Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Free Reformed Archives on CD-ROM: A Review

Written by Rev. P. VanderMeyden
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As we begin the academic year, many of us are going back to our studies. The ministers are preparing new lessons to teach and articles to publish, teachers are preparing lessons for school, or for Sunday School and Catechism classes, while high school, college, university and seminary students will be thinking of topics for term papers and study projects. Resources are needed for such study.

One helpful resource which has become available early this summer is the Archive CD-ROM published by the Publications Committee of the Free Reformed Churches. It contains a wide variety of information which will be of interest not only to members of this denomination, but to many beyond. The central contents consist of archives of the Free Reformed Churches; that is, the Acts of Synod from 1979 through 1997. But, in addition, there are many other Free Reformed publications and documents; such as the recent "Yearbooks," the Church Order, the Free Reformed Theological Journal, the pamphlet "Introducing the Free Reformed Churches" and more. Not only do we find here the full manuscript of the Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort) but there are also a number of other early Christian and Reformation creeds (e.g. the Athanasian Creed, the Canons of the Council of Orange, the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, the Scots Confession and the Scottish Confession of Faith by John Knox). Two of the cornmentaries of John Calvin (Genesis & Hebrews), a version of the Institutes of John Calvin and various other documents arc included. There is a wealth of information here. But the best is yet to come.

With the use of the powerful database program included (Folio Bound Views¨) all this information can be searched and imported.

For example, if you want to search all these documents to find out where the word "covenant" comes up, you can simply click the "Query" button and type in the word (even combinations of words can be used) to find that the word is highlighted in all the documents where it is found ("covenant" is found 426 times!). You can move from one example to the next simply by clicking the "Next" [>>] button. This would be an excellent way to find out, for example, where the Reformed creeds (or the synod of the FRCNA!) speak about the doctrine of the covenant. The whole database is at your fingertips.

The text of these files are available not simply to be read, but also easily imported into your word processor. The selected portion can be "marked" (using your computer mouse, or Shift-arrow), then "cut" (on the most popular word processing programs, using Ctrl-C), and then "pasted" (using Ctrl-V) in the document you are working on.

This is the first CD ROM that our Publications Committee has published. While it contains a wealth of information, only a fraction of the total memory of a CD-ROM has been utilized. The plan is to issue future editions, and include many other useful Reformed publications and historical documents, as well as updating it with the current synodical archives. We trust that other improvements also will be made, such as a more specific referencing to the source publication (e.g. of Calvin's Institutes) for the purpose of academic referencing.

As it turned out, the interest for this new resource has been greater than anticipated. It has been distributed to various Reformed Seminaries as a research tool.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the Publications Committee for providing us with this new means of accessing so much of our denominational archives. A special word of appreciation must be expressed to Mr. Chris VanDoodewaard of St. Thomas for the mammoth task he has accomplished and the many, many hours of work he has given to gathering, importing, typing, marking, indexing, etc. to prepare the archive and also for his perseverance in administering the project right on to publication and distribution. He has manifested not only expertise in this area of work, but we are especially grateful for the willingness our brother has manifested in giving of his time for the work of the church.

It is our hope that this resource may be used as a tool and means in the service of our churches and beyond, and that it may be used as an instrument for good in the study of the Scriptures and other edifying literature.

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