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 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

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.