Wednesday, 20 June 2018

In Memoriam: Morris Greidanus

by Robert Sweetman

Morris Greidanus’s adult life and the ICS were inextricably interlinked. It began in the heady heyday of the Groen Club at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, the philosophy club that ran for many years under the mentorship of H. Evan Runner and sent so many eager young souls to the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam for intellectual formation within the Reformational tradition in philosophy. Morris roomed with Hendrik Hart and James H. Olthuis, the former a fervent Groen clubber, the latter still playing hard to get. That association would stick and so create conditions that would tie his subsequent career as pastor and theological mind to the work of the ICS once it opened its doors in 1967.

Morris went on to postgraduate study as did his former roommates but he himself gravitated toward theology and ordination into the ministry of the Christian Reformed Church in North America in 1964. His relationship to ICS grew very close indeed when he took a call to found a campus ministry at the University of Toronto in 1968. His “Hart House Ministry” was a very exciting enterprise that attracted ICS Junior and Senior Members as well as University of Toronto students. Indeed, well attended Sunday services in one of the large meeting rooms of Hart House on the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto meant that Morris had become in effect the pastor of his former roommates and chaplain of the ICS as well as the U of T. It was a pastorate of great spiritual energy and effect that lasted from 1968 to 1974.

In the way of ecclesiastical careers Morris took other calls to serve other communities of Christians and to serve his denomination in its highest synodical offices and yet his connection to ICS endured. He served on its board; he was a perennial MC of its Ontario Family Conference over many years, one half of a formidable tag team with spouse Alice who was an important leader in the all-important music ministry of the conference. Morris the ICS MC displayed Morris’ characteristic gifts. Above all, his wry humour, summoned with lightening swiftness and exquisite comic timing, rescued captive audiences from crushing ennui during the seemingly endless announcements that could not but accompany a conference with so many people, subprograms and volunteers. He managed to make announcement time a sparkling comedy routine filled with gentle humour and heartfelt laughter, not once or twice but time and again over the course of an entire long weekend, year in and year out.

That humour marked the man in so very important ways. It allowed him to maintain connections with people on all sides of the issues that came to divide the several communities within the Reformed world that he made his own. It was not that he didn’t have a place within communal debates; it is that he saw no reason why differences of opinion couldn’t coexist with a warm recognition of one’s interlocutor too as a child of God. This allowed him to be an effective voice in the controversies that seemed to cling around the ICS from its earliest days, patiently explaining what ICS was trying to do to those who did not understand and/or found they could not approve. This was a role he never laid down even in periods when he was less close to the heart of things at ICS. Of course, his theological collaboration with brother-in-law and long-time ICS Senior Member in Theology George Vandervelde—culminating in the appearance of “Our World Belongs to God,” the CRCNA’s contemporary testimony—did not hurt when it came to maintaining warm connections. “Our World Belongs to God” remains to this day a jewel of theology in service of the witness of the people of God.

I wonder if it wasn’t the retirement of Jim Olthuis and George Vandervelde that reintroduced Morris to the living heart of ICS, for he MC-ed both their retirement dinners to great success. At any rate, Morris became a mover and shaker in ICS’s Friends of ICS board in the U.S. and then acting president when Harry Fernhout moved to The King’s University in Edmonton and ICS had to wait an extra year for the advent of Harry’s successor John Suk. Throughout the academic year 2005-2006, he would be on campus spreading his personal serenity to the Senior Members, staff, and Junior Members of ICS in what was an anxious time. I like to think that some of that virtue has remained even in the more anxious times that followed.

Certainly, Morris remained an enthusiastic member and later chair of the FICS board. Just days before his passing, when new President Ron Kuipers was in Grand Rapids to attend the CRCNA’s annual synod, he called Morris hoping to meet with him. By then Morris was in hospital with pneumonia. Alice took the call, gave Ron the low down, and then invited him to come to Morris’ hospital bed to carry on his intended conversation, provided he did not have a cold. That is dedication. Yes, Morris’s adult life and ICS’ has been a mutual dance where both partners have taken turns with the lead to mutual benefit. We know that Morris Greidanus is irreplaceable. His passing is a loss to be sure. But his perseverance and talent and winsome love have ever been and so will remain a great blessing now baked into all that is best of what ICS has been able to do and be.

Requiescat in pacem. Thanks be to God.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Adorno and Truth

Lambert Zuidervaart, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at ICS, has published a new essay on Theodor Adorno, a leading figure in the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. The essay is titled “Surplus beyond the Subject: Truth in Adorno’s Critique of Husserl and Heidegger.” It appears in the current issue of Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 22.1 (Spring 2018): 123-40. In this article, Lambert examines Adorno’s critique of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger on the topic of truth. He shows how, while offering legitimate criticisms, Adorno fails to provide an adequate alternative.

Thursday, 31 May 2018


On May 11, 2018, the ICS community gathered for the Convocation of Junior Members Julia de Boer, Godfrey Nkongolo, Mark Novak, and Joseph Kirby. All those present celebrated in gratitude the commitment and insights that these graduands offered to ICS during their years at our institution, and wished them well as they continue to respond to God’s call in their future undertakings.
This year’s Convocation included the Installation of our eighth President, Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers and his Inaugural Address, Something We Don’t See: ICS and the Training of a Messianic Imagination
In his address, Dr. Kuipers described ICS “as a singular witness to the crucial difference that Christian faith makes in all areas of life,” a place where students are taught “to think about contemporary society, both its blessings and its curses, in light of a story about a God who made the world good, and loves it.” In closing, he charged the graduands “to hold onto and cherish” this messianic story, deeply infused in the life of ICS.

To read the address in our Institutional Repository, click here, and to watch the YouTube video, click here.
For a slideshow with pictures from the event, click here.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Knox College and the Institute for Christian Studies Sign Historic Lease Agreement

It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that Knox College and the Institute for Christian Studies (ICS) announce the signing of a lease that will see ICS move its operations to the premises of Knox College, effective August 1, 2018. This initial lease is for a term of 5 years.

“We are extremely grateful for this opportunity to relocate our graduate school to the campus of Knox College,” said ICS President Ronald A Kuipers. “This move not only helps us achieve greater cost certainty in a challenging real estate market, it also creates exciting opportunities for ICS faculty and students to work more closely with our colleagues at Knox.”

Principal John A Vissers said, “Knox College is delighted to welcome ICS to its premises as an institution that shares a commitment to the Reformed tradition. We expect this agreement to benefit both schools economically, and provide new opportunities for ICS and Knox to serve the church and the wider community.”

ICS’ new location will be in the northeast wing of Knox College’s lower level, in the heart of the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus.

Knox College is a theological school of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, a federated College of the University of Toronto, a founding member of the Toronto School of Theology, and holds accreditation through the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

The Institute for Christian Studies is a community-supported graduate school in the Kuyperian stream of the Reformed tradition, and an affiliate member of the Toronto School of Theology. It operates under charter from the Government of Ontario to grant MA and PhD degrees in Philosophy, and the Master of Worldview Studies degree.

Monday, 14 May 2018

New Essay on Film

Senior Member Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart has published a new essay titled “Hegel, Malick, and the Postsecular Sublime” in the book Immanent Frames: Postsecular Cinema between Malick and von Trier, edited by ICS Senator John Caruana and Mark Cauchi (Albany: SUNY Press, 2018), 47-67.

The essay shows how Hegel’s conception of sublime art can help us interpret contemporary films such as Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” that struggle with deep loss and suffering but refuse to let societal evil have the last word.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Prayer Letter: June 2018

Friday, June 1

  • ICS’ Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics (CPRSE) hosted eight outstanding undergraduate students from The King’s University, Concordia University, Cornerstone University, and Greenville University, in the context of this year’s ICS Undergraduate Workshop, “Philosophy and/as Storytelling.” The event provided these undergraduate students with a space to share their original research with ICS Senior and Junior Members, creating a communal context for thoughtful reflection, fruitful dialogue, and much storytelling. We pray in thanksgiving for this opportunity to engage in conversation with youth from across North America.
Monday, June 4 - Friday, June 8
  • We give thanks for the successful signing of the lease with Knox College, where ICS will have its new home in the northwest wing on the lower level of the building. Please pray that the planned renovations will proceed smoothly and quickly so our new space will be ready for the start of the 2018 fall semester.
  • Please pray this week for Ron Kuipers and Pat Webb as they travel to Grand Rapids to attend the Synod meetings and to meet with alumni and supporters in the area. We ask for safety on the roads, engaging and encouraging times with our ICS community, and for productive discussion at the Synod meeting.
  • Final grades for this past semester are due before June 8th. Please pray for the faculty as they finalize their marking and assessments of the students in their class, and for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she processes the final reporting to the students.
Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15
  • As we quickly move toward the end of our fiscal year this month, we would ask that you would prayerfully consider sending in your financial support if you have not already done so. We are so grateful for the continued and generous giving of our support community and we pray God’s blessing on each one.
  • CPRSE continues to build on the “Currents in Reformational Thought” series, featuring the contributions of our current and emeriti faculty to our scholarly tradition. Currently, the CPRSE team is working on the final editing stages of a forthcoming festschrift celebrating the work of Lamber Zuidervaart. Please pray for those involved in editing, producing, and publishing this important series.
  • The month of June is busy for faculty as they get caught up on their supervising and mentoring responsibilities and begin to prepare for the new academic year in the fall. Pray for the space and energy in their lives to work with the students in this important way.

Monday, June 18 - Friday, June 22
  • Please pray today (Monday) for our Leadership Team as we meet with representatives of the teacher and principal associations of the Christian dayschool movement here in Ontario, discussing the development of an MA in Leadership that is designed to serve in-service teachers and principals who wish to go to the next level in their leadership journey.
  • In collaboration with the Centre for Community Based Research, our CPRSE continues to lead a number of initiatives promoting partnerships between faith-based groups and government organizations involved in immigrant settlement. This is an outcome of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funded research collaboration “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success.” We pray in thanksgiving for the numerous contributions of this research project to the development of faith and settlement partnerships across Canada.
  • We give thanks for the productive board and senate meetings that took place on May 11th. Please continue to pray for the Leadership Team, Board of Trustees, and Senate as they work together to fulfill the mission and vision of ICS in its key role in Christian higher education.

Monday, June 25 - Friday, June 29
  • As the end of the fiscal year is upon us, we ask God for strength and encouragement for Harley Dekker, our Director of Finance and Administration. There is much to do at this time of year, such as preparation for the year end financial audit, getting the books in order for the new budget year, and preparing for the start of the academic year in September.
  • Please pray for the students and program instructors who will be participating in this year’s Art in Orvieto summer program in Orvieto, Italy from July 15 to August 4. Please pray that the organization of the many logistical details for this unique learning opportunity will go smoothly, and for safety for all those travelling.
  • Pray for the students who have been accepted into programs for this fall, as well as for those who are still undecided. We ask God to bless them with wisdom as they discern this important step in their life, and pray that God will provide the necessary funding for study and life in Toronto.