A recent gracEmail titled “Boy Who Told Fibs About Heaven” told of 16-year-old Alex Malarkey’s announcement that his book, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven (co-written with dad, Kevin), was untrue. Alex never went to heaven, he now says, but rather as a six-year-old made up the whole story to get attention. The gracEmail noted three major elements in Alex’s story that contradict biblical teaching–always a clear warning for discerning readers.
The gracEmail generated double the usual number of responses, including one from Mark Albrecht of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mark is a delightful Christian brother of the Lutheran tribe, and senior editor of Trans World Editing. His career years have included a quarter-century in the mix and middle of international culture, politics and economics; the adventure of living and working in Denmark, Taiwan, and the USA; and serving with World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF). During this time, one of Mark’s jobs for WEF and also for the United Nations, had him visit 40 countries in person as he helped to prepare reports on religious liberty and oppression in 60 countries around the globe.
No labor for the Lord is ever wasted, although when Mark was earning a Journalism degree from the University of California, and later knocking out a graduate degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Theology and World Religions, he could not have guessed how God would put it all to use. Then one day God called Mark to write a book and the education all came together. The book’s title was Reincarnation: A Christian Appraisal (IVP, 1982, rev. 1987).
This gracEmail is not a review but it is a recommendation, and Mark has made his book available for reading, online and without charge, here, or at http://www.ccel.us/reincarnation.toc.html . A short Postscript on pages 127-130 (bottom item listed in Table of Contents) summarizes the major flaws in the philosophy of reincarnation from a biblical perspective.
Such topics seem never to die but to have nine lives of their own. One popular genre of reincarnation anecdotes consists of stories of children who recall details from alleged past lives, the theme developed by British transcendentalist poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) in his classic “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.” Interestingly, the current issue (Feb. 2015) of Reader’s digest features an article on the same theme (“Children Who’ve Lived Before”). Mark Albricht discusses that subject in detail in chapters 5 and 6 of his very thorough and well- documented book.