100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2006
First, for all you fans of Frank Peretti, you need to know that this book is not quite like his other works.
I've noticed that many people have given this a less than five-star rating because they feel that this does not meet the par set by Peretti's other books. I hope I can try to explain why that may be.
This book tells about a small community to which a self-proclaimed messiah shows up. This book is not in the same vein as his "This Present Darkness/Piercing the Darkness" duo or "The Oath." I submit that it is just as good--just different.
The people who will appreciate this book the most are those who grew up in, or have had extensive experience with, pentecostal/charismatic churches--especially those in small towns. This prerequisite fits me well--I grew up in the Assemblies of God (still a member) and always attended small-to-tiny churches as a child. In this book, Peretti captures that setting perfectly.
While some others have criticized this book as being overly critical of specific denominations, I must say that this is not what I take from the book at all. In this book, Peretti (in my view) primarily criticizes the ease with which most Christians are manipulated by apparent spirituality. So often many of us have seen an entire congregation agree with one evangelist unanimously, only to also agree with another evangelist a week later--never mind that the positions taken by the two "evangelists" are polar opposites. This book portrays that problem well--not so much in the example I just gave, but in the general sense that people are willing to accept everything that appears to be holy as holy. We were never given such a command by God, nor admonished to do so by the apostles. (1 John 4:1)
This book will encourage you to think on your own; to engage in the Berean exercise (Acts 17:10-11) before swallowing whole whatever the next guy brings to town. Our hope is in God, and He never changes--regardless of what the newest "evangelist" would have you believe. Test everything--1 Thess. 5:21.
78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2000
THE VISITATION was the first book by Christian author Frank E. Peretti that I have ever read. Previously, I avoided Peretti's work because I just wasn't sure that Christian fiction could be worth my time. I was sorely wrong, and I'm glad to admit it. THE VISITATION was a very well-written novel, by Christian OR by secular standards.
THE VISITATION is about an ex-pastor and his grapple with issues of faith and God's faithfulness, his search for the truth surrounding some strange events that occur in his town, and his discovery of a Jesus-like man who suddenly arrives on the scene.
THE VISITATION is a suspenseful thriller written in a well-timed manner. The characters are varied and interesting, and the story is multi-layered and complex. Frank Peretti's writing is honest -- he writes about humanity in all its imperfection and sinfulness; he doesn't skirt around delicate issues, and he never takes the easy or cliche Christian way out.
I would highly recommend this book, and any other Frank Peretti book. I am consistently impressed with his honesty and his skillfully written spiritual thrillers, and THE VISITATION is no exception.
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 1999
Frank Peretti got right to the heart of many things that happen in the Christian journey. It's fiction, but it is very real life stuff, as he tells the story of a burnt out pastor through flashbacks and through the challenge that gets to him when he'd rather not be reached. I laughed more than ever in a Peretti novel, and at times I thought he was reading my mail or going to the same conferences. He touches on all of us in every different kind of church, and the insights all draw us to love more and point fingers less. It's so accurate it's scary, but I will read it over again many times in spots. His word pictures of the mega-church atmosphere were especially thought-provoking. And the focus on a real relationship with Jesus, rather than your pastor or your denomination's particular church rules and flavors, was profound stuff. Not a perfect ending of the Justin story, but in the last couple of paragraphs I found myself weeping, the book had so moved my heart, and its conclusion was profound in the simplicity of the words. As a pastor, I found this a book that I could recommend to anyone, in or out of the church. Peretti and Randall Arthur are the two Christian novelists most in touch with real world people. They make you want to sit down and have a talk, just regular folk.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 1999
After reading This Present Darkness (A++) and Pierceing the Darkness (A-), I was dissappointed by the Prophet (which I never finished) and The Oath (C-). I decided to give Peretti one last chance with the Visitation. I'm glad I did. One of my chief faults with Peretti is that his protagonists (esp. ministers) tend to be SuperChristians, who never doubt, who never question, who are ever obdeient, and ever ready to selflessly serve. The protagonist in this book,Travis Jordan, is a real person who is confounded by a God who he loves and trust. Kyle Sherman, another of the books minister is young, energetic, nïave, and at times goofy (such as when he shouts at a room full of ministers, "Read your Bibles, folks!"). Also, there are no sacred cows in this book. It could be considered a satire on the excesses of charasmatic churches, the spiritually cold churches, and Super Churches. (The Chapter on the Cathedral of Life sums up my experience with Mega Churches). I could not put the book down. I'm glad Peretti hasn't lost his touch. I eagerly look forward to his next offering.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2000
After reading "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness", both of which broke new ground, for me at least, I was dissappointed by "Prophet" and even more by "The Oath." "The Visitation" brought back some of what I enjoyed so much about my earlier experience with Peretti with its honest look at what it sometimes means to be a Christian in this world. The main character, Travis, experiences a lot of what I experience, ups and downs, success and defeat, and he doesn't usually know why -- but he trusts God even in his cynicism brought about by his experiences. I found the flashback sequences, which provide the backstory, very significant in that Peretti is almost always dead on in relating them to the present story. Travis' wisdom, and cynicism, are shown to be born of a youthful immaturity and naïveté and it was refreshing to see the protaganist of a Christian fiction novel developed out of a pointedly imperfect and human soul like myself. He failed, often foolishly, and then grew up a little afterwards. With this book Peretti brings me back to a "real" feeling story and even without the supernatural elements carrying such a prominent role as in many of his other novels, the story is compelling and absorbing. Perhaps even more so because of it.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 1999
I always look forward to reading Peretti, but this is the best one yet. One moment, I was chuckling out loud; the next, I was trying to swallow the lump in my throat. Frank brought me back to some very personal and private places and left me wondering, "How did he know?". I've now got a new attitude toward church "stuff" and toward people. Thanks, Frank.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2000
Peretti does not disappoint. In this latest novel he thrills and chills with characteristic suspense. There's nothing good I can say about this book that hasn't already been said - I'm the 100th reviewer. It was fabulous and I couldn't put it down. What makes this book so different from the others is the way Peretti incorporates theological issues which plague most every Christian. He weaves these issues into the core plot, making the book multi-layered in its depth. Best of all, he does not venture to answer the questions. He simply has the courage to address them, to make the church take an honest look at itself.
My only complaints are: his characters' names were too similar to easily differentiate from each other. I lost track of the times I had to return to the initial meeting of the pastors to see who was who, almost up until the end. I suggest (for anyone who hasn't read it yet) making a list of characters as they are introduced. Also, I felt that Brandon's miracles sometimes bordered on hokey, in their excessiveness. Finally, I sometimes questioned the reality with which Peretti approached the behavior of the townspeople. While Brandon was deceitful enough in the beginning, he soon showed his true, very UNChristlike colors, and no one flinched. They followed him as enthusiastically as ever. Overall, though, very good read.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2000
Peretti refuses to be put in a box, tackling different issues in different ways, instead of resorting to the phenomenally successful formulas of his first two books. I like that. Sometimes it works better than others, though--that's the risk he takes. (More power to him.) Here, the risk was seeming shaky at first. I liked the initial premise--and no, the prologue didn't throw me off track as it did some of my friends--but I couldn't tell where this ride was taking me. Then, slowly, I found myself absorbed in the Travis' past, relating to every detail of his church experiences, laughing to the point of poignant tears at some parts. This book tackles some of the spiritual questions the church often avoids. It refuses to give pat answers, refuses to resolve everything in the usual casual manner, and left me feeling refreshed...I'd waded through some of my own struggles with this fictional character and realized others struggle too. Okay, the conclusion in the town streets got a little wacky and melodramatic, but the deeper issues hit home. Don't be put off by the slow-motion start--this book wants to slam-dunk you, if you'll let it.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Welcome to Antioch, Washington, a small town over an hour from Spokane. Travis Jordan is the burnt-out ex-pastor/narrator of the story and what a storyteller he is. Either Peretti was a burned out, disillusioned Christian, or he has excellent powers of observation. He nails disappointment and disillusionment with God, cynicism forged by unanswered prayer and constant disappointment honed by too many years of working with the body of Christ.
Everything is going along as always in Antioch when the large wooden crucifix at the local Catholic Church begins to weep tears that heal the sick. Not long afterward, people begin seeing Jesus' face in the clouds and in tree bark along with a few other spiritual miracles.
When Brandon Nichols shows up, ostensibly from Missoula, Montana to work as a ranch hand for the rich widow Mrs. Macon, he starts performing miracles of healing and prophecy. The town is split on who and what he is. Unbelievers and even some of the "elect" believe he's the Christ, but the other half of the town thinks he's a demon deceiver. Young, new pastor Kyle Sherman is beside himself with righteous indignation, wanting to "take this town for Jesus" and expel this demon interloper. But Travis Jordan has "been there and done that" and he steadies Kyle's actions. Learning the where and what of Travis's "been there and done that" is interwoven skillfully into the tale. Soon, the public gets word of Brandon's miracles and the media come running, along with folks from all over the country, everybody wanting a special healing or simply to see and experience this new messiah. But why won't Brandon allow cameras, even when he goes public with his ministry and sets up shop? What's he hiding? Who is he and where did he come from? And where did he get his "power"?
Peretti has paced this story very well; even though we know up front (if you've read Peretti before) that Good will prevail over evil in the end, the hook is seeing how Good prevails. The author does an excellent job building suspense and holding all the reins under control, rationing out revelations slowly to keep the suspense and the mystery going right up to end of the book.
The Visitation probably contains a lot from Peretti's real life. Travis Jordan's life has been a panorama of colorful and realistic church experiences and church folk. If you were ever a believer in a small town or even a member of a very large church, you're likely to read in amazement as Travis relates his own story, because you're likely to see your story there, too.
The Visitation was a story I couldn't wait to get back to--I read at lunchtime at work and in the evenings after work. It's been a long time since I was that excited about a novel. Fortunately, Peretti has other novels so the fun doesn't have to end yet. I hope you'll find The Visitation as exciting and captivating as I did. I highly recommend it. I learned from Peretti's website that there's also a movie made from the book, and I immediately put it in my Netflix queue. Rumor has it the movie is even better than the book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2000
Many Christians are familiar with Christ's prophecy in Matthew 24:4-5,11,24 that false prophets will come in the last days, proclaiming that they are the Christ, performing miracles, and deceiving many. Few Christians have stopped to reflect on how Christ's prophecy about these last days could become a reality in our own world. Peretti does the job for us, by painting a vivid fictional picture of how this could conceivably come about. His false Christ is initially so convincing, that I found myself reading with a strong sense of disbelief, thinking "This Messiah looks like the real thing, acts like the real thing, but something is not quite right!" It is this sense of disbelief that kept me reading, intensely curious as to how Peretti would unravel the plot!
The plot is intriguing and entertaining. Peretti sustains interest by working with a story-line composed of twin strands that are intertwined throughout the novel: one being the protagonist's past, the other being his present. Although the plot is not always convincing (the conclusion falls somewhat flat since several loose ends are left hanging), on the whole it is engaging and suspenseful.
Yet at the same time Peretti is very introspective. He takes the reader on a fast ride, but not so fast that you don't get to enjoy the scenery on the way. The main character, Travis Jordan, is very believable, and his struggles and development are superbly portrayed. In the process, Peretti shares thoughtful insights about the state of church-life in contemporary North America. His careful attention to characterization enables him to create an effective satire on the hypocrisy of emotion-driven charismatics, as well as the superficiality of factory-style big city churches. At one point he goes somewhat too far, in my view, by creating a false dilemma between membership in Christ's church and having a personal relationship with Christ. His endorsement of Arminian theology is also one I personally do not share.
But you don't have to agree with Peretti in every respect to find this novel stimulating. While being entertained by an original story-line, I found myself gaining a heightened awareness of the dangers of false prophets in the future, and of the dangers of superficial church life in the present. It is this quality that makes this novel much more than a story with a token Christian touch, but a novel with a genuinely Christian and thought-provoking message.