Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Dr. Gideon Strauss Named New ICS Academic Dean



Effective September 1, 2018, Dr. Gideon Strauss will assume the role of ICS Academic Dean, replacing Dr. Robert Sweetman, who served ICS ably and faithfully in this role for the past three years. Happy to have served ICS' academic administrative needs in this way, Bob is now also happy to bequeath this responsibility to Gideon, so that he can focus more intently on several research projects he has in development, including a book-length manuscript on Thomas Aquinas.

For, his part, Gideon is looking forward to serving ICS in this important leadership role, saying: “I am grateful for this opportunity to serve my colleagues at the Institute for Christian Studies, as together we seek to nourish the love of God, of wisdom, and of the craft of scholarship.”

To ensure a smooth transition, Bob will serve as Chair of ICS’ Academic Council for one more year, thus allowing ICS to maintain uninterrupted development of existing and new academic programs while Gideon gets up to speed on these files and forges relationships with our academic partners at The Toronto School of Theology, Knox College, and The King's University in Edmonton.

The ICS community expresses its gratitude and appreciation to Bob for his years of effective and selfless service in this role, and welcomes Gideon to ICS' Leadership Team. We are looking forward to the contributions that Gideon will make at this fecund moment in the life of ICS.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Register for Fall 2018 ICS Courses Today!

The course timetable for the 2018-2019 academic year is now available. Click here for more information on how to register for ICS courses!

Friday, 27 July 2018

New Book Featured at SPEP

Emeritus Senior Member Lambert Zuidervaart’s recent book on twentieth-century German philosophy will be featured in a book session at the next meeting of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP), the largest society for continental philosophy in North America. Lambert wrote most of the book and discussed it in graduate seminars when he was teaching at ICS and the University of Toronto. Titled Truth in Husserl, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School: Critical Retrieval (MIT Press, 2017), his innovative study engages with major figures in German philosophy to propose a new and transformative concept of truth. The book session will take place at 12:30 – 3:00 pm on October 18 as part of SPEP’s annual conference at The Pennsylvania State University. Two scholars—Professors Kathy Kiloh (OCAD University) and Marcia Morgan (Muhlenberg College)— will present papers about the book, and Lambert will respond to their papers and address questions from the audience.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Prayer Letter: August 2018

Wednesday, August 1 - Friday, August 3

Please pray this month for the renovations taking place at Knox College for ICS’ new home. Pray that all will go smoothly with the contractors so that the necessary work will be completed before we need to move in at the end of the month.

We ask for your prayers for Harley Dekker as he prepares for the auditors and the preparation of the year-end statements this month. Pray for strength and clarity for Harley as he prepares in the midst of the many other aspects of administration surrounding the move to Knox.

Monday, August 6 - Friday, August 10

We pray for Junior Member Grace Carhart as she and her fiancé, Schuyler Palls, prepare for their upcoming wedding. We pray for safe travels for them, their families, and guests; and that the Lord will bring them joy as they start their lives together in Toronto.

Please pray for our upcoming online auction in which we hope to be able to sell all the office furniture we will not be needing at Knox. We are using a company called MaxSold and they will be coming to photograph the items for sale on August 9. We ask for your prayers that the preparations and the auction itself will go well.

CPRSE continues to build on the “Currents in Reformational Thought” series, featuring the contributions of our current and emeriti faculty to our scholarly tradition. Currently, the CPRSE team is working on the final editing stages of a forthcoming festschrift on the work of Emeritus Senior Member, Lambert Zuidervaart. Please pray for those involved in editing, producing, and publishing this important series.

Monday, August 13 - Friday, August 17

We pray for Junior Members as they strive to balance the challenging demands of work, school, and life. We pray that they will find their work life-sustaining and life-giving, allowing them to flourish and to contribute to their communities of faith.

Currently, CPRSE is exploring new partnership possibilities with community organizations that share the spirit of inquiry and openness of ICS. Please pray that CPRSE is able to continue its history of partnership through collaborations that are fruitful and life-giving in the new academic year.

We pray for the various projects on which our Junior Members are working: theses, proposals, reading lists, dissertations, independent research, presentations, and coursework. We pray that the summer season be the opportunity for them to follow through on these projects and and that it brings renewed inspiration and vigour for the upcoming school year.
Monday, August 20 - Friday, August 24

Please pray this week for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she prepares for registration and orientation, as well as the student retreat coming up in a few weeks. There are a myriad of details to take care of so we ask God for clarity and discernment in the planning and implementation of these important events at the start of our school year.

We ask for your prayers this week for our faculty and administrative staff as they prepare for the beginning of the school year in a couple of weeks. Pray that they will be encouraged, even in the midst of a lot of changes, by the work that they do. We ask for God’s grace and wisdom as they work together, and for keen discernment in meeting the opportunities and challenges facing ICS at this time. And give thanks to God for sending them to serve the Institute’s mission with commitment and dedication.

This week is our course registration deadline when students are supposed to have registered (and paid) for the courses they plan to take in the fall semester. Pray for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she follows up the many loose ends that often emerge, so that the registration process will be a smooth one for our students.

Monday, August 27 - Friday, August 31

Please pray this week for our expected move to our new home at Knox College. We are looking forward to making our new space an enjoyable and productive environment to work and study. Pray for strength and wisdom to deal with the inevitable hiccups that will come our way as we take on this intensive undertaking.

As the fall season approaches, CPRSE is developing another year of programming, including existing research projects, institutional collaborations, and community outreach initiatives. We pray in thanksgiving for the contribution of CPRSE to the life of ICS community.

Next week we welcome our Junior Members, both returning and new. Please pray for all of them as they wrap up their summer projects, academic and otherwise, and settle back into the coming year’s routine. It is a joyous time, as we all start afresh as the ICS community, gathered here in Toronto.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Introducing a new MA (Philosophy) in Educational Leadership

ICS in partnership with the Christian Teachers Academy is excited to announce a new Masters of Arts (Philosophy) degree in Educational Leadership. This new program has been approved in principle by the ICS Senate with a program launch for fall 2018!

This Masters program has two strands: Educational Leadership Stream and Educational Classroom Stream. Early in the program students will define their overarching project, begin to develop an ongoing portfolio of learning, and the program culminates with a celebration of their learning.

The program will be delivered through blended instructional methods with many opportunities for online and face-to-face interactions. Individual courses in the program are approved for the Christian School Teachers Certificate (CSTC) and the Christian School Principals Certificate (CSPC). If you are looking to stretch and grow professionally, this is a program for you!

For further information or questions about the program, please contact our Registrar, Elizabet Aras (academic-registrar@icscanada.edu) or Harry Blyleven (The Christian Teachers Academy - hblyleven@hdch.org )

Monday, 11 June 2018

Adorno and Truth

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

Sunday, 10 June 2018

In Memoriam: Morris Greidanus

by Robert Sweetman


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

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

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

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

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

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

Requiescat in pacem. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Prayer Letter: July 2018

Sunday, July 1 - Friday, July 6

On July 1, people across Canada celebrate Canada Day, and ponder the blessing of living in a country that is relatively free from strife, that cherishes its ability to provide universal healthcare, and in which many are fortunate to enjoy a good quality of life. This anniversary of Canada’s confederation also gives us a moment to pause and consider the ways we can do better as a country, including achieving justice for and reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples, adopting a strategy to address national poverty more effectively, including the development of a national affordable housing program, and increasing action for ecological justice. When we consider the blessings we receive by living in relative peace and prosperity here in Canada, we think of the global refugee and migration crisis, and pray for those desperate people enduring or fleeing from poverty and war. And to all members of the ICS community in the United States, we pray for God’s richest blessings as you celebrate Independence Day, and may you also use this occasion to pause and consider similar ambiguities in your nation’s witness to the world as a voice for justice and peace.

Please pray this month for our Registrar, Elizabet, as she looks after the academic details needed to be ready for the beginning of the school year in September, such as new courses being approved, registration of students, course schedules, and working with the faculty to get all the course syllabi up on the website. Pray too as she works with the new students in their application process and decisions around course selection.

Monday, July 9 - Friday, July 13

As we begin this new fiscal year, we continue to face challenges. At the same time, we are encouraged by the possibilities the Lord will bring our way, and seek His wisdom and guidance. We look forward to our move to Knox, and work hard to balance the size of the task with the opportunities that this relocation will present for ICS. It has been a challenging year from a budgeting point of view, due to the presidential transition and the delays in getting the lease at Knox signed. With those issues behind us, we are anticipating a good start to our new fiscal year.

Please pray for long-time PhD candidate, Benjamin Groenewold, as he meets with ICS supervisor Bob Sweetman on July 10th about the latest complete draft of his PhD thesis. Benjamin works with his wife and fellow ICS alumna, Dr. Tricia van Dyk, for the LCC International Univeristy in Lithuania, where he teaches courses on Worldview to college students.

We are so very grateful for the continued commitment of our supporters and pray God’s abundant blessing on each one. This support means so much to us, especially as we begin the new fiscal year with the Renaissance ICS campaign, as explained in last month’s appeal letter. Pray for sustained grace and strength as we work to achieve the goals set out before us in our renovation plan for our new home at Knox College. Pray too for vision and creativity as we move forward with new program initiatives and partnership development.

Monday, July 16 - Friday, July 20

Please pray for our Art in Orvieto program that begins on July 15 and runs for three weeks into the beginning of August. Again, we have had good subscription to both our artists' workshop and ICS course that looks at the role of the image in the three main Christian traditions. Please pray for safety both for students and faculty as they travel to and around Italy, and pray that they might have a fruitful time learning, creating, and appreciating art together.

Please join with us in prayer this month as we make decisions about downsizing and begin the ominous task of packing what we will take with us to Knox College. Pray that we will know God’s grace and strength during this time of upheaval in our normal working day, and that we might enjoy a sense of joy and excitement together as we anticipate moving into our new home. As Bob Sweetman so eloquently put it in the meditation he wrote in the summer of 2009, when ICS moved down to the first floor of 229 College: “Even in moves there are things to pray about in gratitude, not just anxiety …. Thank God for the moves we all make; how else would we know we weren’t rocks. And may God be with us in our moves, even to the end of the age.”

July being the month that a number of our staff and faculty take holidays, we ask that you pray that their time away will be refreshing and renewing. Some are travelling long distances so we ask God to grant them safe and hassle-free travels.

Monday, July 23 - Friday, July 27

Please pray for our PhD candidate, Joshua Harris, who, with his wife Sarah and son Rowan, will be moving to Edmonton later this month to begin a new chapter in their life together. We pray for the Lord’s richest blessings on them as they make this significant transition, and Josh takes up a teaching position at The King's University.

Please continue to pray for our dear friends, Alice Greidanus and Janet Borgdorff and their families, as they grieve the loss of Morris and Peter. We pray that God will be very present with them and that they will know his abundant grace and peace during this difficult time.

The Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics (CPRSE) continues to build on the “Currents in Reformational Thought” series, featuring the contributions of our current and emeriti faculty to our scholarly tradition. Currently, the CPRSE team is working on the final editing stages of a forthcoming festschrift on the work of Emeritus Senior Member, Lambert Zuidervaart. Please pray for those involved in editing, producing, and publishing this important series.

CPRSE’s Research Assistants, Grace Carhart and Dean Dettloff have contributed immensely to the life of ICS, keeping the community informed through social media, helping with the planning and execution of events, and assisting in other projects run by the Centre, including our new podcast Critical Faith. We pray in thanksgiving for the contribution of Grace and Dean to ICS community through their involvement in the CPRSE, and ask for God’s continued blessings on them.

Monday, July 30 - Tuesday, July 31

Please pray for our Librarian, Hilary Barlow who will be applying for permanent residency/landed immigrant status within the next seven months. Pray that the process of putting the myriad of documents and information together for the application will go smoothly so she can make the February 2019 deadline with little hassle. Hillary is currently on a temporary work permit, but once she makes application, she is eligible to extend the work permit until she gets an answer on her application.

Please pray for Bob Sweetman as he attends the Annual Aquinas Studium, held this year at Villanova University in the Philadelphia area July 29-August 2. The theme of the Studium will be Thomas Aquinas's Trinitarian thought. He will be leading in the presentation of a series of readings that will be the basis for discussions during one of the morning sessions. This will be a great warm up for Bob as he gears up to teach a seminar on Aquinas's presentation of the phenomenon and reality of miracles within the frame set for them by the framing notions of "nature" and "the supernatural".

Currently, CPRSE is exploring new partnership possibilities with community organizations that share the spirit of inquiry and openness of ICS. Please pray that CPRSE is able to continue its history of partnership through collaborations that are fruitful and life-giving in the new academic year.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

2018 CONVOCATION AND PRESIDENTIAL INSTALLATION


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

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

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 14 May 2018

New Essay on Film

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

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

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Prayer Letter: June 2018

Friday, June 1

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

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

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

Monday, 30 April 2018

The Spring 2018 Perspective is online

The Spring 2018 issue of Perspective is here! Those of you who receive printed copies by mail will receive them shortly (if you haven't already). Those who prefer to read online can go here.

This issue features the lead article "Perhaps the Lord will Act for Us" by ICS president Ron Kuipers, and four articles by Junior Members Kiegan Irish, Jeffrey Hocking, Julia de Boer and Grace Carhart

Thank you to all our faithful subscribers and supporters!

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

Prayer Letter: May 2018

Tuesday, May 1 - Friday, May 4

On May 3rd, in collaboration with the Centre for Community Based Research, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion and Social Ethics (CPRSE) will lead the first in a series of webinars to promote partnerships between faith-based groups and government organizations involved in immigrant settlement. This is an outcome of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded research collaboration “Faith and Settlement Partnerships: Setting Immigrants and Canada Up for Success”. Please pray that this webinar series may contribute to improving the settlement process of immigrants and refugees across Canada.

On May 4th, please remember to pray for Eric Mabry, one of Bob Sweetman’s PhD candidates from Regis College, who will be defending his PhD thesis entitled ”Inquantum est temporaliter Homo factum: Background, Reception, Meaning and Relevance of the Hypothesis of esse secundarium in the Christology of Thomas Aquinas”.

Please pray this week and next for the ICS annual phone-a-thon that is taking place. Pray for the Board members and Junior Members who have volunteered to make these important calls to our donors. May God bless each call with happy engagement and encouragement of one another.

Please pray this week and next for all the preparations needed to be made for the Senate and Board meetings. As well, please pray especially for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she makes all the arrangements for the Convocation event on May 11th. As this is her first time performing this role for ICS, please pray for calmness and clarity of mind as she works through the many details.

Monday, May 7 - Friday, May 11

Please pray for Ron Kuipers’ PhD candidate, Joe Kirby on Monday, May 7th, as he is defending his thesis titled "Moral Ontology in an Age of Science: A Philosophical Case for the Mystery of Goodness". Pray also for fruitful discussions between Joe and the members of the examination committee.

On Thursday, May 10th, 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 consider the range of issues on the agenda concerning ICS academic programs.

Friday, May 11th, the Board of Trustees meet throughout the day starting at 9:00 am. Please pray for grace and wisdom for all our board members and our Chair, John Valk, as they deliberate together on the various matters before them in the care and furtherance of the mission and vision of ICS.
On Friday evening, the ICS community gathers for our annual Convocation. We give thanks to God for sustaining and guiding us in our mission, and for the achievements of our graduating Junior Members. 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 our President, Dr. Ronald Kuipers, as he presents his address, “Something We Don’t See: ICS and the Training of a Messianic Imagination”, as part of the Presidential Inauguration ceremony. We pray for God’s grace for all who will be participating in this special event.

Monday, May 14 - Friday, May 18

Peter Borgdorff was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and is currently receiving radiation treatment in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The prognosis for healing is presently unknown, but Peter and Janet are trusting in the provision afforded by the care of the Lord. The many assurances received from family and friends have been of tremendous encouragement. Thank you all for your care, concern and support.

We want to take this opportunity to give thanks for our donors who have responded so faithfully to our phone-a-thon. We are grateful for God’s provision to us through them and are inspired by their commitment to our mission.

Please pray this month 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 God grant them clarity of mind and inspiration as they develop their insights.

Monday, May 21 - Friday, May 25

Please pray for Ron Kuipers and Pat Webb as they travel to Vancouver this week to meet with various members of the ICS community there. As well, please pray for Ron as he will be participating in the CRC Campus Ministers conference on Wednesday, the 23rd.

Between May 24th and 26th, CPRSE will be hosting eight outstanding undergraduate students from The King’s University, Concordia University, Cornerstone University, and Grenville University in the context of this year’s ICS Undergraduate Workshop, “Philosophy and/as Storytelling.” Please pray that participants and respondents may create a fruitful community of learning over the three days of this workshop.

Monday, May 28 - Thursday, May 31

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.

The 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 phone-a-thon appeal.

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 on May 31st.

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 dyett@icscanada.edu.

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.