To all of the book-lovers out there – you are in good company! To quote Sheldon Vanauken, author of A Severe Mercy: “Rereading books is the mark of the real lover of books.”
Well I definitely enjoy rereading my favorite books. This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti, is one such book. We just started a ladies book club at my church and this was the first book that we read together. It was my third time reading through this Christian fiction book, and I got more out of it, after my third reading, than ever before. At the book club we discussed what we liked about the book and also our critiques. I thought I would share with you all so that you can get a taste of this long-time favorite book of mine and see if you would like to read it for yourself!
This book seeks its inspiration from Ephesians 6:12 – “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The book’s setting is a small town called Ashton and there are a couple of story lines woven throughout the novel that ultimately converge in an epic ending. Two main story lines are that of a pastor who is facing great opposition in his small church and the story of two journalists who start uncovering an insidious plot of a cult group that intends to take over the town. Meanwhile, a real spiritual battle rages as we are introduced to the angels who are guarding God’s people and to the demons who are manipulating the townspeople. Be prepared for some gruesome depictions of demons and a dark, foreboding tone throughout the novel, ending in a fantastic triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.
-The book opens our eyes to the fact that there are spiritual forces at work in our world. Spiritual warfare is real! It raises questions such as what is our culture’s view of spirituality? As Christians, we know that the devil and his demonic forces are stronger than us, BUT Jesus has defeated the devil, once and for all, through His own death and resurrection. We already know the outcome of this struggle – the victory of God and his people – but, nevertheless, the battle still rages while we await Jesus’ Second Coming.
-The book reminds us of the importance of prayer as one of our offensive weapons against the devil and his demonic forces. The book also shows that the devil targets those that he fears will do a mighty work for the Lord. I am reminded that we need to be prayerful and expect attack from the devil, all while clinging to the truth that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I [Paul] am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
-The book reminds us of the nastiness of our sin through vivid, grotesque descriptions of the demons of certain sins such as rape, lust, murder, and complacency. Our sins are NOT “innocent” mistakes that can be justified by the fact that we are “only human.”
-The book has a super EPIC ending and it is a mystery that hooks you from page 1.
-The book largely attributes people’s sin to the demons that are, behind the scenes, controlling them. While we believe that the devil is the chief manipulator, we still, as Christians, believe that our sin is our responsibility and not the responsibility of forces outside of our control. We would have liked to have seen more ownership and repentance in the novel by characters who were possessed or manipulated by demons.
-While Jesus is referenced throughout, we would have liked Him to have more of a star role in this book. The angels, empowered by the prayers of the saints, are touted as the victors over the demonic forces threatening the town of Ashton, but we know that the ultimate source of the angels’ power is Jesus, who died on a cross so that we can all be victors over sin and death and evil.
Overall, this is a thrilling book my church book club enjoyed discussing – be on the look out for more book reviews on this blog!