“Sally jolted awake in the darkened bedroom, almost falling off the bed. Her four tormenting companions were all over her.
Forever, forever, said Despair, you will be condemned forever. You are what you are, you can never change it.
Insanity piped in with renewed vigour, It’s all in your poor twisted mind, you know. You’re a very sick lady!
Death always follows you, said Death. Everything you touch, everything you love, will only die.
And they’ll get you for this! said Fear. All the spirits you’ve ever crossed are waiting to get you!
Sally rolled over and buried her face in the pillow. “O God, help me!”
He can’t help you…you’ve offended Him, He’ll never hear you…we have you now…
“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”
Demons. They’re demons. Sally believed it. She’d never given this Bible much credence since her Sunday school days, but right now, sitting in that room, having awakened from as clear a lesson as she could ask for, she believed what this Book said about these spirit entities. The whole thing was a sham, a deception, a spiritual con game.”
The sequel to This Present Darkness ups the ante. There is a country-wide legal case concerning religious freedom, a satanic organisation and, to crown it all, a possessed child. Whereas subtlety is usually lost in attempting such a grandiose plot, This Present Darkness was hardly subtle to begin with. As such, Piercing the Darkness allows Peretti to do what Peretti does best, and although everything that I said of This Present Darkness can also be said of its sequel, it is superior to its predecessor in almost every way (including being more Christ-centred and Biblical in its theology).
We follow an interlocking series of stories that centres on Sally Roe; her being caught up in Eastern Mysticism, her being sought by murderers and afflicted by demons, and (spoilers) her eventual giving of her life to Jesus. Particularly absorbing is the exploration of Sally’s psychology as she begins to doubt the ethical relativism she finds herself believing, and the painful yearning for boundaries that it elicits in her.
Through Peretti’s vivid portrayal of the spiritual realm, in one of the climaxes of the book we are movingly forced to remind ourselves of the rejoicing in heaven over each sinner who repents. We are also soberingly forced to remind ourselves of the dark reality of our world; the starkness of the spiritual war for each individual’s eternal destiny. We cannot be reminded enough of this truth. Nothing should snap us into action faster.
Piercing the Darkness occasionally borders on ridiculous. New-Age dabbling is identified with the demonic and there is a genuine coven of witches. As I was reading, I often wondered whether or not this was all a bit black and white. Firm came the rebuke in my mind; so was Jesus. The genius of the series lies in its sharp reminder to us in the West that we are so often functional materialists. Peretti unites the sacred with the secular by unashamedly showing a dark link between the demonic and some legal cases. As Power Evangelism led me to think, as conservative-evangelicals we will not compromise to the world’s ethics, only to the world’s metaphysics. This warning comes to us so disagreeably because we would rather the universe were not in any way like this. But as Scripture warns us again and again, it is.