The Institute for Christian Studies is a community-supported graduate school in the Kuyperian stream of the Reformed tradition. For nearly five decades, ICS has promoted a radically Christian approach to the scholarly task in interdisciplinary philosophy and theology, developing leaders for the academy and other areas of service, and enhancing the cultural discernment of believers. We continue to prepare new generations who will birth ideas that move the Christian community closer to the Lord of all, that breathe the air of the Holy Bible and of the Christ therein revealed. Our alumni are in leadership roles around the world, in the academy and society more broadly.
ICS opens up a vibrant and intimate space for learning, combining the expertise of an experienced, widely-published faculty with the advantages of a small graduate school. Our affiliation with the Toronto School of Theology enables an authentic faith-based dialogue between philosophy and theology. Those who study here will be challenged, but within a supportive community united in serving the God of the Scriptures as the Lord of learning.
The founders of ICS were profoundly convinced a Christian graduate school was vital to generating perspectives informed comprehensively by biblical revelation. In 1967, with Dr. Henk Hart as its inaugural professor, ICS welcomed its first students to a two-storey house on Lyndhurst Avenue, Toronto. By the time the Institute moved to 229 College Street in 1972, it had added several faculty and had begun granting master’s-level certification in philosophy. In 1983, the Parliament of Ontario authorized ICS to grant a Master of Philosophical Foundations, and to offer a program of doctoral studies leading to a PhD conferred by the Free University, Amsterdam. In 1992, ICS was authorized to award the Master of Worldview Studies. In 2004, ICS secured a Charter to offer the doctoral degree and to award a Master of Arts (Philosophy).
In the diverse world of contemporary scholarship, ICS emphasizes the integrality of faith and intellectual inquiry. We embrace Christ as the Lord of all learning, and believe that all scholarship is subject to the spiritual struggle spoken of in the Christian scriptures. Trained eyes are needed to discern the sites of spiritual struggle within and beyond one’s own disciplinary expertise.
ICS pursues an interdisciplinary approach, working to identify the foundational issues and philosophical underpinnings in the humanities and the social sciences. These “hinge” issues are the pivots from which the doors of our understanding hang. When exploring these issues in conversation with the leading figures and movements, both contemporary and historical, we can see clearly what ideas shape life in conformity with the Christ revealed in scripture.
We describe our approach to scholarship as “reformational”. This means several things. First, we work as conscious heirs to the stream in the Reformed intellectual tradition that goes by this name (also described as Kuyperian or neo-Calvinist). Second, we seek to engage schools of thought and cultural movements (such as Thomism, postmodernism, liberalism, pragmatism, critical theory and feminism) with critical fairness, to learn from their insights as well as to counter their distortions of truth. Third, we subject our own assumptions to critical evaluation, as disciples committed to ongoing reformation (semper reformanda). In these ways we aim to open up alternatives to habits of heart and mind that dominate the university – indeed, our very lives.