Calvinistic Philosophy
and Reformational Thought

(CPRT Index in brief)

Theodore Plantinga

Lauren Schultz

CATEGORIES of publications indexed:
Multi-author books
Single-author books

FAQ Section

Question: What does this index have to do with the Golden Rule?
Answer: When I write, I try to follow the Golden Rule. I write the sort of thing that I myself enjoy reading and studying. My Reformational Movement series is an example of the sort of thing that I would read with interest and appreciation if others would write it, and so I have read widely in the writings of of the Dutch historian George Puchinger. An index of the sort I am constructing would have been of enormous benefit to me during my academic career; therefore I believe other students of Calvinistic philosophy and reformational thought could benefit from it as well.

Question: Why the special interest in festschriften?
Answer: Because they are often hard to come by (a festschrift does not generally make its way into all the libraries where it properly belongs), and because they often include a great diversity of contents. An obscure festschrift might include just the essay you need for the project you're working on just now, but you've never seen the book and therefore don't know what's in it. Let's say that the festschrift is not in the local academic library to which you have access, but if you could ascertain, via this index on the internet, that it does in fact contain essay such-and-such, you could request it via interlibrary loan, or perhaps you could get just that essay photocopied and sent to you. In addition, people often mix up festschriften. Someone may tell you that there is a good essay on Vollenhoven's view of X in festschrift A, which you then track down, at some trouble and expense to yourself, whereas in fact the essay in question appears in festschrift B. Via this index, you can quickly check on any such report.

Question: Why the long name?
Answer: Because these two categories overlap; neither one is a subset of the other. Dooyeweerd was a major figure in the reformational tradition and a member of a Reformed church all of his life, but he was uncomfortable with the label "Calvinistic": he insisted that his philosophy was Christian and ecumenical. Many of the people with a deep interest in Dooyeweerd belong to neither a Dutch Reformed church nor a Presbyterian church. In addition, it should be borne in mind that certain thinkers recognized as Calvinistic philosophers would not like to be associated with the reformational movement, even though they consider themselves Kuyperian: William Harry Jellema is an example.

Question: What about theology?
Answer: If I expanded the project to include Calvinistic theology, it would become unmanageable. Therefore Louis Berkhof, for example, is not included, except insofar as writings of his may pop up in a book of essays with a non-theological title or in a festschrift. The rule followed consistently is that whenever a book is included in the index, all of its contents are listed, even if some chapters or articles or essays might appear to fall outside the scope indicated in the index's title. Within the reformational camp are a few thinkers to be classified as theologians (e.g. Gordon Spykman), but reformationals, by and large, take little interest in theology as traditionally understood. Henry Stob did a good deal of writing in ethics and taught philosophy at Calvin College for many years, and then went on to teach philosophical theology at Calvin Seminary. Therefore he is included.

Question: Why index writings in languages that many people in North America cannot read?
Answer: Because this index, made available over the internet, is intended for use in Europe as well as on other continents. On the reformational side of things, there are many publications that include articles or essays in languages other than English, such as German, French, Dutch, and Afrikaans; two or more languages are often used within a single book. Since I have a reasonable degree of reading ability in the five languages listed above, I can proofread what I post, although I cannot guarantee that all errors will be caught.

Question: How are we supposed to search or peruse this index?
Answer: There are basically three methods. The first is old-fashioned reading. Just as you sometimes read through the table of contents of a book or glance at its index of names or of subjects, you can read this index title by title when you call it up in a netbrowser. Secondly, you can search the pages or files within this index using the Edit / Find feature: look for certain key words that are likely to appear in indexes and tables of contents, or look for the name of a particular author or thinker in whom you have an interest. Thirdly, you can use Google as the search engine for the site, just as you can do with Myodicy. In the latter case you would type as search terms, for example,
myodicy dooyeweerd runner jellema
to see which web page or pages within Myodicy talk about Dooyeweerd plus Runner plus Jellema. In the case of the CPRT Index, you would type CPRT Index plus your search terms.

Question: Why include printed indexes without including the pages to which the indexes refer?
Answer: Although some indexes in academic books are poorly done and of little help to readers, a great many (especially in older books) are masterpieces that would give the reader a reasonably accurate indication of what the book is about and how much attention it gives to topic such-and-such. In addition, even if you are holding the book in your hand, a computerized version of its index can speed up your search for what the book says about the topic that interests you. This is true especially of books that include a lengthy index.

Question: Is this index akin to a critical or annotated bibliography?
Answer: No. Once I decide to put a certain book in the index (after clearing up the permission issue), I include all of its content without leaving out something with which I might disagree or something that looks substandard to me. By selecting a book for inclusion, I am of course making a minimal statement about its academic worth and am judging that its fits under either or both of the rubrics that serve the define this index. I might have opinions about the book I am listing, but this index is not the place to record them. There is plenty of room for editorializing in my reformational history series.

Question: Can people outside the Redeemer community help out with this project?
Answer: By all means. If you are willing and able to cooperate with this project, you can suggest titles for inclusion, and you can even do the preliminary work of scanning the title into your computer, running it through OCR software, and applying some of the formatting that is used in the index: see the instructions file. Some final editing and formatting would be done here at Redeemer. To make it possible fr me to do final checking, please send me the record you have produced along with photocopied pages reproducing the title page(s), the contents page(s), the index(es), and any abstract you have seen fit to include.

Question: Will this index be rendered obsolete by Google's massive indexing project?
Answer: I don't think so. But there will be times when a Google search (once all the obscure Christian and reformational books have been picked up in Google's database) will yield some of the same information that one could have gotten via the CPRT Index. Bear in mind that Google does not intend to put tables of contents and old-fashioned indexes on the internet. And the CPRT Index will have a significant advantage over Google: it will not leave you sorting through hundreds or even thousands of "hits."

Question: What about copyright?
Answer: Many of the books included are still under copyright. Therefore I am seeking permission to reproduce the material via the author/editor and/or the publisher for each book that is included and is not yet in the public domain. I have more records on hand than have been made public; in some cases I am waiting for permission before releasing and posting records.

Question: How does this project relate to Harry Plantinga's Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) at Calvin College?
Answer: CCEL places entire books that are now in the public domain on the internet. It does not deal with books that are still under copyright (even though they may be out of print). Before embarking on this project, I did consult Harry Plantinga and find out more about his project and his future intentions. (He is a distant cousin of mine and a son of the philosopher Alvin Plantinga.)