I want to thank the Rev. John Barach for spurring my interest in Schilder. Barach’s lectures on covenant and election were a big help, also.
History, including the covenant, is a unity because it is a work of the Triune God (ix).
Schilder connects the cultural mandate to man’s office before God.
Schilder on the Covenant
In the covenant God treats man as a responsible being who is either for him or against him, all or nothing (alles of niets!).
Schilder starts from the historical deeds of God. God establishes the covenant ‘in time.’ God’s grace doesn’t touch our life the way a line touches the edge of a circle. It enters into our existence. The covenant of grace continues the covenant of works. The difference is in means, not essence.
The New Covenant is bilateral. There are “threats” in it. This gives life to preaching and responsibility. God speaks to man as a responsible partner. Precisely because the covenant comes to us with legal warranties, it incites our trust in Him.
Baptism seals the promise of the Gospel. But this promise demands our faith. In my baptism I receive a concrete address from God–a message that proclaims to everyone who is baptized, personally: if you believe you will be saved (28-29). We do not identify election and covenant.
Schilder on Christ and Culture
Kuyper wanted to use the term “common grace” instead of culture.
Schilder: Jesus can’t be isolated from his office, Christos. If Jesus is king, then the world should be brought back to its rightful owner. Christ regenerates his people back to obedience. The result should be a Christian culture.
Def. of culture: the totality of work to be done in this world (42). The cultural mandate implies that the world has to be developed. Key difference between Schilder and Kuyper: Kuyper explained culture as a result of common grace. Schilder replaced common grace (at least for Christians) with a mandate (59 n35). Kuyper sees it as the result. Schilder sees it as the work.
Schilder rightly connected dominion with being created in the image of God.
Schilder on the Church
Kuyper’s view of the church (75ff):
- The institutional church is a mother.
- The church is an organism. We are knit together in one body.
- Immediate regeneration.
- Local church is the basic unit of the church.
- Pluriformity of the church
Schilder agreed that the church is a mother. Schilder, unlike Kuyper, stressed the mediation of word and sacrament in the covenant. Covenant is not defined by regeneration.
Schilder did break with Bavinck in one area: covenant faithfulness leads to institutional church faithfulness (79). God makes his covenant with believers and their children. There are not two sides to the covenant, substance and form, but rather two reactions to the single covenant of grace (80).
Church Militant, Church Triumphant
Earlier reformed view: the church militant is on earth; the church triumphant is in heaven.
Schilder: the church on earth triumphs daily by faith. The church in heaven is not wholly at rest, as it still prays for the coming judgment (Rev. 5; 6). The old distinctions are still good, but they can’t be absolute.
Summary of theses on the church
- Visible/invisible church is misleading, because we can never observe the church in its fullness–since the final elect person has not yet been gathered.
- Our ability to see the church is time-bound, historical. This is good, since Schilder spoke of historical/eschatological long before Wilson.
- Being/well being can be misleading. Can never disengage itself from the “gathering/coming together” of believers.
- We are co-workers with Christ in a real sense if we gather in obedience.
Schilder on Heaven
Proposition: it is only on earth that we can think of heaven” (102). Schilder wants to avoid a static view of heaven. That’s not as shocking today as we have fully embraced the idea of “new creation.”
Schilder holds to the pactum salutis (105).
Schilder on Revelation
He was one of the first to oppose Barth. How do we know God? We know him because of his condescension to us in the covenant (118). There is a “boundary” between God and man, but it is not a “death line”–Barth’s great chasm between life and death.