By Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian
Armenian Heritage Committee, 2022
The title of Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian’s 46th book, Ever Onward/Ohn Haratch, has been aptly chosen in times of spiritual, physical and environmental uncertainties. As Rev. Tootikian points out in the Preface, the title denotes “moving forward to new horizons” in spite of these unprecedented challenges. The book’s 43 articles cover various topics dealing with spiritual, social, political and historical issues. These articles should be read through the lens of “moving forward,” as each article in its own way shows us the path to those horizons.
Foremost, and pertaining to the Christian faith, Rev. Tootikian discusses biblical stories and narratives in more than 16 articles for a personal commitment to follow in Christ’s footsteps and seek His Kingdom first. Emphasized is a personal God that reveals “the way” forward through His Son Jesus Christ.
What follows the personal commitment is the importance of seeking an unfettered education that pursues the truth. Here we are reminded of John Milton’s Areopagitica that criticizes restrictions placed on education by governing authorities. Milton affirms the Freedom to express one’s opinion and use the faculty of reason to seek the Truth.
As in previous publications, Rev. Tootikian covers particular topics in the history of the Armenian church and the Armenian Evangelical movement. In this book, we are reminded of the Holy Translators of the fifth century who created the Armenian alphabet and translated the Bible into Armenian. Both achievements ushered in the “Golden Age of Armenian Literature.”
The Armenian Evangelical Church in the 19th century accepted, as other Protestant churches did, the personal reading of the Bible and its interpretation regarding “faith and practice.” Rev. Tootikian reviews The “Cardinal Principles” of Armenian Evangelicals’ faith that has been passed onto future generations.
Two articles are dedicated to women’s role in the Armenian Evangelical community and its churches. Women’s role as educators and leaders in the churches has been positive steps. In contrast, women’s role as ordained church ministers has stalled. Today, unlike other Protestant churches, Armenian Evangelical churches have taken a step backward in refusing the ordination of women.
With regard to politics, Dr. Tootikian reviews Armenia’s Third Republic history and the 2020 Artsakh War that has shaped Armenia’s politics. The despair that has engulfed the country after the war requires taking a “hard look at missed opportunities” that are vital “for a better outcome” and renewed prosperity. Knowledge of our past is the road to progress. Above is only a small sample of the many topics that Rev. Tootikian covers in his book Ever Onward/Ohn Haratch. Each of the 43 articles discussed may be considered as a “stand alone” subject that is linked by a thread that gives a choice to move forward. The positive steps are clarified in each article.
We are fortunate to have Rev. Dr. Tootikian’s pen continue to teach us what the Armenian Evangelical movement stands for. Likewise, we are indebted to him for his contributions to the literature of the Armenian Evangelical Church at a time when its leaders’ ink seems to have dried up.