Monday 6 May 2024

Prayer Letter: May 2024

Monday, May 6 - Friday, May 10:

Reformational economist and professor at the Vrije Universiteit Bob Goudzwaard passed away on April 20. His memorial service took place on April 26. If you would like to watch the recording of the service, it will be available online for a short time. Please join us in prayers of consolation for Bob’s colleagues, friends, family as they mourn his loss and await reunion in resurrection hope.

Two ICS staff have also lost family members this past month. Please join us in prayer for them and for their extended families as they navigate the travel, logistics, and mourning that accompany these losses. We pray that each of them may feel God’s comfort in spending time with their families and celebrating the lives of their loved ones.

Please pray this month for the instructors and students in our online Spring-Summer 2024 courses as they prepare for their time of study together. Three of these courses have already started, but one starts this week on May 7th: State, Society, and Religion in Hegel’s Philosophy (with Andrew Tebbutt). This course considers the interrelation of political, social, and religious life in the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel. Explore the political and social conditions of human experience, Hegel’s account of the human engagement in ‘absolute spirit’, and Hegel’s role in the historical construction of the modern West’s category of religion. There’s still time to apply so email if you’d like to learn how to join! Please also pray with us for fruitful discussions among participants as this course gets underway.

Monday, May 13 - Friday, May 17:

We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Beyond Culture Wars conference April 18-20th! In particular, we’d like to thank keynote speakers Kristin Kobes Du Mez and James K.A. Smith for their contributions to our collective conversation, our Senior Members and colleagues from fellow institutions for leading workshops, and our partners at Martin Luther University College for graciously hosting the event with us. To everyone who traveled to Waterloo to attend and joined us online: we are very appreciative of your active participation in the sessions and workshops! Thanks for making this event a huge success!

On May 20-22, Academic Dean Gideon Strauss will be participating in the 2024 Crouse Seminar in Toronto. Dr. Mark Elliott, Professor of Biblical and Historical Theology at Highland Theological College in Scotland and Professorial Fellow at Wycliffe College, will lead this year’s Seminar on Augustine's City of God. Please pray that this will be a fulfilling time of study, conversation, and camaraderie for Gideon and all those in attendance.

On May 20-23, Senior Member Neal DeRoo, PhD candidate Mark Standish, and alumnus Theoren Tolsma will all be presenting at the joint Annual Conference of The Society of Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (SPHS) and The Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists (ICNAP) at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. The theme of the conference is “Phenomenology at the Borders.” Please pray for their safe travels and that they may enjoy rich conversations with peers at this conference.

Monday, May 20 - Friday, May 24:

This is the week of our end-of-year celebrations and events! First up, our annual Senate meeting is taking place on Thursday, May 23. Many ICS Senators will travel to Toronto in order to spend the day considering key academic concerns and strategizing academic plans for the future, with special care taken to steward our particular intellectual legacy at ICS. Please join us in prayers of gratitude for each of these Senators and the time and expertise they share with the ICS community in this way. Please also pray for the ICS Academic Office as they arrange the numerous details of this meeting.

The following day on Friday, May 24, the ICS Board of Trustees also has its annual meeting in Toronto. Board Members will gather in person and online to attend to important budgetary and business matters of ICS. Please join us in prayers of gratitude for each of these Trustees and the time, wisdom, and insights they provide in the task of stewarding ICS’s financial gifts and responsibilities. Please pray in particular for Board Chair Dan Beerens as he leads discussions during this meeting and for the ICS Finance office and Executive Leadership Team as they provide reports and substantively contribute to the planning.  

Also on May 24, we will be hosting our 2024 Convocation ceremony at Christ Church Deer Park in Toronto. The ceremony will feature a convocation address by President Ronald A. Kuipers. Please pray for each of our three graduands whose academic accomplishments at ICS we will be celebrating this evening. This is a wonderful opportunity for the broader ICS community to gather and hear more about the diverse projects our Junior Members have brought to completion and to celebrate their achievements. 

Monday, May 27 - Friday, May 31:

Our final Summer 2024 course will begin June 10th: God of Solidarity: Liberation Theology as a Social Movement (w/ Dean Dettloff). In the latter half of the 20th century, a wave of liberation movements swept across the globe as colonized and exploited people undertook seismic struggles for self-determination. In this class, consider liberation theology in historical perspective—specifically its Latin American expressions—examining its relationship to a revolution in global Christianity and revolutions in various political contexts. If you would like to participate in this course, email And please pray with us for a rich learning experience for all involved in this course.

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. Our appeal mailing, along with the newest issue of Perspective, is being mailed out now! In this issue, you’ll be able to read some reflections on collaboration, and its importance to ICS as a Christian educational institution. We give thanks for the issue’s contributors, particularly our friends and colleagues at the Toronto School of Theology, and we give thanks for the generosity of our supporters so far this year. We rely on your gifts to meet our budget goals and we’re grateful for your continued support of the vital work of Christian education! 

What Time is It?

Walk wisely toward those who are outside, rescuing lost time.
—Colossians 4:5 (Revised Geneva Translation)

In his brief but profound book How to Inhabit Time, my good friend (and ICS alumnus) James K.A. Smith introduces us to “the art of spiritual timekeeping” (see HIT, 16 ff.) This art, Smith tells us, attunes us to something more than chronological time, which the German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin describes as “homogenous, empty time,” where one moment is qualitatively indistinct from the next, just another tick of the clock (for this and more, see Benjamin’s profound Theses on the Philosophy of History).

As Jamie points out, scripture often uses another Greek word, kairos, to speak of a different kind of time. Unlike chronos, Smith says, kairos names “a fullness of time, a time charged in a way that can’t be simply measured” (HIT, 18). This is the time that shelters the messianic possibility of redemption, a possibility which we might say inhabits chronological time like a wound coil, ready to spring into actuality at any moment.

In its translation of Colossians 4:5, the Revised Geneva Translation does a great job of evoking this kairological understanding of time. The New Revised Standard Version translates the Greek phrase in question, ton kairon exagorazomenoi, as “making the most of the time,” which to my ear sounds way too chronological. That last word, exagorazomenoi, literally means “to buy back” or “to buy out of,” and is often translated as “redeem.” We are closer here to the idea of “rescue,” I submit, than we are to the idea of “making the most of”!

The Revised Geneva translation provokes us to think more deeply about what Paul might be saying about time. In what way is our time lost, and how can it be rescued? Smith tells us that “spiritual timekeeping tries to discern where the Spirit’s restoration is already afoot in creation’s groaning” (HIT, 18). Could our attempts at such discernment be the way that we “walk wisely toward those who are outside,” thereby giving witness to God’s transformative work in the world, in time? Could that be what it means to rescue lost time?

So what time is it? Is it the time that is lost or the time that can be rescued? We put our hope and trust that God in Christ is bringing the latter to fruition, even as we are invited to participate in this dramatic salvage operation in our time. As Smith tells it: “In spiritual timekeeping, the watchword is ‘discernment’; faithfulness requires knowing when we are in order to discern what we are called to do” (HIT, 19). 

ICS’s Mission Statement reminds us that “the Gospel’s message of renewal shapes our pursuit of wisdom.” Stated in more explicitly kairological terms, we might say that “the Gospel’s hope for the rescue of lost time shapes our daily dance of (Smith again) ‘keeping time with the Spirit’.”

Shalom, friends!

Ron Kuipers

In Memoriam: Bob Goudzwaard, Friend of ICS

by Mark Vander Vennen

On April 20, 2024, Bob Goudzwaard, Christian economist, politician and academic scholar, died peacefully, surrounded by the love and care of his children and grandchildren. He had recently celebrated his 90th birthday. At ICS, we mourn his loss but give thanks to God for the gift of Bob—for this cherished friend whose scholarship has been so formative for ICS.

Goudzwaard was passionate about justice, sustainability, the needs of the poor, and care for people and the creation. He moved seamlessly from brilliant Scriptural exegesis to the structural roots of Western culture to complex economic arguments. He was a paragon of hope and a dear friend to many. 

Two early influences significantly shaped Goudzwaard’s future direction. He studied economics under Jan Tinbergen, the first Nobel prize-winner in economics. He also took lectures from J.P.A. Mekkes, one of the founders of reformational philosophy. From Mekkes, he learned to think “the other way around.” Rather than formulate principles and apply them to reality, Mekkes taught him to look first at reality, and then to dig deeper to find the ideological and spiritual impulses that lie structurally underneath. This approach is evident in all of the ground-breaking analyses of Western social and economic theory and practice that Goudzwaard undertook—analyses that were and continue to be far ahead of his time. 

Goudzwaard became the primary articulator of “the economy of enough.” To give a sense of how isolated this pioneering work left him, consider that in 1971, discussions took place with the Free University of Amsterdam about a professorship there. In an interview in 2023, Goudzwaard noted that the dean of the Economics Department told him that “there was opposition to me coming as a professor in the economics faculty, not for political reasons, but for academic reasons—I would confuse the students.” This was because of his insistence to link ethics to economics, and to question the drive to pursue economic growth at all costs. As a result, he was hired as an economist in the Social Faculty. “My books were not available in the Economics Faculty library.” Nevertheless, “50 years after the visit from the dean, the ideas and concepts that I defended are now broadly taken up and taught at the Free University.”   

Goudzwaard’s magisterial work, Capitalism and Progress, was published in 1976. Some of its content was developed in lectures that he delivered at ICS. In it he critiques equally capitalism and socialism as children of the Enlightenment pursuit of human progress expressed as limitless expansion in material prosperity. Each is a materialist framework. Each displays a fixation on the production side of the economy focused on government involvement in the means of production—“freedom from” for capitalism, “control over” for Marxism. By contrast, the economy of enough looks to the consumption side of the economy, to reign in the insatiable pursuit of harmful desires. Goudzwaard was not “anti-market”; instead, in an already wealthy society, he opposed a market-driven economy. He advocated a care-driven economy which uses markets, a slackening of material expansion to create growth in care for people and the environment. 

In 1977 Goudzwaard was the lead author of the election platform of the newly formed Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) political party, entitled, in a biblical reference, “Not By Bread Alone.” The CDA then became the lead partner in several successive governments. Goudzwaard was offered two cabinet positions but declined both, in part because prime minister Van Agt said he had “little affinity” for the party’s official platform.

In the early 1980s Goudzwaard, in a highly public decision, resigned from the CDA, because it approved a request from the United States government to install first-strike medium-range nuclear weapons of mass destruction on Dutch soil, aimed at the Soviet Union. Goudzwaard could not square this escalation of the Cold War nuclear arms race with his deeply held gospel convictions. He was shunned by many whom he had considered friends and colleagues; he paid a high personal price for standing by his convictions. With his integration of peace and economy (which he learned in part from Tinbergen), he continues to stand alone.

Goudzwaard was heavily involved in the ecumenical movement. He chaired large ecumenical development organizations in Holland and in Brussels. In 2004 he chaired a consultation between the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Council of Churches. Thanks in part to some churches in the UK, in 2009 his proposal to permit poor countries a modest amount of money creation to pay off debts made it to a G7 meeting but was rejected: instead the rich countries used that method to prop up their own economies. He took a lead in labour developments in The Netherlands and was heavily involved in anti-apartheid activities during the apartheid era in South Africa. His work on climate change provides a crucial dimension missing almost altogether in the current debate.

Bob was also a dear friend of ICS. He accepted an appointment as Senior Member at ICS in 1971, but had to decline because the Canadian health system could not pay for the special needs of his handicapped son, Theo. Nevertheless, as an ICS “Fellow,” he lectured often at ICS, over many years. He also served as a friend, advisor and “peacemaker” during some of the early tumultuous years at ICS. And in 2014 ICS honoured him by bestowing upon him an Honourary Doctorate degree.

All of the major newspapers in Holland carried articles profiling Goudzwaard on the occasion of his death. Capitalism and Progress is now being re-published in both Dutch and English. A new Bob Goudzwaard Foundation has been established to promote a sustainable and just economy supported by Goudzwaard’s ideas. And a biography of Goudzwaard, currently being written under the direction of the Free University, will be published in 2026.

I will conclude with Goudzwaard’s own words. In 1999 Bob gave the plenary address at an ICS family conference, delivered in the midst of the international Jubilee 2000 campaign, supported by Bono and many others, to reduce and forgive insupportable debt held by impoverished countries. In light of more recent debates about development aid, Goudzwaard’s words are, in my hearing, utterly contemporary:

Let me tell you a story. At the end of the conference in Lesotho—the ecumenical conference that dealt with the awful consequences of the ongoing debt burdens in Africa—I asked my black brothers and sisters if they could give me a message, even a one-line message, to bring back to the people and churches of the North. I will never forget their answer. They said that, poor though they were, they would never ask for more money. They used only one word. They said, “Speak about our dignity. We ask you and them to respect our dignity.”

What does such an answer mean? What are its implications? I have thought a lot about that. One of the main implications is that we should be willing to share with them access to resources, especially access to the sources of international money creation. But there is more. The reason that we do not share such access is not simply a question of a lack of good will. In fact, the reason may relate entirely to our own need for conversion, for repentance, for asking forgiveness from our debtors.

For what is dignity? Dignity implies that you do not treat the other as an object, not even as an object of your good will or your feelings of generosity. It was not until that meeting in Lesotho that I realized the degree to which that is the prevalent attitude of the North to the South. We want to be accepted and even admired by them for our desire to do good. But we become hostile as soon as they speak to us about our own evildoings, about our ways of bringing impoverishment upon them. The way in which we view poor nations and poor people is coloured much more by our own search for self-affirmation than by a desire to affirm others in their dignity.

The reality of sin therefore exists on our side—and the pain of knowing that we have sinned. And that cries out for Atonement, that undeniable part of Jubilee: Please forgive us our debts, our trespasses of not recognizing the dignity of other persons and peoples, especially if they are poor, as we have already forgiven their debts and have stopped our acts of contributing to their impoverishment. And please Lord, show us new ways of justice and compassion by which to seek to affirm others more than ourselves.” 

- - - 
Mark Vander Vennen worked with Bob Goudzwaard—closely—for 42 years, serving as his primary English-language translator, editor, and occasional co-author. He is co-author, with Goudzwaard, of Hope in Troubled Times (Foreword by Desmond Tutu) and former Executive Director of the Shalem Mental Health Network.  

Thursday 2 May 2024

2024 Convocation Livestream and How to Attend

On May 24th, the ICS community will gather to celebrate our annual Convocation. This year's ceremony will include the granting of degrees to our Junior Members, and the delivery of the Convocation Address by ICS President Dr. Ronald A. Kuipers titled "Rescuing Lost Time."

Convocation will begin by 6:30pm ET on May 24th. 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:

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.

Join the Livestream!

Want to attend in person? Please email Danielle at so we can plan to expect you in person and we'll send you more details. Feel free to also email if you have any questions about how to join online. 

Lecture - Nurturing a Postcolonial Imaginary: Art and Spirituality

On Wednesday, May 15 at 5-6pm, the Toronto School of Theology is hosting a lecture by Br. Emmaus O'Herlihy and a reception at Regis College (Classroom C, 100 Wellesley St. W, Toronto). The lecture is titled "Nurturing a Postcolonial Imaginary: Art and Spirituality," and would be of particular interest to all those keen to explore ways that the visual arts intersect with spirituality and theological understanding.

If you'd like more information, please email

Lecturer bio: Emmaus O’Herlihy, a Benedictine monk from Ireland, holds a BDes from the National College of Art and Design (Ireland) and an MTS and PhD in Theology (Toronto School of Theology). A working visual artist, Br. Emmaus’ commissions hang in Toronto, London, Los Angeles, Dublin, and Limerick. Dr. O’Herlihy’s area of research focuses on the relationship between the visual arts and theology, in particular, how recent strategies in art reshape aesthetic priorities that help awaken an ethical summons to the other.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Work Opportunities with Citizens for Public Justice

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has a long history of engaging students and recent grads in their work through school placements, the Canada Summer Jobs program, and a one-year paid internship. As a small team, students and interns have a great opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the work of CPJ while gaining valuable experience working in public policy research, non-partisan advocacy, and networking with both civil society and government representatives.

CPJ is currently accepting applications for the following paid positions (as well as being open to student placements for course credit):

Applications for both positions close May 12. PDF application guides for each of these positions are linked above, and people are welcome to contact Natalie Appleyard at with any questions.