Prof. Benne Holwerda - A Brief Biography

Prof. Benne Holwerda Prof. Benne Holwerda died unexpectedly, and we would say prematurely, on April 30, 1952 at the age of 42, having been born on September 22, 1909. A highly gifted individual who drew attention already as a youth for his deep insight and understanding, he graduated from the Theological School of the Reformed Churches at Kampen, the Netherlands in 1933 and became, at the age of 25 the pastor of the Reformed church at Kantens NL and then in 1938 accepted a call to the congregation at Amersfoort NL.

It was in the small city of Amersfoort that Benne Holwerda, with his fellow pastor Rev. E.T.VandenBorn, and 29 other office bearers was deposed on July 11, 1945 (in the month following the end of WW II after five years of brutal German occupation of Holland) for their refusal to submit to the synodical decisions and disciplinary measures of the infamous Synods of 1942 and 1943. Rev. Holwerda, a caring man of great pastoral depth, profoundly grieved by these deplorable tactics and the absence of brotherly ethics on the side of those who were bent on dividing the churches with synodical edicts, led his consistory to a liberation from that tyranny and with the majority of the congregation instituted the 'liberated' (vrijgemaakte) church at Amersfoort. It is there, according to his biographers, that he probably would have wanted to remain, as minister of a local church, doing what he loved most: Preaching the Word and providing practical, pastoral care to the congregation. His sermons were remarkable works of explication and application, which gave testimony of his diligence in a careful study of the Bible and a passion for and delight in passing on to his beloved flock what he, as their shepherd, had discovered there. In his congregational work he was equally outstanding and was reputed to bring an average of one thousand pastoral visits per year.

But in the Fall of 1945 Rev. Holwerda became Professor Holwerda, when the Synod of the liberated churches in the Netherlands appointed him to the faculty of the Kampen Seminary. He served the churches for nearly 7 years as Professor in Hebrew, O.T. Exegesis, Canonics, Archeologia Sacra (the study of general history contemporary with biblical events) and Historia Revelationis (the study of the historical development of revelation). Yet out of love for his former congregation he returned there once each month to fill its pulpit. He succeeded Dr. K. Schilder, who had suddenly died of a massive heart attack on March 23, 1952, to the position of editor of the Reformed periodical "De Reformatie," but then followed 'KS' into the grave within a matter of weeks.

This sudden and early death cut short any opportunity to leave behind a comprehensive, systematic legacy of commentaries and other major theological or more popular works. His bibliography consists of a large collection of smaller books, brochures, pamphlets, short dissertations, radio and conference speeches, sermons, articles and still coveted lecture notes.

The article, which SpindleWorks is privileged to present here, is a half century old translation by Rev. P.Y.DeJong of Prof. Holwerda's speech to a Reformed Youth Conference in the Netherlands titled "De Kerk in het Eindgericht". We are pleased and thankful that in this way we are able to pass on and feature, in a new format not anticipated 50 years ago, this still relevant work of these two men, the author and the translator.

SpindleWorks January 2000