The Parade That Shook The World is a clear and intelligent treatment of the teaching of the Word of God concerning the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Its author, the Rev. Dr. Herald A. G. Hassessian, has already distinguished himself by his writings on religious matters. This latest volume from his pen is marked by qualities of relevance, forthrightness and insight by which his writings have come to be known in Armenian Evangelical circles. Through the eleven chapters of this book, Rev. Hassessian makes another distinctive contribution to the contemporary religious literature.
As the title indicates, this book is the author's reflections on Lent and Easter. It is a valuable study and is sure to stimulate a fresh interest in these topics. It is a fully matured, devout, and painstaking study of the meaning and message of Christ's Atonement. Rev. Hassessian's work is constructive. It is done with religious and moral insight and a keen sense of practical values. It is written in vigorous style, with many apt illustrations. The author can be sure that what he has written will prove of great use to his readers.
Most of the chapters of the book are based on scriptural texts which are developed by fine and timely expositions. The ideas contained here fire the reader's imagination because of the author's appealing style. Dr. Hassessian's memory is richly stored and in this book he gives away his intellectual riches generously. Quotations, anecdotes, and aphorisms course one another through page after page in dazzling profusion.
In this book Pastor Hassessian first discusses Lent and its meaning. He states that the Lenten season is a time to take stock of ourselves; that ours is a sin-filled world in which we live, and therefore, we must mobilize our spiritual resources so that the forces of evil will be overcome.
He points out that we are living in a world that changes with startling velocity. For many, the old morality and the old standards seem to be disappearing. Secularism has infected the bloodstream of our society with new viruses. The crude and pagan materialism of the civilization we live in has become part of the lives of many. Affluence tends to vulgarize life and erode long-established social values. The pursuit of pleasure, comfort, luxury, and good living has given rise to a new hedonism. It is a comfort-loving and a pleasure-loving society. All week long people feed, clothe, satisfy, indulge their bodies and make a religion out of the cult of the body and its personal pleasures. Many have bowed down to worship at the altars of the gods of money, position, and pleasure. Although they seem healthy outwardly, inwardly they are diseased with spreading cancer.
Dr. Hassessian claims that in a society which bears all the marks of a God-starved civilization, we need to be reminded that we have a soul and there are values greater than life. He also maintains that in the hectic pace of modern living, not only does God get pushed out of men's thoughts and seemingly out of our lives, but through their sins of pride and prejudice, intolerance and jealousy, doubt and distrust, they continue to crucify the Master of Life, Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, God through Jesus Christ and His atoning love forgives and wipes out all sins; that every individual has a "warm place in the heart of God and a permanent place in His parade on earth."
The author, then, emphasizes the importance and the uniqueness of "the Cross of the Crucified." The Cross of Christ is the supreme means of grace and the strongest link that binds man and God in the covenant of love. It is "the authentic symbol of God's love for man."
While we should not down-play the tragic element of the Cross, we should look beyond the tragedy to the triumph: the Resurrection. This is what we celebrate every Sunday. It is the Resurrection of Christ which gives meaning and significance to the Cross. It is the story of hope. It is the loving presence of God among us.
The ideas presented in this book are not new. They were not created by the author. They are as old as the Bible. But one of the beauties of the book is that the author has tried to show how to use these ideas and principles in a practical and understanding manner suited to modern man. He suggests that we must translate our faith in Christ from abstract theory to personal experience. The nature of true Christianity is such that we only possess it as we share it. It becomes more one's own every time it is given to another. Thus, he gives a number of samples, illustrations, and true stories in which he demonstrates how true Christians can love and forgive in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
Hassessian insists that the true followers of Christ have an obligation to express our faith in every area of life — an obligation which springs not from a sense of noblesse-oblige, not a feeling that by so doing they prove their moral sensitivity, but from a deep conviction that what happens in their personal and corporate life either assists or resists the will of God for mankind. In short, he believes that love is the hallmark of vital Christianity.
Thus, The Parade That Shook The World and The Cross That Quaked The Earth does not only deal with the abstract philosophical and theological thought it also explores the Christian faith and what it means to every man today. It clarifies and sharpens our perception of ourselves and arouses our feelings about what it means to be a Christian. As expressions of conviction, these eleven essays in the book are truly proclamations and incite commitment.
Overall, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a book like this for helping us to uncover our own living foundation. It brings inspiration as well as instruction. There are an abundance of quotations from life situations and from literature. The reader will come from a reading of this book with a mind full of engrossing and stimulating ideas expressed in penetrating phrases and images.
Dr. Hassessian's deep religious insights and fresh illustrations make this new volume refreshing reading for clergy and laity alike. Like a good cook, the author knows how to stimulate the appetite as well as to satisfy it. Hence, for spiritual refreshment, for inspiration, for pleasure, profit, and instruction to make one's life more meaningful, I recommend highly this fine book.
Royal Oak, Michigan,
Vahan H. Tootikian