Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 00.3. Foreword

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to | Download

Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 00.3. Foreword

TOPIC: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 00.3. Foreword

Other Subjects in this Topic:


Lenten literature is multiplying with the increasing observance of this season in Protestant pulpits. Preaching in pre-Easter days should center in the suffering, trial and atoning death of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. The message of salvation is sympathetically heard and received when highlighted by the events and characters connected with the Saviour’s passion and crucifixion.

In all Lenten literature known to me there is no work comparable to the trilogy of Klaas Schilder. As I reread these sermons after seventeen or eighteen years the same delight, appreciation and satisfaction again filled my mind and heart as when I first studied them. Fresh as a New Hampshire stream and clear as Arizona air, these expositions restored my spiritual vitality. Each meditation brings the reader into touch with the titanic spiritual struggle between light and darkness, God and devil, and heaven and hell in the arena of Jesus’ life.

Shades are lifted on windows from which we may glimpse the struggles of Jesus from the viewpoints of the eternal pre-existence, the intermingling of divine and human natures, the exercise of the offices of Prophet, Priest and King, the mystery of the multiple consciousness of Deity, the converging of the temporal and the eternal, and the reality of the incarnation. Here is “depth’’ theology, more intriguing and stimulating than “depth” psychology. The light of revelation from Eden Lost to Paradise Regained shines upon every page.

Central to the reflection on each event is a penetrating insight into the place of the Cross in the Covenant of Redemption and the revelation of the steps of the Covenant of Grace. The life of Jesus is related in every particular to this sweep of redemption so that the eternal view constantly stands over and against the temporal view seen through the limitations of the disciples’ understanding. Just as the enmity between God and man through the fall and the reconciliation of God and man through the death of Christ’s flesh on the Cross bear on each experience, so the Divine purpose and the human passion are seen in the Gospel history. Schilder orientates us to two worlds simultaneously.

Suggestive insights, from which a train of original thought arises, abound in every meditation. Exegetical illumination, originality and creativity infuse a freshness to the work. The art of combining, contrasting and comparing spiritual things with spiritual reaches its best in these pages.

The preacher must take care lest Schilder’s literary method should spoil his own style. The beauty, elegance and eloquence had the effect on me of creating dissatisfaction with my own literary method and style. For a short time it stifled my creativity, owing to an impulse to imitate. Once this hurdle was over, the lift of inspiration remained and I settled down to former methods of creating with a new depth approach to exegesis and discourse.

Klaas Schilder is remembered for translating his convictions into Christian action. As editor of De Reformatie, a weekly periodical, he attacked hypocrisy, sham and inconsistency in ecclesiastical circles in his native Netherlands, and when the Nazis invaded the Lowlands he openly attacked national socialism in theory and practice. De Reformatie was catapulted into national reputation, its editor was imprisoned, and its publication banned. When Schilder was given freedom, he was forbidden to publish anything.

Schilder was a tireless foe of the dialectical theology of Barth and Brunner, discerning its Modernist premises, and disclosing its deviations from and denials of orthodoxy. Having been trained in philosophy at Erlangen (Ph. D. in 1933), and having taken his theological degree at Kampen, he was well equipped to enter the polemical field of dogmatic theology. This he did in his own denominational doctrinal controversies, in Dutch theological conflicts, and in European philosophical debates. His position stemmed from an undying loyalty to Christ as God Incarnate and thus Prophet, Priest and King, and of the Word of God as final authority in doctrine.

The Church in Schilder’s view is the real body of Christ, in which every member must be a confessing believer. He made no accommodation philosophically to scientific naturalism. The Christian faith is supernatural, revelatory and historical. When consistently applied it is explosively radical in societal effects.

Dr. Schilder ended his career as pastor, teacher, editor, author and preacher on March 23, 1952. The work by which he will be best remembered is his trilogy on the passion of our Lord.

—Harold J. Ockenga

Pastor, Park Street Church, Boston