John Barrett is hearing voices, and not just in his earpiece. It’s 1992, and in Frank E. Peretti’s novel Prophet, John anchors his West Coast state’s channel 6 evening news. He has great ratings and great hair—the pinnacle of televised impartiality.
That makes John’s life less than balanced after his firebrand father is caught on camera preaching judgment against an incumbent governor, and is later found dead. Of course, his father’s fate is not what it seems, and John will find not just political corruption, but a deeper spiritual calling he had nearly forgotten.
Prophet captures in frame several big concerns of 1990s evangelicals—not just the pro-life cause, but the repackaging of Truth in a TV-news age, decades before social media and streaming. Peretti himself later said he felt dissatisfied with the novel’s modern messaging (such as the abortion issue). Yet these ideas remain relevant today, and Prophet takes pains to ground sociopolitical themes in twisting plots and sincere character empathy. After all, some Christians aren’t the wisest counselors, and some secular reporters really want to present the facts.
If great fiction dares to explore culture wars, that novel must show readers more than perfect people smiling before a flat backdrop, and Prophet reflects this reality. Even after thirty years, Peretti’s struggling anchorman might help remind us that amidst media and political corruption, our Father yet helps us tune into Truth.
Best for: Adult fans of contemporary social drama hinting at supernatural break-ins, readers who don’t mind some sociopolitical engagement, and/or Peretti fans willing to imagine their own angels-versus-demons fight scenes in the margins.
Discern: Many plot-relevant political themes, with some detail given to women’s health and of course the traumas of abortion; some language, yet often comically censored; family estrangement; and some Christian ideas about prophetic roles and direct leadings by the Holy Spirit, including direct forecasts of future events.
What say you?