This Present Darkness. By Frank Peretti. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988. 376 pp. Paper, $8.95.
Piercing the Darkness. By Frank Peretti. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989. 441 pp. Paper, $9.95.
It was exhilarating, thrilling, reviving, rewarding—everything an angelic warrior was made for! The Host of Heaven had waited so long and had built up such fervor that when the signal finally came, they broke over the crests of the mountains on every side like a violent, shimmering ocean wave and showered down like hail upon the dark cloud of demons in the valley … .
So what are angels and demons doing while we pray, preach, and persuade? No one knows with certainty, but for an imaginative, prayer-provoking, incredibly encouraging presentation of the way it just might be, read these books.
The stories of both books are set in small towns in small churches led by very human but God-fearing pastors. In the first, the enemy is within, trying to destroy God’s work and pave the way for a New Age takeover of the town and its college. In the second, the enemy is without. A church is subjected to litigation when its administrator tries to deal with a demonized child. The major themes of these novels ring true with convicting clarity, and the theology taught throughout is stirring. God does permit believers to suffer and be humiliated, but always with a plan.
The believer is never alone, even in the darkest circumstances. And most of all, we must never underestimate or neglect the power of prayer.
There are times when Peretti may cross the line of good theology for the sake of good fiction. Do angels really cut off each others wings with lightsabers, sending them spiralling to the earth below? Do angels really infiltrate demonically-controlled territory by stowing away in the trunks of incoming cars? Who knows! But however one might feel about the imaginative aspects of the novels, Peretti is opening up a completely new genre in evangelical literature. Peretti’s ability to blend concurrent story lines is engaging, his plots are believable, and his character development satisfying.
On a more personal level, in nine years of pastoral ministry I have never read two books which have as successfully motivated me either to daily prayer for the people under my care, nor to take so seriously Paul’s statement that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” I cannot recommend these books too strongly for encouragement, comfort, and simple pleasure.
Mark A. Ellis
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society