Friday 2 December 2022

Glad for Grace

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:4-7

As someone who is not overly prone to rejoicing, I am grateful that Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi reminds us not once, but twice, about our capacity and opportunity to do so. With his very next words, he even suggests that through such rejoicing our “gentleness” will become known to everyone. What an interesting claim to make for someone who was accused of “disturbing the city” during his first visit there! (Acts 16:20)

What might Paul have had in mind by gentleness, I wonder? In his first letter to Timothy (3:3), he contrasts gentleness with pugnacious violence. So, we know what gentleness is not. That in itself is important to keep in mind in our age of polarization and mutual suspicion, in which an ever-growing number of people feel no qualms about launching the vilest attacks against strangers under the cover of digital anonymity.

In contrast, Paul draws rejoicing and gentleness into intimate proximity. Our Lord is near, he tells us, and that is cause for rejoicing! Our gentleness will be known to everyone as the expression of our gladness for God’s grace (the Greek words for rejoicing/gladness and grace are cognate). Our Messiah’s nearness, Paul says, even has the power to melt away all our anxiety, as we put all our needs before God with hearts full of thanksgiving.

Grace continues to abound in the final verse, where Paul assures us that God’s peace, which passes all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds. Most philosophers today don’t do too well with the notion of anything ‘passing understanding,’ preferring instead to assume that, through the application of human reason and intellect, we can put the ground under our own feet. Yet, as the reformational philosophical tradition teaches, placing ultimate trust in our own rational capacity (itself a good gift from our Maker) will not lead to peace, but only more anxiety. Ultimately, we are to open ourselves to, and rest in, the peace of God. From that orientation, everything else flows.

I wish you God’s peace this Advent season, friends, as together we raise our expectation for the arrival of the coming Messiah. Rejoice! And again I say, rejoice!


Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: December 2022

Thursday, December 1 - Friday, December 2:

Our final Open Class of the fall took place on the evening of December 1, with Edith van der Boom welcoming prospective students into her Transformative Teaching: The Role of a Christian Educator seminar. Please join us in gratitude for this final open class session, and for all the open classes this past semester—for the Senior Members who welcomed potential students into their classrooms and for the students who took the initial steps to exploring what an ICS education might look like for themselves.

Please take the opportunity this week to give thanks for our Board of Trustees as they continue to oversee the mission and vision of ICS. At the Annual General meeting on Saturday, November 19th, we welcomed two new Board members, Colin Conrad and Matthew Blimke, and welcomed Marci Frederick as she now steps into the role of Board Chair. We also gave thanks for four outgoing Board Members: Hilda Buisman, Diane Stronks, Ray Vander Zaag, and John Joosse. We are grateful for the years of faithful service these four have given to ICS, and we pray for wisdom for all our new and returning Board members as they continue to support the work of ICS. 

During the month of December, the CPRSE team is focusing its efforts on a grant application to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in support of the collaborative Our Whole Society (OWS) conference. Spearheaded by the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, the 2023 OWS conference will gather diverse academic institutions, community organizations, and religious groups around the theme “Finding Common Ground in a Time of Polarization.” Please pray for the CPRSE team and all partner organizations, as they continue to plan and support this important interfaith initiative.

Monday, December 5 - Friday, December 9:

Our Advent Appeal is under way! ICS supporters should have received the appeal package in the mail (if not, it should arrive soon), and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading the latest issue of Perspective that accompanies the appeal! You can also find a digital copy of the Advent Letter from President Ron Kuipers, including a link to donate to ICS, on our website. We are especially grateful during this time of year for the ways God continues to provide for us and for your faithful support of ICS and our educational mission—thank you!

Please pray with us in gratitude for the work of the Educational Policy Committee and the Academic Council this past semester. The members of these committees have spent the past few months reviewing course proposals for presentation to the Senate at their winter meeting, and regularly examining our coursework evaluation practices at ICS. The Academic Council in particular will continue to host Reflective Practice Reports from our Senior Members in the new year. Please pray for each of the members of these two committees as they continue their work into the new year, that they will have wisdom and clarity of thinking, and for Edith van der Boom as she chairs these committees in their academic programming and policy deliberations.

After an extended break, the CPRSE relaunched the Critical Faith podcast with an episode that features LGBTQ+ activist, artist, and York University PhD student Eric Van Giessen. In the episode, ICS President Ron Kuipers talks with Eric about their respective histories in the Christian Reformed Church, their responses to the CRC's recent synod vote to affirm the 2016 Human Sexuality Reportand some aspects of Eric's research. We give thanks for Eric, Ron, and the podcast team for their work in producing and releasing this episode, and we look forward to developing more episodes in the coming year. 

Monday, December 12 - Friday, December 16:

Our search for a Senior Member in Philosophy continues apace with virtual campus visits from the candidates taking place sometime this month. These ‘visits’ include a sample class and a paper presentation from the respective candidates to the ICS community. Please keep these virtual visits in your prayers, that the candidates may prepare themselves well ahead of time and that everyone involved in this process may be granted wisdom and discernment. 

This is the last week of classes for the fall term at ICS and courses in the winter 2023 term are scheduled to start the week of January 9. Please pray for our Senior Members as they wrap up their teaching for this term. Please also pray for our Junior Members as they finish up their course work and turn their minds toward completing their research papers and projects. Please also pray along with us that the holiday break will enable all of us to rest and recharge, and bring all of us back energized for the new year and all it may bring.

The ICS Community Christmas Party is taking place on December 16. We ask for prayer for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, and President Ron Kuipers as they make plans for hosting the event. This year we are able to have our Christmas Party in person, so pray too that it might be a wonderful evening spent together, giving thanks for and celebrating the gifts we have in one another in this blessed community of learning at ICS.

Monday, December 19 - Friday, December 23:

Senior Member Nik Ansell will be starting an eight-month sabbatical in January. Please pray that this might be a fruitful and invigorating time of study for Nik as he is given the space to focus on his various research plans and projects in the coming months. We are grateful for the extensive amounts of time and dedication that Nik has given to teaching and mentoring ICS students and Junior Members over the years, and we are delighted that Nik will be able to spend this season attending closely to this important side of his work as a scholar and lifelong learner.

Every year, CPRSE invites a wide range of scholars, activists, and community leaders to share their wisdom and experiences with the ICS community in a variety of formats. In 2022, our guests included Patricia June-Vickers, Elisabeth Paquette, Natalie Appleyard, Jennifer Bowen, and Eric Van Giessen. We pray in thanksgiving for the generosity of spirit of these individuals, that their offerings to our community bear fruit.

Christmas break at ICS is taking place from December 24 to January 2, and the offices will be closed during that time. Please pray for the ICS staff, Senior Members, Junior Members, and loved ones as we celebrate this joyous season. We pray for health and safety for all those planning to travel near and far over the holidays, and we pray that this may be a time of rest and reflection for everyone. 

And may the blessings of love, joy, and peace be yours as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour this Christmas week.

Monday, December 26 - Friday, December 30:

As part of its mission, the CPRSE frequently partners with like-minded academic institutions and community organizations in public outreach events. During 2022, one of our partners was Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), an organization that seeks to shape public policy through research, publishing, and dialogue. Recently, CPJ published a comprehensive 2022 Poverty Trends Update, which presents how poverty is experienced in Canada today. Please keep CPJ’s important ongoing advocacy work in your prayers this week.

December 31 is the "Early Bird" scholarship and registration deadline for ART in Orvieto 2023. We will continue accepting applications until the end of February for this year’s Artists’ Workshop, Writers’ Workshop, and Graduate Seminar on Art, Religion, and Theology; so please share news of this exciting opportunity with the arts-lovers in your lives! And please join us in prayer that interested participants who would benefit from this learning experience may find their way to us.

As 2022 draws to a close, we give thanks for another fruitful year of work at ICS and for all our supporters, friends, and colleagues who made this work possible through their prayers, financial gifts, and service. We also pray for God's blessings upon our staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members as we pursue wisdom together, in the classroom and beyond, throughout this upcoming year. We look forward to another year of work and study together!

Monday 31 October 2022

Prayer Letter: November 2022

Tuesday, November 1 - Friday, November 4: 

November 1 is the application deadline for students wanting to enter the MA in Education Leadership (MA-EL) program in the 2023 winter term. Please pray for wisdom for Gideon Strauss and Edith van der Boom as they review the students’ applications this month, and for these applicants as they make space in their lives to embark on a program of graduate study.

Our first Open Class of the fall is taking place on November 2, with Ron Kuipers welcoming prospective students into his Imagining the World with Ricoeur seminar. Anyone interested in finding out what an ICS course is like can RSVP to Elizabet Aras at Please pray for this and each of these open class sessions in the coming weeks, that ICS might speak to prospective students’ desires for their future studies.

Also on November 2, Gideon and Edith will be hosting one of our regular writing workshops for Junior Members. Please pray for those Junior Members participating in this event that they might make the most of their time together to share their questions and insights with one another and to strengthen their writing practices.

Please join us in thanksgiving for the successful event on October 27 celebrating the publication of the festschrift in honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, and the second volume of the Currents in Reformational Thought series,
 Seeking Stillness or the Sound of Wings. We’re grateful for Lambert’s contribution to the Reformational philosophical tradition, for everyone who attended the event in person and online, for each of the presenters and participants who made the event possible, and for everyone involved in the book’s writing and publication process.

Monday, November 7 - Friday, November 11 (Remembrance Day): 

The latest issue of Perspective and our annual Advent Appeal should be making their way to supporters in the mail over the next couple of weeks. This issue includes some deep reflections on the idea of “living tradition,” and we’re excited to be sending it out. Please pray for everyone involved in the final stages of the production process as they bring all the pieces of the mailing together. Please also pray for a strong response to our annual Appeal. We are always impressed and humbled by the faith our supporters place in us, and we thank God for your generosity during this time of year. 

On November 8, Nik Ansell is hosting the Open Class session of Biblical Foundations. Please pray for Nik and for those visiting students that they might spend an inspiring class time together digging into the life-giving scriptures.

Our search for a new Senior Member is moving onto the stage of evaluating the applications we’ve received and reaching out to applicants. We’re grateful for everyone who made the effort to apply. Please pray with us for wisdom and insight for the search committee as they consider these applications and discern who might best fit this position. 

Today, on Remembrance Day, we lift up all those who have suffered and sacrificed in the Great War and in the many wars that came before, that have happened since, and that rage today. Please join us in a prayer for peace:

God of all, remember your holy promise, 
and look with love on all your people, living and departed.
On this day we especially ask that you would hold forever
all who have suffered during war, those who returned scarred by warfare,
those who waited anxiously at home,
and those who returned wounded, and disillusioned;
those who mourned, and those communities that were diminished and suffered loss.
Remember too those who acted with kindly compassion,
those who bravely risked their own lives for their comrades,
and those who in the aftermath of war, worked tirelessly for a more peaceful world.
And as you remember them, remember us, O Lord;
grant us peace in our time and a longing for the day when people of every language, race, and nation will be brought into the unity of Christ’s kingdom.
This we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 14 - Friday, November 18:

Our MA & PhD program Open House is happening on November 16 at 6pm. Please pray that word of this event might reach prospective students to whom ICS would make a nourishing academic and spiritual home, and that those students might be able to discern the vocations, academic or otherwise, to which the Lord may be calling them.

On November 17, Rebekah Smick will be hosting an Open Class for students interested in her seminar, Grace as an Aesthetic Concept. Please pray that the students who attend this Open Class might be intrigued by the aesthetic, theological, and historical insights put forward in Rebekah’s seminar and that they might take steps to join our academic community.

On Friday, November 18, the Board of Trustees will meet online. Please pray for grace and wisdom for our Chair, John Joosse, and all our Board members as they deliberate together on various matters pertaining to the stewardship of ICS’s calling and resources. Please also give thanks with us for those outgoing Board Members who have given generously of their time and talents during their terms of service: Hilda Buisman, John Joosse, Diane Stronks, and Ray Vander Zaag. 

This Saturday, November 19 at 2pm EST, our Annual General Meeting is taking place online. 
Please pray for John Joosse as he gives leadership to the meeting, for all those who will present reports, and for the time participants will be able to spend together talking about our hopes for ICS. We’re grateful for this yearly rhythm which affords the opportunity to attend to what we’ve accomplished, and the goals to which we aspire institutionally. We also give thanks for this chance to gather with the broader ICS community to reflect together on our educational calling and hopes.

Monday, November 21 - Friday, November 25:

In early October, CPRSE Associate Director and ICS PhD candidate Héctor Acero Ferrer was appointed as Interim Program Coordinator of Martin Luther University College’s Bachelor of Arts: Christian Studies and Global Citizenship program. We thank God for Héctor’s role in the Martin Luther community and for this exciting new opportunity for him to shape undergraduate learning experiences at the school.

There will be an Open Class for The Craft of Reflective Practice with Gideon Strauss on November 24. Please pray that teachers and school administrators can find time in their busy schedules to join this session and get a taste of the tools and frameworks this and our other MA-EL courses have to offer them in their practice as educators. 

On this Thanksgiving Day in the US, we want to share our prayers of gratitude for each and every one of our supporters in Canada, the US, and across the world. Your continued financial, prayerful, professional, and personal support of the day-to-day educational mission of ICS has carried us through the pandemic and keeps us goingso thank you!

ICS alumnus Caleb Ratzlaff was just elected as a new city councillor in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. We congratulate Caleb on his successful campaign! Please also join us in praying for wisdom and ingenuity for Caleb as he takes up his new role and familiarizes himself with how to best represent the interests of his community in St. Catharine’s and support their wellbeing at the municipal level. 

Monday, November 28 - Wednesday, November 30:

The season of Advent begins on Sunday, November 27. On this first Sunday of the season, please join us in the vigilant expectation for peace hearkened to in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “[The nations] shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” (Isaiah 2:4-5). We pray that, during this season, and amid the looming darkness, all may awaken more and more to the light of the coming Lord.

ICS Junior Member Jimmy Ronald has been selected as this year’s CPRSE Research Assistant. Jimmy will be an integral part of the Critical Faith podcast team as it reboots production during the coming academic year. We pray in thanksgiving for Jimmy’s presence in our community and for his willingness to serve the ICS community in this role. 

This academic year, CPRSE will once again collaborate with the Canadian Interfaith Conversation—as well as many other community, faith, and academic partners—in the planning of the annual Our Whole Society conference. This conference offers a space for a nationwide conversation about the role of religion in Canada’s pluralistic society. Please pray for the CPRSE, and for the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and organizational partners, as they continue to plan this important event.

As we quickly move into the end of the fall term, we would ask you to please pray for our Senior Members and faculty as they teach in the final few weeks of classes, and as they prepare for their teaching in the quickly-approaching winter term. We also want to express our deep gratitude for the new students who have come to ICS this academic year, as well as all the returning ones. Our students keep us alive in all kinds of ways. So we pray that they may stay in touch with their infectious enthusiasm amid the demands that can be felt as we move towards the end of the semester and as they work to finish up readings and other assignments and as they start to prepare their term papers and projects.


“One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”

—Psalm 145:4

Giuseppe Penone
The Hidden Life Within
Imagine a large, aged tree before you. What if you could peer inside this tree, and discern the shape of its younger self, secretly housed within the centre of its massive trunk? The Italian artist Giuseppe Penone’s tree sculptures create this very effect, providing a window through which to witness the passing of time in the blink of an instant.

Consider further that, from the point of view of the present, the younger tree is really the aged ancestor from which the larger tree has descended. Think of the way that the tree’s younger shape has, through the years, faithfully contributed to the structure and function of the current tree, helping ensure its stability, growth, and fruitfulness, as each year a new cycle of seasons adds a living layer that depends on the support this sturdy forebear faithfully provides.

Does this image not provide a wonderful way to think of a living tradition of faith? As each generation does its new thing, as it must, it does so in a way that is sustained by and patterned after the contours of what has come before. Psalm 145 speaks of one generation lauding God’s mighty acts to another, as if, by sharing these stories of God’s love for the good, broken world God made, the older generation gives the new one what it needs to continue to grow and be built up in that very faithfulness.

Like other Christian schools, ICS works at this intimate and vulnerable point of connection between the generations. While we arrive on the scene a little later than most other such institutions, we nonetheless participate in the vital work of helping a new generation understand what faithfulness means in these incredibly challenging times. We thereby demonstrate patterns of faithfulness for our students to emulate, patterns which will in turn help them laud our Maker’s mighty acts to future generations.

What are these mighty acts of which the Psalmist speaks? They are acts of liberation and exodus from systems of oppression, domination, and death. They are acts that serve as “good news” for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in our midst. They are the everyday miracles that save the world, bit by bit, mite by mite. God’s mighty acts reveal the way God wants us to follow, and Jesus Messiah goes so far as to tell us that the way we pursue justice for those in need is identical to the way we treat God (Matthew 25:31 ff.). When the generation who leads us shows us through the good fruit of their lives how we are to follow our Maker and Redeemer’s shalom way, scripture counsels us to “imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7). And just so, another ring grows around the tree.

We join in this work together, friends. Thank you for sharing our efforts to laud God’s mighty acts to future generations!

Shalom, and again I say, shalom!

Ron Kuipers

Forthcoming: Transforming Vision 40th Anniversary Republication

J. Richard Middleton has signed a contract with InterVarsity Press to do a complete rewrite of The Transforming Vision (IVP), which he coauthored with Brian Walsh in 1984. Richard is an ICS-VU PhD graduate (2005) and is currently Professor Biblical Worldview and Exegesis at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan University. He has been teaching a signature course on a Christian worldview over the past forty years (most recently called, “Being in the Story,” at Northeastern Seminary). The rewrite of Transforming Vision aims to deepen the original book’s biblical analysis and extend its cultural analysis. 

The new book is tentatively titled, Shaped by God’s Story: Christian Worldview in a Global Key (IVP Academic) and the aim is for the book to come out sometime in 2024, around the time of the 40th anniversary of the original publication.

The Transforming Vision arose out of worldview courses sponsored by ICS, which were then taught through Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship on university campuses in Southern Ontario. The book met a need among Christians in academia and has since been used in hundreds of courses on Christian college and university campuses, both in North America and overseas. It has been translated into five languages (Korean, French, Indonesian, Spanish, and Portuguese).

Based on the popularity of the book in Korean and Indonesian translations (with new editions published in the past decade), Richard has also been invited to be the keynote speaker, giving two talks on a Christian worldview, at the upcoming International Network for Christian Higher Education (INCHE) conference for Asia and Oceania, at Handong Global University, Pohan, South Korea on June 20–22, 2023.

Open Classes and Open Houses in November and December

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an ICS student? Know someone who’s curious about ICS? 

During the months of November and December, we’re opening up sessions in several of our fall classes to any interested visitors who'd like a chance to see what an ICS course is like. We'll also be hosting an Open House for anyone who wants to find out more about our MA and PhD programs of study. All of these events will take place online and can be joined from wherever you are.

Anyone interested in attending these events can RSVP to Elizabet Aras at The dates and times for each session are listed below: 


MA & PhD Program Open House - November 16 @ 6pm EST


Imagining the World with Ricoeur - November 2, 10am-1pm EST

Biblical Foundations - November 8, 4:15-7:15pm EST

Grace as an Aesthetic Concept - November 17, 10am-1pm EST

Craft of Reflective Practice - November 24, 4:15-7:15pm EST

Transformative Teaching - December 1, 5-7:30pm EST

ICS Co-Sponsoring Pontifical Institute Conference on Ritual Life

The Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies is hosting a conference on March 6-7, 2023 on the theme of Ritual Life in the Medieval Dominican Order: Liturgical Expressions. ICS is one of the co-sponsors of this event. 

The conference features presentations from many established manuscript scholars as well as opportunities for liturgical participation. The conference will focus on the rituals, chant, and texts of the Dominican liturgy during the medieval period, after the reform of the Rite under the Master of the Order Humbert of Romans (1256). Attention will also be paid to recent manuscript discoveries for the Translation of the Relics of St Thomas Aquinas.

Registration for the event is free, but the registration deadline is December 1. Please see the attached poster and conference programme below for more information. You can also visit the conference website at for further details and to register.

Event Poster

Saturday 1 October 2022

Prayer Letter: October 2022

Monday, October 3 - Friday, October 7:

October 3 is the application deadline for the opening for a Senior Member in Philosophy at ICS. We are grateful for all of the applications we have received, and we pray for the Search Committee as they now begin to evaluate candidates and start the interview process. Please pray that the committee may be granted wisdom in assessing these candidates and their potential contribution to the ICS academic community.

October 3 is also the first Educational Policy Committee meeting of the year at ICS. At this meeting, the EPC will consider the results of a survey of ICS students and instructors that was conducted earlier this year and will advise the Academic Council on the assessment of student work on the basis of those results. Please join the EPC in its own prayers for its work, from the collect for the feast of Hildegard of Bingen: God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory in the world; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Earlier this fall, Dr. Neal DeRoo joined the ICS team in the capacity of CPRSE Postdoctoral Research Associate. Dr. DeRoo is thrilled to put his experience and knowledge at the service of our ICS community. Please pray for Dr. DeRoo as he joins the CPRSE team, for a fruitful and smooth transition into his new role.

Senior Members Edith van der Boom and Gideon Strauss will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 5-7. Edith and Gideon will be meeting with the Friends of ICS on the evening of the 5th to give an update on the latest news and projects at ICS. Edith and Gideon will then attend the Kuyers/INCHE Conference at Calvin University. On October 6, Edith will present on “Decolonizing Christian Education for Human Flourishing” and on October 7, Gideon will present on “The Question in Hand: When Teaching Change Leadership Demands Change.” Please pray for Edith and Gideon as they travel and spend this valuable time meeting with colleagues and ICS supporters.

Monday, October 10 (Thanksgiving) - Friday, October 14: 

During this week of Canadian Thanksgiving, we want to join together and give thanks for the many answers to prayer this year. We have been blessed by our ICS community again and again as you faithfully supported us in our times of need and we have been encouraged by the grace and strength that God has given us during the difficult times. We are beyond grateful for the presence of each of our Junior and Senior Members and the unique contributions they make to the ICS community, and we give thanks for all of the ICS staff and the ways in which they faithfully serve the educational mission of ICS. 

CPRSE Associate Director and PhD candidate Héctor Acero Ferrer will be preaching this week at the CRC Campus Ministries at the University of Toronto’s Wine Before Breakfast service. Héctor’s reflection will focus on the image of God the pilgrim as articulated by Liberation Theology. Please pray for Héctor as he prepares his reflection, and pray in gratitude for the important work done by the CRC Campus Ministries, as they provide a space for faithful reflection and fellowship for the university students in the GTA. 

Our first staff meeting of the academic year will take place this week. This is a busy time of year for ICS administration, with many projects on the go and deadlines approaching. Please pray that the ICS staff might find mutual encouragement for their individual and shared tasks during this meeting and in their ongoing work together. 

During the month of October, the Critical Faith podcast will resume its activities after a year-long hiatus. The podcast’s re-launch episode will feature an interview with Eric Van Giessen, Toronto activist, artist, and PhD student at York University. Please pray for the Critical Faith team as they start activities for this academic year.

Monday, October 17 - Friday, October 21:

On October 17, the Academic Council will receive and discuss a report from Senior Member Nik Ansell reflecting on his own practices as a learner, teacher, and lover of Scripture. We pray that this might be a time of gratitude and celebration for Nik’s singular contributions to the academic and spiritual life of the ICS community.

On the evening of October 19, we will host an online Info Night for ART in Orvieto 2023. This event will feature an overview of the art, religion, and theology seminar led by Senior Member Rebekah Smick, the Artists’ Workshop led by David Holt, and the Writers’ Workshop led by John Terpstra. There will also be a Q&A period for any questions hopeful attendees may have. Email if you or someone you know would like to join us and find out more about this wonderful learning opportunity. And please pray that the event will prove both helpful and inspiring to those who attend.

Our Academic Integrity & Citation Management Workshop is taking place on October 20, led by Librarian Peter Gorman. Please pray for Peter as he prepares for this session and for the students who attend this event, that they might gain valuable insights and tools as they pursue their research projects and interests in the coming academic year.

The 16th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference is being held on October 20-22 in Los Angeles, California. CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer, ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt and Abbi Hofstede, and PhD candidate Mark Standish will all travel to this conference to present the panel “Public Fragility, Fragile Publics: Ricœur’s Political Thought from Root to Branch.” Please pray for this ICS delegation as they share with the Society’s international audience the product of their reflection on the political, economic, and religious thought of Paul Ricoeur. 

Monday, October 24 - Friday, October 28:

It’s Reading Week at ICS! Please pray for our Junior and Senior Members during this week that they might make the most of this opportunity to attend to the various projects on which they’re working. Please pray for our Junior Members and students that they might have the creative energy and space to complete their writing and study assignments. Pray, too, for the faculty, that God would graciously encourage and refresh them in their educational vocations at ICS.

The next issue of Perspective will be on its way to a mailbox near you shortly! In this issue, you’ll be able to read some reflections from Senior Members Ron Kuipers and Bob Sweetman, alumnus Drew Van’t Land, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, as well as our newest Junior Members on the traditions in which they find themselves and the life they find therein. Please join us in thanksgiving for each of these contributors and the time they’ve spent sharing their insights, and please pray for the editors, designers, and printers as they put the final touches on this issue.

Please hold the Board of Trustees in your prayers as they oversee the vision and mission of ICS, especially as they plan for their next major Board meeting coming up in mid-November and attend to the details of the upcoming Annual General Meeting on November 19 as well. Pray for strength and wisdom for each Trustee as they continue to provide support and leadership in the working out of God’s call to ICS now and into the future.

On Thursday, October 27 at 3:00pm at Regis College, the ICS community will gather to celebrate the publication of Seeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, the second volume of the Currents in Reformational Thought book series. The celebration of this publication will also be an opportunity to honour the contribution of Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart to the Reformational philosophy tradition. Please pray in thanksgiving for Dr. Zuidervaart, as well as for the numerous contributors to the volume and all those involved in the planning of this celebration.  

Monday, October 31:

Please pray today for the Advancement and Finance teams as they work to organize and send out the necessary materials for the AGM on November 19th and this year’s Advent Appeal. Pray especially for Harley Dekker as he works with the auditors to finalize the annual audit of our financial records for the fiscal year which ended on June 30, 2022. We continue to be amazed by the generosity of our support community and have seen positive financial developments even amid the global financial stresses of this past year. We give thanks for God’s enduring care for us.

A Living Tradition of Faithfulness

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.

—Psalm 85:10-11

At ICS, we spend a lot of time thinking about and imagining what it means for a Christian tradition to be faithful. How do we recognize faithfulness when we see it? This question is harder to answer than it first seems, because we must avoid confusing faithfulness with the mere adoption or repetition of the intellectual beliefs or doctrines that have been codified by previous generations of Christians. Faithfulness goes deeper than that. Active reception and appropriation of a tradition includes an effort to make it “one’s own,” and that effort involves the communal discernment of what it means to be faithful in one’s own time. The answer to that question, an answer that is ultimately revealed by the fruit of faithful living, often is, and should be, different than the answers previous generations have produced. Yet somehow the faithfulness remains recognizable as a continuation of what had come before.

We know that faithfulness has something to do with accepting Scripture’s invitation to share a vision of a redeemed—a healed and transformed—world, the one so beautifully portrayed in Psalm 85. The psalmist envisions a world where chesed (steadfast lovingkindness and mercy, giving oneself completely in love and compassion) and emet (truth as faithfulness) meet, where tzedek (righteousness or justice) and shalom (peace, harmony, wholeness) kiss.

How can we be faithful to that vision today? While there is no automatic or simple answer to that question, we must never cease striving to answer it . Thankfully, the Spirit of our Maker and Redeemer is here to help us in this task, and Scripture provides much needed guidance and orientation for our approach. Even so, we still have the responsibility to discern for ourselves, in faithfulness, what faithfulness in fact requires of us today (and tomorrow, and the next). 

Scripture bears witness to God’s people struggling with this question time and again, and even shows them coming up with new answers that they are convinced remain faithful to this scriptural vision. I think we understand these people’s efforts at discernment better if we come to understand faithful living as something akin to a craft or skill, a way of living that organically evolves over time as it is passed from person to person and from generation to generation. While past virtuoso performances provide the necessary examples and inspiration to guide our current efforts, we remain called to contribute our own unique, novel performances, thereby making space for the spirit at work in this tradition to breathe new life into our own time and open an alternative future than the destructive one that today’s powers and principalities are constructing.

Friends, let us pray together for the eyes and ears that will help us notice and celebrate all the new ways of inhabiting our tradition that expand our imagination about what makes for faithful living, and which build our desire for our Maker’s chesed, emet, tzedek, and shalom!

Ron Kuipers

CPRSE at Society for Ricoeur Studies Annual Conference

The CPRSE will travel to present at the upcoming 16th Annual Society for Ricoeur Studies Conference, held on October 20-22 in Los Angeles, California on the theme of Capability, Fragility, and Joy. The event will feature keynote addresses by Brian Treanor (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) and Christina Gschwandtner (Fordham University, New York City) as well as a number of presentations and workshops from international conference participants.

CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will moderate some of the conference sessions. Héctor and ICS alums Andrew Tebbutt and Abbi Hofstede, and PhD candidate Mark Standish will also together present the panel “Public Fragility, Fragile Publics: Ricoeur’s Political Thought from Root to Branch,” exploring the political, economic, and religious thought of Paul Ricoeur.

You can find out more about the Society for Ricoeur Studies and their annual conference here.

October 4 - Season of Creation: Panel Discussion

On Tuesday, October 4, 7pm - 9pm EST, The Church of the Redeemer in Toronto will host a panel discussion on the church and climate change titled: "The Season of Creation - What If...?"

This event will be both in person and online, and will be moderated by the Rt. Rev’d Andrew Asbil, Bishop of the Diocese of Toronto. The panellists include: The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, (26th Governor General of Canada and an Anglican), Paige Souter, (Member, Bishop’s Committee for Creation Care), The Rev’d Alison Hari-Singh (adjunct lecturer at Trinity College), and Brian Walsh (activist theologian, former ICS Senior Member and former pastor of the Wine Before Breakfast community, Wycliffe College).

Please register here if you'd like to attend (whether in person or online). There will be a reception to follow the in-person event.

Tuesday, October 4, 7-9pm EST


Church of the Redeemer (162 Bloor Street West, Toronto)
Also possible to join online. Register for the link.

Save the Date: Online AGM on November 19

This year's Annual General Meeting for ICS Members will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, November 19th. The meeting will take place online so that ICS supporters can join from anywhere in the world to hear the latest on what's happening at ICS.

Voting materials, an agenda, and details for how to join the meeting have been sent out via mail and email to ICS Members, so keep an eye on your inboxes and save the date in your calendars. If you have any questions about voting or how to join, please email 

Edith van der Boom & Gideon Strauss in Grand Rapids

Dr. Edith van der Boom and Dr. Gideon Strauss will be travelling to Grand Rapids, Michigan from October 5-7. On October 5th at 7pm, Edith and Gideon will spend an evening with the Friends of ICS, providing an update on the latest news and projects at ICS. This event is being graciously hosted at the Woodlawn Christian Reformed Ministry Center by FICS President Barbara Carvill and Woodlawn CRC's Mike Abma. 

If you haven't already, you can let us know you'd like to attend by emailing

On the 6th and 7th, Edith and Gideon will then attend the Kuyers/INCHE Conference at Calvin University. On October 6, Edith will present on “Decolonizing Christian Education for Human Flourishing.” Here is an abstract of her presentation:

In this session I will highlight some of the history of residential schooling which was set up across Canada for the purpose of eradicating the culture and language of Indigenous peoples. I argue that those of us who are settlers need not only to continue to learn more about Indigenous peoples and our history but we also need to begin the task of decolonization for human flourishing. I suggest the practice of critical reflection as a means to expose unconscious assumptions, biases, and other forms of injustice. 

On October 7, Gideon will present on “The Question in Hand: When Teaching Change Leadership Demands Change.” Here is an abstract of his presentation: 

I teach a course in the graduate-level educational leadership program of the Institute for Christian Studies with the title Lead from Where You Are. At the heart of the course is an introduction to the practice of change leadership in the face of tough organizational problems. This paper is an account of how my annual teaching of this course over the years 2018-2022 demanded I exercise precisely those skills which I try to teach my students, including the cultivation of trust through the presentation of vulnerability. As such, this paper offers testimony to my lived experience of scholarship as discipleship. 

More information about sessions at the Kuyers Conference can be found here.

Friday 30 September 2022

ART in Orvieto Online Info Night - October 19

On October 19 at 6pm EST, we will host an online Info Night for ART in Orvieto 2023. This event will feature an overview of the art, religion, and theology seminar led by Rebekah Smick, the Artists’ Workshop led by David Holt, and the Writers’ Workshop led by John Terpstra. There will also be a Q&A period for any questions hopeful attendees may have. 

Email if you or someone you know would like to join us and find out more about this wonderful learning opportunity.

Monday 26 September 2022

October 27 - Zuidervaart Festschrift Celebration

Update: This is now a hybrid event, so you may attend either virtually or in person. Please send an email to receive the Zoom link if you'd like to join the event online. 

Almost two years after the publication of the second volume of ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book seriesSeeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart, we are finally ready to celebrate this splendid collection of essays! 

Join us on Thursday, October 27th, 2022, as we gather in person to celebrate the contribution of ICS Senior Member Emeritus Dr. Lambert Zuidervaart to the tradition of Reformational Philosophy and reflect on the diverse contributions made to this festschrift in Dr. Zuidervaart’s honour. The event will feature a presentation on the book and a panel discussion, followed by a light reception. 

Thursday October 27th, 2022 at 3:00 - 5:30pm

Regis College, University of Toronto (100 Wellesley St. West)
Book presentation and panel discussion – St. Joseph Chapel 
Reception - Christie Mansion

Please RSVP to if you would like to attend this event in honour of Dr. Zuidervaart in person or if you would like to be sent the Zoom link to participate virtually.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Dr. Pamela Beattie Appointed Senate Chair and Chancellor

The Institute for Christian Studies is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Pamela Beattie as the Chair of the ICS Senate and ICS Chancellor. Dr. Beattie is Chair of the Department of Comparative Humanities and Associate Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Louisville (Kentucky, USA), and has served on the ICS Senate since 2018. She is a specialist in medieval religious culture with a particular focus on the thirteenth century Catalan philosopher and missionary Ramon Llull.

Dr. Beattie is originally from London, Ontario, and graduated from London District Christian Secondary School. She was in the pioneer class at Redeemer University, and graduated from Calvin University before attending the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and the University of Toronto. Dr. Beattie succeeds Aron Reppmann as Chair of Senate and Chancellor. Her term started on Wednesday, September 7, 2022.

Thursday 1 September 2022

Surprised by the Spirit

And God, who knows the human heart,
testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit,
just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith
he has made no distinction between them and us.
—Acts 15:8-9 (NRSV)

Discerning the new ways that God’s redemptive Spirit is moving in our world today can be a messy, risky business. Our hearts and guts—the wellsprings of our desire for compassion, restoration, and justice—may pull us one way, and everything we have been taught to believe about what scripture says may pull us in another.

In Acts 15 we see our Messiah’s early followers in a similar quandary. The traditional interpretation of their scriptures convinces many of them that, to be counted among Jesus’s followers, it is necessary for everyone, including Gentiles, “to be circumcised and ordered to keep the laws of Moses” (vs. 5). Other leaders disagree, believing they have discerned a new way that the Spirit is moving outside of the people God originally chose to bear witness to the shalom way.

What to do? One way they could have gone was to apply, simply and directly, what centuries of religious tradition had told them their scriptures demanded. It is tempting to treat scripture this way, as a kind of algorithm through which one might run any controversial situation or disagreement, counting on it to produce a clear-cut answer that will not require us to engage in the difficult yet necessary task of discerning whether God’s Spirit might be doing something new in our midst. Thankfully, that is not the way the apostles eventually choose, opting instead for the latter, more challenging path.

When the apostles and elders gather to work through their disagreement, Peter stands up before them and testifies to his experience of bringing the good news to the Gentiles. Through this experience, Peter has become convinced that, outside of strictly keeping the law, the gift of God’s Spirit has still somehow cleansed these people’s hearts and enabled them to become a blessing to their communities. After Peter speaks, “the whole assembly kept silence, and listened” as Paul and Barnabas proceed to tell of “all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles” (vs. 12).

In his speech, Peter describes God with an intriguing adjective: “heart-knowing” (kardiognostes). Because we trust and follow such a “heart-knowing” God, we are called to become heart-knowers ourselves. What does that require? Perhaps the first step, to which the story itself alludes, is to keep silence and listen. Heart-knowing, it seems, requires sitting down and tarrying with people long enough to hear and feel the stories of their hearts. It takes intimacy, trust, and a vulnerability that must not be abused. Only when we sit and break bread with these ‘outsiders’ will we be able to perceive the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, and to trust it when we see it.

Did Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, then, simply ignore scripture when they found it to be inconvenient for their purposes? Hardly. To the contrary, I would suggest that their ability to see the Spirit working in a new way is born out of their spiritual practice of allowing scripture to read them. This deep immersion in scripture, as opened to them through the life and teaching of Jesus Messiah, shapes in them an imagination capable of recognizing God’s new thing when they come across it. Their utmost concern during this assembly, then, is to discern how this new spiritual movement might best remain faithful to the heart-knowing God revealed in scripture, the God whose Spirit allows them to perceive new signs of God’s coming Kingdom in the lives of once strange, unfamiliar, and even despised or dreaded others.

Let us strive to be as faithful as these early leaders of our Messiah’s church, friends! May God give us the strength and wisdom to keep silence and listen when we don’t have all the answers, or perhaps especially when we think we do have all the answers. In this way, let us allow our heart-knowing Maker to cultivate in us an imagination sensitive enough to notice and celebrate all the new things and people that, perhaps to our surprise, serve God’s ancient way of shalom!

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: September 2022

Thursday, September 1 - Friday, September 2:

Today, we share the sad news of former ICS student Hans Groen’s passing on the night of August 10-11. Hans Groen studied at ICS during the 1985-1986 academic year, taking courses in political theory and aesthetics, before returning to the Netherlands where he received his PhD in 1990 from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam with a thesis on John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice.  Hans is survived by his husband of 36 years, Scott, and by his brother and sister-in-law Maarten & Mariëtte. A service was held in Hans’ memory on August 25, and we would like to add our condolences and continued prayers of comfort for Hans’ family and friends.

ICS alumnus Drew Van’t Land (MA, 2014) was recently appointed to the position of Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pittsburgh, PA. Drew will be teaching remotely this semester, having been hired late this summer, but he and his family are looking for a house in Pittsburgh and hope to move there in December. Please join us in prayers of gratitude for Drew’s hard work coming to fruition in the form of this exciting new career opportunity.

Monday, September 5 - Friday, September 9:

September marks the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, and a continuation of online learning at ICS. This year, Senior Members will continue to offer online seminars, sessions, and guided readings to our Junior Members residing both in Toronto and elsewhere in the world. Our Junior Members are all at various stages of their programs, and as well as starting up classes once again, are also starting or continuing to work on their respective research and projects. Please pray for all our instructors and students, both new and returning, as they begin this new academic year at ICS.

We are looking forward to welcoming a number of new Junior Members this fall in our different programs! Please pray along with us that these JMs will have a successful start to their studies at ICS:

  • Three new MA students: Jimmy (a graduate from The King's University), Robert (a graduate from Queen's University), and Yutong (a University of Montreal graduate);

  • Four new MA-EL program students: Angie, David, and Kelsey (all in the School Administration stream); and Josh in the Instructional Leadership stream;

  • Tracey-Ann, who has transferred to ICS from Wycliffe to start the MWS-ART program with Rebekah Smick;

  • And Todd, a Brock University graduate who has already taken several courses at ICS as a special studies student and is now embarking on the PhD program.

Please pray this week for the staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members as they participate in ICS’s Orientation Week. This year, Orientation Week events will be a mix of online and in-person events. Pray that this week will be an inspiring time together to launch the new school year and (re)connect with one another. Please pray for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, and our Academic Dean, Dr. Gideon Strauss, as they plan the details involved in each day. Please also take a moment to join us in prayer for each day’s tasks and activities during Orientation Week:

  • Tuesday, Sept 6: Orientation Week this year will begin with a presentation by Brenda Kronemeijer and Carol Scovil, with Christian Campus Ministries at the University of Toronto. In the evening, we will offer part one of a two-part workshop for Junior and Senior Members and ICS staff titled “Your Next 5 Years,” led by Dr. Gideon Strauss. 

  • Wednesday, Sept 7: This is the day that our Junior Members complete their course registrations for the semester. There will also be meetings with Elizabet Aras and Harley Dekker about financial matters. The second part of the “Your Next 5 Years” workshop will be held in the evening.

  • Thursday, Sept 8: We have invited Marg Smit-Vandezande from Shalem Mental Health Network to introduce the Counselling Assistance Program for ICS Students and Staff (CAPS) this morning. Following this, Danielle Yett (Health & Safety Officer) will present a training session for staff, faculty, and students on our Workplace Anti-Violence and Harassment Policy. A Library Workshop will then be offered by our Librarian, Peter Gorman, for all our Junior and Senior Members in the afternoon in order to introduce everyone to how they might make the most of library materials, online resources, and more during their studies at ICS. 

  • Thursday/Friday, Sept 8/9: We will offer a virtual Fall Retreat on Thursday evening, where we will interview our new Junior Members as well as our Senior Members as a way of getting to know one another. We will then offer an in-person Fall Retreat on Friday, at the Toronto Island. At our in-person retreat we will celebrate the new academic year with a welcoming liturgy, and get to know one another better over lunch and with a variety of organized and less organized activities. Pray these words from our welcoming liturgy in solidarity with us: As we search for glimpses of truth, we journey together. As we search for signs of possibility, we journey together. As we search for reasons to hope, we journey together.

Monday, September 12 - Friday, September 16:

This is the first week of classes at ICS! Please especially pray for each Senior Member as they continue to find creative ways to teach course material online, dive deep into important and complex topics, and provide experiences that enhance a sense of community in their classrooms. Pray also for the students participating in each class that, despite the differences in time and place, it will be an inspiring and interactive learning experience for all! These are the courses to keep in your prayers this week and throughout the semester:

On Tuesday from 4:15 to 7:15pm (EST), Biblical Foundations: Narrative, Wisdom, and the Art of Interpretation led by Dr. Nik Ansell will begin. This course will explore the Bible as the ongoing story of and for God and all God’s creatures, and attempt to identify the hermeneutical methods which best help us discern its significance in present-day life—all the while paying special attention to how Christians might study Scripture and pursue wisdom in an Academy that believes biblical witness restricts human freedom, and a tradition that sees Scripture as disconnected from the issues of our time.

On Wednesday from 10am to 1pm (EST), Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers will be teaching Imagining the World with Ricoeur: Narrative, Action, and the Sacred in Ricoeur's Hermeneutic Phenomenology. This course will consider Paul Ricoeur’s evolving thoughts on topics such as textual interpretation, action, imagination, revelation, and a religious imaginary in two of his essay collections: From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics, II, as well as Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination.

On Thursday from 10am to 1pm (EST), Grace as an Aesthetic Concept with Dr. Rebekah Smick begins. This course will examine the concept of grace within its theological, philosophical, literary, and art theoretical contexts in an effort to more fully understand its historical significance, the points of intersection between its contemporary uses, and its potential usefulness for the philosophy and theology of art today. 

Also on Thursday from 4:15 to 7:15pm (EST) the first session of The Craft of Reflective Practice with Dr. Gideon Strauss will take place. Course participants will learn how to do critical reflective practice by telling stories about their everyday professional life—and in the process, learn qualitative research skills, receive an introduction to phenomenology, and develop their own approach to praxis, and, most significantly, come to terms with who they are in what they do. 

From 4:30 to 7:30pm (EST) this same day, Dr. Edith van der Boom will host the first session of Transformative Teaching: The Role of a Christian Educator. Students in this course will consider their role as a Christian educator called to be a transformer of society and culture by seeking justice for those who are marginalized and disenfranchised, as well as to transform culture in their school, their local community, and the world. 

Finally on Thursday evening from 6 to 9pm (EST), Dr. Nik Ansell will begin teaching Meaning/Being/Knowing: The Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Implications of a Christian Ontology. Junior Members in this course will explore the nuances of Dooyeweerd’s idea that, “Meaning is the being of all that has been created and the nature even of our selfhood” (New Critique of Theoretical Thought), and consider how to do the work of Ontology well, by drawing upon a pre-theoretical form of Knowing, and a spiritual grounding and hope, that will always precede and exceed understanding.

Please continue to pray for our Senior Members, Junior Members, and students in these courses during this term. Pray that they might experience a close, communal learning environment as much as possible via Zoom and across various time zones.

Monday, September 19 - Friday, September 23:

A number of ICS alums and PhD candidates also start teaching courses at different schools this month. Andrew Tebbutt was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Trinity Christian College in Chicago and will teach philosophy courses there this year. Mark Standish and Abbi Hofstede will both also be teaching courses at The King’s University in Edmonton this year—Mark in philosophy and Abbi in politics and economics. Héctor Acero Ferrer, as an Adjunct Faculty member at Martin Luther University College in Waterloo, will likewise be teaching courses on intersectionality, interfaith/intercultural dialogue, and overseeing senior projects. Please pray for these and our many other ICS alums in the wide variety of careers they are called to pursue, as the month of September often brings with it new beginnings across all spheres of life. 

We would appreciate prayers for the Leadership Team as it continues to work out the ICS strategic plan, which is geared to enhancing our academic programming and increasing our tuition revenue and institutional longevity. We pray also for the ICS Academic Council as it resumes the work of academic governance during this month. The council will focus on ICS's academic policies with regard to the assessment of student work during this term. Pray for clarity and wisdom in our thinking as we develop, and continue to implement, ways that will enable us to keep pursuing our goal of offering truly distinct educational opportunities to the students who come our way.

Please pray for those involved in preparing and contributing to our upcoming fall issue of Perspective as authors, editors, organizers, designers, and printers. This issue will highlight some of the voices and stories of our incoming Junior Members (among others) and should offer an exciting glimpse into their work. We ask our Lord to grant all contributors creativity and insight as we aim to send this issue to our supporters in the coming months.

The fourth and latest volume in ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book series with Wipf & Stock Publishers was published this past June: Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and Promise by Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis. Please pray with us in particular gratitude for Jim’s latest publication, and for all those involved in the authoring, preparation, and publication of this manuscript. Pray also for those involved in the ongoing planning and preparation of future volumes in this series, that those who read them might continue to find deep wisdom and insights in their pages.

Monday, September 26 - Friday, September 30:

We ask for your prayers for Director of Finance Harley Dekker as he prepares for the auditors and the preparation of the year-end statements this month. This is always a very detailed and lengthy process, so please pray for strength and clarity of mind for Harley as he seeks to complete this task as quickly as possible in the midst of the many other aspects of administration in which he is involved.

The 2022-23 academic year will be a time of celebration at the CPRSE, including book launches for three recently published volumes of ICS’s Currents in Reformational Thought book series. The second of these volumes honours the scholarly work of Senior Member Emeritus Lambert Zuidervaart, through a festschrift entitled, Seeking Stillness or The Sound of Wings: Scholarly and Artistic Comment on Art, Truth, and Society in Honour of Lambert Zuidervaart. This festschrift will be celebrated at the facilities of Regis College on Thursday, October 27th at 3:00pm. Please pray for the organizing team as they plan this event in honour of Dr. Zuidervaart. 

During the month of September, the CPRSE team will be planning its annual cycle of research projects, publications, and public outreach events. This year, many of our events and publications will focus on questions surrounding the notion of tradition, particularly as our institution seeks to carry forward the rich tradition of inquiry and scholarship that animates the work and lives of our Senior and Junior Members. Please pray that the CPRSE’s work will be fruitful and responsible, and that the programming offered can serve as a space for transformative reflection for our community and beyond.

On September 27-29, MA-EL Director Edith van der Boom and Recruitment Coordinator Brenna Wehrle are attending the 2022 Christian Schools Canada Conference in Winnipeg. ICS is a sponsor of this year’s event, and it will be a great opportunity for Edith and Brenna to connect with some of our Christian school colleagues. Please pray for safe travels for Edith and Brenna, and for many learning and networking opportunities for them both as they attend this conference.

We pray for the search for a new ICS Senior Member in Philosophy. The Senior Member in Philosophy contributes to the MA and PhD programs of ICS by mentoring students, teaching courses, and supervising MA theses and PhD dissertations in modern and contemporary European continental philosophy as well as in either ancient or medieval European philosophy. The October 3 application deadline for this position is quickly approaching. We are grateful for the applications we have received so far, and we pray for a final push of inspiration for anyone still fine-tuning their application. Please also pray with us for the search committee, that they may be granted wisdom and discernment as they begin to evaluate applications and start the interview process.

We pray for the families and households, friends and faith communities of the members of our ICS scholarly community. We are grateful for their company and encouragement, aware of their sacrifices, and prayerful for their flourishing. As summer shifts into fall, we pray for the adjustments in our schedules and in our priorities to go well, and for our hearts to beat along with the seasonal rhythms of our lives. For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3, NRSV).

ART in Orvieto 2023 is Coming!

The dates for the 2023 iteration of our ART in Orvieto program have now been set! 

From July 9 to 29, 2023, ICS will host an advanced summer studies program in art, religion, and theology located in Orvieto, Italy, a magnificent hill town 90 minutes north of Rome. The program offers an ecumenical exploration of Christian understandings of the arts. It provides a three-week residency designed for artists, art teachers, graduate students in relevant fields, and other adult learners interested in engaging the intersection of art, religion, and theology. 

The main components of the program are a seminar on the topic of art, religion, and theology with Rebekah Smick, and/or the option to join either an artists' workshop with David Holt or writers' workshop with John Terpstra.

Early Bird applicants will be eligible to receive a $500CAD Ruth and Inès Memorial Scholarship for Artistic Education. These scholarships will be available on a first come first serve basis to applicants who submit a complete ART in Orvieto application by the December 31 early bird deadline. 

Visit to find out more about the program -- and please share this wonderful learning opportunity with anyone who may be interested!

Thursday 25 August 2022

Forthcoming Anthology on Existential Gratitude by Harris, DeRoo & Lougheed

A new anthology entitled Philosophical Perspectives on Existential Gratitude: Analytic, Continental, and Religious will be published by Bloomsbury in March 2023, and is currently available for preorder on the publisher's website

The volume is edited by ICS alums and The King's University professors Joshua Lee Harris and Neal DeRoo, and Kirk Lougheed of LCC International University, Lithuania / University of Pretoria, South Africa. Harris was awarded a research grant in the fall of 2021 to study the psychological, philosophical, and theological dimensions of gratitude. That original grant has since fed into a symposium on the topic, articles, podcast interviews, and most recently, the forthcoming publication of this collection of essays. You can read more about this volume below.

Publisher's Description

Existential gratitude—gratitude for one's very existence or life as a whole—is pervasive across the most influential human, cultural, and religious traditions. Weaving together analytic and continental, as well as non-western and historical philosophical perspectives, this volume explores the nexus of gratitude, existence and God as an inter-subjective phenomenon for the first time.

A team of leading scholars introduce existential gratitude as a perennially and characteristically human phenomenon, central to the distinctive life of our species. Attention is given to the conditions under which existence itself might be construed as having a gift-like or otherwise gratitude-inducing character.

Drawing on a diversity of perspectives, chapters mark out new territory in philosophical inquiry, addressing whether and in what sense we ought to be grateful for our very existence. By analyzing gratitude, this collection makes a novel contribution to the discourse on moral emotions, phenomenology, anti-natalism, and theology.

Table of Contents

Joshua Lee Harris (The King's University, Canada), Kirk Lougheed (LCC International University, Lithuania /University of Pretoria, South Africa) and Neal DeRoo (The King's University, Canada)

Part I. Gratitude in Human Life
1. Grounding Existential Gratitude: A Social Form Account 
Joshua Harris (The King's University, Canada) 
2. Gratitude and Resentment: A Tale of Two Weddings
Graham Oppy (Monash University, Australia) 
3. Gratitude and the Human Vocation
Brian Treanor (Loyola Marymount University, USA)

Part II. Gratitude and Existence

4. Generous Existence? Gift, Giving, and Gratitude in Contemporary Phenomenology
Christina Gschwandter (Fordham University, USA) 
5. Analogia Gratiae: Creation, Existence, and Gift in the Christian Metaphysics of Erich Przywara
Eric Mabry (St. Mary's Seminary and University, USA) 
6. Gratitude for Life-Force in African Philosophy  
Thaddeus Metz (University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Part III. Gratitude and the Divine

7. The Dilemma of Gratitude
Michael Almeida (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)

8. Is Gratitude Necessary? Avicenna on Existential Dependence
Catherine Peters (Loyola Marymount University, USA)

9. Do we Owe Gratitude to God for Our Existence?
Kirk Lougheed (University of Pretoria, South Africa) 
10. Thank You: William Desmond's Ethic of Gratitude and Personal God
Ethan Vanderleek (Marquette University, USA)


Shattering Silos: New Book on Knowledge from Lambert Zuidervaart

Lambert Zuidervaart, ICS Senior Member Emeritus in Philosophy, has published a new book of essays in reformational philosophy titled Shattering Silos: Reimagining Knowledge, Politics, and Social Critique (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2022). 

Knowledge, he argues, takes different forms in various social domains, and all are subject to political struggle. Interweaving epistemology, social criticism, and political thought, Shattering Silos offers a new way to think about truth and politics in a supposedly post-truth society. 

The book is funded in part by grants from the Reid Trust and the Andreas Center at Dordt University. It is dedicated to Nicholas Wolterstorff. 

More details can be found at the publisher’s website.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Together Entwined

A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
–Ecclesiastes 4:12b

It’s funny how things come together sometimes. In the first week of June, we held the meetings of our Academic Senate and Board of Trustees, as well as our first in-person Convocation since 2019. At our Senate meeting, ICS Senator and Vice Chancellor Dr. Beth Green referred to the passage from Ecclesiastes, quoted above, noting how strands of yarn are themselves made when wool fibres are twisted together, and how, in turn, bigger and even stronger cords are made from the twisting and twining of these individual strands.

With this image, Beth drew our attention to the importance of the creative twisting and cooperative flexibility we are called to assume in our various roles at ICS, as we faithfully strive to pursue our mission in Christian higher education. When we come together in that task, we become stronger as an institution and better able to create healthy, graceful communities of learning and discovery for the students we serve.

Yet for all its emphasis on the importance of coming together, this chapter of Ecclesiastes begins in a very different place, noting “all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun,” resulting in both the solitary suffering of victims, as well as the lonely existence of oppressors (vs. 1). The teacher then points to the fact that we all need each other to live healthy and abundant lives, that we utterly depend on each other both to survive and to thrive—“woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help” (v. 10b). An oppressive society is one that has allowed itself to unravel, leaving its individual strands to untwine and ultimately fray on their own.

Later, during the ICS Convocation, I recalled the image of the threefold cord when I gave my laudatio in honour of Benjamin Shank, who received his PhD degree. Benjamin’s dissertation highlights the crucial role played by the trust relationships we form in early childhood, which give us the ability to become healthy adults, people able to live with hearts wide open to one another and to the rest of God’s good creation. When our parents lovingly entwine themselves into our lives from our earliest moments, we ourselves become part of a stronger cord, and learn how to twist ourselves in ways that will build up the others we meet along life’s way.

When such trust fails, as it can, fear and anxiety may take over. While understandable, this is a tragic reaction, because at the end of the day our utter dependence on the support of others does not change simply because fear has taken the place of trust. Untwining ourselves and going it alone, as fear encourages us to do, is not a livable option, and that fact says something deep about the kinds of creatures we are.

A good way to think about our Christian faith, then, is as a deep trust in the Source of life, a trust that instills in us a desire to become entwined with a God who, in Jesus Messiah, shows us the path of healing and blessing. As we twist ourselves into the way of that God, we take steps toward the kingdom of shalom he promises is coming. In this way, we find ourselves coming together, mutually strengthening one another, and shaping a world where no one is ever made to go it alone ever again.

Thank you for entwining yourselves into the life of ICS, friends. You make us stronger and better able to serve all the different kinds of students who come through our doors seeking God’s wisdom for the world. I wish you all a restful and creative summer, and I hope to see you back in this space in September!


Ron Kuipers