When Manly John Plumwell hears the call of the Handmaiden of the Lord to join her Church of the Chosen, it is a call that plunges him into a world ablaze with religious fervour. The Chosen are those who have been born again in the belief that in all Christendom only their leader, the Handmaiden, has the power to know the divine will of God as he has written it in the Bible. Putting on the whole armour of God, with the cross as his sword and the Bible as his shield, Manly marches forth from the Handmaiden's Bible school in Big Bend, Tennessee, to do battle with unbelievers. He becomes a masterful evangelist, bringing hundreds into the fold. Until he meets his match in Adrian DeWulf, a charismatic philosophy professor who has renounced all gods and makes a practice of publicly exposing the fraudulent nature of all religions. Manly vows to snatch this sinner away from Satan and by so doing triumph in a glorious act of divine huntsmanship. The battle is joined in the rarefied atmosphere of a quiet, rural university. Under Adrian's verbal assaults the preacher's armour begins to crack.
But the greater danger is to Adrian, for he falls in love with one of Manly's flock, the beautiful Claire Sumner, and their love threatens to crack open a world of religious hypocrisy. Delos McKown writes with ironic humour, sometimes cutting to the bone, to reveal the sometimes desperate struggle between the compulsion toward divine authority and the freedom of the human spirit, between love of God and human passion.