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 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 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 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

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 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.