Friday, 16 June 2017

Video Now Available: Philosophy, Truth, and the Wisdom of Love

2017 Convocation Address by Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, ICS

• Watch the Video on Youtube

Are we now in a "post-truth" era, as the Oxford Dictionaries seemed to suggest when choosing that phrase as the International Word of the Year in 2016? Are appeals to emotion and personal opinions really replacing factual truth? Has truth become irrelevant? Tracing our Western conception of truth to its pre-Socratic origin as a godlike search for that which is uncreated and indestructible, Lambert says a philosophy in line with the Jewish and Christian wisdom traditions would see truth instead as a way of life, as something we do rather than merely assert.

The importance of this endeavour is readily apparent in these times of "alternative facts" and "fake news". A conception of truth rooted in what is good rather than mere theoretical immutability would help us work together to live in the truth, indeed in faithfulness, rather than taking uncertainty as our cue to discard the possibility of truth altogether. But what then of our longtime servant "factual truth"? In this inspiring and intriguing address, Lambert displays the biblical underpinnings for his ongoing work on a new theory of factual truth, within a broader conception of truth that we may summarise as the call to love God above all, and our neighbours as ourselves.

Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School

ICS is happy to announce the publication of another book by Professor Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart, titled Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School: Critical Retrieval. Published by the MIT Press, the book is dedicated to Merold Westphal, a leading Christian scholar in continental philosophy, and to the memory of Johan van der Hoeven, Lambert’s PhD supervisor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In this new book, Dr. Zuidervaart takes up the most important writings and authors in recent German philosophy in order to propose a new and comprehensive idea of truth. The book has received strong endorsements from scholars in the field. They say it “adroitly moves beyond the sterile isolation” between continental and analytic philosophy (Daniel Dahlstrom) and “takes important steps toward … a more comprehensive conception, in which truth, intersecting with goodness, calls for societal transformation” (Maeve Cooke). They also describe the book as “meticulously researched and elegantly written” (James Gordon Finlayson) and as a “timely must-read for anyone interested in truth” (Barbara Fultner). For more details about this path-breaking book, be sure to visit the publisher’s website.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Art, Education, and Cultural Renewal

Professor Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart has published a new collection of essays titled Art, Education, and Cultural Renewal: Essays in Reformational Philosophy (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017). The book is a companion volume to Religion, Truth, and Social Transformation, published last spring and featured in a symposium on ICS’s Ground Motive blog. In the new book, which is dedicated to Calvin Seerveld, Lambert presents a socially engaged philosophy of the arts and higher education, in interaction with leading Kuyperian thinkers such as Seerveld and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Publication of the book was made possible in part by grants from the Priscilla and Stanford Reid Trust and the Andreas Center at Dordt College. For more details about this intriguing book, be sure to visit the publisher’s website.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Prayer Letter: June 2017

Thursday, June 1:  Bob Sweetman is leading the Aquinas Studium this year held at Regis College 29 May to 1 June. He is also giving the Keynote Lecture entitled "Gratitude and the Movement of Being Outward" at this event. Join us in asking God for a rich and edifying experience for all who attend this week-long seminar.

Friday, June 2:  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 Jeff Hocking as he processes the final reporting to the students.

Monday, June 5:  There will be a workshop on Bob Sweetman’s latest book, Tracing the Lines: Spiritual Exercise and the Gesture of Christian Scholarship, at the 3rd Biennial Regional Conference of the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education held at Calvin College 4-6 June. We pray that those who attend this workshop will enjoy stimulating discussion around improving Christian higher education internationally.

Tuesday, June 6:  We give thanks that at the board meetings last month the 2017-18 budget was approved. Pray for continued discernment for all the staff as we put our plans into action within the necessary confines of the budget.

Wednesday, June 7:  As we move quickly 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.

Thursday, June 8:  Please pray for Bob Sweetman today as he performs his duties as an examiner for the Centre for Medieval Studies of the University of Toronto of Peter O'Hagan’s PhD thesis entitled "Teaching the Tradition: Twelfth-Century Scholastic Commentaries on Paul's Letter to the Romans" (Alexander Andrée supervisor) .

Friday, June 9:  Tomorrow Doug Blomberg heads out for a much-deserved week’s holidays. Pray that he and Heather will enjoy a wonderful time of rest and relaxation and will return to us refreshed. We give thanks for Doug’s ministry these many years, and particularly at this time for his faithful service as President since 2014.

Monday, June 12:  We are pleased to report that we have a part-time librarian joining us. We welcome Hilary Barlow, Associate Contract Librarian to the ICS community and please join us in prayer for her as she begins her time with us.

Tuesday, June 13:  We still have a few vacancies on the Board of Trustees that need to be filled, in particular Central Ontario. We are grateful for the people who stepped up for this responsibility in January. The Board tends our vision and mission, as well as fiduciary responsibilities to ensure godly stewardship of our finances. We would welcome someone with business acumen to help support this important area.

Wednesday, June 14:  We continue to be grateful for the productive discussions around the prospective partnering with The King’s University. We were pleased to have President Melanie Humphreys join us at our board meetings in May so that our talks could continue in person. Pray for God’s continued grace and wisdom in future negotiations and the ensuing planning.

Thursday, June 15:  Luke Seerveld, FICS Board member and son of Cal and Ines, will be in Toronto until the 24th, videoing interviews with several people involved significantly with ICS over the past fifty years. This production will be a centrepiece of our Jubilee celebrations in the fall. We give thanks for his gifts and contribution, and pray for him in the demanding schedule he has voluntarily proposed. We ask for prayers also for all the FICS Board, and give thanks to our Lord for them and for our many faithful supporters in the US.

Friday, June 16:  This weekend “Art in Orvieto,” an ICS four-week residency seminar and workshop program for writers, artists and graduate students interested in exploring the relationship between art, religion and theology, begins in this hill-top Italian city. Twelve students, including two of our own MA students, and a number from the US, will be attending this event. Pray for safety for the participants and leaders in their travels to Italy as well as during the program, and that this unique educational opportunity will bring rich insight and creativity to their studies.

Monday, June 19:  We continue in our search for alternative accommodation for ICS should we need to move now that the sale of our share of the building has been completed. This process is quite labour intensive and brings with it a fair amount of anxiety around the complexities of moving and the need to find an acceptable new home. Pray that God will give wisdom to Harley and Doug in particular as we work toward a solution and peace to each one involved as we look to the future.

Tuesday, June 20:  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.

Wednesday, June 21:  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.

Thursday, June 22:  A Community Based Research conference, entitled “Engaging Communities through Research” will take place in November at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo. Pray for Ron Kuipers this month as he participates in the planning for this event, and for his significant participation at the conference as a panelist and workshop leader.

Friday, June 23:  Please pray for wisdom as we seek qualified advisors and appropriate vehicles for investing the proceeds of the sale of our interest in 229 College, so that we may build a more solid financial basis for our ongoing mission.

Monday, June 26:  Dean Dettloff, a PhD student entering his third year at ICS, is also Toronto correspondent for America: The Jesuit Review magazine. His provocative articles which examine current issues in politics and society are published regularly and can be found online at Pray for Dean as he continues this important ministry to the community alongside his busy study program and contribution to ICS as a Junior Member.

Tuesday, June 27:  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.

Wednesday, June 28:  Today Bob Sweetman and Rosanne Lopers-Sweetman are travelling to Tanzania to be with their daughter Adrienne and her husband Kashu Nengereki as they look forward to the birth of a baby boy, Bob and Rosanne's first grandchild. Please pray for safe travels for Bob and Rosanne and for a joyous time together as a family, celebrating this very special occasion. May Adrienne and Kashu and their new baby be surrounded by God’s love and protection at this time.

Thursday, June 29:  This month we have been trying to finalize working relationships with a number of local Christian organizations who want to use our Wayfinding program in their professional development programs. Please continue to pray for Gideon Strauss, Bob Sweetman, and Pat Webb as they work to develop customized programming and delivery methods for these groups.

Friday, June 30:  Doug Blomberg arrived two weeks early, this day in 1951. His accountant father was grateful, as there were end-of-fiscal-year tax benefits! (Both his father and mother were grateful in many other ways, too, of course.) Pray for him as he prepares for a transition to another phase of life, especially as he gives much attention to preparations for our upcoming 50th Anniversary.

Monday, 8 May 2017

ICS Convocation May 12

ICS will be holding its annual convocation on May 12 at 7pm at Regis College (100 Wellesley St W). We will be celebrating with seven graduates and Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart, who will be giving his exaugural address. Please join us as you are able. If you have any questions about the event, please contact our Registrar, Jeffrey Hocking (

Monday, 1 May 2017

Announcement re sale of shares in 229 College

It has been almost a year since the decision to sell the ICS minority shares in 229 College Street was taken by the Board. Now, after many months of false starts, dialogue and negotiations, we announce that the sale was finally completed on Monday, April 24th to an independent developer.
The successful sale of our minority share in 229 College is a major factor in positioning ICS within a sustainable financial future. The proceeds received from the sale will be invested in an endowment which will provide the annual income needed to protect our capacity in the long-term to deliver on our mission. We believe this new endowment is the most prudent way to utilise a gift, given many years ago by faithful supporters, to sustain ICS into the future.
This sale comes at a critical time in our discussions with The King’s University on what our joint venture will look like and provides ICS with a stronger financial base from which to play its part.

We know that many involved with ICS have a deep attachment to 229 College Street as it has been home to ICS for more than 40 years. However, we trust that you will join with us in giving thanks to God for this amazing provision and for our faithful supporters whose steadfast generosity has made all this possible.

John Valk
Chair, ICS Board of Trustees

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Alumnus Adam Smith accepts position in Iowa

ICS alumnus (2006) Adam Smith has just accepted a faculty position, after finishing a PhD in Politics at Brandeis. This fall he will be starting as Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Dubuque, in Iowa.

Adam Smith in Iowa

ICS alumnus Adam Smith (2006) has just accepted a faculty position, after finishing his PhD in Politics at Brandeis. This fall he will be starting as Assistant Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Dubuque, in Iowa.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Richard Middleton Speaking Tour

ICS Alumnus Richard Middleton will be in the UK from April 20 through May 4, speaking at a variety of venues (at least ten), all organized by the the reformational organization called Thinking Faith Network, in Leeds (previously known as WYSOCS). One of the venues (St. Andrews) will be hosted by Tom Wright, and one at the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge by Jonathan Chaplin. Richard's speaking schedule is available online.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Mark Novak Presenting Papers

Junior Member Mark Novak will be very busy presenting papers this spring!

On April 20 he will be presenting a paper titled "Metaxologizing Our God-Talk: Desmond, Kearney, and the Divine Between" at the Symposium on work of William Desmond at KU Leuven (Belgium).

On May 13 he will present a paper titled "Eschatological Erotic Enfleshment: Incarnation as Nuptial Nexus of Human and Divine"at the Graduate Conference on "Unravelling Religion" at Queens University (Kingston).

On May 30, he will present a paper titled: “‘Yes, yes’ with/out ‘No, no’: Understanding (apparent) Equivocation in Derrida” at the Canadian Theological Society annual meeting at Ryerson University (Toronto).

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Prayer Letter: May 2017

Monday, May 1:  We give thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ for the sale of our shares in 229 College Street a week ago today. It was a very difficult step for the Board to take, and we give thanks also for their leadership in the many governance issues they deal with.

Tuesday, May 2:  The Finance Committee will be finalising the draft budget this week, for consideration by the Board when it meets in Toronto on May 11. Please uphold the members of this committee in prayer: Ken Van Wyk (Chair), Samir Gassanov, Dan Jack, John Valk, Harley Dekker and Doug Blomberg.

Wednesday, May 3:  Last week we completed interviews with a number of applicants for the Library Services Associate position, and conversations with referees are taking place. As we seek to finalise this appointment, we ask you to pray for discernment, and that the person whom we invite will be willing to accept the call.

Thursday, May 4:  Preparations are underway for the ICS annual phonathon coming up next week. Pray for all of us in advancement that the work of preparing the information and materials needed for this important event will go smoothly.

Friday, May 5:   Next week, the ICS Senate and Board will meet in Toronto. Please pray for them as they study the materials distributed in preparation for these meetings, and for safety in their travels to and from, however short or long these trips will be.

Monday, May 8:  Today is the first of two days in the Whole Society Conference in Ottawa. Please pray that this significant gathering will be a blessing for all involved, and uphold especially Ron Kuipers, who is a member of the planning committee.

Tuesday, May 9:  As we continue in our discussions with The King’s University around our merger, may we implore our loving Creator, Redeemer and Counsellor to lead us on a path to the celebration of God’s glory in higher education.

Wednesday, May 10:  Please pray for our Junior Members as they wrap up their course papers, with some also working on their theses. It is an intensive period, with diligence and focus required. May the Holy Spirit guide them as they develop their insights.

Thursday, May 11:  Senate convenes at 9:00 a.m, under the leadership of Chair (and ICS Chancellor) Dr. John Kok. Please pray for John and the external and internal senators as they deliberate on the range of issues the agenda comprises concerning ICS academic programs.

Friday, May 12:  The ICS Board of Trustees meets today and tomorrow morning. Every meeting of the Board is significant for the often weighty matters it has to consider in formulating and overseeing policy directions. At this meeting, the projected merger with King’s will naturally be a major item, as also the budget will be. We ask our Lord to grant them wisdom as they “reason together”, with God in their midst.

Tonight the ICS community gathers as it is able for our annual Convocation. Here we give thanks to God for sustaining and guiding us in our mission, and for the achievements of our graduating Junior Members. May we celebrate with gratitude the diligence and insights these graduands have demonstrated these past years, and pray for them in the callings to which they are called. We pray also for Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart, as he presents his “Exaugural” (an ICS coining, it seems), and thank God for his inestimable contribution to our mission.

Saturday, May 13:  Please continue to hold the Board in your thoughts and prayers this morning, as it concludes its deliberations and many depart for home in the afternoon.

Monday, May 15:  In the wake of last week’s meetings, there are many matters for the administration and faculty to consider and implement. Appropriately, the Leadership Team meets this morning. We ask God to give wisdom, as the Apostle James encourages us to do.

Tuesday, May 16:  From today until Friday, the Undergraduate Workshop organised by Junior Members Joshua Harris and Héctor Acero-Ferrer will be held at Scarboro Missions. Please pray that the nine presenters from Canada and the US will enjoy valuable interaction with ICS Junior and Senior Members. We give thanks as well for the generous donor who has provided travel scholarships for students from the US, making it possible for them to participate.

Wednesday, May 17:  Planning for the upcoming Jubilee celebrations in the fall is underway! Please pray for all those who will be involved -- members of the board, staff, students and faculty at ICS, and the many volunteers in the different cities where the events will take place -- that God will grace each one with creativity and energy in their work.

Thursday, May 18:  The sale of our shares in the building brings with it concerns about the possibly imminent need to relocate, and to a more affordable site. Please pray that God will lead us to what we hope will be our new home and ask for His wisdom to be granted to those negotiating with potential lessors.

Friday, May 19:  We give thanks for last month’s film and spirituality conference (in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival and others) and the opportunities for community outreach it provided. Please pray also that the potential for this to be a recurring event will be realised over the coming years.

Tuesday, May 23:  Summer is often a time for vacations, but also a time for concerted attention to research and course planning by Senior Members. Many Junior Members too will have their heads down as they write MA theses and PhD dissertations, or prepare for their post-coursework comprehensive exams. We invite you to come before the throne of God to importune His guiding grace.

Wednesday, May 24:  Our small community in Toronto continues to grow, with more and more young children being carried, or crawling, walking or running around our campus. This is a joy for families and friends, but brings with it -- as all parents know -- challenges and pressures, including financial ones. Please pray the Lord will give them strength and provide their every need, as they sacrifice to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, May 25:  We want to take this opportunity to give thanks for our donors who have responded so faithfully to our phonathon. We are grateful for God’s provision to us through them and are inspired by their commitment to our mission.

Friday, May 26:  Our alumnae/i are spread far and wide, serving God and the world in many different callings. We invite you to pray for them, wherever they are, whatever they do -- and as alums, for one another.

Monday, May 29:  The Leadership Team will meet this morning. Please support them prayerfully in their deliberations.

Tuesday, May 30:  We ask you to join with us in thanking God for the service of Morris Greidanus (Chair), Peter Borgdorff (Secretary-Treasurer), and their colleagues on the Friends of ICS Board, and for all our many faithful supporters in the US. We invite you to pray for Luke Seerveld (also a FICS Board member) who has volunteered to interview significant figures in the history of ICS for a video marking our 50th year. It will be a demanding undertaking, but one Luke joyfully assumes!

Wednesday, May 31:  This last day of May means we have one month left to meet our donations target for this fiscal year. It is vitally important we achieve this goal as it obviously impacts our ability to balance our budget. Please pray that God will continue to provide for this real need through the help of our friends and supporters, as you consider your response to our phonathon appeal.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Opening Frames: Cinema and Transcendence

Opening Frames, our upcoming conference on spirituality and film (April 3-4 at the TIFF Lightbox), has garnered great media coverage, both locally and internationally! Toronto's Now Magazine published a story on the conference, and the Globe and Mail also published an extended piece in the Friday Film section of their March 31 edition. Here's a quote from John Semley's article in the Globe and Mail (p. R5):

"[Serious spiritual cinema is] a cinema of quietude; of slowness, stillness and devastating moments of subtle grace. It's the cinema of transcendence. And it's the subject of a two-day conference hosted in Toronto this weekend by the Institute for Christian Studies."

There are only a handful of spots left in this conference, so act fast and register if you want to attend!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bob Sweetman and Joshua Harris in Toronto

Senior Member Bob Sweetman will be presenting his paper "The Pastoral Uses and Limits of Mimesis: The Case of the Vita Lutgardis of Thomas of Cantimpré" on April 6 at The Medieval Academy of America's Annual Conference held this year at the University of Toronto.

Junior Member Joshua Lee Harris will be presenting his paper “Transcendentals in Medieval Philosophy: Worthless or Crucial?” at this conference on April 8.

For more information about this conference visit

Monday, 27 March 2017

Prayer Letter: April 2017

Monday, April 3:  Today and tomorrow we are holding our second CPRSE Art Talks! event this year: Opening Frames: Cinema and Transcendence (details on our main web page). Tonight, American film legend Paul Schrader is the keynote speaker. Pray that this conference will be a blessing to all those attending.

Tuesday, April 4:  Sadly, we have to report that Dianne Bergsma’s husband Jerry passed away on March 14, at the age of 80. Dianne thanks you for your prayerful support and acts of kindness during his illness. Please pray for her and her extended family in this time of grieving.

Wednesday, April 5:  
This afternoon the Educational Policy Committee meets, for what is the last scheduled meeting of the academic year, though other meetings will be convened if necessary. Please pray for this team as it conducts its important business.

Thursday, April 6:  The Medieval Academy of America is convening this year at the University of Toronto. Please pray for the success of this gathering, and for Bob Sweetman and Josh Harris as they present papers, today and Saturday respectively. (See News on our website.)

Friday, April 7:  It is hard to think how quickly the academic year passes! Another semester concluded this week. We give thanks for the wonderful Junior Members who are part of our community, and we pray for them as they wind up their course papers over the next few weeks. Tonight, as is customary, we gather to celebrate God’s goodness to all and God’s grace evidenced in one another. Praised be His Name!

Monday, April 10:  We give thanks for all those who have responded to our annual membership renewal mailing, for their continued faithfulness in support of Christian graduate education. Please also continue to pray for our new Board members as they take up their responsibilities in their various regions, and for our “at large” trustees also.

Tuesday, April 11:  We are anticipating the purchaser will close on the sale of our shares in 229 College Street next week. Please importune our gracious God that there will be no last minute impediments!

Wednesday, April 12:  Academic Council meets on a close to monthly basis. As with EPC, this is the last scheduled meeting of the academic year, and it will focus on finalising the agenda and supporting materials for the upcoming Senate meeting (May 11). Please pray that they will accomplish all that is needed in this busy time.

Thursday, April 13:  The Finance Committee is hard at work on the coming year’s budget. Please pray for them in their deliberations, that these will be suffused with the wisdom the Holy Spirit graciously affords.

Good Friday, April 14:  Today we remember in a more focused way what we remember constantly, as we take up the cross daily and follow Jesus. We praise Almighty God: our Heavenly Father, Who sent His Son to die for us; Jesus, Who surrendered His life in loving obedience to His Father; and the Holy Spirit, Who fulfils the promise to be with us, our constant companion and counsellor. And we look forward in anticipation to Easter Sunday, when we commemorate and celebrate, also in a highly focused way, Christ risen from the dead, breaking the bonds of sin and death. Hallelujah!

Monday, April 17:  We pray for the Friends of ICS Board in the United States, under the leadership of Morris Greidanus and Peter Borgdorff. We also give thanks for board member Luke Seerveld, who has once again volunteered his time and expertise to produce a video for ICS. This will feature a series of interviews with people who have contributed significantly to our vision and mission, some from almost the beginning, with an eye on our upcoming Jubilee celebrations later this year. Please pray for him as he finalises his schedule and prepares to visit with people in Sioux Center, Grand Rapids and Toronto. The project, with all the preparation required, will be demanding. May the Lord give him strength, and may the product redound to the glory of God!

Tuesday, April 18:  We want to pray this month for all those who will be participating in our annual phone-a-thon. We ask particularly for God’s blessing on our students as they talk with our friends and supporters across Canada and the US, that it might be an enriching and encouraging time of fellowship for all.

Wednesday, April 19:
  Faculty will be regretting that classes have finished for the year, but they will continue to be busy mentoring Junior Members and evaluating course papers. We give thanks to our Saviour for bringing them here to serve Him in their teaching and research. May He continue to uphold them and guide them in their scholarly vocation.

Thursday, April 20:  
We ask for your prayers as we draw closer to our Undergraduate Workshop mid-May, when selected students from colleges across North America will come to Toronto to present papers and receive substantive feedback from ICS Junior and Senior Members. Please pray that this unique opportunity is spiritually and academically edifying for all involved, especially the undergraduates, many of whom have never done anything like this before.

Friday, April 21:  We covet your prayers for all those with administrative roles at ICS, whether full- or part-time: Kathy, Jeff, Harley, Vidya, Pat, Doug, Bob and Ron. May our Lord bless and keep them as they serve in their vital tasks.

Monday, April 24:  
The “Our Whole Society” conference is coming up on May 8-9 in Ottawa, with the themes of Solidarity in Diversity, Reconciliation, and Immigration and Refugees. Pray for the final stages of preparation of this event, in which Ron Kuipers is heavily involved, and that this conference will be a blessing to all those attending and that it will foster peace and mutual understanding in Canadian society.

Tuesday, April 25:
  These days we are looking forward to the celebration of our 50th Anniversary in October and the celebrations that will take place to commemorate this milestone. Please pray along with us that God will provide the necessary support, both financially and people, that will be necessary for the planning and execution of the events in different cities in Canada and the US.

Wednesday, April 26:
  We give thanks to our Lord Jesus, for the prospective merger with The King’s University. As we continue to explore and negotiate this, we ask for your steadfast prayer support. The merging of colleges and universities is a growing phenomenon in the United States and elsewhere, and there is always much to consider in melding two institutions, their heritages, faculty and staff.

Thursday, April 27:
  We invited you three weeks ago to pray for Junior Members as they write their class papers and urge you to do so again, as they work hard to bring these to a form with which they are satisfied.

Friday, April 28:
  In two weeks, the Senate and Board meet again in Toronto. We give thanks for their service, and pray for safety as they travel from near and far. We pray also for the final preparations for Convocation at that time, on May 12.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Isabella Guthrie-McNaughton, Director of Library and Information Services

It is with real sadness that we say goodbye to Isabella Guthrie-McNaughton from her role as ICS’s Director of Library and Information Services. Isabella joined us in August 2004, after working at the Royal Ontario Museum for 24 years and also at Redeemer University College.

Isabella has been a highly valued colleague, an integral member of our community, these more than twelve years. She has been, and remains, fully committed to the vision and mission of ICS, bringing her great expertise to her varied tasks, and regularly rising above the call to duty in her humble, self-sacrificial way.

We pray God’s richest blessings on Isabella as she takes on her new role as Public Services Librarian at Tyndale University College and Seminary. We will sorely miss you, Isabella!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Wednesday March 1: Scripture, Faith and Scholarship

Wednesday March 1, 2017

Scripture, Faith and Scholarship

Dr. Natasha Duquette
Associate Academic Dean and Professor of English
Tyndale University College

When: 1:45-4:30

Where: ICS Classroom on First Floor of 229 College St.

Who: The ICS Community of Junior and Senior Members

What Else: Tea Time as a Special Treat

Natasha Duquette is Associate Academic Dean of Tyndale University College.  She is a literary scholar whose area of speciality is 18th century women's writing.  She has contributed multiple chapters to the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, and two monographs of interest: an earlier monograph using the notion of the sublime to explore the intersection of Literature, Aesthetics and Theology—Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces Between Literature, Aesthetics and Theology and a newer monograph called Veiled Intent: Dissenting Women' Aesthetic Approach to Biblical Interpretation.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Dan Jesse in South Carolina

Dan Jesse (MA, 2008) will be presenting a paper entitled "An Invitation to Sorrow -- Saturating our Liturgy With Sadness" at the 2017 Meeting of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology at Furman University (March 23-24).

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Prayer Letter: March 2017

Wednesday, March 1:   On Monday morning, former Senior Member Shannon Hoff (Memorial University) and Professor John Russon (University of Guelph), began teaching a course for ICS. Please pray for their leadership and for stimulating interaction among all involved. We are thankful indeed for their generosity in offering their time and expertise. You can find details of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit on our website.

Thursday, March 2:  On Tuesday, we sadly bade farewell to Isabella Guthrie-McNaughton. We praise God for leading her to serve ICS so faithfully and expertly over the past twelve years, and ask for blessings on her as she takes up a new position at Tyndale University College and Seminary in Toronto. [See News ]

Friday, March 3:  You will soon receive our annual membership renewal mailing. Let us give thanks for one another, members of the body of Christ at work in support of Christian graduate education. Please pray also for those confirmed as nominees to fill vacancies on the Board, as you vote in your various regions, and for “at large” trustees also.

Monday, March 6:   Dianne Bergsma wishes blessings to all and thanks everyone for the responses to the February Prayer Letter received for her husband Jerry. Your prayers were very much appreciated by Dianne, Jerry and their family. She asks for continued prayers for Jerry as he continues in palliative care due to spreading cancer of the spine at the Hotel Dieu Shaver hospital where they now try to balance the medication to manage the pain while trying to keep him awake and somewhat alert.

Tuesday, Match 7:  We give thanks for the successful MA thesis defences in recent weeks by Héctor Acero-Ferrer and TJ Skulstad-Brown. We pray they will find many ways in which to bring their insights to bear in their varied callings, in service of our Lord Jesus Christ and their neighbours, whoever and wherever they may be.

Wednesday, March 8:  This afternoon is the meeting of the Educational Policy Committee, one of our most active teams. Please pray for insight and discernment as they deliberate on curricular matters that are at the core of our mission.

Thursday, March 9:  Tomorrow morning at ICS the Board of Trustees will convene a special meeting with faculty, staff and Junior Members to discuss plans for the future, particularly with respect to a potential merger with The King’s University, Edmonton. The Board will reconvene in the afternoon and again on Saturday morning to continue its deliberations around this matter. We ask the Holy Spirit to hover over these conversations, gifting all involved with the wisdom promised if only we have the humility to entreat God for this.

Friday, March 10:  This evening we will celebrate the retirement of Lambert Zuidervaart after many years of faithful service to ICS, including a long period before he was appointed Senior Member in Philosophy in 2003. Please pray for a wonderful time of conversation and reflection, and of thankfulness to our Lord and to Lambert for his inestimable contribution. May he be blessed as he continues to follow Christ on the path which has been his lifelong vocation.

Monday, March 13:  The Finance Committee is busy preparing the 2017-18 budget proposal for consideration by the Board at its meeting on May 12. The goal is to achieve a balanced budget, obviously a crucial step in doing all we can to ensure ICS’s sustainability, knowing that throughout we depend utterly on the grace of God to uphold us in the task with which we are entrusted. We beseech our Father in Heaven to aid us in our calling to strive that His will be done on earth and praise Him in His power and glory.

Tuesday, March 14:  Bob Sweetman will be making a number of conference presentations over the next few months. Details of these will be announced in our News column as they come closer. Please pray in the meantime for the strenuous hours, days and weeks he will be putting in to bring his papers to their final form.

Wednesday, March 15:  Academic Council convenes this afternoon for its monthly meeting to consider proposals from its various sub-committees and the offices of the Academic Dean and President. May the hand of God guide each one, and the committee communally, to do what is pleasing to Him and to the honour of His name.

Thursday, March 16:  The anticipated sale of our shares in 229 College Street has been delayed by the requirement for an Environmental Assessment, a matter of course for buildings of its age, of which there are many in our vicinity. Please continue to uphold ICS before the throne of God, that there will be a positive and expeditious outcome

Friday, March 17:  As we prepare for the meeting of the Senate meeting on May 11, we pray for those diligently at work on the materials necessary for this event, noting especially Registrar Jeff Hocking and Academic Dean Bob Sweetman. We pray also for the Senate itself, as it oversees the academic program of ICS, and for Dr. John Kok in particular as he provides leadership as Senate Chair and Chancellor.

Monday, March 20:  The Leadership Team meets again this morning to update one another, review the various facets of the Institute’s operations and advise the President. Please pray for insight and discernment in their consultation.

Tuesday, March 21:  Junior Members will once again delight us with an issue of Perspective they are putting together. Please pray for them as they write, collaborate and edit. It’s sure to be a joy to read!

Wednesday, March 22:  Please bring our administrative staff before the Lord for His encouragement and blessing: Jeff Hocking, Kathy Lynch, Vidya Williams, Harley Dekker and Pat Webb.

Thursday, March 23:
 We pray for ICS’s discussions with The King’s University, that there may be a strengthening of a distinctively Christian witness in higher education in Canada that redounds to the glory of God.

Please pray for Dan Jesse as he presents his paper at Furman University (see News).

Friday, March 24:  It’s less than two weeks until the ICS Art Talks! event on April 3 and 4. This conference on film and spirituality, in collaboration with the Toronto International Film Festival, is overseen by Rebekah Smick and Ron Kuipers, working also with a number of other partners. Please pray for the final planning and successful conduct of this significant public outreach.

Monday, March 27:  Our faculty are at the heart of our mission, to help the next generation shape their thoughts and lives in service of the Kingdom of God, whose thumbprint is as broad as creation itself. Please pray for them: Nik Ansell, Ron Kuipers, Rebekah Smick, Gideon Strauss and Bob Sweetman, bringing their names before the one whose name is above all names.

Tuesday, March 28:  The task of graduate students -- also at the heart of our mission -- is demanding in many ways, the rigours of research itself, of course, but also the stresses and strains of being far from home in most cases and the financial burdens they carry. We invite you today to pray for our Junior Members and their families, some with young children, as they seek to honour the call of Jesus to serve Him in the field of Christian scholarship.

Wednesday, March 29:  Let us give thanks to Jesus for one another, ICS supporters in prayer and financially, for the wonderful response to our Advent Appeal. May God bless and keep you, in the various ways you serve in our Lord’s vineyard. Pray with us for bountiful fruit on the vine in the second half of this financial year.

Thursday, March 30:  The Undergraduate Workshop at Scarboro Missions is just over six weeks away (May 16-19). We are grateful for the Missions’ generous provision of this facility and travel support and pray for all those who have taken up this wonderful opportunity. Some of our “senior” Junior Members (who organised this event) and some Senior Members also will participate in this mentoring experience; we give thanks for those who took the lead in this initiative, especially PhD candidate Josh Harris. We continue to pray for further enrolments.

Friday, March 31:  The biennial “Our Whole Society” conference, under the auspices of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, this year has the theme of “Religion and Citizenship at Canada’s 150th” (Ottawa May 8-9). CPRSE, represented by Director Ron Kuipers, is a “Conversation Partner” in this event. Please pray for this gathering, and for Ron in particular as he engages in its planning and execution.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Feb 8 2017 Mystical Landscapes Talk and Tour

Please join us for group tour of Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The tour will be preceded by an introductory talk on the exhibition by ICS Senior Member Rebekah Smick. Professor Smick is a contributor to the book associated with the exhibition as well as a member of the exhibition’s advisory committee.

Wednesday, February 8, 6 pm
Institute for Christian Studies
100-229 College Street

All inclusive tickets for both tour and talk: $20
Limited availability. Please call or e-mail Kathy Lynch by Monday, January 30 to reserve tickets on a first come/first serve basis.
416-979-2331 x221

Dr Tricia Van Dyk: Not Just Cause and Effect

Dr. Tricia Van Dyk will have an essay published in the journal Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, in a special issue on the work of Martha Nussbaum, a well-known American philosopher. The essay, titled “Not Just Cause and Effect: Resituating Martha Nussbaum's Defense of Novels as Moral Philosophy in a Hermeneutical Framework,” stems from Tricia’s PhD dissertation at ICS and the VU University Amsterdam. Tricia and her husband Benjamin Groenewold and their two children live in Lithuania, where Tricia and Benjamin teach philosophy at LCC International University.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Undergraduate Workshop: Creation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

The Institute for Christian Studies in cooperation with Scarboro Missions is currently soliciting proposals for a four-day undergraduate workshop on the theme of Creation.

Questions we hope to consider include but are not limited to the following:

  • What is creation? What is implied in a relationship between creation and its creator?
  • How is creativity related to rationality or intelligence? In what sense, if any, is creativity a distinctively human phenomenon?
  • Do great works of art owe themselves to something like the “creative genius” of their creator? What is a properly artistic creation, if there is such a thing?
  • In what ways can traditional and/or contemporary creative enterprises serve as “common ground” for constructive dialogue and mutual recognition amongst diverse people groups?
  • Do human beings have an ethical obligation to be creative? Are there moral dangers associated with creativity?

Selected participants will have the opportunity to present their own work before peers and receive feedback from ICS Junior and Senior Members, making connections and “learning the ropes” of the scholarly enterprise at the graduate or professional level. The workshop is a great opportunity for outstanding undergraduate students who might be interested in deepening existing lines of research and pursuing new ones with guidance from budding and established scholars in disciplines such as philosophy, theology, religious studies, etc.

The workshop will be held May 16-19 and the call for papers deadline is February 1, 2017. Please follow the link below for further details.

Undergraduate Workshop

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Prayer Letter: February 2017

Wednesday, February 1:  Dianne Bergsma (PhD, 2014) asks for our prayers for her husband Jerry. “He is in much pain due to cancer which was diagnosed in early December, and which was a shock to the doctors and to all of us. It had already spread to the bones and nerves of his spine. They tried radiation treatments but they had no effect and they admitted him to the St. Catharines hospital. After two weeks there he was transferred Friday a week ago to the Hotel Dieu Shaver hospital here in St. Catharines, where he is receiving palliative care, and we can be with him day and night.
“Thank you for the love and care we have received throughout the years from the ICS community. Wishing you all continued blessings, Dianne.”

Thursday, February 2:  At time of writing, we are very close indeed to the sale of our share in 229 College Street. Please pray that soon all the “i’s” will be dotted and the “t’s” crossed. We give thanks to God for the excellent counsel our lawyers have provided and for finally being able to see the end in sight with this process. We are also looking forward to having the necessary funds to begin building an endowment that will sustain us into the future.

Friday, February 3:  We continue to explore how we might form a very close relationship with The King’s University, Edmonton. Such an undertaking is obviously complex and we ask the Lord to prepare the way to a positive conclusion.

Today, the research team for the SSHRC-funded partnered project, Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada up for Success meets to report on the progress of case studies, including key informant interviews and focus groups. CPRSE Director Ron Kuipers and CPRSE RA Hector Acero Ferrer have been working with World Renew, The Interfaith Council of Peel, and the Peel Newcomers Strategy group, as part of this research project supervised by the Centre for Community-Based Research.

Monday, February 6:  The Leadership Team meets this morning at 11:00, as it does every two weeks. This is a vital means of helping to ensure we are addressing our mission in close collaboration across all departments and ventures. Please ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their deliberations.

Isabella Guthrie-McNaughton meets for a half-day today as a member of the Toronto School of Theology’s Library Committee. Please join in upholding her in this important meeting.

Tuesday, February 7:  Tomorrow evening, as you may have seen in our News column, Senior Member Rebekah Smick will host a tour of Mystical Landscapes at the Art Gallery of Ontario. This will be preceded by an introductory talk by Rebekah. We ask for God’s blessing as she speaks and for God’s presence in the time of reflection and engagement with this amazing art exhibition for students and other participants.

Wednesday, February 8:  The Educational Policy Committee is one the most active sub-committees of Academic Council. Chaired by Academic Dean Bob Sweetman, it comprises also SM Nik Ansell, JM Mark Novak and Librarian Isabella-Guthrie McNaughton. Please pray for a fruitful discussion of course proposals and other aspects of our programs.

Thursday, February 9:  We give thanks to God for a moving and successful Interdisciplinary Studies Conference, Glorious and Free: Generous Citizenship for the Next 150 at The King's University, Edmonton last month, where Ron Kuipers delivered a keynote address entitled From the Roots: Religion and the Public Life of Liberal Democracy.

Friday, February 10:  Thank you for the faithful support of our Junior Members in your prayers and financially. They are at the core of our mission as a graduate school. We praise God for bringing these young people to our community and ask you to continue to uphold them and the Senior Members who strive to nurture them in Biblically-grounded scholarship. May they be a blessing as they commit themselves to prepare for their call to teach, in wholehearted service of Jesus Christ.

Monday, February 13:  Junior Members are once again collaborating on our next issue of Perspective. Under the leadership of Hector Acero-Ferrer, they are busy writing and editing articles and preparing the layout of this magazine. They will be assisted on the production side by our own Daryl Kinsman and graphic artist Kevin van der Leek. Please pray for them as they labour joyfully on this task.

Tuesday, February 14:  This is the month where we ask our community to respond to the call to renew their membership at ICS. Our membership is the wellspring of our strength, the bedrock of our community. We thank God for our members who stand with us and resolve to continue to build on the work we are doing together. Please ask God for continued enthusiastic interest and support from these core people in our ICS community.

Wednesday, February 15:  Academic Council meets this afternoon; please pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their discussion. Also remember in your prayers the preparations for the 7th Annual Aquinas Studium being organised by Bob Sweetman, with the help of Fr. Gilles Mongeau SJ of Regis College.

Thursday, February 16:  We ask for God’s blessings on the preparations for the March 10 evening reception in honour of Lambert Zuidervaart's completed tenure as Senior Member at ICS.

Friday, February 17:  We give thanks to God for our administrative staff, Kathy Lynch, Vidya Williams, Harley Dekker, Pat Webb and Jeffrey Hocking, for their meticulous and dedicated service. Please ask our Lord to sustain them in the many challenges they face and the ongoing routines that mark their work-days.

We pray that Hector Acero-Ferrer will have a clear mind and apt words today, when he defends his MA Thesis, Liberating Tradition: An Exploration of Liberation Theology Through the Lens of Paul Ricoeur's Hermeneutics.

Monday, February 20:  Today is Family Day in Ontario (and we realise this celebration of the significance of the family happens in other places and on other days elsewhere). We invite you to pray for the babies and infants in our community, children of our Junior Members and spouses, that they may be protected from illness and accidents and recover quickly and fully when difficulties beset them.

Tuesday, February 21:   Reading Week commences today. This is a welcome opportunity for Junior and Senior Members alike to bury their heads in their books, or digital equivalents, and to concentrate on their current research. May our Lord give them perseverance and insight.

Wednesday, February 22:  We pray our Lord’s blessings on the ongoing preparations for an ICS/CPRSE-TIFF-Imago sponsored exploration of Religion and Film with Calvin grad Paul Schrader as keynote speaker.

Thursday, February 23:  This regular meeting of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation (where ICS/CPRSE has a seat) will focus on interfaith dialogue and youth between the ages of 18-35. Please pray for ICS Ph.D. Candidate Hector Acero-Ferrer as he contributes to the discussion on how best to help young people approach interfaith dialogue.

Friday, February 24:  Doug Blomberg will be undergoing a medical procedure today. Please pray for the doctors involved, that all goes well and there is a healthful outcome.

We ask for blessings as the final planning touches added to the Building Our Whole Society: Religion and Citizenship at Canada's 150th Conference (May 8-9, Ottawa). Ron Kuipers serves on the Planning and Programming Committees for this conference, under the auspices of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation.

Monday, February 27:  Next month, March 10th and 11th, there will be a Special Meeting of the Board of Trustees in Toronto to consider how to proceed in our ongoing negotiations with The King’s University. May our Lord grant wisdom to all who gather for this purpose, and protect them as they travel.

Tuesday, February 28:  Tomorrow there is a court hearing involving the Receiver overseeing our bankrupted Co-Tenant’s share in 229 College Street. Because of this relationship, ICS is a creditor. Doug Blomberg will be in attendance for these proceedings. Please pray that justice is served for ICS, and also for all those who have suffered over a long period from the actions of the previous partner.