When I was little, I had The Little Mermaid – the book, not just the movie. I remember loving to read it, but also that my parents didn’t want me to read it at night. Why? Well…Ursula gave me nightmares. Our parents try to protect us from things like that until we’ve developed the mental and emotional capacity to process them. There are all sorts of questions in the Christian community about what we should or shouldn’t watch or read. Let’s be honest…most of them aren’t questions, they are declarations, and that’s for another post. Questions are way more helpful. But if we question whether our kids should watch horror movies, whether we should watch certain TV shows or read certain books…should Christians read books about demons? My answer is going to be a “yes, but…”
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#1 Books About Demons Challenge Us to Think About What is Going On in the Spiritual World
And there really are things going on in the spiritual world, whether we acknowledge them or not. Scripture is pretty clear on that. In Scripture, demons were always involved, even before people recognized them as such. One of my favorite books about demons is Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness. I think every Christian should read this book. It’s actually more of a book about spiritual warfare than about demons. Still, demons are characterized and we see their actions and responses to our actions in the world. Even though I’ve known about spiritual warfare my whole life, and more since becoming an adult and going to seminary, This Present Darkness put “clothes” on the Scriptures by giving me a fictional presentation of what was described in Scripture.
#2 Good Books About Demons Show Jesus as Victor
Good books about demons or about spiritual warfare, especially fictional ones, will show God’s victory and our role in it, and they will challenge us and leave us fired up to pray and approach life with open eyes. That’s open eyes, not fearful eyes. Good books about demons will show the “scary” reality, but not so that we live in fear. Rather, we want to have a greater appreciation for and knowledge of what we bring into our homes, what we participate in, how our actions physically or mentally affect us (and those around us) spiritually. But at the end of the day, good books about demons will demonstrate who wins the war (even if a few battles are lost) and will show the immense power of God over against the power of evil.
#3 When You Read Books About Demons, Watch Out for Bad Theology
First, if you’re reading fictional books about demons, remember that it is fiction, and don’t make “Scripture” out of fiction. Good authors will preface their work with some kind of statement about this, but even if not, it should be assumed. We can learn a lot about demons from the Scripture, and that can be supplemented by what pastors and missionaries have observed as they put that Scripture into practice. But our understanding is limited by the information we have, and so God has equipped authors with great imagination to help us understand these otherworldly things. Just remember that these are fiction works.
If you’re reading something where the demons are the good guys, or the book is giving glory to the demons, making their lives sound like too much fun, probably want to put that one down.
Regardless of whether the books about demons you read are fiction or nonfiction, do a theology check. If a Bible verse is referenced, look it up, read it in context (what is going on around it in the Scriptures), and see if it really fits. Some authors succomb to the temptation to proof-text – to drop in verses just to prove a point. But those verses don’t always mean what they are presented to mean. It’s usually not intentional, but just look out for it. Find someone who knows Scripture well and is wise to talk over these topics with and get a second pair of eyes.
Also, do your own research and use good resources. I highly recommend Charles Kraft’s The Rules of Engagement. It is a simple-to-read short handbook based on sound theology, research, and missions experience.
#4 Pay Attention to Maturity and Your Own Triggers
There was nothing sinful about reading The Little Mermaid, but it wasn’t wise for me to read it late at night. In the same way, not every reader will be mature enough to read books about demons. When we are mature, we should read them, in balance of course with the other things we read! And if we’re not mature enough to handle it…well, work on getting more mature! But when reading or recommending these books to others, make sure they are in the right place to handle it.
Even if we are reading fictional books about demons, we are not talking about fictional things. I would find ways to talk about these things with your kids in age-appropriate ways as they grow. Reading about spiritual warfare should probably be a supervised, parent-child (or mentor-child) activity. They will be hearing about spiritual stuff at school, online, etc., and we want to create a good place to have those conversations grounded in Scripture, so don’t wait too long. Pray, listen to the Holy Spirit, use discernment…even pay attention to what is going on in your teen’s life, because it might create just the opportunity to do this kind of reading and discussion.
And pay attention to triggers, too – your own, and others’.
The Hunger Games is one of my favorite book and movie series. But I don’t watch them during seasons when I’m really struggling with depression, because Katniss’s depression and mine are too much to process all at once. On the other hand…I did read This Present Darkness again during one of those seasons, and I was glad I did because it drew my attention to the spiritual (as well as physical, mental, and emotional) components of what I was going through. I knew how to pray better as a result. But if you’re in a season where this stuff gives you nightmares, you might not want to read some of it. Then again, maybe you will, because you might learn some spiritual tools to help deal with those nightmares!
So, should you read books about demons?
Have you guys figured out that I don’t always give cut-and-dry answers? It comes back to this: Yes, definitely read and learn from books about demons. Use quality ones, with good theology, and use wisdom and discernment over the timing. We don’t want to do things out of fear (such as not reading books about a particular topic because it freaks us out) – that’s not healthy. That’s like hiding the debt collection notices under the bed like the gal from Confessions of a Shopaholic. But we’re human, and we’re not going to be in the right place to tackle every issue in our lives, or every topic we want to learn about, all at the same time. So, choose wisely (did you hear that guy from Indiana Jones?).
If you want to read quality books about demons, I can recommend This Present Darkness and the sequel, Piercing the Darkness, as well as The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (I find that I want to go back and read that one again now after writing this post!). For nonfiction, The Rules of Engagement is a must-read. I just read After You by Sunshine Rodgers, that covers this same topic, intended as a twist on The Screwtape Letters. It has some potential, but didn’t quite hit the mark. See my review below.
My Review of After You by Sunshine Rodgers
I chose to review this book because the premise has value. As you saw above, I think it can be really helpful for Christians to read books about demons. Spiritual warfare is something we don’t always do a good job teaching about, so I was hoping to find a good tool for that, since stories are the best teachers.
The theology was okay. I didn’t catch any major red flags, and she makes it clear in the introduction that this is a fictional representation, not a statement of exactly how these things work.
I had high hopes for this book, but was a little lost from the start.
The cover and subtitle (A Demon is Always Lurking Nearby) didn’t seem to fit with the text of the book, but more than that, the cover didn’t say “fiction” to me. Readers might be confused. The cover doesn’t draw me in personally, and if I were looking for a fictional story on spiritual warfare, I wouldn’t see that cover and subtitle and make the connection.
One particular formatting issue that happens a lot with Kindle books (not just this one): there are some images in the book that are actually pictures of letters telling part of the story. Only…on the Kindle you can’t read them. (My recommendation to the publisher would be to replace these with text in the Kindle versions). I wasn’t going to mention this, because I thought I had an advance copy which usually doesn’t have the final formatting. But the book was released several months ago, so I’m surprised to still find this kind of issue.
Who is this book for?
It wasn’t really clear on who the target audience is. I didn’t think I was picking up a book for teens, but it read like a book for teens. The cover looks like it’s intended to draw a horror audience, but I don’t think that audience will find what they are looking for with this book. (Maybe they would – I’m not that audience.)
The story itself was good and brought up some important things that I bet teens are NOT thinking about when they pick up the cell phone or the credit card. The biggest issue I had with this book wasn’t the content, but the delivery. The teen dialogue just didn’t come across as authentic, and I wasn’t really drawn into the writing. Also, just be aware that the experiences of the characters may be outside the life experience of your own teen. I think the concept is good (of course it is, C.S. Lewis did it first!) and it is probably a book we need to have, but I don’t think the author has pulled it off yet. I didn’t love it. I really wanted to.
After You is on Tour with Celebrate Lit
To celebrate her tour, Sunshine is giving away a grand prize of a “Last Night, When I Prayed” coffee mug, a bookmark, scripture, little bible pamphlets on the subjects matters such as integrity, finances and miracles, a CD sermon message entitled “God’s Plan for your Life” by Dr. Creflo Dollar and a $10 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d6d2/after-you-celebration-tour-giveaway
About the Book
Book: After You
Author: Sunshine Rodgers
Genre: Christian fiction, thriller, suspense (PG-13 Dark Fiction)
Release Date: April 27, 2018
Oh, that’s right, we talk about your love life. We sit with you in class. We know all about that thing you did last night. How do we know? We watch you. We go to those dance clubs with you. We scheme hideous outcomes for you. We know exactly what it is that will get you to our side. We create those wrong friendships you wished you never had. We invite you into those relationships that break your heart. We give you the life you never wanted, but it came at such a sweet price. We promised you the world and you took it like a kid wanting candy. All. Too. Easy. All I can say is, please, don’t let me get in the way of the worst ending of your life. I’m right behind you. I’ll open that door to frustration, nonsense and destruction.
Purchase your copy here!
Guest Post from Sunshine
I write about how God pursues us.
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