Tuesday, 6 June 2023

God’s Gathering

…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. 
Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, 
I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

—Isaiah 56:7b-8

I have never really stopped to ponder the days immediately after our Messiah’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. When I read Matthew 21 or Mark 11, however, I am struck by the fact that in these passages Jesus appears to be in quite the mood. The first thing that sets him off is all the buying and selling going on in the temple, and he summarily proceeds to overturn the tables of these exploiters and schlock merchants, driving them out as he does so. The next day, feeling hungry, he curses a barren fig tree. Mark 11 makes a point of letting us know that the disciples heard Jesus’s curse, as if they were already walking on eggshells.

As I meditate over these stories, I also become struck by the way our Messiah’s imagination is charged with a vision of God’s kingdom of shalom. In this light, his anger and frustration seem to stem from the distance he experiences between that vision and his present reality. When he is driving the merchants from the temple, for example, he quotes the passage from the prophet Isaiah, above, chastising the merchants for instead transforming God’s all-welcoming home into a “den of robbers” (vs. 17).

Last month, ICS invited Yale theologian Miroslav Volf to speak to audiences at Martin Luther University in Waterloo and at the Toronto School of Theology. Volf’s talks focused on distilling the message of his most recent book (co-authored with Ryan McAnally-Linz) The Home of God: A Brief Story of Everything. In this book, Volf offers the stimulating suggestion that God’s redemptive work is a kind of homemaking. God is at work in creation to make the world a home for God, a home in which all of redeemed humanity belongs and will be gathered. Our love for God, Volf suggests, is therefore intimately related to the God’s love for the world:

Since God is the ultimate good, humans ought to love God above all things and for God’s own sake. But to love God is to love the world that God loves—and to love it…with the love with which God loves it and which God is. If this idea appears startlingly ‘worldly’, that’s because the holy and transcendent God is surprisingly worldly—desiring to make a home and be at home in the beloved creation. (7)

From these words, I return to Matthew 21 and Mark 11 and see our Messiah’s consternation and impatience in a new light. Matthew 21 ends with Jesus’s suggestion that the Kingdom of God will be given to “a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom” (vs. 43). These are the people that Isaiah tells us our Maker and Redeemer is gathering, including especially all those people who have been cast out of all of history’s oppressive kingdoms, empires that fail to make a home for God precisely because they fail to make a home for these outcasts.

As we enter summer, friends, let us ponder God’s good creation that sustains and nurtures us, and imagine what part we might play in God’s homemaking. Let’s imagine that place and gather there. I’ll meet you by the fig tree laden with good fruit.

Shalom, and again I say shalom!
Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: Summer 2023

Monday, June 5 - Friday, June 9:

Please join us in prayers of gratitude for a series of well-attended events on May 26th. Convocation and our public celebration of Bob Sweetman’s retirement went off without a hitch and were truly times of celebration and connection. We would like to thank each of the panelists and speakers at these events, our Board and Senate members for travelling into town and spending time deliberating the stewardship of ICS at their respective meetings, all of the attendees both online and in person for showing up for Bob and our graduates, and Bob and his family for allowing him to be celebrated by our community! 

We lift up each of our 2023 graduates in prayer as they close this chapter of their respective journeys and look to the next. This year we celebrated the hard work and successful project completion of Ahamd Banki (MWS-ART), Nancy Schwarz (MWS), Justin Cook (MA), Sara Flokstra (MA-EL), and Colin Hoving (MA-EL). We give thanks for the time each of these Junior Members spent in study with us and we wish them well in the next stage of their professional and personal lives. Congratulations!

On May 25th, Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis fell and broke his hip. Jim has already had successful surgery to fix the break and is currently on an extended stay in Bridgepoint Hospital (1 Bridgepoint Dr., Toronto) for steady rehabilitation. Please join us in prayers of gratitude for Jim’s medical care and for his wife Arvilla’s sustained support, and join us in prayer for a full and speedy recovery of Jim’s mobility. Jim remains in good spirits and is eager for visitors. If you’d like to arrange a visit, you can message Jim or Arvilla on Facebook, email Jim directly at jimo@icscanada.edu, or let Danielle know if you’d like to reach out via phone or text and need his number. 

Monday, June 12 - Friday, June 16:

On June 12th, Dean Dettloff’s online Spring-Summer 2023 course starts: The Soul of Soulless Conditions: Marxists on Christianity, Christians on Marxism. Please pray that Dean and the course participants will have enriching discussions on this timely topic during the weeks they spend together. Registration for this course remains open until June 9th, so email Academic Registrar Elizabet Aras if you’d like to join!

During our May festivities, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics announced the next forthcoming volume in our Currents in Reformational Thought book series! The next title in the series is a festschrift in honour of Bob Sweetman’s retirement called Gestures of Grace: Essays in Honour of Bob Sweetman, edited by Joshua Lee Harris and Héctor A. Acero Ferrer. The book is currently in the final stages of publication and is not quite available for purchase, but will be very soon, so keep an eye out! And join us in giving thanks for the gift of Bob’s scholarship, the hard work of Joshua and Héctor in compiling the volume, and for each of the contributors for their thoughtful reflections.

We are delighted to announce that, after our recent search, we’ve found ourselves a new librarian! Ilana Hernandez officially joined the ICS community on June 1st. Ilana completed both her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Information degrees at the University of Toronto. Her experience includes work as a reference librarian at York University and as a research assistant for the Princeton Geniza Project. Her most recent publication is “Research Guides Beyond Canadian Law: A Question of Justice,” in the Canadian Law Library Review. We give thanks that Ilana has stepped into this position and we pray that she might feel welcomed into the ICS community as she gets her bearings in this new role.

Monday, June 19 - Friday, June 23:

June 20-23, the 6th meeting of the global Fonds Ricoeur summer workshop will take place in Paris, France. ICS PhD candidate and CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will be presenting a paper at this conference on Thursday, June 22nd titled: “Our-self as Another?” Understanding the Development of Narrative Identity in Ecclesial Base Communities through the Lens of Paul Ricoeur. We are delighted that Héctor has this chance to present and discuss his ongoing research with such a widespread and active academic community, and we ask you to pray with us that this might be an inspiring networking and research opportunity for him.

Earlier this year, the Critical Faith team had a chance to interview the Executive Director of Shalem Mental Health Network, Jennifer Bowen. Our episode with Jennifer is now available for your listening pleasure on your podcast app of choice. We’re grateful for the time Héctor and Jennifer spent in conversation about the shared history and institutional connections between ICS and Shalem, as well as on the topic of how to navigate difficult conversations. And as Shalem celebrates their 60th anniversary as an organization this month, we congratulate them on this milestone and pray for many more years of service in the community!

Monday, June 26 - Friday, June 30:

June 30 is the deadline for late applications to start an ICS program of study in the fall. We pray for those applicants whose materials we’ve already received, that they might be granted wisdom and clarity as they arrange any other necessary details to start their studies in the fall. And we pray for any would-be applicants still in the process of deciding or finding their way to ICS, that they might be able to see what ICS has to offer them in their studies and their journeys.

June 30 also marks the end of our fiscal year. We’ve been so grateful for the financial support we’ve received from each of our donors over this past year. Your giving is absolutely vital to the work that we do and the blessings that we have to offer the students that walk through our doors. Thank you for your generosity! We also thank God for the dedicated work of our Advancement and Finance departments in seeking out and stewarding these gifts and keeping ICS running day to day.

Another of our online Spring-Summer 2023 courses starts on July 4: State, Society, and Religion in Hegel’s Philosophy with Andrew Tebbutt. The last day to register for this course is June 30, so email Academic Registrar Elizabet Aras if you’d like to learn how to join! As the time approaches, please also pray with us that the course will go well for all involved and that participants will have inspiring conversations together.


New Senior Member Neal DeRoo starts July 1st! Neal has been a longstanding member of the ICS community and we look forward to welcoming him into this new role over the coming months. Neal will be teaching online ICS classes starting this September, the first being: Religion, Life, and Society: Reformational Philosophy. If you’d like to join this course for audit or credit and hear more about Neal’s take on Reformational philosophy, or if you’d like to find out what else Neal will be teaching this year, you can email our Registrar at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu.

Please pray for all the participants in this year’s ART in Orvieto program from July 9th-29th. Many of these artists, writers, teachers, and students are feeling the need for time spent in intentional creative community, and we pray that these three weeks might give them the inspiration and support that they need. Please also pray for Rebekah Smick, David Holt, and John Terpstra as they lead seminars and workshops and foster community among these students. We also ask that you keep ICS staff in your prayers as we start to prepare for ART in Orvieto 2024! If you or someone you know spent this year wishing you could participate in this program, it’s not too early to start thinking about applying to next year’s program!


As the summer continues, we ask for prayers for all the ICS staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members—that everyone might find chances to relax and enjoy God’s creation during these weeks, catch up on planning and other projects, and really dig into reading, writing, and other research projects. We are grateful for the gifts and insights that each member of our community brings, and we pray that this seasonal change of pace may be a blessing to everyone.

Fall 2023 courses are now listed on the ICS website. We have an exciting array of topics being covered by all of our Senior Members this semester, and all of these courses are available for online participation. More details will be made available over the summer, but you can check the full course list out now to see if anything catches your eye at www.icscanada.edu/fall-courses

ICS Hires a New Librarian

We are delighted to announce that, after a recent search, ICS has found a new librarian! 

Ilana Hernandez started in this position on June 1st. Ilana completed both her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Information degrees at the University of Toronto. Her experience includes work as a reference librarian at York University and as a research assistant for the Princeton Geniza Project. Her most recent publication is “Research Guides Beyond Canadian Law: A Question of Justice,” in the Canadian Law Library Review. 

We are so excited to welcome Ilana to ICS and look forward to the contributions she will make to the community in this vital role. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Christ the Gate

I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

–John 10:9-10

When I hear the word ‘gatekeeper’, I tend to think of someone in a privileged, oftentimes undeserved position who from that perch may prevent deserving people from accessing certain goods to which they would otherwise be entitled. Indeed, the Cambridge Dictionary defines gatekeeping as “the activity of trying to control who gets particular resources, power, or opportunities, and who does not.”

Does Jesus Messiah claim to be this kind of power broker in John 10? I don’t hear his message that way. Jesus tells his audience that “the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep,” and then proceeds in verse 3 to claim that “the gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice.” One might naturally conclude from this verse that Jesus does in fact claim the gatekeeper’s role, granting entry to the shepherd while barring the “thief and bandit” mentioned in verse 1.

Yet Jesus does not claim to be the gatekeeper in John 10, but rather the gate itself. That is a crucial difference. Moreover, the passage opens by telling us that the thief avoids the gate entirely, and instead “climbs in by another way” (vs. 1). It seems, then, that the gatekeeper’s job is rather easy, because only shepherds approach the gate, almost as if they are the only ones who know it is there or can recognize it for the peculiar entrance it in fact is. There is not much the gatekeeper can do, at any rate, to prevent the thief from breaking in at a different spot.

So, what of the gate itself, the gate that Jesus claims to be? What does this gate open onto? In verse 7, Jesus tells us that this gate, the gate he himself is, is for the sheep: “Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” Do we not spy true freedom here in this wonderful idea of “coming in and going out” to find pasture? While the thief only comes “to steal and kill and destroy,” Christ the gate opens instead onto the abundant life of the nurturing field (vs. 10).

How often do we pass by this gate without noticing it, I wonder, in the expectation of instead coming across a grand entrance to some great “gated community,” one designed as much to keep people out as to hem them in? Can such a checkpoint really be Christ the gate? What if instead this grand entrance is where the thief once broke in, and thus leads to the opposite of the abundant life Jesus promises?

Verse 8 tells us that the sheep can perceive and ignore the seductive messaging of all life’s thieves and bandits. The abundant life Jesus promises does not lie along that way. How do we know? Well, do the thieves and bandits lay down their lives for the sheep they hope to attract and control? Does trusting their promises lead to abundant life? We need to ask ourselves some tough questions here and as we do, strive to embrace the love that does in fact lay down its life for others (vs. 11, 15).


For the first time on this well-trodden path, I stop and notice the wind-worn, overgrown garden gate off to the side, where it swings freely on its aged hinges. With the slightest squeak, it beckons me to cross its threshold.

Shalom, friends!

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: May 2023

Monday, May 1 - Friday, May 5:

The month of May is always a time full of activity, and this year is no exception. We got off to a busy start this month with Junior Members wrapping up research and writing projects, Senior Members turning to grading and preparing for their own summer research and writing plans, and staff attending to the mailings, meetings, and event preparations that come along with the end of the school year. Please join us in giving thanks for another year full of rich learning opportunities, and in prayer that everyone may continue to find wellsprings of energy for their various tasks.

On Saturday, May 6th, we had the opportunity to celebrate the labor of love that is Jim Olthuis’ latest book: Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and Promise. There was a rich web of relationships on display at this event, in those who contributed as panelists (Drs. John Caputo, Ruthanne Crapo-Kim, Dean Dettloff, Jeffrey Dudiak, and Brian Walsh) and those who attended online and in person. We are thankful for the gift of everyone’s presence at and contributions to this event. Please also join us in giving thanks for the gift of Jim’s scholarship, of which this publication is the latest example.

Monday, May 8 - Friday, May 12:

On May 7-9, the CPRSE participated in the Our Whole Society Conference in Waterloo, ON. First, join us in prayers of thanksgiving for the successful grant application the CPRSE submitted to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for the purposes of this conference! Second, please also join us in giving thanks for Ron Kuipers and Héctor Acero Ferrer’s efforts over the course of these three days as they helped facilitate panels, cohosted discussions, and participated with colleagues at other institutions in challenging discussions about polarization.

We are so grateful to have had the chance to host the theologian Miroslav Volf on Tuesday, May 9th, along with our colleagues at Regis College at the Toronto School of Theology. Professor Volf graciously shared some of his insights into what it means to think of the world as the home of God, and the implications of that image for our own practices of home-making and hospitality in the world. We would like to thank Professor Volf for spending some time with our communities, and to thank everyone who attended this event in person and online and participated in the conversation.

On Thursday, May 11, Senior Member Bob Sweetman is presenting a talk at the Kuyper Conference taking place at Redeemer University in Ancaster, ON. This year’s conference theme is Kuyper and Kintsugi: Public Theology for Repair, Reconciliation, and Restoration, and the title of Bob’s paper is “Public Friendship, Modern ‘Ingratitude’, and the Promise of a Beautiful Joining.” Pray with us that Bob’s presentation, as well as the other conference presentations and events, will foster rich and edifying discussions among conference participants. 

Monday, May 15 - Friday, May 19:

Please pray this month for the instructors and students in our online Spring-Summer 2023 courses as they prepare for their time of study together. Two of these courses have already started, but others start in June and July: The Soul of Soulless Conditions (Dean Dettloff), and State, Society, and Religion in Hegel’s Philosophy (Andrew Tebbutt). There’s still time to apply to these two courses, so email Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu if you’d like to learn how to join! As the time approaches, please also pray with us for fruitful discussions among course participants during the time they spend together.

ART in Orvieto 2023 will also begin July 9th, and in the meantime program participants and ICS staff alike continue to prepare for their travels and 3 weeks of study in Orvieto, Italy. Please pray for these participants as they finalize their plans over the next few weeks, as well as for program Director Rebekah Smick and workshop leaders David Holt and John Terpstra as they fine-tune their teaching plans and prepare to foster a community of artists, writers, teachers, and students eager to explore the intersection of their creative and faith practices amid the rich artistic history of Orvieto.

Monday, May 22 - Friday, May 26:

This is an eventful week at ICS as we host our annual Senate and Board meetings, a public panel discussion, and this year’s Convocation celebration. Please keep in your prayers this week the ICS Board, Senate, staff, Senior Members, and Junior Members as many travel into Toronto and prepare for meetings and festivities alike:

  • Thursday, May 25: The ICS Senate meets today to discuss academic strategy, course planning, and other matters related to learning at ICS. Please pray for Academic Dean Gideon Strauss, Senate Chair Pamela Beattie, and Academic Registrar Elizabet Aras as they lead and prepare various aspects of this meeting as well as facilitate conversation among the Senate. Please pray as well for each of our Senators as they graciously give of their time and expertise toward stewarding the academic programming of ICS.

  • Friday, May 26th: Much of today will be spent celebrating the gifts and legacy of our dear colleague and mentor Bob Sweetman on the occasion of his retirement. At 2-4pm in the afternoon at Regis College, we will be hosting a public panel on the impact of Bob’s work on the idea and practices of Christian scholarship. Please pray for the panelists, attendees, and Bob himself, that everyone may enjoy a time of rich discussion. Note: this is a hybrid event and open to the public, so please email dyett@icscanada.edu if you’d like to attend in person or online.

  • Friday, May 26th: In the evening, starting around 6:30pm, we will be hosting the annual Convocation of this year’s graduands: Ahmad Banki (MWS), Colin Hoving (MA-EL), Sara Flokstra (MA-EL), Justin Cook (MA), and Nancy Schwarz (MWS). The ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees on these Junior Members, as well as the investiture of Pamela Beattie as ICS Chancellor, and an address by Bob Sweetman. A reception will follow. Please pray that all the details of this event might come together quickly and smoothly and that it will be a joyful celebration for all. Note: this event will be in person and also livestreamed on Youtube. You can find out more here.

  • Saturday, May 27th: Today, the Board of Trustees will meet to discuss matters of financial and strategic governance at ICS at their annual meeting. Many trustees will be travelling into town for this meeting, so we pray for safety in their travels. Please also pray for President Ron Kuipers and Board Chair Marci Frederick as they lead discussions among the Board, Harley Dekker and the Finance Committee as they do the detailed work of preparing budgets, reports, and projections; as well as for each of our Trustees, that their deliberations may be guided by wisdom and discernment. We are grateful for the time and energy that each of our Board members gives in service of ICS.

Monday, May 29 - Wednesday, May 31:

On Monday, May 29, ICS Junior Member Jimmy Ronald will be attending the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association (May 29-June 1, York University, Toronto). Dr. Joshua Harris, ICS alum and current professor at The King’s University in Edmonton, and Jimmy co-wrote a paper titled "A Way of Seeing Ways of Being: Building a Case for Ontological Pluralism," and it has been accepted to be presented at the conference. Please pray for safe travels and encouraging conversations for Jimmy as he comes to Toronto to present this paper.

Please join us in prayer as we near the end of our fiscal year, that we might receive a strong response to our annual spring appeal.
 If you haven’t yet responded to the appeal, don’t forget to! The mailing includes a copy of the latest issue of Perspective featuring reflections of gratitude from students and colleagues of Bob Sweetman (now also available online). The issue presents example after example of the kind of care-filled and Gospel-guided education that makes ICS what it is. We continue to be grateful every day for Bob's presence in our community as well as for our supporters’ faithful giving and the ways you help us spread the word about the gift of an ICS education. Thank you!

Convocation 2023 Livestream & How to Attend

On May 26th, the ICS community will gather to celebrate our annual Convocation. This year's ceremony will include the granting of degrees to our Junior Members, the investiture of Dr. Pamela Beattie as ICS Chancellor, and the delivery of the Convocation Address by Dr. Robert Sweetman on the occasion of his retirement as ICS Senior Member. 

Convocation will begin by 6:30pm EDT on May 26. The event is taking place in person in Toronto, but will also be available to livestream. If you'd like to join the livestream, you can watch the whole ceremony in real time on our YouTube channel at: youtube.com/watch?v=J6M_9C7Nu0I.

We hope you will be able to join us either virtually or in person for this special night celebrating the accomplishments of our Junior Members and the scholarly legacy of Bob Sweetman.

Join the Livestream!

Want to attend in person? Please email Danielle at dyett@icscanada.edu to let us know that you would like to attend this event in person and we'll send you more details. Feel free to also email if you have any questions about how to join online. 

CPJ Celebrates 60 Years

Our colleagues at Citizens for Public Justice are celebrating 60 years of being “inspired by faith to act for justice,” and you are invited to join the anniversary celebration!
  • When: Thursday, June 1, 7:30pm - 9:00pm (EDT)
  • Where: Holy Trinity TO, #19 Trinity Square, Toronto, ON (beside the Eaton Centre) & virtually via Zoom
Hear from current and former staff, Board members, and partners as CPJ reflects on the theme of intergenerational advocacy. Let’s celebrate the ways the folks at CPJ have effected change and how we, ourselves, can be changed to build a more just and sustainable society.
Please click this link for more details and to register (in-person & virtual).

Rental Space Available at Holy Trinity

The folks at Holy Trinity Church, located at Dundas and Bay in Toronto, would like to let the ICS community know about the availability of their space for events, meetings, and other gatherings.

Holy Trinity offers a unique and charming meeting and event space for smaller gatherings or for up to 420 people, for a one-time occasion or a longer term rental. The church has hosted receptions, conferences, banquets, arts events, fundraisers, and, due to having excellent acoustics, concerts and recording sessions. Separate office space is also available. Rental rates are highly favourable, designed to support charitable and not-for-profit organizations, in addition to community organizations and individuals.

For more information, visit holytrinity.to, or to enquire or arrange a site visit, please email ht@holytrinity.to or call 416-598-4521, ext. 222

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

Prayer Letter: April 2023

Monday, April 3 - Friday, April 7

April 1 was the application deadline for our MA-EL program and MWS-ART program. Please pray now for the students who applied to these programs as they patiently await word on their admission, and pray too for the admissions committee as they consider the applicants and whether ICS might offer them what they need in an academic home. 

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week in the Western church calendar. This week marks the end of the Lenten season and culminates in joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday on April 9th. Please join us and the Church around the world in prayer during these holy days, that we might learn to seek and share the Lord’s resurrection hope and truth in all we do throughout the rest of the year.

We ask for prayer for our staff as we make the plans for this year’s Convocation on May 26th and other events surrounding Convocation. This year, we will be celebrating a number of Junior Member graduands, as well as the retirement of beloved Senior Member Bob Sweetman. In addition to Bob delivering this year’s Convocation address on the evening of the 26th, we will also be hosting a celebration of Bob’s work and his lasting impact on the ICS community earlier that afternoon. Both Convocation and this afternoon celebration will be open to the public and available to join in person or online, and invitations will follow shortly. So for now, please mark your calendars, keep an eye on your email, and keep all of us at ICS in your prayers as we prepare for all these celebrations.

Monday, April 10 - Friday, April 14:

Monday, April 10th is the application deadline for our opening for a part-time ICS Librarian. Please pray with us that interested applicants may gather all the necessary materials for their applications in time and that a suitable candidate will find their way to us, and also for the hiring committee as they consider the candidates. Please also share the job posting widely in your own circles if you know of anyone who may be interested in the position. 

Please pray this month for the instructors and students in our Spring-Summer 2023 courses as they prepare for their time of study together: Finding Joy in Learning (Edith van der Boom), Lead from Where You Are (Gideon Strauss), The Soul of Soulless Conditions (Dean Dettloff), and State, Society, and Religion in Hegel’s Philosophy (Andrew Tebbutt). Some of these courses start as early as this month and others start in June and July, and are presented through a mix of asynchronous online learning and synchronous online video sessions. There’s still time to apply to each of these courses, so email our Academic Registrar Elizabet Aras if you’d like to learn how to join!

Monday, April 17 - Friday, April 21:

As Wednesday, April 19th is the last day of classes, we ask for your prayers this week for the Senior Members and Junior Members as they finish up their class time and move onto finishing their course assignments. We offer thanks for another academic year successfully completed and for the rich discussions that took place in all our classes this year. We ask for prayers particularly for those Junior Members who wish to convocate in late May that they would have clarity and inspiration for finishing their assignments before the end of this month. We also ask for prayers for our Registrar, Elizabet Aras, as she coordinates the academic administrative details that are necessary at this time of the year.

Please pray for the administrative staff of ICS who are hard at work preparing for a busy schedule of events after the end of this term, including: sending out the next issue of Perspective and the Spring Appeal fundraising mailing, organizing a much-anticipated book launch for Jim Olthuis, a public event with Miroslav Volf, a Senate meeting, a Board meeting, a celebration in honour of Bob Sweetman’s retirement, and Convocation. We are excited to have such a season of celebration ahead of us, Lord willing, and hope that you will be able to join in the celebrations in some form or another!

Senior Member Bob Sweetman will be presenting a paper during the 2023 Kuyper Conference taking place at Redeemer University May 9-11. The conference theme is "Kuyper and Kintsugi: Public Theology for Repair, Reconciliation, and Restoration." Please pray for Bob as he prepares for this presentation over the course of the coming weeks.

Monday, April 24 - Friday, April 28:

ICS Junior Members, Senior Members, and staff will celebrate the end of the academic year with a ‘Spring Connect’ gathering on April 25. We pray for everyone who will attend that this might be an uplifting experience for all, and a joyful way to celebrate the many learnings, efforts, and accomplishments of this past year.

Please pray this week and next that students will find their way to our upcoming MA-EL courses being offered over the spring and summer. In particular, keep in prayer the following courses that will begin on April 27: Lead From Where You Are and Finding Joy in Learning. Please also pray for Gideon Strauss and Edith van der Boom as they prepare for their sessions, and for inspiration and creativity in their leadership of the classes.

The Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics continues to be closely involved as an institutional partner in the planning of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation’s Our Whole Society Conference taking place May 7-9th in Waterloo, ON on the topic of “Finding Common Ground in a Time of Polarization.” There is still time to register to attend in person or online if you wish. Please pray for the planning committee as the event draws near, and for all those in attendance that they might have productive conversations around this challenging topic. 

Whither Freedom?

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

—Luke 4:18-19

The word “freedom” gets bandied about a lot these days. Whether used as an adjective to describe the convoys of those who would protest public health mandates, or as a name for the shedding of external constraints claimed by liberalism’s autonomous individual, we seldom pause to ask ourselves what freedom might be for.

Certainly, freedom normally includes freedom from something, especially something oppressive. I am reminded of the wonderful lines from The Waterboys song, “Fisherman’s Blues”:

I wish I was a fisherman
tumblin’ on the seas
far away from dry land
and it’s bitter memories.
Castin’ out my sweet line
with abandonment and love.
No ceiling bearin’ down on me
save the starry sky above.

These beautiful, evocative lines are then followed by the hopeful words:

And I know I will be loosened
from the bonds that hold me fast
and the chains all around me
will fall away at last.

In Luke 4, we hear Jesus proclaim something similar—release to the captives and freedom for the oppressed. Yet the very word “release” also hints that, not only are the oppressed freed from something, they are also freed unto something. Jesus’s proclamation of freedom also announces good news to the poor, sight to the blind, and the commencement of the year of the Lord’s favour!

Jesus invokes these opening lines of Isaiah 61 immediately after his time of trial in the wilderness, where he resisted the devil’s temptation to save himself and establish his authority by grasping for dominating power. After he rolls up the scroll at the synagogue that day, he informs those in attendance: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (vs. 21). Jesus opens the path of liberation and reveals that it does not lie in the direction most of us think it does. Is this not a wonderful mystery, and a ground for resilient hope?

This Eastertide, when our hearts and minds turn in a special way toward our Messiah’s liberating act of suffering love, we do well to consider what this redemptive act liberates us unto. How will we live into the year of the Lord’s favour? How might we participate in the joyful work of securing abundant life for everyone?

Some words of a prayer named after Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was himself murdered 43 years ago for speaking truth to oppressive power in El Salvador, encourage our desire and guide our efforts to live into the freedom that our Messiah’s redeeming act opens to us:

We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God's grace to enter and to do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

I like to think of ICS’s educational mission in just this way. God has blessed our community with a delimited but important task, and God enables us to do it well. What a blessing it is to engage in an educational ministry that shapes hearts and minds to be prophet’s of our Maker and Redeemer’s liberating future!

Friends, thank you for supporting our efforts to help people realize and seize their God-given freedom to live into the abundant life Jesus Messiah makes available to us. Know that your prayers and gifts enable an educational mission that seeks to liberate people unto the rich redemptive possibilities of God’s Kingdom a-coming!


Ronald A. Kuipers

In Memoriam: Dr. Frederik Jan Reinders

by Ronald A. Kuipers (ICS President)

Fred Reinders (1930-2023), innovative engineer and creative entrepreneur, lived a remarkable life. With wisdom and faith, he carried that spirit of innovation and creativity beyond the business world into a life of philanthropic service to many charitable causes. He had a special passion for the reformational vision of integrally Christian education, and through both his financial gifts and wise leadership he played a pivotal role in the development of ICS as a unique graduate school that incarnates this educational vision in a world longing for our Maker and Redeemer’s shalom.

Fred served on the ICS Board of Trustees from 1986-93, all of them as Board Chair. He was the first businessperson to occupy that role, following a series of pastors and academicians. Fred’s business acumen left an indelible mark on the Institute, leading ICS into a period of increased financial stability and fundraising success. Perhaps his most significant contribution, however, was his ability to excite passion for ICS’s mission in Christian higher education, and to encourage everyone at ICS to use their gifts to make a healing and transforming impact on the wider world.

In 2012, ICS recognized Fred’s legacy of service to the mission of integrally Christian education by awarding him the degree Doctor of Letters, honoris causa. At that year’s Convocation, Fred delivered an address entitled “Are You Serious?” which ICS published in a 2017 issue of Perspective. There, you can read him suggest—in all seriousness—that reformational philosophers tend to take themselves too seriously:

In our Reformed tradition, we become very serious about our opinions and positions; we forget what it’s like to be open and we need a good measure of self-reflection. Often, it is necessary to be more understanding of each other and embrace the ironic, asking the question: Am I too serious about my own opinions?

My sense is that Fred was critical of our tradition’s tendency to excessive intellectual seriousness because he understood that, ultimately, Christian education has more to do with shaping generous hearts than it does with simply sharpening minds. He was fond of quoting a wise saying he once heard that stated: “God conceals Himself from our minds but reveals Himself to our hearts.” Fred’s message to us was that, while we may disagree intellectually, we should always remain open-hearted with each other, embracing spiritual community amid differing, and deeply held, opinions.

This profound bit of wisdom gave Fred the ability to navigate ICS deftly through controversial waters. As a new Junior Member who first came to ICS in the Fall of 1992, near the end of Fred’s tenure on the ICS Board, I quickly became aware of the controversy surrounding the recently held June 1992 ICS Summer Conference on “An Ethos of Compassion and the Integrity of Creation.” At this conference, ICS Senior Members Hendrik Hart and James Olthuis presented papers suggesting that the reformational assumption that scripture provides certain knowledge of a fixed and ahistorical creation order had become a roadblock to affirming scripture’s call to show compassion to people suffering on the margins of society. To make their case, they pointed specifically to the Church’s harmful treatment of sexual minorities and called for a more loving, even accepting and affirming, alternative.

The controversy these papers sparked rocked ICS, and the Board alongside then-President Harry Fernhout had to field serious calls from influential members of ICS’s supporting community for the dismissal of both Hart and Olthuis. Under Fred’s steady hand, however, ICS leadership proved capable of walking a fine line between holding Professors Hart and Olthuis to account for the validity of their concerns, and the maintenance of an academic environment that permitted and encouraged scripturally inspired yet intellectually open discussion of controversial societal issues. Amid controversy, Fred asked us to both examine and open our hearts to one another, so that we might regain the trust we needed to answer God’s call to walk upon the shalom way that leads to God’s kingdom.

On a very personal level, I remain profoundly grateful for the wisdom and calmness Fred displayed in steering ICS through this tempest, because it allowed Henk to continue to be my mentor through both my MA and PhD degrees, and it also allowed me to benefit from the many classes and conversations I have had with Jim over the years. I simply cannot imagine my intellectual or spiritual life without the deeply edifying influence of these two giants of the reformational philosophical tradition. Dozens of other ICS alumni will no doubt tell you the same thing. ICS faculty and administration at the time must have felt the same way about Fred because they asked him to serve an additional, seventh year as Board Chair after his second three-year term came to an end.

Fred remained a vital supporter of ICS up to his very last days. In the summer of 2021, ICS received a major gift from the Reinders Family Foundation to fund scholarships for students in the Educational Leadership stream of ICS’s MA program, a gift that continues to support students of this program today. Fred never lost faith in what he called “the movement of the heart” that brought a Christian graduate school like ICS into existence. This movement of the heart, he said on another occasion, “must be kept alive and rekindled in our community so that future generations will retain the vision of God’s kingdom in all of life” (Perspective 26.4, 1992). The best way we at ICS can honour Fred’s legacy, then, is to continue to heed this call to seek out and walk upon the shalom way that our Maker and Redeemer continuously reveals to us.

We at ICS thank God for the impactful life of Fred Reinders and are proud to honour his memory.

May 6: Join Us for the Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love Book Launch!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 6th, 2-4pm EST, when we'll gather for a long-awaited celebration of ICS Senior Member Emeritus Jim Olthuis' latest book: Dancing in the Wild Spaces of Love: A Theopoetics of Gift and Call, Risk and Promise (Wipf and Stock, 2022)!

This event will feature a panel discussion on topics arising from Jim's book, and ICS Senior Member Bob Sweetman will be moderating. An in-person reception will follow the discussion time. 

The panel discussion portion of this event will be hybrid, so please email cprse@icscanada.edu to RSVP and mention whether you plan to attend in person or online. 

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Book blurb from the publisher's website: 

In the twenty-first century, amid globalized violence, rising demagogues, and the climate emergency, contemporary philosophers and theologians have begun to debate a fundamental question: Is our reality the result of the overflowing, ever-present creativity of Love, or the symptom of a traumatic rupture at the heart of all things? Drawing on decades of research in postmodern philosophy and experience as a psychotherapist, James H. Olthuis wades into this discussion to propose a radical ontology of Love without metaphysics. In dialogue with philosophers like John D. Caputo, Slavoj Žižek, Luce Irigaray, and others, Olthuis explores issues from divine sovereignty and the problem of evil to trauma and social ethics. Experience in therapeutic work informs these investigations, rooting them in journeys with individuals on the path to healing. Olthuis makes the bold claim that while trauma, pain, and suffering are significant parts of our human lives, nevertheless Love is with us to the very end. Creation is a gift that comes with a call to make something of it ourselves, a risky task we must take on with the promise that Love will win. We are all dancing in the wild spaces of Love: ex amore, cum amore, ad amorem.

Save the Date: Celebrations of Bob Sweetman

The Institute for Christian Studies' 2023 Convocation ceremony will be taking place on May 26th around 6:30pm EDT. 

This year, we will be celebrating our Junior Member graduands with a hybrid event at Christ Church Deer Park in Toronto. The evening will also feature an exaugural address by retiring ICS Senior Member Bob Sweetman.

In addition to this yearly event, we will also be hosting the event: Gestures of Grace: Celebrating the Scholarly Contributions of Bob Sweetman. As the title suggests, this will be a celebration of Bob’s work and his lasting impact on the ICS community, and will take place earlier in the afternoon at 2pm EDT on May 26th. This celebration will feature a panel discussion on topics revolving around Bob's work and teaching. This will also be a hybrid event taking place at Regis College (100 Wellesley St. W) in Toronto.

Both Convocation and this panel will be open to the public and available to join in person or online. Feel free to email dyett@icscanada.edu if you have any questions about joining. 

The Vision of Home: A Conversation with Miroslav Volf on May 9

We're delighted to announce an upcoming event with Professor Miroslav Volf, Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture! On May 9, 2:30-4:00pm EST, Prof. Volf will be giving a talk entitled The Vision of Home. This will be a hybrid event, graciously co-hosted by Regis College of the Toronto School of Theology, so please let us know if you'd like to join us in person or online. 

In the spirit of his latest book, The Home of God: A Brief Story of Everything (Brazos Press, 2022)co-authored with Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Prof. Volf will explore the contemporary "crisis of home" on display in challenges like nationalisms, natural disasters, mass global migration, and housing crises. We will consider, among other things, what possibilities might open up in the "Christian story of creation, redemption, and consummation through the lens of God's homemaking work."

We look forward to welcoming Prof. Volf to speak with us. Below you'll find Prof. Volf's bio and details for how to RSVP to this event. 

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St. Joseph Chapel, Regis College
100 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 2Z5

Tuesday, May 9, 2023
2:30–4:00pm EST

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Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and is the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He was educated in his native Croatia, the United States, and Germany, earning doctoral and post-doctoral degrees (with highest honors) from the University of Tübingen, Germany. 

He has written or edited more than 20 books, over 100 scholarly articles, and his work has been featured in the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Christian Century, Sojourners, and several other outlets, including NPR's Speaking of Faith (now On Being with Krista Tippett) and Public Television’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

Some of his most significant books include:

  • Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (1996; revised edition, 2019), translated in 9 other languages, winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and one of Christianity Today’s 100 most important religious books of the 20th century
  • Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace (2006), which was the Archbishop of Canterbury Lenten book for 2006
  • Allah: A Christian Response (2011), on whether Muslims and Christians have a common God
  • After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity (1998), winner of the Christianity Today Book Award
  • A Public Faith: How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (2011)
  • The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (2006; revised edition, 2020), winner of the Christianity Today Book Award‍
  • Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World (2016) ‍
  • For the Life of the World: Theology that Makes a Difference (2019), co-authored with Matthew Croasmun

After receiving a B.A. from the Evangelical-Theological Faculty in Osijek, Croatia, Miroslav received his M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary and both his Dr. theol. and Dr. theol. habil. from the University of Tübingen, Germany, studying under theologian Jürgen Moltmann. Prior to his appointment at Yale Divinity School in 1998, he taught at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia (1979–80 and 1983–90) and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (1990–1998).

A member of the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Evangelical Church in Croatia, Professor Volf has been involved in international ecumenical dialogues (for instance, with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and interfaith dialogues (on the executive board of C-1 World Dialogue), and is active participant in the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. In October 2007, Prof. Volf was the lead author of the Christian response to “A Common Word Between Us and You,” the historic open letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals, which identified some core common ground at the heart of the Christian and Muslim faiths (the complete text can be found online at http://www.acommonword.com). The “Yale response,” as this response to “A Common Word” has become known, was published in November 2007 as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, signed by more than 130 prominent Christian leaders and scholars.

Miroslav regularly teaches and lectures in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and across North America. He has given over 30 prestigious lectureships at universities around the world, including the Dudleian Lecture at Harvard University; the Chavasse Lectures at Oxford University; the Waldenstroem Lectures at Stockholm School of Theology; the Gray Lectures at Duke University, the Stob Lectures at Calvin University, and the Cadbury Lectures at University of Birmingham.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Sacred Reluctance

Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me,
yet not my will but yours be done.

—Luke 22:42

Like many people, I struggle with procrastination. This is true even though I grew up in a family that owned a small building supply company, and much of the summers and weekends of my youth were spent working at “the shop,” where it was all hands on deck and there was no time for idlers or dreamers. Being raised with such a strong Calvinist work ethic, later in life I would often berate myself for giving in to procrastination.

In time I would come to learn that procrastination can be more than just idle time wasting, and even a key to the creative process. I vividly remember one time over twenty years ago working on my PhD dissertation, and finding myself halfway through a chapter with no idea how to continue the argument I was making, let alone reach a conclusion. It was like I had wandered into a forest and couldn’t find my way out. I told myself to go for a good, long walk, and when I returned, suddenly a path out of the thicket emerged, and I could work productively again.

At still other times, however, I struggle with something deeper than procrastination: reluctance. You see, I am not the kind of philosopher who simply cannot wait to break open a difficult book and learn how to decode its jargon so that I can obtain its secrets. Back when I was writing my dissertation, I remember slogging my way through Jürgen Habermas’s three-volume Theory of Communicative Action and thinking it would be helpful if I had some kind of mechanical device that would force my eyes to stay open. In these moods, I would look around at my enthusiastic colleagues who appeared to simply love what they were doing and I would wonder what was wrong with me.

Then I came across a wonderful little book by Christian Wiman called He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art, which gave me a new way to understand reluctance. “It’s almost the definition of a calling,” Wiman says, “that there is strong inner resistance to it.” This resistance, he explains, is not simply practical, but existential, cutting to the very core of one’s sense of self: “Can I navigate this strong current,” Wiman asks, “and can I remain my self while losing myself within it?” (10) These daunting questions put me in mind of our Redeemer on his way to the cross, reluctant to take the cup that his Father had given him. No one asked him if he wanted to be the Son of God, and I am struck that, although committed to following his Father’s will until the end, he still asked for that cup to be taken from him.

Wiman goes so far as to counsel us to trust something about reluctance: “Reluctant writers, reluctant ministers, reluctant teachers—these are the ones whose lives and works can be examples.” Why does Wiman think such lives are exemplary? He answers: “Nothing kills credibility like excessive enthusiasm. Nothing poisons truth so quickly as an assurance that one has found it.” (10) There is something deeply credible, Wiman suggests, about those who are reluctant to answer their calling, yet somehow find the willingness to do so anyway, without any assurance of how things will turn out.

It seems, then, that the first step to moving beyond reluctance is to move through it—to recognize it not as something simply negative, but rather as a healthy sign that we are taking seriously the difficulty of the path to which God may be calling us. For it is a path of letting go of our selves, after all, in the hope of rediscovering our true selves in the claim that God’s makes upon each and every one of our lives. The road God calls us to travel is a road that asks us to open our hearts radically to the love of God and neighbour, and it is a journey we are asked to undertake even though we cannot know beforehand where it will take us. There is a sacred reluctance we experience on the threshold of this journey, a reluctance that understands this truth, and so we should not fear it when we meet it in ourselves and others.

In this season of Lent, as together we journey with our Redeemer to the foot of the cross, let us honour our reluctance, so that we can hear God’s claim upon our lives buried deep within it.

Shalom, my friends,

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: March 2023

Wednesday, March 1 - Friday, March 3

Today, the Academic Office is hosting its Winter Writing Workshop. This is a time for Junior Members to come together to ask questions about their current writing projects, to work through any writing challenges they may be facing, and to improve their writing craft. Please pray that all the participants may have a productive time together and feel supported in their academic work. 

After a long search process, we are very pleased to announce that we have hired Dr. Neal DeRoo as the new Senior Member in Philosophy at ICS. Dr. DeRoo will begin work in this position on July 1, 2023. Please join us in giving thanks for a successful and promising end to our search, and in welcoming Neal into his new role at ICS!

Ron Kuipers and Edith van der Boom will be travelling west on March 3-11. They will be hosting supporter gatherings on March 4 in Edmonton, March 8 in Surrey, and March 11 in Calgary. We are so grateful for this opportunity to travel once again and meet with longtime and new supporters face to face! Please pray for safety for Ron and Edith as they travel, and pray that everyone may spend an uplifting and informative time together. If you’d like more details about any of these events, feel free to email dyett@icscanada.edu with any questions.

Monday, March 6 - Friday, March 10:

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. Please pray for energy, inspiration and creativity for the whole team.

Please pray for our Perspective production team and the Advancement office as they work hard to finish compiling the content for the upcoming spring issue and organize the spring appeal. We give thanks for the contributors to this issue. We also give thanks for the generosity of our supporters so far this year. We rely on your gifts and we’re grateful for your continued support of the vital work of Christian education!

On March 8-10, MA-EL Program Director Edith van der Boom will be attending the Christian Deeper Learning Conference in Surrey, BC and presenting two workshops there. Please pray that Edith may benefit from the content of this conference, and that other participants may benefit from attending Edith’s workshops. Please pray also that this conference will provide Edith with inspiration and many opportunities for deep interactions with fellow colleagues in educational leadership. 

Monday, March 13 - Friday, March 17:

March 13-17 is the Winter Reading Break for our MA-EL Junior Members. K-12 teachers and administrators continue to face many challenges in their schools every day, and pursuing a master’s degree on top of that requires a lot of commitment. So please join us in prayer that our MA-EL JMs may find some rest and rejuvenation during this week, and may come back next week ready to take on the rest of the semester!

On March 14 at 6pm, Ron Kuipers and Gideon Strauss will open a session of this year’s interdisciplinary seminar Faith, Freedom, and the Meaning of Politics: Liberalism and Its Discontents to interested students. Please pray that this time spent in conversation will prove inviting to course participants and visitors to this class.

Monday, March 20 - Friday, March 24:

‘Tis the season for 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.

Please pray also for Elizabet as she begins the planning process for Convocation 2023, which will happen in person at the end of May. This is always a special event for ICS and its graduates and families, especially this year as we celebrate Bob Sweetman’s career and his steadfast commitment to ICS and its mission. Pray that all the pieces of this celebration will come together in a timely manner as we prepare to celebrate Bob and our graduating Junior Members!

Monday, March 27 - Friday, March 31:

On March 30 at 4:15pm, Gideon Strauss will open a session of the seminar How to Coach a Strong Team: Leading People, Building Institutional Capacity, and Securing Accountability to interested students. Please pray that those who join this class might be inspired by their time spent in conversation with class participants to take the next step and apply to ICS themselves.

Please join us in giving prayers of thanks for the ART in Orvieto 2023 reaching capacity! We've been delighted by the number and quality of applications received for this year's program and we look forward to having all the participants together in Orvieto this July. Applicants have until March 31 to confirm their participation, so please pray for our hopeful students as they make their final decisions and as they plan and budget and research in anticipation of their travels. 

On Friday, March 31, the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics is hosting its next Scripture, Faith and Scholarship symposium. Our speaker at this event will be Dr. Amber Bowen on the topic: “On Seeing Further than the Present: A Kierkegaardian Hermeneutic of Hope.” If you’d like to join this exciting talk, please email cprse@icscanada.edu for the Zoom details.

Dr. Amber Bowen at Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship Symposium on March 31

Dr. Amber Bowen will be joining us for the next Scripture, Faith, and Scholarship symposium on Friday, March 31st at 2pm EST, hosted by the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics. 

Dr. Bowen (Ph.D. University of Aberdeen) is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Core Studies at Redeemer University. She wrote her dissertation on Kierkegaard and Phenomenology under the supervision of J. Aaron Simmons and is presently writing a monograph on a Kierkegaardian Philosophical Hermeneutics of Faith in consultation with Merold Westphal as part of the Widening Horizons in Philosophical Theology project at the University of St. Andrews.

The title of Dr. Bowen's talk is: On Seeing Further than the Present: A Kierkegaardian Hermeneutic of Hope.

At first glance, Kierkegaard’s account of hope in Works of Love sounds conveniently other-worldly—the kind that abdicates the present for “the sweet by and by.” However, in this talk Dr. Bowen will show how Kierkegaard’s account of hope is hermeneutically structured in such a way that it avoids the perennial dangers of either taking us out of the world (religious escapism) or confining us to the world (pious secularism).  She will argue that his deliberation on hope and his continual reference to “Eternity” should not be read through the lens of a Two Kingdom’s eschatology, but that it best accords with an eschatology of New Creation. Kierkegaardian hope, Dr. Bowen contends, is a hermeneutical virtue that discloses this world as having a future because of the Eternal’s work already in the present.

If you would like to join this event via Zoom, please email cprse@icscanada.edu to receive the link. 

Social Domains of Truth Publication and Book Launch

ICS is pleased to announce the publication of Social Domains of Truth: Science, Politics, Art, and Religion (Routledge, 2023) by Lambert Zuidervaart, ICS Senior Member Emeritus in Philosophy. Lambert considers this book a culmination of his life’s work; he has dedicated it to the memory of his friend and mentor Hendrik Hart.

Truth, Lambert argues, includes factual truth, but it is more than that. Truth as a whole involves our following societal principles such as solidarity and justice and fostering the interconnected flourishing of all creatures. This process comes to expression in distinct social domains, not only in science but also in politics, art, and religion. Anyone who cares about the future of truth in today’s society will want to read this pathbreaking book. More details can be found at the publisher’s website.

ICS supporters in West Michigan will have a chance to greet Lambert during a book launch on Friday, March 24, 3:00 pm EST, at the University Club, room DEV107C, in the DeVos Center on the downtown PEW Campus of Grand Valley State University (GVSU). This event is hosted by the GVSU Philosophy Department and co-sponsored by Friends of ICS and the Philosophy Department at Calvin University. To begin, Lambert will give a lecture titled “Truth and Politics: Arendt, Foucault, and the Truth of Politics.” A reception and book signing will follow. A summary of Lambert’s lecture is posted on the GVSU Philosophy Colloquium Series webpage

The event will be recorded, and anyone unable to attend can join the live stream at https://gvsu-edu.zoom.us/j/99263991812?pwd=ZS9jb0hSVWFOK0w0RWw4cHpNVWZIdz09

Friday, 24 February 2023

ICS Hires Dr. Neal DeRoo as New Senior Member in Philosophy

The Institute for Christian Studies (ICS)
is pleased to announce that Dr. Neal DeRoo, an internationally recognized philosopher and Christian thinker, will join the ICS faculty as Senior Member (Professor) in Philosophy, starting July 1, 2023.

Dr. DeRoo earned his BA in Philosophy from Calvin College (now Calvin University) in 2003, his MA in Philosophy from ICS in 2005, and his PhD in Philosophy from Boston College in 2009 (under the supervision of Professor Richard Kearney). He has previously taught philosophy at Dordt College (now Dordt University) and at The King’s University, where he just finished a term as the Canada Research Chair in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Religion. In addition to these roles, he has also served as the Director of the Andreas Centre for Reformed Scholarship and Service at Dordt, as the founding editor of in All things (an online hub that helps Christians think through the Gospel’s implications for all parts of our lives), and as a member of several boards including Christian Scholars Review and the Canadian Journal for Scholarship and the Christian Faith.

Academically, Dr. DeRoo specializes in contemporary Continental (European) Philosophy, in particular Phenomenology, as well as the Philosophy of Religion, with further expertise in Feminism, Critical Phenomenology, and Reformational Philosophy (the Amsterdam School). His work has been cited by scholars in more than 20 countries around the world, and his extensive publication record includes two critically acclaimed books: The Political Logic of Experience: Expression in Phenomenology (Fordham University Press, 2022); and Futurity in Phenomenology: Promise and Method in Husserl, Levinas, and Derrida (Fordham University Press, 2013). He comes to ICS holding a three-year Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) that will enable him to continue to develop his account of the deep-seated spiritual forces that shape our experience and how they help us think about religion as something that impacts our everyday life together. The grant includes funding to hire Research Assistants from ICS’s Junior Member (graduate student) ranks.

Outside of academia, Dr. DeRoo regularly speaks on topics such as existentialism, postmodernism, depression and mental health, Christian education, sex and sexuality, consumer culture, and more. He has spoken at various public venues (churches, schools, libraries, comic book stores, etc.) across Canada and the United States, and has preached at churches across Western Canada.

The ICS community eagerly anticipates the strong contribution Dr. DeRoo will make to ICS’s MA and PhD programs and to our supporting communities. He is an energetic and inspiring teacher and scholar, and a nuanced and sophisticated proponent of the Reformational philosophical tradition stewarded at ICS. 


ICS is an independent Christian graduate school based in Toronto with a charter to grant MA and PhD degrees in philosophy (including an Educational Leadership stream within the MA program), as well as an MWS-ART (Master of Worldview Studies in Art, Religion, and Theology). At ICS, the expertise of our experienced and widely-published faculty combines with the intimacy of a small school to create a hospitable academic community that welcomes the whole person. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Prayer Letter: February 2023

Wednesday, February 1 - Friday, February 3

We ask for your prayers for the Chancellor of ICS and Chair of our Senate, Pamela Beattie, and her family. Pamela's mother, May Drost, passed away on January 20. May was the beloved wife of the late Wayne Drost. She was a loving mother to Pamela Beattie (Blake), Anne Drost (Peter), Christal Kapteyn (Lex), Amanda Drost (John) and Bronwyn Drost. Survived by siblings Deanne Kroon, Jack Vos (Debbie) and Pat Westerhof, as well as many grandchildren. According to her obituary, "May was the best mother, Oma, sister, aunt and friend. She was a devoted teacher. She was affirming and accepting, and recognized the value in every person. She was an avid reader and writer, and loved engaging in conversations with many types of people. She had a gift for seeing the best in everyone and making them feel loved.”

On Thursday, January 26, longtime ICS supporter Fred Reinders passed away. Fred was a stalwart leader and supporter of many Christian organizations throughout his life, ICS among them. He was a member of the ICS Board of Trustees in the 80s and 90s, also serving as Chair, and received an honourary doctorate from ICS in 2012. A public Visitation for Fred will be held on Wednesday, February 8th at 4-8pm at ClearView Church and a Celebration of Life Service will be held Friday, February 10th at 3pm at ClearView Church. Please join us in prayers of sympathy for Fred’s family and loved ones during this time of loss. 

February 1 is the Fall 2023 MA and PhD program application deadline. Please join us in gratitude for the applications we’ve received so far and pray for wisdom for the committee considering these applications, discernment for the applicants as they finalize decisions, and pray that applicants may still yet find their way to us in the coming weeks!

Monday, February 6 - Friday, February 10:

The ICS Senate met on January 21, and we want to thank our Senate members as well as our Board Chair for their active participation in the meeting and care for the academic life of ICS. We also want to pray for the Academic Council and the Educational Policy Committee for the work they will do this term considering courses and matters of academic policy. We thank God for the efforts of everyone involved in these groups and committees.

On February 8th at 6pm, Jim Olthuis will host the first Open Class session of the winter term in his seminar Nothing Can Separate Us…!: The Dialectical Materialism of Slavoj Žižek. Please pray for Jim, the students in the course, and visitors to the class that they might all spend a rich time together.

February is tax receipt month at ICS! Please pray particularly for the advancement office and the finance office as they prepare receipts for our donors and students. This is quite a time-consuming task and needs to be finished by the end of February. We ask for God’s sustaining grace for all involved.

Monday, February 13 - Friday, February 17:

Our MA-EL Open House is taking place online on February 15 at 4:15pm EST. This Open House will feature a presentation from Edith van der Boom, a conversation with current students in the program, and a question and answer time. Anyone interested in attending this event can RSVP to Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu. Please pray that teachers and school administrators who would benefit from this program may find opportunities to apply. 

On February 16 at 6pm, Bob Sweetman will open his class Spiritual Exercise as Christian Philosophy from Augustine to Bonaventure to interested students. Please pray that this time spent in conversation will prove inviting to course participants and visitors to this class.

Final grades for fall 2022 courses are due from our Senior Members on February 17. Please pray for the Senior Members as they engage the work of students in their courses, that they may be able to provide rich and meaningful feedback on students’ research and projects as the students continue their learning journeys.

Monday, February 20 - Friday, February 24:

It’s Reading Week at ICS! There will be no classes this week, which will provide a welcome opportunity for Junior and Senior Members alike to focus their attention on various readings and to concentrate on their current research projects. May they find joy and inspiration in their studies this week!

The CPRSE recently submitted a SSHRC Connection Grant in support of the May 7-9 Conference "Our Whole Society: Finding Common Ground in a Time of Polarization," organized by the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and taking place at Martin Luther University College / Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON. Please join us in giving thanks for the work Héctor, Ron, and other committee members put into writing this grant and in praying that the application might be favourably received.

Save the Date - President Ron Kuipers and Edith van der Boom will be making a trip West in early March to visit Edmonton, the Vancouver area, and Calgary. Please pray that all the pieces of this trip may fall into place in the coming weeks, and if you’re in one of these areas and plan to attend, start thinking about someone new you might invite to come along with you!

Monday, February 27 - Tuesday, February 28:

On February 28 at 10am, Bob Sweetman again invites visiting students into one of his classes, this time for Religion, Life, and Society: Reformational Philosophy. Please pray that these students will be intrigued by the historical insights put forward in Bob’s seminar and that they might take steps to join our academic community.

February 28 is the application deadline for this year’s ART in Orvieto program and we've just 3 more spots available. We thank God for the palpable interest in this year's program! Please pray for the applicants we’ve accepted thus far, that they might be able to quickly and easily finalize their remaining arrangements in order to travel and attend this exciting course. Please also pray for the program leaders Rebekah Smick, David Holt, John Terpstra, and Thomas McIntire as they continue making the necessary preparations to host and teach students in the beautiful town of Orvieto.