Monday 16 September 2013

Alumnus Update: Drew Van’t Land at Trinity Christian College

Congratulations to Junior Member Drew Van’t Land who has begun a position as adjunct professor for the Philosophy department at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights IL. Drew will be teaching two introductory courses: PHIL 101 is a training course in Reformational worldview analysis and the history of philosophy, while PHIL 102 is an application of Reformational worldview analysis to the economic mode of human life.

Drew successfully defended his MA thesis on 21 Aug 2013. The title of his thesis is "The Rhetorical Roots of Radical Orthodoxy: Augustinian Oratory and Ontology in Milbank’s Theopo(e/li)tics" His Senior Member Mentor was Bob Sweetman. Drew will graduate with his MA at Convocation on Saturday, May 10, 2014.

ICS Doctoral Candidate Joe Kirby Published

Junior Member Joe Kirby has been published in the Journal of Evolution and Technology published by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. His paper is titled "Toward an Ecological and Cosmonautical Philosophy."  Read Joe's paper at

Tuesday 3 September 2013

ICS offers MWS in Urban Ministry

MWS in Urban Ministry, 2014 cohort in Central America. Tell others — we have plans for starting a pilot of our emerging MWS in Urban Ministry in January in Central America. You might know someone who could make a difference in the world through this opportunity to learn and serve. See the MWS in Urban Ministry page for details and the printable brochure.

Applications will be accepted until September 30.


This article was originally published in Christian Courier, Issue 2963, June 24, 2013.

On March 13, my wife and I were driving from Western Michigan back to Canada via the Blue Water Bridge at Sarnia listening to the news of the election of the new Pope on the radio. We heard that the white smoke had ascended, and we waited for the announcement. As the commentators were filling the time of waiting, one noted that “pontiff” means “bridge maker.” How ironic, we mused, as we crossed the bridge into Canada at that moment.

We arrived at our friend’s condo in Sarnia just as the new pontiff was announced. He’s the first pope Francis, named after the saint who was called to rebuild the church through a ministry to the poor. This is a wonderful symbolic emphasis for the first Western and Southern Hemisphere pontiff. May he be a bridge builder.

A Google search reveals that the word “pontiff” is related to a variety of leaders. Priests, leading powerful Romans, and, ultimately, the Emperor were referred to as pontiffs. Some object to this word and its priestly idea. While the image may be misconstrued, we can all benefit from the concept of being bridge builders, or pontiffs.

Between churches
With whom do we need to construct spans? Earlier on our bridge crossing day, an Institute of Christian Studies graduate and supporter told us about his work with many Catholic leaders in Southeast Michigan. How long, he wondered, does our church need to continue “protesting”? What an intriguing question. Is it helpful to continue to call one segment of the church the “Protestant” church? What bridges need to be built among churches?

We have a long history of protest. The Wolthuis side of my family comes from Ulrum in the Netherlands. They were church organists in the church where the Afshceiding, the 1834 church split often considered the forerunner of the Christian Reformed Church, began. Another side of my family, the Ditmars, were part of the “Remonstrants.” My grandparents’ church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was for a while the Protesting Christian Reformed Church. Within the family of Dutch Reformed churches in North America there are over 20 different denominations. How long to do we keep protesting?

Many see “protest” as negative, just another way of complaining. At its root “to protest” is to “to declare publicly, to testify.” It is to speak against injustice on behalf of the oppressed and powerless. Too often, however, we build barriers, not bridges, in our protest.

A passion for justice aroused in the 1960s led people to attempt a march across a bridge in Selma, Alabama because they believed that black and white people could live and serve God better without mandated racial divides. The bridge walkers sang “We Shall Overcome” the disparities, the injustices, the persecutions and the heartbreak-- not in our own strength, but through God who loves us and wants us to love each other.

Like many Canadian Christian schools, ICS was birthed during the protest era of the 1960s. We seek to build a bridge between the Christian community and the academic world. We protest against the idea of a neutral secular education on one side and an isolated church on the other. We are ambassadors of the love of God to the academic world and of the world of learning to the Christian community.

Bridging the gaps
We find enormous differences and disagreements in today’s society, within churches and within families, but does it have to lead to division and conflict? Can our bridge building skills be turned to connect with others, rather than developing internal walls? Can our bridge construction become a testimony of grace and hope?

Since I am from Michigan, my vision is shaped by bridges. There is the strange ongoing story of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. I also think of the story of the daring building of the Mackinaw Bridge. Ah, to be a bridge builder who risks the winds, who longs for a connection to the other shore, who hopes for safety for all the workers, who holds on to the new ironwork to put it in its proper place.

I believe in one holy catholic church. I am excited about a new pontiff who seeks to bring the church back to the needs of the poor, the disenfranchised and the creation. Blessings to the new pontiff as he heads his construction crew. I want us to be bridge builders, too. Read John 17:20-23 and Ephesians 2:14-22.

To whom do you passionately and daringly seek to build a bridge?

Tom Wolthuis, President

Back to School Magic - Presidential Musing by Dawn

Hey, it is back to school time. Our granddaughter just started Kindergarten. Our niece just started college. We are starting the academic year at ICS for the first time. Excitement is in the air. It’s magic!

I learned from a classmate in grade school that “magic” might be a bad word. It was not a bad word in my house growing up. Magic can be smart, playful, fun, and imaginative. Although I knew of “black magic” and now know of the use of the term “magic” when talking about the casting of spells, we did not use the term that way. I did not hear of “magic” possibly being a bad word again until some years later as a pastor’s wife. If I had the gifts and skills of a stand-up comedian, with any “luck” I would dare to write about the seven words that pastors’ wives should not say, including “magic.” After all, there are passages such as Revelation 9:21 “Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, …” While there might be some people who use the term this way today, this is not what I mean when talking about a magic act.

I recently enjoyed watching a magic act at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). Magic is often well-crafted, clever, and entertaining. It works playfully with God’s structures in the world. It can bring joy to people.

ICS is a magical place for students and scholars to discuss important topics openly. Some words might be smarter to use than others, of course, but there is no list of topics that are off-limits.

We welcome both new and returning graduate students. We hope and pray for a wonderful learning experience for all. They will read, write, and discuss many important topics this academic year, along with a few that are much more playful, I trust. They will do so in a community of trust, where they are free to speak, free to laugh, free to think, free to engage, free to learn, free to imagine. Let’s have a magical year.

The New Fall Semester Begins at ICS!

This month marks the beginning of the new fall semester at ICS.

There are five courses starting next week:

Biblical Foundations with Dr. Nik Ansell
Theories of Language and Interpretation: Gadamer, Kristeva, and Searle with Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart
Religion, Life and Society: Reformational Philosophy with Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart
Wittgenstein: Language and the Philosophy of Religion with Dr. Ron Kuipers
Facing the Darkness: The (Human) Nature of Evil with Dr. Nik Ansell

Two distance courses are offered this semester:

Curriculum: Organising the World for Learning with Dr. Doug Blomberg
Creative Communication: Culture, Art and Politics with Dr. Allyson Carr

For all course descriptions and timetables, please visit

The Outrageous Claim of Psalm-Inspired Worship

Toronto area readers mark your calendars: There will be a Psalms Conference on September 21 at Willowdale CRC, 70 Hilda Avenue, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring talks by ICS professor emeritus Calvin Seerveld and Eelco Vos from The Psalm Project.

Following the conference, all are invited to a free concert by The Psalm Project at St. George on Yonge at 5:30 pm.

See the poster below for all the details. Tickets can be purchased in advance at or at the door.

Prayer Letter: September 2013

Monday, September 2: We pray for guidance and energy for all those participating in the Registration and Orientation Week and the annual ICS Community Fall Retreat later this week.

Tuesday, September 3: This is Registration Day for our returning Junior Members. We pray for safe travel for all new and returning Junior Members who are coming to study at ICS this fall. As the students arrive, we ask God to help with energy and flexibility for their back-to-school transition.

Wednesday, September 4: Today is ICS's Community Fall Retreat. This event has traditionally served as a wonderful start to another year of our life together at ICS and we pray that this year will be no exception.

Thursday, September 5: Today is Registration Day for our eight new Junior Members. We offer prayers of thanks for the addition of eight new Junior Members to the ICS community this fall. Please continue to remember them in your prayers as they make the final preparations and transitions this summer in order to begin their program studies here next week.

Friday, September 6: We thank God for all of our Junior Members and ask God to bless them as they begin another year of studies at ICS.

Monday, September 9: The first week of classes begins today! The first course of the new academic year starts today: "Biblical Foundations" with Senior Member Nik Ansell. We ask for God's blessing on all the course participants.
Senior Member Bob Sweetman begins radiation treatments today. Please pray for strength, patience and for good results from this treatment.

Tuesday, September 10: Today is the first class of the new course “Theories of Language and Interpretation: Gadamer, Kristeva, and Searle” with Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart. We offer prayers for God's blessing on all the course participants.

Wednesday, September 11: Today is the first day of the new course “Religion, Life and Society: Reformational Philosophy” with Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart. We pray for God's blessing on all the course participants.
Today the new Junior Members will be visiting the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto Library. We pray for an informative experience for all the participants.

Thursday, September 12: Today the new course “Wittgenstein: Language and the Philosophy of Religion” with Dr. Ron Kuipers begins.

Friday, September 13: Today is the first day of the new course “Facing the Darkness: The (Human) Nature of Evil” with Dr. Nik Ansell. We ask God to bless all the participants.

Monday, September 16: Two distance education courses begin this week: “Curriculum: Organising the World for Learning” with Dr. Doug Blomberg and “Creative Communication: Culture, Art and Politics” with Dr. Allyson Carr. We pray to God to bless all the course participants.

Tuesday, September 17: We offer prayers of thanks for the many people who have presented ICS with gifts of prayer, money, and expressions of appreciation, especially throughout these quiet summer months. We are blessed with your interest and support.

Wednesday, September 18: Today is the first Academic Council meeting of the 2013-2014 academic year. We pray for God's wisdom to guide the discussions and decisions at this meeting.

Thursday, September 19: We ask God's help and guidance for all those who are doing advancement work for ICS. Please pray that support for the vision and mission of ICS continues to grow.

Friday, September 20: Please pray for the ICS Board recruitment process, that committed and able candidates for Board vacancies will be offered to the ICS membership for approval this fall.

Saturday, September 21: Today Cal Seerveld will be speaking at a workshop at Willowdale CRC in Toronto. We ask for blessings for all the participants.

Monday, September 23: We pray for blessings for the Friends of ICS Board and all those who are doing advancement work in the US.

Tuesday, September 24: We continue to pray for blessings and energy for ICS Presidents, Tom and Dawn Wolthuis, as they manage their many responsibilities.

Wednesday, September 25: Today is the first Faculty meeting of the 2012-2013 academic year. We pray for God's wisdom to guide this meeting.

Thursday, September 26: We pray for stamina and wisdom for Senior Member Doug Blomberg as he continues in his role as Academic Dean.

Friday, September 27: We ask God to bless Senior Member Ron Kuipers as he continues his work as Director of our Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics.

Monday, September 30: We pray for energy and enthusiasm for those who are involved in planning the upcoming issue of Perspective.