,

      Since you have chosen to go the judgmental and ad hominem attack route with your comment about my spiritual pride and my thinking that I’m the “smartest biblical scholar in the room” there is probably nothing to be gained by further interaction.

      You’re convinced that you’re right – as am I – and there is no point in allowing this to get more inflammatory than it has been.

      • “I dare say you have no idea the context of the verse…” “Your thinking seems to reflect a poor understanding of many clear and plain statements in Scripture…” etc., etc. And I am the one who chose to go the “judgmental and ad hominem attack route?” It might have been nice to be able to engage in honest discussion here but it seems at this point to only be unproductive. Well did Jesus speak of the Pharisees of His day, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles and both are preserved.”

        • David,

          My intention was not to be offensive concerning the context of the passage in 1 Corinthians – but the fact is that the way you used the passage completely contradicted the very next verse – and there are no other passages which communicate the point of the verse in question. So, you are mishandling the passage – which you won’t acknowledge. This isn’t judging at all – it is a fact that you mishandled the passage. This isn’t about your heart or motives – it is about a simple mistake – again, which you won’t acknowledge.

          Now, you have gone to the next level of essentially calling me a Pharisee – so, this is a sure indicator that you don’t want to have an honest discussion, you want someone to agree with your interpretations of Scripture.

          The new wine is the teaching of Jesus and the apostles – and what they taught contradicts what you’re advocating. So, this begs the question…

          I agree that this conversation won’t go anywhere – so, unless you reply with some sort of different tone, I won’t be allowing your comment to post and I won’t be responding.

          I’m sorry that it came to this unfortunate impasse.


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