Thursday, 19 April 2018

Social Domains of Knowledge

Senior Member Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart has completed a new essay titled “Social Domains of Knowledge: Technology, Art, and Religion,” which Philosophia Reformata will publish in 2019 or 2020. Building on the work of Cal Seerveld, Henk Hart, and Doug Blomberg, the essay proposes a new reformational conception of knowledge that explains how we can achieve different sorts of insight in different social domains. Lambert claims that knowledge, in its deepest meaning, is not a thing to possess but a complex relationship to inhabit. This essay is a companion to his earlier essay “Distantial Ways of Knowing,” which Philosophia Reformata plans to publish in 2019.

The Wayfinding Program at ICS

ICS announces four new courses in the Wayfinding program!

Click here for information.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Undergraduate Workshop 2018: DEADLINE EXTENDED

We have extended the deadline for submissions for our undergraduate workshop, this year on storytelling! The new deadline is MONDAY, APRIL 23. Please send this call for papers around to students or educators you might know. The opportunity is an amazing chance for undergraduates to learn the ropes of graduate school with peers and junior and senior scholars in one of the most unique cities in the world. See additional information below.
Accommodations are guaranteed to all accepted participants. Some travel stipends will be available on request and assessed according to need/merit.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

A Problem-Posing Pedagogy

Senior Member Doug Blomberg's paper, "A Problem-Posing Pedagogy: Nurturing Wisdom in Higher Education", has been selected for publication in the e-book from the April IAPCHE Conference in New Zealand.

Friday, 23 March 2018

New Essay on Blomberg’s Work

Senior Member Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart has completed a new essay on the work of Senior Member and former ICS President Doug Blomberg. Titled “Distantial Ways of Knowing: Doug Blomberg’s Proposal for a Reformational Epistemology,” the essay explores the conception of knowledge that Blomberg proposed in his 1978 doctoral dissertation on reformational philosophy and school curriculum. Lambert says Doug’s proposal contains untapped potential for a holistic and pluralist theory of knowledge. The essay will be published by Philosophia Reformata in 2019.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Prayer Letter: April 2018

“Easter is the most joyous time in the Christian calendar. It’s when all the stops are pulled out, all the choirs are gathered to sing. It is a time of celebration beyond hope, because with Easter, hope is made real. Christ’s resurrection heralds the final triumph of life over death, and we humans are left gobsmacked by something so incredible, so amazing (he was dead and now he’s not!) that it can sometimes take us a while to catch up and start to celebrate…. Joy is infectious, though, and when the wonder of Easter sinks in, its message changes the way we understand all of life.” (taken from Changing to Stay the Same, by B. Sweetman)

Monday April 2 - Friday April 6

  • Please pray for Elizabet Aras, Registrar, Bob Sweetman, Academic Dean, and the Academic Council as they focus on finalising the agenda and supporting materials for the upcoming Senate meeting (May 10). Please pray that they will accomplish all that is needed in this busy time.
  • Our Annual Convocation is fast approaching and we want to pray that the many preparations for this important event will go well and come together in time. We pray also for the faculty, students, and board members who will be participating in this important ceremony, and for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as this is her first time overseeing this event.
  • Since 2016, our Centre for Philosophy Religion and Social Ethics (CPRSE) has been actively involved in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded research collaboration “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success”. This month, CPRSE and partner organizations will launch a community toolkit and webinar series to further faith and settlement partnerships across the country. Please pray for the success of these events and for the communities involved.
  • This month, Joshua Harris will submit a clean copy of his ICS/VU PhD thesis "Neither Solitary Nor Diverse: Transcendental Multiplicity in Thomas Aquinas" to the VU to be evaluated by a VU/ICS Examination Committee. We trust God for a successful completion of this conjoint program.
  • Over the coming weeks, Meg Giordano, one of PhD students, will be negotiating with her VU supervisor a stay in The Netherlands to work closely with her on a (semi) formal thesis concept titled "Crimes Against Inclination: A Thomistic Account of Evil as Human Violence".

Monday April 9 - Friday April 13

  • This month, Bob Sweetman’s Trinity College PhD candidate, Maria Simakova, will be defending her formal Thesis Proposal "Parrhesia as Theological Method: Truthtelling in the Late Foucault and the Practice of Theology".
  • Thursday, April 12th is the last day of classes for this academic year. We praise God for his sustaining grace throughout this past year. As is customary for ICS, we will express our gratitude to God for his help in our accomplishments by gathering for a celebratory brunch to enjoy some fun and fellowship with one another.
  • Please pray for the International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education (IAPCHE) Conference hosted by Bethlehem Tertiary Institute in Tauranga, New Zealand, April 11-13. May this be an encouraging and challenging gathering for all involved. Senior Member Doug Blomberg is presenting a paper entitled "A Problem-Posing Pedagogy: Nurturing Wisdom in Higher Education".
  • We are beginning to receive applications for this year’s ICS Undergraduate Workshop, “Philosophy as/of Storytelling”. Please pray for the planning team as it assesses applications and matches interested undergraduate students with Senior and Junior Members for collaborative work throughout the workshop.

Monday April 16 - Friday April 20

  • We give thanks for our Junior Members who are such an important part of our community. We pray for them as they wind up their course papers over the next few weeks and make plans for their summer work and studies in the coming year.
  • 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 wisdom and grace from the Holy Spirit.
  • The last in-person class this semester of the Vocational Wayfinding hybrid course taught by Gideon Strauss takes place on Wednesday, April 18th. These classes have been held on site at Toronto District Christian High school with nine teachers registered to take this course. We thank God that the logistical arrangements went smoothly and that the interaction and fellowship during the class was fruitful and uplifting.
  • CPRSE is expanding its network of support and impact through new and exciting partnerships. Please pray for CPRSE as it begins to collaborate with Citizens for Public Justice in the context of their Annual General Meeting.

Monday April 23 - Friday April 27

  • We give thanks that ICS PhD candidate Joseph Kirby has formally submitted his supervisor-approved doctoral dissertation, “Moral Ontology in the Age of Science: A Philosophical Case for the Mystery of Goodness”. Today is the deadline for one external evaluator and one internal evaluator to submit written reports commenting on the defense-readiness of the dissertation. We pray for a good outcome and that these reports will be helpful to Joe as he prepares for the oral defense, scheduled to take place on May 7.
  • Please pray for Ron Kuipers and Pat Webb as they travel to Calgary this week to meet with our supporting community there. Pray for safe travels and engaging interactions in our individual visits and group events.
  • We want to pray these next two weeks for all those who will be participating in our annual phone-a-thon. We ask particularly for God’s blessing on our student and board volunteers 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.

Monday April 30:

  • In less than 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 ask God to grace their deliberations with wisdom and vision.
  • CPRSE continues to build on the “Currents in Reformational Thought” series, featuring the contributions of our current and emeriti faculty to our tradition of scholarship. Please pray for those involved in editing, producing, and publishing this important series.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Art in Orvieto 2018 Information Meeting

This summer, the Institute for Christian Studies is offering a three-week course on Art, Religion, and Theology in Orvieto, Italy! If you are a practicing artist, or someone who is interested in the role of the image in Christian traditions, this is an opportunity not to be missed. If you would like to hear more about what this course offers, ICS will be hosting an Information Night on Thursday, March 15, from 7:00-8:30pm at the TST building. Please join us for a presentation and some light snacks!

For more information visit Art in Orvieto.
If you have any questions, please email Danielle Yett at

ICS to host its Second Annual Undergraduate Workshop!

The Institute for Christian Studies in cooperation with the John Mary Fraser Centre for Practical Theology at Regis College is currently soliciting proposals for a three-day undergraduate workshop on the theme of Storytelling. Questions we hope to consider include but are not limited to the following:

  • How do stories create and disrupt meaning for human life?
  • Whose stories organize contemporary life, and whose stories go unheard?
  • Do different media (film, novels, paintings, children’s books) tell stories differently? Does digital media change the narrativity of our lives?
  • What do stories have to do with the sciences?
  • Are biblical, theological, or traditional stories malleable? 
  • Does the postmodern “suspicion toward metanarratives” mean an end for big stories?
  • What stories construct social categories like race, gender, and class?

Selected participants will have the opportunity to present their own work before peers and receive feedback from ICS faculty and graduate students, 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 call for papers deadline is April 6, 2018. For more information, click on the following links: 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Prayer Letter : March 2018

Thursday, March 1 - Friday, March 2:

  • We ask for your prayers for Senior Member Rebekah Smick over the next few weeks. Rebekah’s mother passed away on Friday, February 23rd. We ask God for grace and comfort in this time of loss and for strength to carry out the many details that have to be seen to at this time.
  • Our new Registrar and Student Services Coordinator, Elizabet Aras, asks for prayer this month. There is a lot to learn in this new position for her at ICS and as always in this kind of situation, being challenged on a regular basis can cause a lot of stress. As well, she has the added concern of having to get her visa extension completed, and while we don’t believe there will be any issues, we ask for prayer for a smooth sailing in the process so that she can stay in both the city and workplace she has come to love. She asks for prayer that she will see this as a learning experience instead of a struggle as she has to learn something new every day. In the midst of the excitement and stimulation she has been looking for, we pray that a spirit of calmness and faith will pervade her working space each day.

Monday, March 5 - Friday, March 9:
  • Please pray this week for our Junior Members as once again they work hard to bring completion to the articles for the winter issue of Perspective they are putting together. Please pray for them as they write, collaborate and edit. It’s sure to be a delight to read!
  • Please pray this month for one of our MA students, Danielle Yett, as she researches and writes for her thesis in the area of imagination, metaphor, and modal aesthetics. Danielle’s working title for her thesis is: Infinite Finitude: A Study of the Imagination in Calvin Seerveld's Modal Aesthetics. We ask for a creative mind for Danielle and productive interactions with her mentor, Rebekah Smick.

Monday, March 12 - Friday, March 16:

  • The Finance Committee will begin the preparations this month for developing the 2018-19 budget proposal for consideration by the Board at its May meeting. Please pray for each member of the committee, our Director of Finance, Harley Dekker and the rest of the Leadership Team as they plan and forecast for the next year.

  • On March 14, ICS/CPRSE will welcome Matt Bernico, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Greenville University, to lead our Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Seminar. Please pray for Matt and the ICS community as we engage in dialogue about the many ways our Christian faith shapes and influences our scholarly work.

Monday, March 19 - Friday, March 23:

  • Please bring our administrative staff before the Lord for His encouragement and blessing: Elizabet Aras, Kathy Lynch, Vidya Williams, Harley Dekker, and Pat Webb.

  • Preparations for the meeting of the Senate in early May begin this month. We pray for those diligently at work on the materials necessary for this event, noting especially Registrar Elizabet Aras 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.

  • Since 2016, CPRSE has been actively involved in the SSHRC-funded research collaboration “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success.” Building on the research results, CPRSE and partner organizations will launch a community toolkit and webinar series to further faith and settlement partnerships across the country. Please pray for the success of these events and for the communities involved.

Monday, March 26 - Friday, March 30:

  • Let us give thanks to God for one another, ICS supporters in prayer and financially, for the wonderful response to our Advent Appeal. May God bless and keep all of you, in the various ways you serve in our Lord’s vineyard. Pray with us that God will continue to bless the work of the staff and faculty at ICS for his glory.

  • The Second Annual Undergraduate Workshop is planned to take place in two months time (May 24-26). This year's theme is "Life as/of Storytelling" and applications are now open with a final submit date of April 6th. The workshop is an opportunity for undergraduate students to share their research and receive constructive feedback from ICS Senior and Junior Members. Please pray for the workshop’s planning team, our Junior Members who are organising this event, as they receive the first round of applications and inquiries about his event.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dr. Ronald Kuipers appointed President of ICS

In its meeting of January 16, 2018, the ICS Board of Trustees unanimously passed a motion to change the job title of Dr. Ron Kuipers from ICS Provost to ICS President.

Dr. Kuipers became ICS Provost on July 1, 2017, after being interviewed by a committee of the ICS Board, as part of a leadership transition period during the final months of the Presidency of Dr. Blomberg. With the retirement of Dr. Blomberg as ICS President on October 31, 2017, Dr. Kuipers took over as the institutional leader of ICS, thus completing the leadership transition that began on July 1. The change of Dr. Kuipers' title to President is intended to reflect the reality that he has assumed this leadership position, and to communicate that status clearly both internally and externally. Dr. Kuipers has expressed to the Board his enthusiasm in accepting the challenges and responsibilities involved in the role of ICS President, and we thank him for his willingness to serve ICS in this capacity.

An investiture of Dr. Kuipers as President of ICS will take place at the next ICS Convocation, scheduled for May 11, 2018.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ron Kuipers as the new President of the Institute for Christian Studies. We wish Ron God’s rich blessings as he gives leadership to the ICS in this capacity.

Dr. John Valk, Chair
Board of Trustees, ICS

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Prayer Letter: February 2018

Thursday, February 1 - Friday, February 2:

  • Please pray for Hilary Barlow, ICS’s Librarian, as she attends the Ontario Library Association Conference these two days. This is Hilary’s first opportunity to represent ICS at this conference. We pray that the time she spends with her peers from other institutions will be fruitful and encouraging.
  • On Wednesday, January 24th, we had the privilege of welcoming Elizabet Aras as our new Registrar to our community. Elizabet has recently moved to Toronto from her home in Sweden where she completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, and worked as a professional Early Childhood Educator. Please pray for Elizabet as she not only learns how to perform all the tasks of her new role, but also settles into her new home in Toronto.

Monday, February 5 - Friday, February 9:

  • February is the month in which faculty evaluate applications of prospective students and make decisions about who will be accepted to study at ICS. Please pray for the faculty’s wisdom in this process, and that their deliberations are worthy of the thought, effort, and hope of those who are seeking to join us in our mission.
  • We ask for prayer for Jeff Hocking, former Registrar/Student Services Co-ordinator at ICS, in his new position as Registrar at Wycliffe College, one of the colleges in the Toronto School of Theology. Please pray for Jeff as he becomes accustomed to his new environment and learns his way around the administrative systems at Wycliffe. All of us at ICS are missing him already but are very happy that he is just down the road.
  • Please pray this month for one of our MA students, Kiegan Irish, as he works hard to bring his thesis to completion. Kiegan’s thesis addresses Hannah Arendt's relationship to economic science and how her ideas of natality and the public realm disturb settled understandings of politics and economics in modern Western states. We ask for a creative mind for Kiegan and productive interactions with his mentor, Ron Kuipers.

Monday, February 12 - Friday, February 16:

  • We ask for prayer for Ron Kuipers as he continues in his leadership role as President of ICS. Pray for wisdom and discernment as he leads the Leadership Team in the many matters that require decisions, particularly those related to the financial management of the institute and our ongoing relationship with The King’s University.
  • Please pray this week for our deliberations around the development of an MA in Leadership in consultation with Hamilton District Christian High and the Ontario Christian Schools Administrators Association. Please pray specifically for Bob Sweetman and Pat Webb as they meet with representatives from HDCH and OCSAA on February 12th to bring further definition to the program design.
  • The first in-person class this semester of the Vocational Wayfinding course taught by Gideon Strauss takes place on Wednesday, February 13th. The class will be held on site at Toronto District Christian High school and there are 9 teachers registered to take the course, 5 for degree credit and 4 for audit. Please pray that the logistical arrangements will go smoothly and that the interaction and fellowship during the class will be fruitful and uplifting.
  • Please pray for Bob Sweetman who takes on three guided readings this semester with two of our MA students, which are outside the regular curricular activities. For your interest, the readings are: “Philosophers as prophets and storytellers”; “The effect of Lutheran pietism on German philosophy”; and, “The philosopher Alvin Plantiga”. Pray for Bob as the addition of these three readings will make this semester a very busy one for him.

Monday, February 19 - Friday, February 23:

  • Reading Week commences on Monday of this week. 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.
  • The CPRSE continues to partner with a number of academic institutions and community organizations in research and knowledge mobilization projects. Please join us in giving thanks for the CPRSE’s successful participation in the research collaboration entitled “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success,” which will come to an end in May 2018.
  • Please pray this month for Pat Webb and Ron Kuipers as they travel to various locations across southwestern Ontario to represent the advancement interests of ICS. We pray for protection on the road, and blessed interactions with our supporting community.

Monday, February 26 - Wednesday, February 28:

  • The CPRSE continues to enlarge its scope of action through collaborations that combine academic and community-based research. This month, please pray for the CPRSE and partner organizations as they seek funding opportunities for research projects involving mental and relational health in Canada.
  • Please continue to pray for the finalization of the administrative details surrounding the proposed move to our new home. We are working with space requirements and we are very grateful to have a professional architect working with us.
  • Plans are underway to host a second Undergraduate Workshop, titled “Philosophy as/of Storytelling.” Please pray for our Junior Members, who are the workshop’s planning team, as they continue to promote the event among prospective participants and supporters.