Klaas Schilder

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Klaas Schilder
Klaas Schilder.jpg
Born (1890-12-19)December 19, 1890
Kampen, Overijssel
Died March 23, 1952(1952-03-23) (aged 61)
Kampen, Overijssel
Nationality Dutch
Occupation Professor, minister, writer

Klaas Schilder (19 December 1890 – 23 March 1952) was a Dutch theologian and professor in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Dutch Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland or GKN) and later in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (liberated) (Dutch Gereformeerde Kerken (vrijgemaakt)).

Schilder was born into a state church (Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk) family in Kampen, the Netherlands; the family joined the Gereformeerde Kerken when he was a child. After graduating from a Reformed gymnasium (an academic high school), he took his theological studies at the Theologische School of De Gereformeerde Kerken in Kampen and graduated cum laude in 1914. Schilder was a pastor at Ambt-Vollenhove, Vlaardingen, Gorinchem, Delft, Oegstgeest, and Rotterdam-Delfshaven. He arrived in Rotterdam in 1928, where he preached to full churches. During this period Schilder published his three-part work, Christus in Zijn lijden, commonly known in English as The Trilogy or The Schilder Trilogy (Christ in His Sufferings, Christ on Trial, and Christ Crucified). This work was a massive expansion on a series of sermons Schilder had preached in Kampen. The publisher, J. H. Kok, heard those sermons and requested Schilder to write them out so that he could publish them. Schilder agreed to this upon the condition that Kok paid for a stenographer who would type out his dictation. For many days Schilder walked and talked. The first edition, on which the English translation is based, was published before World War II. While in hiding during the war Schilder revised the text and after the war a new Dutch edition was published. However, his most important writings were on the Church and her need and obligation to be visibly united in Christ. In these writings he shows himself a true student of John Calvin. The biography by Rudolf van Reest, Schilder's Struggle for the Unity of the Church, which reads like a novel, is available from Inheritance Publications, which publisher is also currently working on publishing all of Schilder's writings.

Schilder earned his doctorate from the Erlangen University in 1933, graduating summa cum laude. At this time he became Professor of Systematic Theology at the Kampen Seminary, a position he held until his death. Beginning in 1920, Schilder contributed to De Reformatie (The Reformation), a weekly Reformed journal. He became an editor for the publication in 1924 and its sole editor in 1935.

Schilder resisted the German invasion and opposed the Nazi conquest. He was arrested by the Germans in August 1940 and later released. Because he was so outspoken, Schilder spent much of the war in hiding.

On 3 August 1944, Schilder was suspended for being schismatic, and the Reformed community was incensed that one of its most faithful leaders had been so condemned. The result was a schism within the GKN and the continued (re)formation of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (liberated). The first yearbook of the Gereformeerde Kerken (vrijgemaakt) reported 216 congregations, 152 ministers, and 77,000 members.

Schilder died of a massive heart attack on 23 March 1952.


  • Schilder, Klaas. Christ and Culture (1947) Translated by G. van Rongen and W. Helder, 1977. [1]

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