If you haven't heard of Frank Peretti, you probably haven't been in a Christian bookstore recently. Peretti is to fiction what Hal Lindsey was to prophecy: a multimillion-selling author who has scored a hit with conservative Christian readers by scaring them silly. Sales from his first three novels-This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, and Prophet-total four million copies according to his publishers, Crossway Books.
Peretti writes about contemporary Christians battling evil in the suburbs. His enemies of the faith are those you hear about on Christian talk radio: university professors, liberals with New Age ideas, co-opted government officials, and young people caught up in Eastern mysticism. In case one underestimates the threat, Peretti opens readers to a spiritual realm where demons actually sink their talons into bad people's skulls and tell them what to say. Meanwhile, unseen angels protect Peretti's prayerful heroes as they beat back "the darkness."
The first novel, This Present Darkness, is set in the Pacific Northwest hamlet of Ashton, where "a skeptical reporter and a prayerful pastor...suddenly find themselves fighting a hideous New Age plot to subjugate the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race." The conspirators operate from Ashton's (secular) college, where a demon-powered woman chairs the psych department and puts young minds in touch with "the Baalim ."
Hank the preacher moves to troubled Ashton to take over the little white church. But the town's leaders, bewitched by the evil psych professor, don't want truth told from the pulpit. In fact, the New Age conspirators ran the former preacher out of town with false charges of sexual abuse. Hank is too squeaky-clean for smear tactics, so the liberals of his flock try to vote him out for preaching the Dwight L. Moody gospel. He survives harassment like the American archetype that he is: