Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Updated: ICS During COVID-19


During the 2022-2023 academic year ICS learning will continue to take place online, using a combination of Zoom video-conferencing and Google Classrooms. Exceptions to this arrangement (to allow in-person learning) can be made at the written request of all the participants in a particular course, seminar, colloquium, or symposium with the written approval of the Academic Dean.



In the interest of serving the needs of our global community of students and out of concern for the health of our students, instructors, and staff, ICS will continue to offer all learning interactions remotely during the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 academic terms. The ICS executive leadership team will assess conditions during the Winter 2022 term to determine if it would be appropriate to offer some learning interactions in person as of the Summer 2022 term. Students who started ICS programs remotely can rest assured that remote learning will remain an option with regard to all courses and mentoring, even if ICS resumes some in-person learning, also after the Winter 2022 term.

Course information can be found in our Course Catalogue throughout the year. Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.



The following is an important change in the start date for winter term classes in January. ICS will be following the lead of the University of Toronto, Knox College, and the Toronto School of Theology by delaying the start of the Winter 2021 semester by one week. 

This means that classes for the winter term will now begin on Monday, January 11, 2021. For regular 13-week synchronous courses, final assignment deadlines will also be extended by one week. The dates for Reading Week remain the same (February 15-19, 2021). The Academic Calendar has been updated to reflect these changes, and a list of Winter 2021 courses is available here.

Below is a brief note from President Ronald A. Kuipers about this schedule change:

To quote President Gertler of the University of Toronto, these decisions are “prompted by the fact that we’ve all been under an extraordinary amount of stress for months now, because of the burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.... [W]e care deeply about the wellness of each and every one of you. We want to make sure that you’re able to rest and recharge, and to make the most of the upcoming holiday break.”

Let me echo President Gertler's comments, and offer my own words of encouragement to the ICS community. The global pandemic has thrown many challenges our way, and has dramatically changed our daily working and studying routines. I deeply appreciate the efforts everyone has made to maintain community in the midst of our relative isolation. Let's continue to support, pray for, and reach out to each other. If you are struggling, please let us know, so that we can find ways to care for you or address any concerns that you have. Let us continue to bless each other as we have since this all began.

I wish you all God's strength and peace as we continue on this strange journey,


Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.



After a successful summer of online learning, ICS has made the decision to continue to deliver all of our course offerings remotely for the fall semester. We believe this will best enable our Senior and Junior Members to stay safe and healthy while still allowing classes to meet at a distance. We'll miss the presence of our students on campus, but we have growing anticipation for the start of another academic year and of ICS community life (albeit a virtual one!) with new and returning students alike.

Course syllabi are being finalized over the remainder of the summer and details are being ironed out, but the Fall Course Schedule has been set and course descriptions are now available. Our roster of fall courses can be found here: www.icscanada.edu/fall-2020. And, as always, you can reach out to our Registrar Elizabet Aras with any questions you might have about what the upcoming semester will look like.


ICS Leadership, staff, and faculty have been hard at work in past weeks monitoring the daily developments to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, strategizing, and discerning immediate and long-term ways forward for our programming, courses, and events. Today, ICS had to make a number of difficult decisions regarding quickly-approaching events, deadlines, and courses.

Unfortunately, in response to current public health recommendations and the enforced limitations on travel and public gatherings, we must CANCEL Convocation 2020, the honourary doctorate celebration of Dr. Barbara Carvill, and ART in Orvieto 2020. Lord willing, we will have the opportunity to revisit these celebratory and educational opportunities again next year. Thus, our current intention is to honour our 2020 graduates together with our 2021 graduates at our Convocation next May, and to likewise gather to celebrate Dr. Carvill at that time. We also intend to offer ART in Orvieto again during summer 2021.

We've also decided to adapt the original plans and deadlines for our Undergraduate Workshop, the summer course on Hannah Arendt, and admission to our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs. For this year's Undergraduate Workshop, we have tentatively rescheduled the event for Fall 2020 and extended the submission deadline until July 31. For our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs, we've extended our standard application deadline until August 1. And for the Hannah Arendt course, we're currently considering the possibility of the course being delivered remotely.

Given the unpredictability of current circumstances, ICS will continue to offer its courses remotely until further notice in order to remain as adaptable as possible in our efforts to make an ICS education readily available. So please stay tuned for more information regarding upcoming summer course opportunities currently in development, as well as increased possibilities for online education into the next school year. And, if you have any questions about these or any other ICS courses, programs, and events, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email!

We remain cautiously hopeful in these days and, as always, invite your prayers for students, staff, and faculty alike in their various callings and day-to-day lives.

MARCH 17, 2020 UPDATE:

Following the city of Toronto's increased social distancing recommendations, and the University of Toronto's closure of most of their library locations, ICS will close its administrative offices and library effective today until public health authorities declare it advisable to resume in-person operations. We greatly value the health and safety of our staff, faculty, and students--as well as our neighbours--and we consider this a small but important step to slowing the spread of this virus.

ICS staff and faculty will continue working regular hours remotely during this time, and may be reliably contacted by email if you wish to get in touch for any reason. We will continue to monitor the public health situation daily and will make any important updates (including the status of upcoming events and summer courses) known to you here as soon as possible. To that end, we also continue to invite applications to our Undergraduate Workshop in May, our course on Hannah Arendt in April-June, and ART in Orvieto in July-August. No fees for these courses/events will be charged until it is clear that the courses/events will in fact take place.

In the meantime, our Senior and Junior Members forge ahead with classes and projects, our staff go on planning and executing everyday operations, and we all pray for safety and swift healing for those affected by this health crisis. 


In light of the ongoing development of the COVID-19 virus, and in conjunction with our colleagues at the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto, ICS has determined that it is appropriate to cancel all ICS in-person seminars for the remainder of the Winter semester (March 16-April 10). Junior and Senior Members have already been notified accordingly about how to participate in their respective seminars via teleconference during this time period.

Because we share a campus with both Knox College and the University of Toronto, ICS has committed to following the lead of Knox College, the Toronto School of Theology, and the University of Toronto with respect to the implementation of any social distancing measures deemed appropriate.

For the latest on these specific measures, you can read a message from the President of UofT here. For the latest on Canada's COVID-19 monitoring, national response, and prevention and preparation advice, please visit the Government of Canada website or the Toronto Public Health page.

Following campus measures, the ICS offices and library will remain open during this period, and we will continue with daily operations. We will keep you updated as to whether any of this changes, and about the status of upcoming ICS events as we continually monitor the state of affairs on campus, locally, and globally. We also request during this time that anyone who feels ill stay home and seek appropriate healthcare if necessary.

ICS is grateful for your patience and support as we adjust and attend to the unfolding situation day to day, and as we seek to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, and faculty.

Monday, 2 May 2022

God on the Cross

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

—Jeremiah 4:19

I was reminded of this lament from the book of Jeremiah when I recently read it in the thesis of an ICS master’s student, retired CRC pastor Fred VanderBerg. Whereas all the commentaries I have consulted say that in this passage it is Jeremiah who weeps over the coming destruction of his people, a destruction he understands to be punishment from God for their iniquity, pastor Fred instead boldly argues that the forces of sin and death do not need God’s help to wreak their havoc. He goes on to suggest that in this passage it is God, not Jeremiah, who weeps in anguish over the harm that will come to God’s beloved people as they are seduced by and ensnared in the world’s evil. God never stops loving and being with these people, and so shares their suffering.

Fred’s interpretive tweak profoundly shifts our understanding of God’s relationship to a suffering and broken world. God the punisher becomes God the compassionate fellow sufferer, the one who helps carry us through our suffering and who eventually sets our broken hearts aright.

During this Eastertide, I have been pondering another observation I recently heard to the effect that “Jesus is what God looks like.” I confess that I have been more inclined to think in terms of Jesus somehow becoming God (and thereby less like Jesus), rather than the other way around. Was that God on the cross? Was this the ultimate way for our compassionate Creator to enter the arena of human suffering and overcome it for good? Jesus himself told us that “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30).

As the world’s powers turn perpetually to war, now again in the Ukraine not to mention other places, we do well to remind ourselves of our Messiah’s message that God’s kingdom does not come into the world this way. We must look elsewhere, anywhere else. The God who suffers the abject pain and humiliation of the cross heralds a different kind of kingdom, a counter-kingdom of shalom. This is a kingdom that comes into the world not through military might or economic power, but a kingdom that comes through—and is for—the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted (Matthew 5:3-12). It is a tragic thing when people must take up arms to defend themselves and their homes from aggressive attack, and we continue to hope and pray for a day when all the world’s lions finally give up their destructive trust in the ways of violence and lay down beside the lambs who have shown them what God’s counter-kingdom is like.

These truths, which I have long professed, came home to me once again through Pastor Fred’s careful work, and powerfully reminded me of how easily my heart can come to desire things other than the coming of God’s glorious shalom. Please pray that ICS may long continue to be a school that encourages its students and teachers to bear witness to such foolish wisdom.

Shalom, my friends!

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: May 2022

Monday, May 2 - Friday, May 6:

On May 2, ICS Senior Member Edith van der Boom published a short article with Christian Deeper Learning titled “Global Citizen Education: A Responsiveness to Culture.” In it, Edith reflects: “Together with our students we need to challenge ourselves by first looking at our own actions and our biases and how they may need to change to grow into the global citizens we are meant to be.” We are grateful for this opportunity for Edith to publish some of her thoughts on education in this venue.

We ask for your continued prayers for the Leadership Team over the next two weeks as they work toward finalizing the draft 2022-23 budget for approval at the Board meeting on June 3rd. After two full years of the pandemic, we still require wisdom to assess the ongoing impact on our revenue and expenses. We are grateful for God’s provision throughout this past year, and we continue to pray for grace and insight as we endeavour to make the wisest possible stewardship decisions as we plan for the future.

During the month of May, the CPRSE’s Philosophy Otherwise team will focus its activities on the new Ground Motive series, “Philosophy Otherwise: Knowledge Reconsidered, Learning Reimagined.” This online forum seeks to better equip our community to listen to alternative philosophical voices and to integrate them in a renewed approach to the philosophical craft. We pray in thanksgiving for the series’ contributors and participants, as they share their written reflections on this challenging subject with the ICS community and beyond.

Monday, May 9 - Friday, May 10:

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 especially for those who are graduating. May God grant them clarity of mind and inspiration as they develop their insights in their writing projects. As May 27th is the submission deadline for outstanding coursework for the Winter 2022 semester, your prayers for our Junior Members would be most appreciated.

Please pray for the three MA-EL courses which started on April 25th and run through to the week of August 12th. The summer courses running during this time are: Biblical Foundations with Nik Ansell and ICS PhD candidate Mark Standish, Cultivating Learning Communities of Grace with Edith van der Boom, and Lead From Where You Are with Gideon Strauss. Please pray for all the students and faculty that each class will be filled with interactive discussions and inspired moments of learning.

Monday, May 16 - Friday, May 20:

On Monday, Junior Member Grace Carhart will defend her MA thesis entitled Acedia, Despair, Nihilism, and the Chronic Human Condition of Self-Separation: What We Can Learn from a Tradition of Fear and Failure. We congratulate Grace on reaching this important milestone! Please pray for Grace during this time of preparation for her exam and during the defense itself, and pray also for the members of her examination committee—Bob Sweetman (supervisor), Rebekah Smick (internal examiner), and Dr. William V. Rowe (external examiner)—as they engage with Grace’s work, that everyone may experience a fruitful discussion.

Our spring mailing is on its way to a mailbox near you! It includes the latest issue of Perspective (also now available on our website) and the President's letter to our ICS community. We pray that all our readers will thoroughly enjoy this special issue of Perspective devoted to the legacy of Cal and Inès Seerveld who were instrumental in creating and encouraging at ICS an appreciation of life’s aesthetic dimension.

Monday, May 23 - Friday, May 27:

Between May 25-27, ICS will actively participate in the second annual Seeking Justice Conference, organized by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). Focused on the theme “Seeking Justice in our Institutions,” this year’s conference explores ways to co-create more just, faithful, and healthy relationships within institutional frameworks. On Thursday, May 26 at 7:00pm EDT, ICS President Ronald A. Kuipers will participate in a panel marking the release of CPJ’s Equity and Anti-Oppression Statement; and on Friday, May 27 at 1:00pm EDT, CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will co-lead the workshop “Decolonizing Faith as Individuals and Institutions.'' Please pray for all of the conference’s organizers, presenters, and attendees as they engage in these timely and challenging discussions.

Please pray this week for all the preparations that need to be made by the staff, Leadership Team, Senate, and Board members for the upcoming events that will be happening the beginning of June:

  • On Thursday, June 2, the ICS Senate will convene for an all-day meeting. After having adjusted to Senate meetings being conducted by means of online video for the duration of the pandemic, Senators are excited by the prospect of being able to meet in person and on site in Toronto. Please pray for wisdom and clarity of mind for the Chair and ICS Chancellor, Dr. Aron Reppmann, as he leads the sessions, and for all the external and internal Senators as they consider the range of issues on the agenda concerning ICS’s academic programs. We also want to pray for the Academic Dean, Registrar, and ICS staff who will be supporting the Senate meeting, that all will go smoothly to ensure the meeting is as productive as possible.

  • On Friday, June 3rd, the Board of Trustees will meet together in person for the first time in two years. Please pray for grace and wisdom for our Chair, John Joosse, and all Board and Leadership Team members as they deliberate together on the various matters before them at this particular time of the year. We also ask for prayer for our ICS staff as they finalize all the details to ensure a smooth meeting and enjoyable time of fellowship for our trustees.

  • Then at 6pm EDT on Friday, for the first time in three years, our Convocation will take place! Again, we ask for prayer for our staff who will be overseeing the logistical and hospitality details of this event, especially for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she ensures all the academic details of Convocation are in place. Pray too for our graduands and their families who will be traveling to Toronto, that they will have safe journeys and that their participation in this important event in their lives will be inspirational. We ask for your prayers for all those who will be participating in Convocation in an official capacity, and especially for Barbara Carvill, who will be receiving an honourary doctorate on the night and giving the Convocation address. This year’s Convocation ceremony and address will be live-streamed, so keep an eye out for those details in the June E-Newsletter (you can also email Danielle at ics-communications@icscanada.edu to let us know ahead of time if you’d like to receive the live-stream information).

Between June 8–11, ICS will host its 2022 Summer Community Conference: "Difficult Conversations, Difficult Journeys, Difficult Justice.” This online space for reflection, dialogue, and capacity-building aims to offer participants the tools to think critically and dialogue constructively about the most pressing issues faced by our communities today—such as polarization, colonization, systemic oppression, and Indigenous-settler relations. ICS Senior Members Edith van der Boom, Rebekah Smick, Ron Kuipers, and Nik Ansell will offer keynote presentations. The conference is free, so please consider registering, and sharing the link to invite your friends and family to join the conversation too! Please also pray that this event will be a fruitful step in our community’s ongoing journey towards justice.

Monday, May 30 - Tuesday, May 31:

Andrew Tebbutt will be teaching a summer intensive during June 13 - July 22, The Visible, The Invisible, and the Revealed: Phenomenology and Christianity, which explores philosophical innovations—such as love, faith, grace, Word, and incarnation—that a phenomenology of Christianity makes available to thought, as well as other philosophical themes—such as attention, embodiment, language, and community—that are enriched by the intersection of phenomenology and Christianity. Registration is still open for this course (just email Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu). Please pray for students to find their way to the course and for a time of deep and inspiring conversations for Andrew and the course participants.

Register Today for the Online ICS Summer Community Conference!


We are excited to announce some of the details about our upcoming ICS Summer Community Conference on June 8-11, 2022! The conference is free to attend and will take place online so our community can join us from anywhere in the world. The theme of this year's event is: “Difficult Conversations, Difficult Journeys, Difficult Justice.” 

We are hoping this will be a space for reflection, dialogue, and fellowship curated by the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics. Through a combination of webinar sessions, workshops, and moderated conversations, this conference aims to generate constructive dialogue about some of the most pressing issues faced by our communities today. The conference’s ultimate goal is to offer participants the tools to think critically and dialogue constructively about issues such as polarization, colonization, systemic oppression, and Indigenous-settler relations. 

ICS Senior and Junior Members, alums, and institutional partners will enrich this conference with their contributions, offering the audience a glimpse into their current teaching and research. ICS Senior Members Edith van der Boom, Rebekah Smick, Ronald A. Kuipers, and Nik Ansell are our confirmed keynote speakers. 

We're in the process of finalizing conference details, but a fuller description of the conference, a schedule outlining events, and a link to register are now available. Visit the conference webpage to register and for more information as it becomes available: icscanada.edu/summer-conference

Feel free to share this link and invite your friends and family into these important conversations!

ICS Participating in CPJ Seeking Justice Conference

During May 25-27, ICS will be sponsoring and participating in the second annual Seeking Justice Conference, organized by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). The theme of this year's conference is “Seeking Justice in our Institutions,” exploring ways to co-create more just, faithful, and healthy relationships within institutional frameworks. ICS will be presenting at the conference in the following sessions:

  • On Thursday, May 26 at 7:00pm EDT, ICS President Ronald A. Kuipers will participate in a panel marking the release of CPJ’s Equity and Anti-Oppression Statement.

  • On Friday, May 27 at 1:00pm EDT, CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will co-lead the workshop “Decolonizing Faith as Individuals and Institutions.''

The conference this year will be entirely online and there are a variety of ticket options available if you would like to attend these or any of the many other exciting sessions. Visit cpj.ca/sj2022/ for all the details. 

Friday, 1 April 2022

Art, Hope, and Healing

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

—2 Corinthians 5:17

Over the past decade, a small, hopeful thing has been happening in Toronto. Local artists have been busy transforming small pieces of civic infrastructure, specifically those gunmetal grey utility boxes, into wonderfully playful and insightful works of art. I am delighted whenever I discover a new one, as this buzzing city becomes incrementally more livable each time an artist I don’t know communicates something to me about the way she sees and experiences the familiar places and spaces we both call home.

Yet public art is not always sweetness and light. Last year, in our Interdisciplinary Seminar, we had the good fortune to discuss former ICS Senior Member Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin’s book Art, Conflict, and Remembering: The Murals of the Bogside Artists. In this catalogue, Dengerink Chaplin chronicles the story behind the creation of twelve large murals of “commemorative public art” in the city of Derry, which tell a candid yet ultimately healing story about the time of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. As Dengerink Chaplin explains, “the murals…provide a safe space and talking point to deal with the past. They facilitate the kind of open-ended conversations that are essential for the proper processing of complex and confused traumatic memories” (Art, Conflict, and Remembering, 17). In Derry, artistic work that courageously portrays a community’s wounds simultaneously provides the occasion to examine, address, and even heal those wounds.

Easter is a good time I think to reflect on the role human artistic creation can play in helping us work through and even heal trauma. For the connection we perceive between art and healing is no accident, but rather reflects the fact that God is both our creator and redeemer, a maker and a healer, an artist and a physician—simultaneously. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, quoted above, Jesus Messiah’s sacrificial act of redemption is itself a new creation. If we are in Christ, then we are a new creation as well—called to create anew, to imagine God’s kingdom of shalom where justice and peace embrace, to exemplify for each other what that kingdom looks like, and to do all we can to make it a reality today.

Shalom, my friends! May the peace of Christ be with you and with our world.

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: April 2022

Friday, April 1:

The application deadline for MA-EL (Fall entry) and MWS-ART is today, April 1st. Please pray particularly for those students who may be wrestling with their decision to make their application that they might have discernment and clarity of mind.

Please pray this week and next that additional new students will register for our upcoming MA-EL courses being offered over the spring and summer. The following courses will begin during the last week in April: Lead From Where You Are, Cultivating Learning Communities of Grace, Biblical Foundations. Please also pray for Gideon Strauss and Edith van der Boom as they prepare their materials and for inspiration and creativity in their leadership of the classes.

Monday, April 4 - Friday, April 8:

On Monday, April 4, 1:30-3:30pm, ICS/CPRSE will host a virtual event with Dr. Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin, celebrating the recent publication of her book: The Philosophy of Susanne Langer: Embodied Meaning in Logic, Art and Feeling. Adrienne will join us for a presentation on her book, with responses from Dr. Rebekah Smick (ICS Senior Member in Philosophy of Arts and Culture) and Danielle Yett, and a question and answer periodall of which will be open to the public. Please pray for Adrienne, Rebekah, and Danielle as they offer their time and talent to our community through this event.

Please pray for our Perspective production team this month as they work hard to finish the editing of the articles and compiling the content for the spring issue. Pray for our team as they give leadership to the process, ensure that all runs according to the timeline to meet our printing deadline, and prepare all the data for the mailing.

We have recently purchased a new donor database, DonorPerfect, and are in the process of transferring the data from our old database to the new one. This is a time-consuming and exacting process so we ask for prayer this month for our advancement team as they work together with the data transfer specialists to ensure a smooth and accurate transition to DonorPerfect.

Please pray this month for the instructors and students in our Spring-Summer 2022 courses, Biblical Foundations (Mark Standish), Cultivating Learning Communities of Grace (Edith van der Boom), and Lead from Where You Are (Gideon Strauss). These courses start in April and finish in August, and are presented through a mix of asynchronous online learning and synchronous online video sessions. And each of these courses still has room for additional students.

Monday, April 11 - Friday, April 15:

As Thursday the 14th is the last day of classes, we ask for your prayers this week for the faculty and students as they finish up their class time and move onto finishing their course assignments. We ask for prayers particularly for those students who wish to convocate in June that they would have clarity and inspiration for finishing their assignments before April 22nd. We also ask for prayers for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she coordinates the academic administrative details that are necessary at this time of the year.

Please pray for the administrative staff of ICS who are hard at work preparing for a busy schedule of events after the end of this term, including a Senate meeting, a Board meeting, and the first in-person convocation in two years. We are excited to have these celebrations and events to look forward too, Lord willing, and pray for clarity of mind as we navigate the many details involved in planning. 

Normally there would be a Spring retreat event at this time to celebrate the culmination of the academic year, but this year the plans are for a ‘Spring Connect’ event to be held sometime next week. Again, we ask for prayer for Elizabet as she puts the final touches on this event, and for the faculty, staff and students who will attend that this might be an uplifting experience for all.

Please join us in giving thanks for the rich and meaningful interactions that have taken place in our MA/PhD and MA-EL courses with students over this past term. It has been an especially taxing year for many of our Junior Members, and we commend them for their fortitude. Please pray for students who are finishing up their coursework so that they may have the energy and creativity needed to apply what they have learned throughout their courses to their final projects.

The ICS Board met virtually last month. Among the items on their agenda, the Board reappointed Pamela Beattie (University of Louisville) and Henry Luttikhuizen each to their second term on the ICS Senate. We are grateful to Pam and Henry for their willingness to serve on the Senate, and we pray in gratitude for their continued contributions to the life of ICS in these roles. 

Monday, April 18 - Friday, April 22:

The Leadership Team, and especially Harley Dekker as he pulls all the materials together, will be working hard on the coming year’s budget. Please pray for them in their deliberations, that they might be granted insight, wisdom, and hope as they make stewardship decisions for the 2022-2023 budget year in the midst of this still unpredictable financial environment.

On Tuesday, April 19th at 3:00pm EDT, Andrew Tebbutt, Postdoctoral Research Associate at ICS’s Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics, will present the talk, “Sharing Singularity: Hegel on the Language of Forgiveness.” This event will be an opportunity for our community to learn more about the scholarly work that Andrew has undertaken over the past two years, as well as an occasion to celebrate his appointment as Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Christian College. Please pray in thanksgiving for Andrew’s contribution to the life of ICS, and for God’s rich blessings for him as he starts a new stage in his academic career.

Monday, April 25 - Friday, April 29:

We ask for prayer for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she makes the detailed plans involved in hosting Convocation this year on June 3rd. ICS has not hosted any formal in-person events in two and a half years, and it's an overwhelming task to arrange a COVID-safe event, especially when we can't guarantee that the government won't revert to any social gathering restrictions again. This year, we will be celebrating 11-13 program graduands, as well as Barbara Carvill's honorary degree.

We recently learned that our landlords at Knox College have agreed to sell their buildings and property at 59 St. George (where ICS is currently located) to the University of Toronto. Until more information becomes available, it is not certain what this sale means for ICS. Please pray for wisdom and discernment as ICS's Leadership Team explores the impact that this development will have on ICS, for God's providence as we adjust to this fluid situation and explore the options available to us (including remaining in our current location), and for our faculty, staff, and students to experience minimal disruption as we move through this time of uncertainty.

April 19: Research Associate Lecture with Andrew Tebbutt

On Tuesday, April 19th at 3:00pm EDT, Dr. Andrew Tebbutt, Postdoctoral Research Associate at ICS’s Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics, will present the talk, “Sharing Singularity: Hegel on the Language of Forgiveness.” This event will be an opportunity for our community to learn more about the scholarly work that Andrew has undertaken over the past two years, as well as an occasion to celebrate his appointment as Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Christian College. 

Below you will find some more details about the presentation and Andrew's bio. To RSVP and receive the Zoom details, please email cprse@icscanada.edu. We hope to see you then!

Presentation Abstract:

Matters of conscience are often described as involving an ultimate commitment or call to action, one that transcends the universal requirements of law and engages our singularity as individuals, and thus speaks to us in the privacy of our inward lives, which we convey to others only derivatively and secondarily. Although it takes seriously the experience of an “inner voice” of conscientious commitment, Hegel’s account of conscience in the Phenomenology of Spirit presents a challenge to the privacy criterion, showing how the other features of conscience—ultimacy and singularity—imply an understanding of conscience as inherently communicative. My presentation traces this description of conscience as it appears in Hegel’s text, and attends specifically to the unique gestures of confession and forgiveness that Hegel associates with the communication of conscience. I explore what has been called Hegel’s “sacramental” understanding of confession and forgiveness, and outline a significant implication for the understanding of religious language. Although Hegel’s analysis enables an interpretation of forgiveness as a distinctly theological form of speech, it demonstrates the impossibility (logically speaking) of claiming to possess the terms of forgiveness within any one particular theological or religious idiom.

Andrew’s Bio:

Andrew Tebbutt is Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics at the Institute for Christian Studies. Drawing on phenomenology and German idealism, Andrew’s research explores the significance of ethical and religious community for the cultivation of personal identity and the development of political responsibility, and applies this work to current discussions about the legitimacy of religious contributions to public discourse, interreligious dialogue, and the nature of secularity. He is currently developing a book project on the efficacy of forgiveness as a model for interreligious dialogue, based on his doctoral research on the intersection of forgiveness and religion in G. W. F. Hegel’s philosophy. Andrew also teaches and researches in the areas of German idealism, phenomenology, and existentialism more generally, in particular through figures such as Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hannah Arendt, and Paul Ricoeur.

* * *

Research Associate Lecture with Dr. Andrew Tebbutt
Tuesday, April 19th 2022, 3:00pm - 4:30pm EDT

Please email cprse@icscanada.edu for Zoom Meeting details

Monday, 21 March 2022

April 4: Virtual Book Celebration with Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin

After some COVID-related delays, we're excited to be able to announce a virtual event with Dr. Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin celebrating the recent publication of her book: The Philosophy of Susanne Langer: Embodied Meaning in Logic, Art and Feeling. 

Adrienne will join us on Monday, April 4, 1:30-3:30pm EDT via Zoom for a presentation on her book, responses from Dr. Rebekah Smick (ICS Senior Member in Philosophy of Arts and Culture) and Danielle Yett (ICS alumna), and a question and answer period -- all of which will be open to the public. 

Below you will find some more details about the book and Adrienne's bio. We hope to see you then!

Book Summary:

The Philosophy of Susanne Langer: Embodied Meaning in Logic, Art and Feeling is a presentation of the philosophy of Susanne K. Langer (1895–1985) against the background of major advances in twentieth-century European and American thought. Langer is one of the most original and fertile American thinkers of the twentieth century, yet her work is still insufficiently recognized and frequently misunderstood. To illuminate the evolution and shape of Langer’s thought, this book focuses on her four most formative sources: her mentors Henry Sheffer and Alfred N. Whitehead, and the philosophers Ernst Cassirer and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This reveals how her thinking was not only forged out of a critical engagement with significant intellectual traditions of her time but also anticipated many of the major developments and philosophical ‘turns’ of ours. Her original and innovative thought crosses the customary boundaries between analytic and continental philosophy, and places aesthetics not at the margins of philosophy but at its very centre.

Short Bio:

Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London and a Research Associate at the Margaret Beaufort Institute in Cambridge. She works on the interface of philosophical and theological aesthetics and has taught and published widely in those areas. She is the co-author of Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts, published by IVP in 2001.

Originally from the Netherlands, Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin studied philosophy, art history and musicology in Amsterdam - while spending her final year at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto to study with Calvin Seerveld - before moving to live and work in the UK. Between 1999 and 2007 she taught philosophical aesthetics at the graduate school the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto during which time she was also an adjunct faculty member of the Toronto School of Theology. She served as President of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics from 2005 until 2007 and subsequently as their Canadian delegate on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Aesthetics. Upon her move to the UK she worked as an independent scholar with various temporary lectureships including a one-year appointment as Teaching Fellow in Religion, Philosophy and the Arts at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College in London in 2016-2017.

She has a special interest in public and socially engaged art and is the founding curator of the travelling exhibition Art, Conflict and Remembering: the Murals of the Bogside Artists which has been hosted by several cathedrals and universities in the UK, as well as organisations promoting peace and social justice. Her book The Philosophy of Susanne Langer: Embodied Meaning in Logic, Art and Feeling was published by Bloomsbury in 2020.

* * *

Jeff Dudiak Publishes Next Book in Currents of Reformational Thought Series

The latest book in the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics' Currents in Reformational Thought book series has just been published with Wipf and Stock! 

Dr. Jeffrey Dudiak, ICS alum and Professor of Philosophy at The King's University in Edmonton, is the author of this newest title in the series: Post Truth? Facts and Faithfulness. This book is available directly from the publisher's website as well as other online book sellers. Here is a brief synopsis of the book from the publisher's site:

In Post-Truth? Facts and Faithfulness, Jeffrey Dudiak explores the fissures and fractures that vex our so-called "post-truth" era, searching for a deeper, dare we say truer, understanding of the cultural forces that have led North American society to become so polarized. Eschewing the kind of easy responses that trade pluralistic solidarity for tribalistic certainty, Dudiak diagnoses a deeper breakdown in social trust as the underlying issue that has everyone today scurrying for comforting, ideological cover. In this context, Dudiak reminds the reader that truth is more, and runs deeper, than simple correspondence to the facts.

New Ground Motive Content: One Series Ends, Another Begins

There's some new reading material available over at the Ground Motive blog. We've wrapped up our "Uprooting Racism" series and have begun a new series: "Philosophy Otherwise: Knowledge Reconsidered, Learning Reimagined.This new series will feature a number of pieces from Junior and Senior Members of the ICS community as well as colleagues from other institutions doing work to expand and reimagine the craft of philosophy in the light of contemporary challenges. 

The series will be edited by Héctor Acero Ferrer (Associate Director, CPRSE), Andrew Tebbutt (Research Associate, CPRSE), and Abbi Hofstede (ICS Junior Member). Have a look at the series introduction and keep your eyes open for new posts in this series over the course of the coming months.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Prayer Letter: March 2022

Tuesday, March 1 - Friday, March 4:

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an ICS student? Know someone who’s curious about ICS? During the months of March and April, we’ll be opening up several of our classes to any interested visitors who'd like a chance to see what an ICS course is like. Anyone interested in attending can RSVP to Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu. Please pray for each of these online sessions and for the students who find their way here, that ICS might speak to their desires for their future studies.

Please pray for our Perspective production team as they work hard to finish compiling the content for the spring issue. Pray particularly for Danielle Yett and Héctor Acero Ferrer as they give leadership to the process, ensuring that all runs according to the timeline amid continuing paper supply shortages. The content of this issue will be inspired by Cal Seerveld’s idea of living “glocally,” and we ask God to give the authors creative minds as they write and encouragement as they participate in this project together.

March is a very busy time for the recruitment team as they work to get all the promotional materials for the summer and fall courses created and sent out to our various student populations. This is particularly urgent for our MA-EL courses because they need to be communicated before the March break when teachers and principals tend to make decisions about the courses they will take in the summer and fall semesters. Pray for energy, inspiration and creativity for the whole team.

We are grateful for the willingness of Beth Green (Provost of Tyndale University and an education scholar) to serve as the Vice Chair of the ICS Senate. The Senate elected Beth to this position in its meeting in January 2022. We pray for God's blessing on and guidance to Beth in her service to both ICS and Tyndale University. We would also like to express our gratitude for the work of the whole ICS Senate at that meeting in reviewing and approving revised ICS academic policies for the academic year 2022-2023. We pray for God's blessing on all our ICS external Senators: Beth Green, Janel Kragt Bakker (Memphis Theological Seminary), Pamela Beattie (University of Louisville), John Caruana (Ryerson University), Kristin Kobes Du Mez (Calvin University), Henry Luttikhuizen, Margie Patrick (The King’s University), and ICS Chancellor and Senate Chair Aron Reppmann (Trinity Christian College).

Monday, March 7 - Friday, March 11:

This week, ICS/CPRSE will launch “Philosophy Otherwise,” a new Ground Motive blog series exploring practices that better equip scholars—individually and as a community—to listen to alternative philosophical voices and to integrate them in the traditional approach to the philosophical craft. Please pray for the “Philosophy Otherwise” team, Abbigail Hofstede, Andrew Tebbutt, Danielle Yett, and Héctor Acero Ferrer, as they compile and edit contributions to this series.

The Finance Committee will begin preparations this month for developing the 2022-2023 budget proposal for consideration by the Board at its June 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 8-10, MA-EL Program Director Edith van der Boom will be attending the Converge Global Christian School Leadership Summit in San Diego. Please pray that Edith may have safe travels to and from the conference. Please pray also that this conference will provide Edith with inspiration and many opportunities for deep interactions with fellow colleagues in educational leadership.  

Thursday, March 10 is the open class session for our Interdisciplinary Seminar (IDS) on Colonization, Racial Identity, and What it Means to be Human. We continue in our prayers for Senior Members and Junior Members participating in this year's timely IDS, and for the students who may join them on this particular day. Join us in praying that the readings and conversations throughout this course will illuminate the realities within which we live, and will spark scholarship that will contribute to truth and reconciliation.

In January 2022 the ICS Senate conducted its first ever Reflective Practice Conversations, with Senior Members Nik Ansell and Rebekah Smick. These conversations will be a core part of the work of the Senate and of the performance evaluations of ICS faculty as of this year. Nik and Rebekah received written commendations on behalf of the Senate, which included the following observations. Janel Kragt Bakker wrote: "Thank you, Nik, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking reflections about what you have offered to the life of the Institute for Christian Studies in this particular season of your vocation as a Senior Member of the community. I was struck by the breadth of your contributions, both in terms of the various facets of your work in scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and service, as well as in the wide-reaching and interdisciplinary nature of your academic work." Pamela Beattie wrote: "I was recently reminded of a saying of Plutarch, who reputedly declared that: 'A mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.' As I reflected in turn on your reflection, Rebekah, it occurred to me that there are many different kinds of fires, and that in the academic world, this statement could be seen as particularly applicable to scholars such as you, whose work it is to engage with the broader community beyond the confines of academia." We are grateful for the work of Nik and Rebekah and, with the Senate, pray for them as their scholarship contributes to ICS being (in the words of our mission) "an interdisciplinary graduate school where the gospel's message of renewal shapes our pursuit of wisdom."

Monday, March 14 - Friday, March 18:

We have been receiving applications from students wishing to begin various academic programs in the fall. As Elizabet, our Registrar, sends out admission letters to these students, please pray for them as they discern whether they will make ICS their academic home, and as they plan for their immediate and long term futures. Pray too for our Financial Aid Committee as they meet to discuss scholarships and awards for new and current students. Pray especially for those students wishing to apply for the MA-EL and MWS-ART programs so they can make their decisions in time for the application deadline of April 1.

Pray today, Tuesday the 15th, for Bob Sweetman’s class, Reformational Philosophy as this is another of our open classes where we invite interested students to participate. Pray that this opportunity will provide an interesting experience for these student guests and provide important information on the learning opportunities at ICS.

ICS welcomes our new Librarian Peter Gorman on March 16! We are grateful to the Librarian Search Committee (Marci Frederick, Elizabet Aras, Héctor Acero Ferrer, and Gideon Strauss) for their diligent work in reviewing applications and interviewing candidates, and to our President, Ron Kuipers, for finalizing the interviewing process and appointing Peter. We pray for Peter as he moves into this new position, that he will experience a warm welcome from our community and for the contribution he will make to the scholarship of our instructors and students.

Please pray this month for Elizabet Aras as she begins the planning process for Convocation 2021, which will happen in June if we are able to have an in-person event. This is always a special event for ICS and its graduates and families, especially this year as we celebrate Barb Carvill as she receives an honorary doctorate for her outstanding contribution to Christian higher education around the globe, and for her steadfast commitment to ICS and its mission. We’ve been unable to organize a convocation for two years now, so please pray that any pandemic restrictions will be such that we will still be able to have a wonderful in-person event and celebrate the accomplishments of our many graduates!

On March 18th, please pray for our MA student, Abbigail Hofstede, as she will have her thesis examination sometime this month. Please also pray for Supervisor and Chair, Gideon Strauss, Internal Examiner, Jonathan Chaplin, and External Examiner, Govert Buijs that they might have wisdom and discernment in this important part of Abbigail’s degree process.

Monday, March 21 - Friday, March 25:

Please pray this Monday for our Board of Trustees as they meet this evening. The Board will be discussing board development and succession, ways to support the President, and a positive financial update. We ask for guidance as they discuss these matters, and continued wisdom in their decision-making. As this is the time of year when they begin to look forward to the next fiscal year and its budget, we ask God to give them clarity and understanding of the operational needs of ICS as it continues to work out its mission.

Please pray on Thursday, the 24th for Edith van der Boom’s open class session of Deeper Learning. We want to pray that the student guests who join us will find the material inspiring and provide important insights about the MA-EL program to help them discern if this program is right for them.

On Friday, March 25th at 1:30pm, Andrew Tebbutt, Postdoctoral Research Associate at ICS’s Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics, will present the talk, “Sharing Singularity: Hegel on the Language of Forgiveness.” This event will be an opportunity for our community to learn more about the scholarly work that Andrew has undertaken over the past two years, as well as an occasion to celebrate his appointment as Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Christian College. Please pray in thanksgiving for Andrew’s contribution to the life of ICS, and for God’s rich blessings for him as he starts a new stage in his academic career.

Monday, March 28 - Thursday, March 31:

This month, ICS/CPRSE published the third volume in its Currents in Reformational Thought series (Wipf & Stock) titled, Post-Truth? Facts and Faithfulness, by The King’s University Philosophy Professor and ICS Cross-Appointed Faculty, Jeffrey Dudiak. In this book, Dr. Dudiak reminds us what the richer understanding of truth embedded in the Reformational tradition has to say to today’s polarized North American society. Please pray with us in thanksgiving for Dr. Dudiak and the gift of his scholarly and pedagogical work.

We continue in our prayers for the school administrators participating in Gideon Strauss' course How to Govern a School, that their studies will contribute richly to the leadership they provide in their own schools: Angie Bonvanie (Halton Hill Christian School), Carla Buckingham (John Knox Christian School, Oakville), Sara Flokstra (Trinity Christian School, Burlington), David Geertsema (Alliston Community Christian School), Colin Hoving (Toronto District Christian High School), Jason Jarvis (Halton Hills Christian School), David Park (Pickering Christian School), and Yadira Quintanilla (Presbyterian Church Schools in Belize).

The last day of classes for the Winter 2022 semester is fast approaching! Please pray for the students as they work hard to complete their assignments and study for their final papers. We especially want to pray for those Junior Members who intend to graduate this year, as well as those who are finalizing their theses or preparing for their defenses.

The Witness of Wildness

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

—Mark 1:12 (NRSV)

I have always liked the ICS logo, especially the way the negative space surrounding the letter ‘C’ depicts the image of a descending dove. Long understood as a Christian symbol of peace, the dove’s presence in our logo emphasizes the fact that ICS is an educational community committed to following the way of shalom, the life-abundant way of justice and peace that our Maker and Redeemer has given us to travel in faith.

The three synoptic gospels, in their recording of the events surrounding Jesus’ baptism, all report that immediately after the baptism the heavens open, and the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove (John’s gospel also testifies to this event, without directly referring to Jesus’ baptism). Here’s where things get even more interesting. After a voice from heaven proclaims that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, with whom he is well pleased, the first act of the descended Holy Spirit is to send Jesus to the wilderness.

As I was reading the gospel of Mark’s account of these events, I began to wonder if the image of the descending dove is as irenic as I first took it to be. Whereas the gospels of Matthew and Luke report that the heavens were “opened,” Mark’s gospel says they were “torn apart.” And whereas the gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us that the Holy Spirit then “led” Jesus into the wilderness, Mark’s gospel says the Spirit immediately “drove him out” into it. (I checked: the Greek word translated as “drives out,” ekballei, is the same word used when Jesus “casts out” demons.) Thanks to Mark’s gospel, now I have the image of a heaven ripped violently open, from which descends a dove unlike any other, speeding to earth with the power to drive even God’s own beloved Son into the wilderness.

Yet perhaps Mark’s more violent tone provides a fitting foil to the more dulcet strains of Matthew and Luke. Mark’s tone offers an important reminder that here we are before forces we do not control and cannot domesticate. The witness of the wilderness itself reminds us that the islands of domesticity we have carved out for ourselves still depend on the untamed and untameable forces of God’s good creation for their very life. Prominent biblical figures, Jesus not least among them, repair to the wilderness to draw near to God precisely because it is wild.

During the upcoming season of Lent, as we contemplate the forty days that Jesus Messiah spent fasting in the wilderness—where he endured Satan’s temptation, hung out with the wild beasts, and was also ministered to by angels—we do well to think about our Western culture’s pretension, and even anxiety, to control and domesticate people, places, creatures, and the course of events. Perhaps we can use our Lenten reflection to help us let go of this desire to be ‘masters of all we survey’. Maybe then the angels will come to minister to us—once we have made peace with the wildness within and without, when we have learned how to embrace our human life within the contours of what ICS professor emeritus Jim Olthuis calls “the wild spaces of love.”

I look at the ICS logo a little differently now, and I think I like it even more than I did before.

Shalom, friends!

Ron Kuipers

Online Open Classes in March and April

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an ICS student? Know someone who’s curious about ICS? During the months of March and April, we’ll be opening up several of our classes to any interested visitors who'd like a chance to see what an ICS course is like. Online open class sessions are taking place on the following dates (all times listed are EST):

  • March 10, 10am-1pm: IDS: Colonization, Racial Identity, and What it Means to be Human (Ron Kuipers) - The Americas have yet to work through the damaging legacy of European colonization, and the deleterious consequences of the European colonizers’ attempt to dominate or eliminate the different cultural groups with whom they came into contact. This seminar will attempt to confront this legacy by listening to some of the voices that colonizers had sought to silence, particularly prominent Black, Indigenous, and Latin American thinkers as they engage Western thought on the question of what it means to be human.

  • March 15, 2pm-5pm: Reformational Philosophy (Bob Sweetman) - Explore central issues in philosophy through the lens of Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the “Amsterdam School” of neoCalvinian thought. In this foundational ICS course with Bob Sweetman, you'll test the relevance of the reformational philosophical tradition for recent developments in Western philosophy and attend to critiques of foundationalism, metaphysics, and modernity.

  • March 24, 4pm-7pm: Deeper Learning (Edith van der Boom) - In this course for instructional leaders, explore learning as a journey from wonder to inquiry to practice. Edith van der Boom helps Christian educators develop Deeper Learning within the context of a celebration of the learner, a mindfulness towards learning design, and a responsiveness to culture.

  • March 31, 2pm-5pm: Individuality in the Franciscan Thought of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham (Bob Sweetman) - Examine the thought of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham in relation to the doctrine of “individuality” in this seminar with Bob Sweetman. Against the backdrop of Franciscan spirituality and Aristotelianism, this course will closely consider philosophical accounts of our daily experience of both universality in the world (the fact that creatures come to us in kinds) and individuality (the fact that it is individual creatures that come to us in kinds).

  • April 7, 4pm-7pm: How to Govern a School: Board Governance, Decision-Making, and Community-Engagement (Gideon Strauss) - Designed for new and aspiring principals, school leadership teams, and school boards; this new course, taught by Gideon Strauss, provides frameworks and tools for leadership in educational governance. Learn about the work of nurturing relationships among school stakeholders, with a focus on the pivotal relationship between the board and school leadership.

Anyone interested in joining any of these classes can send an RSVP to Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu.

PhD Graduate Shane Cudney Book Published with Pickwick

ICS graduate Shane Cudney, who successfully defended his joint ICS / Vrije Universiteit PhD dissertation in January 2021, has published this dissertation as a book with Pickwick Publications (an imprint of Wipf & Stock). The book is titled: Where the Truth Lies: Pseudonymity, Complicity, and Critique in Fear and Trembling.

The book is available in a number of formats directly from the Wipf & Stock website and other retailers. A description of Shane's book follows below:

Johannes de Silentio, the pseudonymous author of Fear and Trembling, concludes that faith is "absurd" (irrational), and therefore lies beyond the scope of reason. But if we ascribe authorship ultimately to Kierkegaard, as is common practice, we must conclude that he himself is an irrationalist. Given the myriad of competing voices throughout Kierkegaard's writings, this seems highly questionable at best.If, however, we take the pseudonymous author strictly at his authorial word, it changes the shape and dynamic of the text inviting us to read it, instead, as a "thought experiment." In this way, the text demonstrates both the absurdity and sin of reason in its bid to fully grasp the mystery of faith on its own rational terms.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Prayer Letter: February 2022

Tuesday, February 1 - Friday, February 4:

February 1st is the application deadline for new students wishing to enroll in the MA and PhD programs. Please pray for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she compiles all the application files so that the Admissions Committee can effectively evaluate the applications. Please pray for the committee too as they make decisions about who will be accepted to study at ICS, and for the students themselves as they discern their next steps.

Please pray this week for the Librarian Search Committee as they review the applications received from prospective candidates to replace Hilary Barlow who will be moving on to her new job on February 14th. We hope to have someone in place for when Hilary leaves so pray that they will have wisdom and discernment for this important task.

On February 4th, Mark Standish’s doctoral pre-dissertation examination will take place. Mark is enrolled in the joint ICS-VUA PhD program, which means that his committee consists of four people: Neal DeRoo (ICS Supervisor), Luigi Corrias (VUA Dissertation Advisor or Internal Examiner), Ron Kuipers (Internal Examiner), and Peter Nyers (External Examiner, McMaster University). Please pray for wisdom and discernment for all the members of the examination committee, and for Mark that he will have clarity of mind and gain new insights through this important learning opportunity.

SAVE THE DATE! On June 9th-11th, 2022, ICS/CPRSE will host its 2022 Summer Community Conference. This online event promises to be a wonderful opportunity for the whole ICS community to come together in learning, fellowship, and action, as well as to support the scholarly and pedagogical work done by our Senior and Junior Members. We pray for the Conference Steering Committee, and for all conference contributors and volunteers, as they plan the workshops, plenaries, and reflections that will be offered at the conference. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information about this summer event!

Monday, February 7 - Friday, February 11:

February is tax receipt month at ICS! Please pray particularly for Harley Dekker, Elizabet Aras and Vidya Williams as they lead the process of preparing the receipts for our donors and students. This is quite a time-consuming task and needs to be finished by the end of February. We ask for God’s sustaining grace for all involved.

Please continue to pray for the Recruitment Team—Brenna, Héctor, Danielle, Elizabet, Pat, and Gideon—as they work on the priority this month of promoting the MA-EL program and courses for the summer and fall semesters. We seek creativity and vision to create a promotional strategy that will help teachers and principles learn about the unique virtues of our MA-EL program and decide if it is the right fit for their ongoing professional development.

On Thursday, February 10th, from 4:00 to 5:00pm EST, ICS will host an online Open House to provide a means to promote the MA-EL program to teachers and educational administrators who are thinking about upgrading their professional qualifications. An overview of the MA-EL program will be provided so that participants will be able to determine if this learning opportunity is a good fit for them. Two current MA-EL students (one from the instructional stream and one from the school administration stream) will join a principal from a local Christian school to share their experiences of the program. Please pray for Edith van der Boom, Gideon Strauss, and Elizabet Aras as they prepare for the Open House. Please pray also for those who are participating in the program as they share their experiences, and for all those who attend that it will be an engaging and informative experience. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in attending, please contact Elizabet Aras at: academic-registrar@icscanada.edu. Please note that the last day to register for this event is Monday, February 7th.

Over the course of the past year, we've been working on updating and redesigning our website. Thanks in large part to a successful grant application to The Priscilla and Stanford Reid Trust, we were able to bring this project to fruition. We offer prayers of thanksgiving for the financial support of the Reid Trust on this project, and we look forward to exploring more possibilities for making ICS resources, information, and events virtually accessible into the future.

Monday, February 14 - Friday, February 18:

This week, we say goodbye to our librarian Hilary Barlow. We’d like to thank Hilary for the four and a half years of service she’s given ICS, stewarding our library collections, making resources available to our community, helping our Junior and Senior Members in their various research projects, and strengthening our institutional relationship with the University of Toronto Library system. Please pray with us for blessings on Hilary as she enters the next stage of her career and familiarizes herself with her new work environment.

Please pray this week for our Senior Members as they work to finish the grading of their students’ assignments from their fall 2020 courses by February 18. We ask God to bless them in this important work of mentoring and give them the space and energy to finish the task well.

We would appreciate your prayers for Gideon Strauss and the students in the school administration stream of the ICS MA program in Educational Leadership who are taking a course titled 'How to Govern a School' with Gideon this term. All of these students are also full-time school administrators, having to navigate frequent changes as the pandemic continues to pose major challenges to schools and families. We would also appreciate your prayers for the Christian schools that will host Gideon and his students for virtual visits during this semester.

Monday, February 21 - Friday, February 25:

Reading Week starts on Monday so there will be no classes 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 they find joy and inspiration in their studies.

We give thanks for the ICS Senate meeting that took place during January 2022. In particular, we give thanks for the investment of time and careful discernment made by our Senators, for the course proposals that the Senate was able to approve, for the pioneering Reflective Practice Conversations that the Senate conducted with Senior Members Nik Ansell and Rebekah Smick, and for the election of Beth Green as the Vice Chair of Senate. We ask for your prayers for Aron Reppmann, Chancellor of ICS and Chair of the Senate, who came down with COVID at the end of the Senate meeting, and is now recovering.

We ask for your prayers for Danielle Yett, Vidya Williams, and Pat Webb as they research and evaluate new donor database options this month. This is a much needed upgrade for ICS’s advancement team and we require wisdom and discernment in the process of deciding which software program will best suit our needs.

Monday, February 28:

Please join us in giving thanks for the tremendous response to our Advent appeal! We were so blessed by your generous donations and the encouraging notes that accompanied them. A huge thank you to our supporting communities for your gifts of inspiration and hope.

On Monday, February 28th, ICS/CPRSE will launch “Philosophy Otherwise,” a Ground Motive blog series that broadens the discussion about systemic injustice among the ICS community, so as to include questions about the internal complicity of philosophy with realities such as colonialism, white supremacy, and other forms of oppression. Please pray for Ground Motive’s editorial team as they get this important and timely conversation underway.

Seasoned with Grace

You are the salt of the earth.

—Matthew 5:13

Have you ever stopped to think about salt? It’s all over the streets and sidewalks of Toronto these wintry days, and today out of my home office window I can see it working in tandem with the bright sun to melt the snow and ice while the temperature remains sub-zero. This is some versatile stuff! It preserves and purifies; it softens hard water; it adds flavour. The next meal I prepare for my family will surely call for it, and I will hear about it if I use too much or too little.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth. More than that, he tells us to stay salty. Don’t lose your saltiness! What did he mean? Many things, surely. That’s what good metaphors do, they help us say several things evocatively and simultaneously. They help us say things that can be said in no other way. In so doing, they open fresh paths for our thinking, being, and doing. Jesus’s salt metaphor is a perfect example.

Jesus was surely aware of the “covenants of salt” described in the book of Numbers and in the second book of Chronicles, used to describe God’s enduring covenant with the priests and kings of Israel. In those passages, the metaphor evokes the preservative quality of salt, vividly portraying the idea that God intended these covenants to be everlasting. Here the metaphor evokes the ideas of incorruptibility and permanence, and the call to remain faithful to God’s promises even in the face of the many countervailing realities that work against them, just as God remains faithful.

But might Jesus not also have had plain old zestiness in mind when he told us we are the salt of the earth? In addition to encouraging us to remain steadfast in our faith, was he not also reminding us that we are made to be tasty and interesting, that indeed we are being faithful when we are tasty and interesting? “Be savoury,” I hear Jesus saying, “and your life will be a gracious gift to others!”

The apostle Paul directly links saltiness and grace, when in his letter to the church in Colossae he tells the faithful: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Paul is here encouraging us to season all our conversations with grace. In all our interactions, Paul says, God calls us to preserve and sustain the other person in their being, and in so doing leave a good taste! Could you imagine how much more pleasing, constructive, and fruitful the many difficult and even polarizing conversations we are having today would become if we all entered them with this zesty spirit, with this desire to season our dialogue with grace? That’s some tasty food for thought right there.

It then gives me great pleasure to be able to tell you, the community who supports ICS, that—as I have long suspected—you are in fact the salt of the earth! Thanks for the seasoning, friends, and don’t forget to stay salty!

Ron Kuipers

New Website Launched Thanks to Reid Trust Grant

Over the course of the past year, we've been working on updating and redesigning our website. Thanks in large part to a successful application to The Priscilla and Stanford Reid Trust, we were able to bring this project to fruition. 

We are grateful to the Reid Trust for their financial support, enabling us to improve our online presence in this way, and we look forward to exploring more possibilities for making ICS resources, information, and events virtually accessible into the future.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Prayer Letter: January 2022

Tuesday, January 4 - Friday, January 7:

We offer prayers of thanksgiving for Junior Member Theoren Tolsma’s successful MA defense, which took place virtually on January 3rd! Under the mentorship of Jim Olthuis and Ron Kuipers and with the participation of external examiner John Caputo, Theoren wrote and defended a thesis entitled: “Attuning: Heidegger and Anxiety, Irigaray and Love.” We celebrate with Theoren the culmination of all of his research and hard work, and we pray that God will bless him as he enters the next stage of his work and studies.

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 Postdoctoral Research Associate Andrew Tebbutt as he prepares to teach his course on cultural politics in colonial Canada.

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

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, 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 www.icscanada.edu/winter-courses.

Monday, January 10 - Friday, January 14:

Please pray for our Junior Members as they once again resume classes this week. As in the fall, all our courses will be online, so we want to pray for teachers and the students alike, that the courses will go smoothly on the technical side. We pray also for their encouragement and insightful engagement in their studies, and for their health, wellbeing, and strength of spirit amid ongoing pandemic isolation. We ask especially for prayers on behalf of our MA-EL students as they must constantly adapt, in their own teaching and school administration, in response to ever-changing restrictions and public health measures.

Please pray today and tomorrow for those students who have yet to make a decision about registering for the courses they wish to take in this semester. The last day to register is Wednesday, January 12th, so pray that they will be able to make the necessary arrangements before then.

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 6:00pm, Andrew Tebbutt’s course Recognition or Refusal? Cultural Politics in a Colonial Canada begins. Pray for Andrew as he leads the students in exploring the philosophical underpinnings of the idea of recognition, alongside its application within Canadian political theory, and then assessing the adequacy of a liberal politics of recognition for addressing Indigenous-settler relationships in Canada.

On Tuesday, starting at 2:00pm, Bob Sweetman will be teaching about the fundamentals and contemporary relevance of Reformational philosophy in his course: Religion, Life, and Society. Please pray for Bob and the students that this will be a time of inspirational learning in this foundational course.

On Wednesday, starting at 2:00pm, Nik Ansell will begin teaching his course: Birthpangs of the New Creation: Judgment unto Salvation in the Book of Revelation. Pray for Nik and the students as they pay special attention to the way in which Old Testament echoes, together with the book’s own symbolic coherence and narrative logic, can open up new avenues of exegesis and theological reflection.

On Thursday, starting at 10:00am, Ron Kuipers will lead the first session of this year’s Interdisciplinary Seminar: Colonization, Racial Identity, and What it Means to be Human. Pray that the session will be thought-provoking for all the participants as they listen to the wisdom from the writings of different cultural groups the European colonizers sought to silence.

Also on Thursday, starting at 2:00pm, Bob Sweetman will begin his course: Individuality in the Franciscan Thought of John Duns Scotus & William of Ockham. Pray for Bob and the students as they examine together the doctrine of individuality developed by these two Franciscan thinkers and the configuration of their thoughts as one or another form of metaphysical “individualism.”

Pray also for the two MA-EL blended learning courses which will begin this week:
  • Deeper Learning: From Wonder to Inquiry to Practice with Edith van der Boom, and

  • How to Govern a School: Board Governance, Decision-Making & Community Engagement with Gideon Strauss.

Monday, January 17 - Friday, January 21:

We praise God for a second successful application to a grant foundation for the purposes of upgrading our classroom in order to provide a hybrid learning platform so we can welcome both in-person and remote students to our classes when we can once again gather together. 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.

During the month of January, the CPRSE team will be finalizing the publication of the fourth volume of the Currents in Reformational Thought series: Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and Promise, by Senior Member Emeritus, Jim Olthuis. This volume is a continuation of the series’ intent to celebrate the work of the most recent generations of Reformational scholars. Please pray for Jim, as well as the editing and production team, as they bring this project to completion.

Please pray this week for the Chair and ICS Chancellor, Dr. Aron Reppmann, as he leads the discussions at the ICS Senate meeting (via Zoom) on Saturday. Please also pray for Gideon Strauss, our Academic Dean, and all the external and internal Senators as they consider the issues on the agenda. Pray too for Senior Members Nik Ansell and Rebekah Smick as they share reflections on their teaching practices with the Senate, and for Elizabet Aras that all will go smoothly technologically and the meeting will be as fruitful as possible.

Monday, January 24 - Friday, January 28:

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 various assignments, and for dexterity as they balance the work of this semester and last.

Senior Member Bob Sweetman published an article titled "Reading Ancient and Medieval Philosophers after Vollenhoven" in the latest volume of Philosophia Reformata (86.2). The article is a study of D. H. Th. Vollenhoven’s type-focused historiography of philosophy and its development with respect to pre-Socratic philosophy. The piece is available to read online (with a journal subscription), but should also now be available in print. We give thanks for Bob’s continued compelling contributions to Reformational scholarship and dialogue!

Monday, January 31:

As our 2021 Advent campaign draws to a close, we want to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to all our donors for your faithful support over the past year. We were continually renewed by God’s presence in our lives and our work through your generous gifts of prayer and financial support during this second year of the pandemic. We have been truly blessed to have a support community such as you, and we look forward in hope to another year with you by our sides!

Thank you for partnering with us in our mission and standing with us in all our endeavours!

With the Spirit’s Help

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; 
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

—Romans 8:26

At the beginning of a new year, it is customary to speak about newness and hope, to express excited anticipation for God’s “new thing” springing forth in our midst, like a bubbling river in a parched desert (Isaiah 43:19). But that’s the funny thing about hope, at least as I hear scripture tell of it—the river doesn’t simply cancel out the desert, at least ‘not yet’. Scripture understands that there are times when it is difficult to hope, and we need God’s help to do so.

In his Letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul speaks of a hope that is born(e) in the midst of suffering, because suffering produces endurance, endurance character, and this character in turn creates a hope that “does not disappoint us.” This hope does not disappoint us, Paul says, because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5). Without God’s outpouring love entering our hearts, any other kind of hope we entertain will prove disappointing, indeed will not really be hope at all.

Later, Paul will again speak of a hope that arises amid the “groaning” of creation. This is a hope “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). It is also a hope for we folks who “groan inwardly while we wait for the redemption of our bodies” (vs. 23). Paul finally tells us that, while we are in fact saved in this hope (vs. 24), it remains a hope for something we don’t see and must therefore await with patience (vs. 24-25).

Holding on to such hope seems like a tall order these days, doesn’t it? While it is certainly not difficult to hear creation or we ourselves groaning, it can be hard to imagine these signs of pain and suffering as part of a transformative birthing process, as part and parcel of new creation. To maintain such hope requires faith that, despite everything we can’t see (and many oppressive and destructive things we can!), God is nevertheless at work transforming the world for good, the world God made in love and for love.

As if recognizing the weight of his words, Paul takes a moment at this point to assure us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, intercedes for us even, with inexpressible groans of its own. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know how or what to pray, for God searches our heart and finds the Spirit God gave us there, Jesus Messiah himself in fact (vs. 34), and forges a connection precisely when we are struggling to do so ourselves.

I like the way that The Message translates Romans 8:27-28: “[The Spirit] knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” What more can we hope for than that our lives will be worked into something good, something that will be a blessing to creation, others, ourselves, and God? And when our lives fail to be such a blessing—in those moments when we seem unable either to receive or give God’s love—Paul assures us that God is always there to set us on our feet again, readying us to begin anew, inspiring us to live a life of love buoyed by a hope that will not disappoint us.

May you be strengthened and inspired by the hope and love of our Maker and Redeemer in 2022 and beyond, friends, knowing that God’s Spirit is always there to help us find both!


Ron Kuipers