This Present Darkness and Judging all Things


I’m finally putting this down on the keyboard! To my regular readers: I’m sorry for leaving you hanging with no word of warning. I’ve been in Japan for the last two weeks – 97% involved in my volunteer work/life, 2.5% involved in keeping in touch with home, and 0.5% involved in this blog. To be fair, I’ll take this opportunity to let you know that I will probably not post again until Saturday next week. Please bear with me; I’ll be home in Cambodia soon and my schedule should return to normal.


I like when a book has something about it that I can pinpoint and say, “this sets it apart from all others I’ve read.” The unique qualities of a story are what make it memorable. As I write this, I’m reading This Present Darkness, and the one thing that sets it apart from other books I’ve read is obvious:

Angels and demons.

I don’t just mean mentions of the spiritual beings here and there. Rather, author Frank Peretti has included entire scenes that center on the discussions and activities of those beings. We see them as they work to intercede for their human charges and manipulate their surroundings to alter the course of events.

0127-this-present-darkness-and-judging-all-things

These scenes include the names of individuals (both angels and demons), hierarchal orders of command, descriptions of their physical appearance, wings, swords and smoke/light trails. It also includes details which I question; a powerful demon casts a weaker demon into “the abyss,” angels have different nationalities according to the countries of the earth, an angel questions the orders received from a higher ranking angel.

First of all, I hope that we all understand a lot of it is the author’s interpretation. If you and I are going to read his novel on spiritual warfare, I think we ought to give him the freedom to express his understanding of these things to the extent that they don’t contradict Scripture.

I’ve begun to draft this post multiple times, each draft centered on the question, “is this book noble and right to address the topic of angels and demons with so much of the author’s personal interpretation.” But with each draft, I felt the need to try again. My question sounded judgemental and unreasonable to my own ears.

Was it my place to determine whether or not the book is noble and right? I already believe it doesn’t affect our salvation, so am I being too particular or too harsh in concerning myself with secondary and tertiary matters to such a detailed extent? When is enough enough?

On the one hand:

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

-1 Corinthians 4:3-4

On the other hand:

The person with the Spirit makes judgements about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgements, for,

“who has know the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

-1 Corinthians 2:15-16

In the end, there are some things we’ll never know for sure here and now. So how tightly ought we to hold to some of these things? After all, David was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote:

My heart is not proud, LORD,

my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters

or things too wonderful for me.

-Psalm 131:1

What do you think?

  • Have you ever read Piercing the Darkness or its sequel?
  • When should we insist on theological correctness or objectiveness in the novels we read?
  • When should we just relax and enjoy a good Christian book?
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8 thoughts on “This Present Darkness and Judging all Things

  1. I’ve read both of the books and loved them.
    The thing is we don’t know everything about angels and demons… so the author portrayed what he believed to show it. We won’t know all about the spiritual forces until we go to heaven one day. I think with all books – including “Christian” books we have to be on guard for anything that goes against what God’s Word says. I haven’t seen anything against God’s Word in This Present Darkness or it’s sequel.
    To me those two books show the realism of the spiritual battle going on all around us… and open my eyes to the spiritual forces that are here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sorry to leave you in silence for a couple of weeks, Sarah! I agree; we don’t know everything about angels and demons. I can’t determine what’s accurate or not no more than you or Mr. Peretti. And I *do* think that writing the book the way he did opens our eyes to the reality of spiritual warfare in a way the book may not have been able to do otherwise. Not that it’s a matter of salvation or something that we ought to divide ourselves over, but what do you think about how in the book one of the demons cast another one of the demons into the abyss?

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  2. Have you ever read Piercing the Darkness or its sequel?:
    I’ve never even heard of them!

    When should we insist on theological correctness or objectiveness in the novels we read?:
    I think, with novels, there is some leeway since it’s fictional. Personally, demon warfare and such is not my cup of tea – it takes too much thought, haha; I just don’t want to think about the whole spiritual world thingamagummy that much – but I don’t know how much accuracy we can feasibly have – and we can’t just avoid details we don’t have in something as complex as a novel. I’d say if it doesn’t go against God’s word in any way, shape, or form and it adheres to any guidelines given in the Bible for this sort of thing … you can basically go with what you believe to be true.

    But … I don’t know. It’s a sticky subject. Or could be. 🙂

    When should we just relax and enjoy a good Christian book?:
    Well, I tend to think things out regardless, so I can almost always relax – if I see something that makes me suspicious, I’ll start examining it and going, “Well, is this really accurate or …?”

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    1. Way to go; bring it back to God’s Word. I really like to dialogue with people who think that way and encourage me to think that way. Because that’s the best standard, isn’t it? I mean, it’s the only true and infallible standard – as trustworthy as God Himself.

      Yeah, sometimes I do that, too. It’s tricky because on the one hand I want to be constantly filtering what goes through my mind through the Word of God (you can’t do that *too* much, can you?), On the other hand, only God’s Word is going to be 100% pure, right? How would we read or engage with anything if we’re going to be so particular? And then there’s the fact that I am also susceptible to incorrect judgement…

      (Sorry for such a late response time. I’m glad to be finally replying to you!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s definitely the best standard. Nothing else can even vaguely compare!

        Yes, that’s true … you can’t expect perfection from anything written by a human – no writer could ever be God’s equal. I am honestly not sure if I am susceptible to incorrect judgement or not … I think I probably err on the side of incaution (just made that word up) rather than caution at times – especially since I’ve had people in my life who have told me my scruples are silly or something like that. But, well, I do my best to listen to God and really pay attention to the details about what His word says about what should be in our minds, etc. Still, it’s hard to know …

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