Questions and Answers
By Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian
Armenian Heritage Committee
160 pp. Hardcover.
Reviewed by Rev. Dr. Peter B. Doghramji
Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian is a well-known, prolific writer. Questions and Answers is his 40th volume, which, unlike all others, is unique in style and content.
The style is Socratic, with questions and answers, as the title suggests. The reader is drawn into the discussion by the question each chapter raises (e.g., “Are You a Rich Fool?). With each chapter name, questions are already embedded in the mind of the reader. Unlike sermons, lectures, or articles, which begin with the answers, Dr. Tootikian first asks the question and then invites the reader to participate in the conversation.
Socrates taught that truth is not mono-logical, superimposed by the teacher, but dialogical, explored by teacher and disciple alike in the form of a dialogue. We see the same style used by Jesus himself. In some church traditions, the dialogue is set in the form of a catechism where questions and answers are doctrinal. This book may also serve that purpose as a textbook for adult Sunday School classes, both old and young.
As for content, Questions and Answers covers a wide variety of subjects, such as Armenian history (heritage) and culture, politics, ethics (“Fifth Gospel”), church life, including a resource for worship and theology.
The book is lucid and easy to read, but not so easy to digest. It is not meant to be read in one sitting, like a novel. The reader, preferably in the company of others, has to struggle with the existential questions that challenge one’s faith and moral conduct.
The book has one major shortcoming: It should have been published 70 years ago when I first enrolled in the seminary. I learned a great deal as I read about wisdom, love, hope, and even touching.
I admire Dr. Tootikian for using the right appellation for the Armenian Evangelical Unions in the Near East, France, and North America, namely, “The Armenian Evangelical Church,” not a “Union of Churches.” As the executive director of the Armenian Evangelical World Council, Dr. Tootikian has significant perspective on the nature of the Church.