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.