This Present Darkness

by Frank Peretti
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Themes

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Last Updated on June 28, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 354

Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness demonstrates a variety of themes because the plotline follows and develops multiple characters. However, there is one overarching theme that seems to exist throughout the novel as a whole. This would be, quite simply, that spiritual forces exist, work in the natural world, and are affected by the actions of the people living in that natural world.

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The Reality of Spiritual Forces

The very opening of the novel speaks to the first of these assertions. Rather than introducing the main characters of the novel at the beginning, Peretti begins by introducing two angels as they are surveying the town to which they have been assigned. Likewise, there are several scenes that include angels, demons, or a combination thereof having conversations or fighting with each other.

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The Power of Prayer

Rather than just establishing the existence of supernatural forces, the novel consistently demonstrates a relationship between these supernatural forces and people. One of the clearest examples of this is Peretti's portrayal of the importance of prayer and prayer warriors, as several times demons are either banished or put on the defensive when faithful Christians begin to pray. This happens at the end of the novel, when the evil forces are defeated through the strength that the angels have as they work in conjunction with the Christians who are praying. Similarly, Hank is able to free a man from demon possession by praying over him.

Human Vulnerability to Evil

There is also a darker side to the spiritual forces working in conjunction with people demonstrated in the novel. Peretti makes clear his belief that consciousness is something that should be guarded and opening that consciousness up allows for demonic influence. The evil in the novel is represented by The Universal Consciousness Society, a New Age group that is attempting to purchase the local community college. They support meditation and the pursuit of spirit guides, yet the novel portrays these spirit guides as demons in disguise slowly taking over the minds of the people participating. There are multiple characters in the novel that allow these demonic forces into their minds and lives.

Christian Themes

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 329

This Present Darkness is representative of apocalyptic, evangelical Christian fiction of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It tells a story of spiritual warfare in which the forces for good, here aided by “prayer coverage,” battle innumerable odds to beat the forces of evil. In line with evangelical beliefs regarding the importance of prayer to aid in spiritual warfare, it also highlights many Christian beliefs regarding the importance of listening to and obeying the will of God spoken through the Holy Sprit. It also emphasizes the need to evangelize to those who may be weak in spirit or plagued by their own “demons” but hear the call from God to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

The title of the work, This Present Darkness, is a subtle description of current societal influences that many Christians have come to see as forces of evil, particularly those New Age philosophies that attract followers under the guise of being a new form of religion. The New Age religions may offer watered-down versions of Christian values but are seen as being more lenient, accepting sinful behavior and thus deceiving followers into leading sinful lives. Other New Age movements, represented in the novel by the Universal Consciousness Society, promote something greater than God.

Characters like Juleen and Sandy illustrate the influential yet detrimental effects of New Age philosophies. Frank E. Peretti uses the character of Hogan Marshall to show how self-focus can be a form of sin that leads to broken relationships. Hank and Mary Busche and the Remnant highlight the importance of developing Christian faith—following God’s will even when one may question it—and the importance of prayer to thwart Satan’s continual efforts to lead people into sin and away from God.

Peretti would continue the spiritual warfare in a sequel, Piercing the Darkness, in which demonic influences, in the form of organizations promoting liberal, non-Christian views, threaten to undermine fundamentalist Christian beliefs about parenting and education.

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