Tuesday 5 January 2021

Additional Prayer Announcement

ICS and Vrije Universiteit joint PhD candidate Shane Cudney is defending his thesis virtually on January 8 at 7:45am EST. Shane's thesis is titled Where the Truth Lies. He has been working closely with ICS Emeritus Jim Olthuis to bring this project to fruition, so we ask for prayers that Shane's defense may go smoothly and be a celebratory culmination of all his research and writing efforts. Anyone is allowed to join the proceedings, which you can read more about here (English starts on p.4): https://tinyurl.com/vu-online-promoveren. On January 8, you are welcome to join the live stream of the defense on the YouTube channel for the VU Beadle’s Office here: http://www.youtube.com/VUBeadlesOffice.


Friday 1 January 2021

New Publication in Honour of Duncan Roper

Steuart Henderson is pleased to announce an e-book, In a Reformational Key, now available at https://www.thumbwidthpress.net/product-page/in-a-reformational-key through Thumbwidth Press, a publishing venture by Chris Gousmett in Dunedin.

Henderson is a founder of the Association for Christian Scholarship, a merger in New Zealand and Australia of like-minded organisations established in the 70s. ACS wound up a few years ago, but the spirit of the community lives on, in part in the Reformational Christian Studies Trust. In August 2018, a Colloquium convened in Wellington in honour of Duncan Roper, a co-founder of the group who passed away in October 2016. Roper was also a mathematician, musician, musicologist, theologian, philosopher and author. In a Reformational Key comprises papers by speakers at this colloquium and other contributors. One of these pieces is by ICS Emeritus Doug Blomberg on "Radical Discipleship," and ICS’s Nik Ansell is another of these contributors, having highly valued Roper’s Biblical Foundations for Radical Discipleship (1977).

This publication is an example of the lively legacy of reformational scholarship, as well as ICS's longstanding international connections, in Australia, New Zealand, and beyond from the '60s onward. As the brief introduction to In a Reformational Key states: “Duncan was a tireless promoter of the reformational vision of the Lordship of Christ over all of life, including academic thought…. We trust that this book will help to keep that vision alive, as Duncan so fervently wished.” 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


—1 Peter 5:7

Given the year we have just lived through, I’m sure many of us are approaching 2021 with no small amount of trepidation. While the promise of a Covid-19 vaccine gives us a glimmer of hope that the pandemic is nearing an end, it also appears that this disease is determined to go out with a bang and not a whimper. 2020 has been a humbling year, reminding us of our vulnerability and lack of control, leaving us with increased worry about our personal, social, political, and economic well-being.

The simple message of scripture when we are feeling anxious is to trust our caring God. Think of Jesus’ words at the end of Matthew 6, or the advice Peter gives “to the exiles of the Dispersion,” cited above. What would it mean in 2021, I wonder, to cast all our anxiety on God? The prophet Isaiah tells us that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, “they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Would casting our anxiety on God result in something like that?

I have experienced something like this spiritual effect in my role as President of ICS. The very nature of the job tempts me to worry constantly about the success of our efforts to secure a vibrant and sustainable future for our Christian graduate school. But I have quickly learned that such worry is perfectly useless, even worse it can be debilitating. The only way I have been able to overcome it is simply to do the work that God has called me and everyone at ICS to do, in faithfulness that the God who cares for us will bless our efforts.

So I enter 2021 with renewed hope and energy, in spite of everything that is happening all around us. I do so because I have seen God bless our efforts in 2020, notwithstanding the difficult year it has been, and because trusting is better than worrying. I do so because our efforts at ICS have also been buoyed by all the gifts and notes of encouragement you have sent our way as 2020 drew to a close. Thanks in no small part to your support and encouragement, we can approach our work with renewed hope and energy.

May God bless you all in 2021, and grant you faith to pierce all your anxiety, and hope to renew your strength!

I wish you a blessed New Year, friends!

Ronald A. Kuipers

Prayer Letter: January 2021

 Friday, January 1:

On this New Year’s Day, let us pray with renewed hope that God will grant us open hearts and minds, as well as an excited anticipation, as together we discern and respond to the new things that will come to the surface as we work out our calling for God’s glory. 

And may God’s richest blessings be yours throughout 2021!

Monday, January 4 - Friday, January 8:

We ask for your prayers this week for our Senior Members Ron Kuipers, Bob Sweetman, Gideon Strauss, Edith van der Boom, and Nik Ansell as they make final preparations for the classes they will teach this semester. Pray too for Andew Tebbett and Michael DeMoor as they will be teaching their first ICS course as alumni, and for Samir Gassanov, ICS PhD student, who will be teaching alongside Michael DeMoor.

We ask for your prayers for those students who are still considering what courses to take in the winter semester. For many it means juggling other work and life priorities and so we ask for wisdom as they make their decisions. Pray too for our returning students as they prepare for taking their slotted courses online.

For everything you need to know about all of our winter semester courses, including how to register (and yes, there is still time!) go to http://www.icscanada.edu/winter-2021

Monday, January 11 - Friday, January 15:

Please pray for our Junior Members as they once again resume classes this week. As in the fall, all our courses will be online and so we want to pray for the teachers and the students that the courses will go smoothly on the technical side. We pray for their encouragement and insightful engagement in their studies.

Please pray for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras as she flies back to Toronto on Thursday from Sweden after spending the past five months with her family. Pray for safe and smooth travels and for a sense of peace amidst the pandemic worries.

We would like to pray specifically for each of our teachers this week as they have their first class in the winter semester. A number of the courses on offer touch on topics of immediate relevance so we pray for insight and creativity in their preparation and presentation.

On Monday, starting at 8:00pm, Bob Sweetman will be teaching about the fundamentals and contemporary relevance of reformational philosophy in his course: Religion, Life, and Society

On Tuesday, starting at 2:00pm, Bob Sweetman will be teaching about the weight of rhetoric and emotional affect in philosophical discourse and notions of truth in his course: Rhetoric as Philosophy from Isocrates to the Age of Abelard and Heloise

On Wednesday, starting at 10:00am, Ron Kuipers, Bob Sweetman, and Nik Ansell will facilitate the Interdisciplinary Studies seminar: IDS: Meaning/Being/Knowing (ICS-only)

Also on Wednesday, starting at 2:00pm, Andrew Tebbutt will be teaching about the embodiment and its constitutive political implications in his course: Body, Language, Power

On Thursday, starting at 11:00am, Michael DeMoor and Samir Gassanov will be teaching about the history and grounds for thoughtful critique of capitalism in their course: Capitalism(s) in the West

Also on Thursday, starting at 5:00pm Nik Ansell will be teaching about gender, sexuality, and theology in his course: God/Sex/Word/Flesh

Pray also for our three MA-EL blended learning courses which will begin this week:

  • Deeper Learning: From Wonder to Inquiry to Action with Edith van der Boom;

  • How to Finance a Vision: Setting Direction and Managing Change within Financial Limitations with Gideon Strauss;

  • Transforming the World: The Role of a Christian Educator with Edith van der Boom

Monday, January 18 - Friday, January 22:

We praise God for the successful application to a grant foundation for the purposes of upgrading our remote learning technology. This is a very exciting opportunity and we ask that you would pray along with us for wisdom and insight in how to steward this grant in the most effective way.

We ask you to pray this week for Elizabet Aras as she works out her quarantine after arriving back in Toronto from Sweden, and that she will be able to quickly readjust to living and working in Toronto again.

On Saturday this week, the ICS Senate will convene by Zoom for a special meeting to approve new courses and review the JM handbook. Please pray for wisdom and clarity of mind for the Chair and ICS Chancellor, Dr. Aron Reppmann, as he leads the discussions. Please also pray for Gideon Strauss, our Academic Dean, and all the external and internal senators as they consider these issues. Pray too for Elizabet Aras, as there is a lot to oversee during a virtual meeting, that all will go smoothly so that the meeting can be as productive as possible.

Monday, January 25 - Friday, January 29:

Please pray this week for our Junior Members who still have outstanding work to be submitted from their fall courses. The deadline for submission is on Friday of this week so we ask for clarity and creativity as they complete their assignments.

On Saturday this week, ICS will host a retreat for those students enrolled in the Master of Educational Leadership program. Pray especially for Edith van der Boom and Gideon Strauss as they lead the retreat, and Elizabeth Aras as she facilitates the remote learning technology. We pray that this might be an inspiring and insightful experience for all those who attend.

As our Advent campaign draws to a close, we want to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to you for your faithful support in 2020. We were continually refreshed by God’s presence in our lives and our work through your gifts of prayer and financial support during this challenging year. With your encouragement, we were able to stay the course with alacrity and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t have done it without you!