Frank Peretti

oathFundamentalists are fascinated by stories of demonic forces. Nothing thrills the heart like listening to stories of missionaries in Africa (which seems particularly rife with demonic activity) doing battle with the evil hoards.

It’s a small wonder that Frank Peretti, author of such works as This Present Darkness should be wildly popular in fundamentalist circles — the fact that he is a member of the Assemblies of God and plays the banjo in a bluegrass band notwithstanding. His children’s books like The Door in the Dragon’s Throat are widely regarded as great way to give young fundamentalists nightmares. [ed. I didn’t sleep for a week.]

The books are horribly thrilling stuff full of sword fights between angels and demons and very insightful information about how public schools are conspiring to make sure that no child graduates from kindergarten without having been demon-possessed at least once. The theology presented in these stories is a little shaky to say the least but did I mention that they have sword-fighting demons!

More than one fundamentalist has remarked that these books have really opened their eyes to the workings of spiritual warfare. One is forced to wonder if they also imagine that Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven is a treatise on ornithology. Or one would if they weren’t caught in such a quandary over whether to laugh or cry.

11 thoughts on “Frank Peretti”

  1. As a teen I think I read (and, at the time, loved) most of his books, though I haven’t touched any of them since leaving fundyism. I actually had a professor at the IFB college I attended recommend Peretti’s books (This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness in particular) for their theology!

  2. I’ve heard a lot of fundies decry Peretti because his books are “too scary” or “too violent,” or focus too much on demons. Just goes to show that if you get one fundy to take a position, another fundy somewhere must oppose them.

  3. “if you get one fundy to take a position, another fundy, must oppose them.”
    Right on Jordan. I’m pretty sure it’s because it makes us feel more eliete. Sad stuff. I too have heard both takes on Peretti from fundies ….even in the same church!

  4. I highly recommend the Peretti book “The Visitation”. Although it is ostensibly about a false Jesus that shows up in a small town and begins to work miracles, it is just as much a reflection on Peretti’s growing up in fundamental churches. It is brutally honest about the hypocrisy and legalism that he experienced, but it also shows clearly how important it is to follow Jesus, not to follow men. Readers of this site in particular will really enjoy it.

  5. That’s interesting. I always liked “The Prophet” since it didn’t have any of the demonic or supernatural stuff in it- it’s just a thrilling read with a moderately Christian message.

  6. I love Peretti books, but I didn’t realize that some people took their theology from them! Wow. I thought his descriptions of angels and demons were very imaginative, but since they are spiritual instead of physical beings (and so can’t be seen, at least not normally) I assumed most reasonable people wouldn’t try to read too far into a fictional book about them. But then, when have fundies been reasonable?

    I want my own sword-wielding angel! 😆

  7. This post deserves to be brought up again. I think The Oath is my favorite Peretti. I do like the cool angel – demon fighting in This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, too.

    1. I’m with you, Beth, not enough pixels have been spilled discussing this man’s work. I really want to keep on liking him, even in my post-fundy days; he was Stephen King for thousands of Christian kids who were forbidden to read Stephen King. And yeah, I have to admit, he made a captivating depiction of angel/demon conflict in This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. (I have to question the theology, though; angels can’t get anything done if Christians aren’t praying, even though they’ve got God’s power behind them? Don’t they technically outnumber demons 2 to 1, depending on how you read certain passages of scripture? And how come the demons somehow manage to keep building up vast armies when they’re constantly suffering huge casualties, both due to angelic attacks and to their constant infighting?)

      See? I haven’t thought about these books and over a decade, and I’m still nerding out over them. Clearly, they made some kind of impression.

      On the other hand, he has a distressing tendency to portray people of opposing viewpoints in the most ridiculously cartoonish ways possible. You’ve got evil college professors trying to get their students possessed so as to take over the town, evil social workers trying to break up Christian families because their parents believe in spanking, fictional counterparts of the ACLU who are actually freemason types in league with satanists…

      All that said, the man’s done great work spinning the various elements of Christian subculture into halfway decent fiction that even fundies can permit themselves to enjoy, and that’s no mean feat. So in spite of the frequent weirdness, I try to look kindly on his books.

  8. I guess I never figured this guy for a Fundy at all..since all his Scripture quotes are non KJV and he talks alot about tongues and stuff like that. I don’t agree with the guys theology,,I just like the books and he tells a good story with snarky humor injected.

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