Klaas Schilder was born in Kampen, the Netherlands, on December 19, 1890. He was a theologian and professor in the Gereformeerde Kerken in Netherland and later in the Gereformeerde Kerken (Vrijgemaakt), which is the Dutch "parent" of the Canadian and American Reformed Churches.
Schilder was born into an NHK family in Kampen, the Netherlands; the family joined the Gereformeerde Kerken when he was a child. After graduating from a Reformed gymnasium (more or less a college prep middle and high school), he took his theological studies at the Theologische School of De Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland 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 in spite of the fact that services were never shorter than two hours. During this period Schilder published his three-part work, Christus in Zijn Lijden.
Schilder earned his doctorate from the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany 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 Gereformeerde 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 most of the war in hiding.
On August 3, 1944, Schilder (along with a number of other church leaders, including Dr. S. Greijdanus) was deposed for being schismatic by refusing to accept extra-confessional doctrines concerning the covenant of grace that the synod of 1944 imposed upon the churches, and the Reformed community was incensed that one of its anti-Nazi heroes has been so condemned.
The result was a schism within the GKN and formation of the Liberated (Vrijgemaakt) Church. The first yearbook of the Gereformeerde Kerken (Vrijgemaakt) reported 216 congregations, 152 ministers, and 77,000 members.
When members of the Liberated churches came to North America, they found the Christian Reformed Church unwilling to take their side, and the Protestant Reformed Church disagreed on other matters. Unwilling to affiliate with either group, they formed the Canadian and American Reformed denomination.
Schilder died of a massive heart attack on March 23, 1952 - exactly eight years after he had been suspended from the Gereformeerde Kerken.
- Klaas Schilder, Wikipedia (originally adapted from an earlier version of this article)
- Klaas Schilder (1890-1952): A Short Biography , Rudolf van Reest, SpindleWorks
- Learning from the Life of Dr. Klaas Schilder, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV, Geoff Thomas, Banner of Truth