Wednesday, 28 September 2016

ICS Library Catalogue in New Home

The ICS Library Catalogue is now enjoying its new home at This upgrade from the previous Inmagic based catalogue gives the ICS library a new and better search system, permanent URLs and worldwide discovery. Additionally, it also converts our library catalogue into a standard data format, protecting our cataloguing efforts from obsolescence for years to come, and it obviates the need to maintain an in-house catalogue and web server.

The new catalogue is now live and accessible from our library website at

Monday, 26 September 2016

Richard Middleton in Australia and Canada

ICS Alumnus Richard Middleton will be in Australia for a month (mid-September through mid-October) as Visiting Theologian-in-Residence, first at St. Barnabas’ Theological College in Adelaide and then at St. Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra, both member schools of Charles Sturt University.

In Adelaide he will present a paper on the Aqedah (Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice his son in Genesis 22) at a symposium on “Lament in Scripture and Life” (with ten other biblical scholars). In Canberra he will present a paper on the imago Dei and suffering in the book of Job, at a Biblical Seminar (with seven other biblical scholars).

On returning from Australia, he will give the J. J. Theissen Lectures (three lectures on suffering and lament) at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.

These presentations are all related to research for a book Richard is working on, tentatively called The Silence of Abraham, The Passion of Job: Explorations in the Theology of Lament (to be published by Baker Academic).

Friday, 23 September 2016

Rebekah Smick and Mystical Landscapes

Senior Member Rebekah Smick, with other faculty from the Toronto School of Theology, is helping curate Mystical Landscapes at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Oct 22-Jan 29). This exhibition features paintings from such masters as Monet, Van Gogh, and Gauguin. Eminent Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has accepted Rebekah's invitation to speak on the evening of November 30 at the AGO. We are also hoping to have him speak to the ICS/TST community while he is in Toronto.

For more information about this exhibition, visit

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Prayer Letter: October 2016

Monday, October 3:  On Friday we sadly bade farewell to Daryl Kinsman, our Manager of Information Technology and Communications, who has made an inestimable contribution to the mission of ICS for seventeen years. We give thanks to Daryl and to God for his service, and pray blessings on Daryl and Teresa. Daryl has graciously offered to step in from time to time on a voluntary basis, for which we are immensely grateful.

Tuesday, October 4:  Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis shares the wonderful news that his wife Arvilla's six months of treatments have been most successful. The cancer is no longer detectable. Hallelujah! We want to thank all of you for your support and prayers. Join us in a prayer of gratitude.”

Wednesday, October 5:  Please pray for success in our protracted negotiations with the receiver around the sale of our building. This is crucial for our ongoing mission.

Thursday, October 6:  Representatives of Redeemer, Tyndale, Edifide and ICS meet by conference call this afternoon to plan market research into the viability of our collaborative MA in (Educational) Leadership. We implore the Holy Spirit to guide the meeting and that those participating will have ears to hear. May this project be a blessing to those who lead in Christian schools, in whatever capacity, and to the students and families they serve.

Friday, October 7:  We give praise to God for leading us to the sources of funding we need at this time, and are grateful indeed to those who have provided us with these resources. Pray for continued wisdom as we carefully steward these resources during this critical period.

Monday, October 10:  Thanksgiving Day/Jour de l'action de grâce (Canada): We give thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for our daily sustenance in more ways than we can count. In the present context, we specifically give thanks for his gracious call to serve him in higher education and the means he provides to enable us in this glorious task.

Tuesday, October 11:  We praise God for the significant interest shown by different congregations and other ministry organizations in the first course offering, Vocational Wayfinding, in our new Wayfinding MWS. To provide more flexibility for those congregations who are just getting started in their fall discipleship training, we are offering a series of start dates for Module 1 of this course later this month and into the first two weeks of November. Once again, we ask for prayer as the administrative and teaching logistics are worked through to provide the best learning experience for these small groups.

Wednesday, October 12:  This afternoon, the Friends of ICS Board will meet, with a few members gathering in Grand Rapids and others joining by conference call. In the afternoon, the Educational Policy Committee will meet to review course proposals and other matters related to our academic program. Please uphold these important meetings in your prayers.

Thursday, October 13:  Please pray for the health and well-being of the children we welcomed recently and joyfully to our community: Akito, son of Junior Member Joe Kirby and Nanako; Joshua, son of Junior Member Timothy Skulstad-Brown and Lara; Rowan, son of Junior Member Josh Harris and Sarah; Addie, daughter of registrar Jeff Hocking and Angie; and Theo, son of former Senior Member Shannon Hoff and John.

Friday, October 14:  Our Senior Members are at the core of our mission. Their teaching and research and their close engagement with and care for Junior Members bring them great joy. At the same time, they bear a great weight of responsibility. May God graciously encourage and refresh them in their vocation at ICS.

Saturday, October 15:  Today Gideon Strauss and Pat Webb represent ICS at the CRC Day of Encouragement. We are looking forward to the opportunity to meet and build relationships with the ministry leaders and members of our supporting churches. Pray that we might be a source of encouragement and equipping for service through our conversations and in the chatroom dedicated to Vocational Wayfinding.

Monday, October 17:  Our negotiations for a lease on space in 229 College continue. Please pray for an acceptable rate and timely outcome. Given the difficulties we are experiencing, however, it is prudent for us to explore other options, just in case. Please support Harley Dekker and Doug Blomberg as they investigate opportunities not too far from our present location and at an affordable rate.

Tuesday, October 18:  Together we uphold our administrative staff - Vidya Williams (Manager of Donor Relations), Jeff Hocking (Registrar), Harley Dekker (Manager of Finance) and Kathy Lynch (Administrative Assistant) - in their essential and demanding responsibilities.

Wednesday, October 19:  Academic Council meets today at 1:45 p.m. The agenda is not available at the time of writing, but we ask that their deliberations be guided by the Holy Spirit, as they consider the recommendations brought to them by Council’s several committees.

Thursday, October 20:  President Doug Blomberg obviously carries a range of responsibilities. We entreat our Lord Jesus to guide and sustain him through often taxing times.

Friday, October 21:  The Mystical Landscapes exhibition, co-curated by Senior Member Rebekah Smick, opens tomorrow at the Art Gallery of Ontario (see “News” on our website). We pray this will evoke deepened understanding of creation’s meaning, in the works of God’s hands and the hands of God’s image-bearers.

Monday, October 24:  Please uphold the Board of Trustees in their oversight of the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they head towards the AGM and Board meetings on November 11 and 12 respectively. Four new trustees will be elected; may our Lord lead the right people to join the Board in this vital leadership capacity.

Tuesday, October 25:  We are ever dependent on the generous support of our many donors. We praise God for gathering his people in commitment to our shared vision. We are very grateful and give thanks to our faithful supporters who partner with us prayerfully and financially.

Wednesday, October 26:  If Senior Members are at the core of our mission, this mission focuses in great part on our Junior Members, who are the very raison d’être for teaching! We are thankful for each and every one the Lord has brought to us. We pray for their growth in authentically Christian scholarship, that they may be fully prepared as ambassadors for Christ in the academy.

Thursday, October 27:  Please pray for Dr. Gideon Strauss, Associate Professor of Worldview Studies as he, along with Pat Webb, attend the October Convention of Edifide. On Friday morning, Gideon will be presenting a workshop on Vocational Wayfinding, designed to introduce participants to frameworks, tools, and resources with which to navigate the work-life journey and with which to help others (in particular senior level high school students) prepare for their work-life journey. We ask for strength and energy for Gideon and Pat as they make connections and represent the work of ICS.

Friday, October 28:  We give thanks to our Lord for Senior Member and Academic Dean Bob Sweetman’s faithful and tireless service these 25 years. We also celebrate the publication of his new book tonight. May this time be a blessing for those who are present and for all who will “take up and read.”

Monday, October 31:  Reformation Day/La Fête de la Réformation:  Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses traditionally marks the beginning of the Reformation in 1517. We give thanks for his life and for the way in which Luther was used to bring Scripture once more to the forefront in the Christian Church. We pray that we may be faithful in our pursuit of “the inner biblical reformation of scholarship”.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

New Book on the Character of Christian Scholarship by Bob Sweetman

ICS is pleased to announce the publication of Tracing the Lines: Spiritual Exercise and the Gesture of Christian Scholarship by Bob Sweetman, ICS' H. Evan Runner Chair in the History of Philosophy. This book is the first in a new series incubated at ICS' Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics, entitled Currents in Reformational Thought. Tracing the Lines explores what Christian scholarship is and should be, with an eye to locating historical resonances with the rich varied tradition of two thousand years of Christian scholarship. Locating his own thought within the reformational intellectual tradition, Bob shows how a variety of historical streams of Christian thought have all contributed to informing a contemporary understanding of Christian scholarship. In the end, he offers an understanding of Christian scholarship as scholarship attuned to the shape of our Christian hearts.

Stay tuned for the announcement of a Toronto book launch event!

Purchase the book at Wipf and Stock.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Doug Blomberg's chapter in Diversity and Intersectionality

ICS president and senior member in education Doug Blomberg has contributed a chapter to Diversity and Intersectionality: Studies in Religion, Education and Values (editors Jeff Astley and Leslie J. Francis). ​Doug's paper was selected from hundreds presented at the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values Conference in 2014. In "Will/ing Acceptance of Others", Doug explores the significance of the Biblical-Augustinian concept of will (and thus, freedom in decision-making) in nurturing students' openness ​to others.

The will is sadly ignored, even in Christian circles, in favour of a polarity between thinking and feeling. This significantly impacts the way schooling is practised. Posing complex problems and encouraging students to consider their responses in light of their deepest convictions enables them to discipline their thoughts and feelings towards inclusiveness and other vital values. Nurturing critical awareness of core commitments and decisions in accord with these supports education with true depth, going to the heart of people's lives.

This is the understanding of religious convictions and their outcomes we aim to foster at ICS. To find out more about this book please visit