Jacques is a very distinguished churchman, having served for many years as a pastor of the Reformed Church. He had a strong national profile as President of his denomination (1968 to 1977) and the Féderation Protestante (Protestant Federation) (1977 to 1987) as well as being strongly committed to the welfare of immigrants and asylum seekers, which began when he worked in support of Jewish internees under the Vichy Regime during the German occupation of France in WW2.
Below in italics is an extract from pages 7–9 of the foreword, which Jacques wrote for Francoise Florentin-Smyth’s book Pierre Maury, Prédicateur d’Evangile, (Pierre Maury, Gospel Preacher) (Geneva: Labor et Fides, 2009, used by permission, my translation), which is part of the introductory material in my book Election, Barth & the French Connection; How Pierre Maury gave a Decisive Impetus to Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Election, Pickwick, Wipf & Stock, 2016. Jacques is thrilled with the book and has encouraged some old friends to write book reviews and is keen to see parts translated into French!
I am of course so pleased that this work has ‘touched’ him. His dear departed father was a great example to him. He taught him at seminary and was an inspiration, as he was to many in his lifetime. Read part of his tribute here:
The characteristic identity (of an evangelist) was such a profound part of who he (Pierre Maury) was that it was evident in all the dimensions and contexts of his life…. So we see this in all the activities to which he gave himself with such great passion and so little concern about his own welfare that as a result his life was most certainly cut short: … his multiple institutional commitments in the Reformed Church of France and more generally in French Protestantism, its youth movements and associations; his important participation in the World Council of Churches and in particular his constant relations with Germany and notably with the significant persons of the Confessing Church; finally, and of course it is not for chronological reasons that I only mention it in the last instance, his being Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Faculty of Theology in Paris (1943–1950)…. He was a theologian in all his activities. However much he was stirred into action, he always lived in a manner that was consistent with his theological convictions and he consecrated a large part of his energies to their development. In order to gain some idea of this, just consider the huge part that his friend Karl Barth played in his life, and the energy with which he persistently passed on this message in his journal Foi et Vie (Faith and Life), or the occasions that he facilitated for the Professor of Dogmatics from Basel and the voice of the Confessing Church, giving him the opportunity to speak directly with the French, as was notably the case during three theological seminars held at Bièvres, just before and after the war. Just like his famous friend, he was concerned about a genuine doctrinal rigor, and, like him, lived with the ancient Fathers as well as the Reformers. On top of this he was concerned about the church as a place where the Word of God was proclaimed, in accordance with her roots and her unity, and this always steered him away from any temptation to deride her.
But this huge part that he gave over to theological activity always bore the stamp of the primacy of preaching, including his role as Professor of Dogmatics. I was particularly struck by this during my last year at the Faculty of Theology when I was able to take part in his lectures. Most of them, often inspired by Karl Barth, finished with a free exchange with his students. He showed himself to be even more pastoral in these very lectures, and was in fact much more Professor of Practical Theology than of Dogmatics, always concerned about unravelling the impact of revelation in the history of this world and in each of our lives. There as well, as in all the dimensions of his life, he wanted to be first of all, and has been, a “preacher of the Gospel”—a Gospel that never let him rest, and whose flame he always kept burning, not only in his public ministry, but also in all his personal or broader relationships, with his parishioners, his friends and all those, here and there, that he rubbed shoulders with. Whatever peoples’ social background, religious or political, his interest was constantly awake to all human situations. As was, for example, the case with his military comrades of the two wars.
I learned from him—and I think, many others like me—that the Gospel must be shared with everyone, that is to say, listened to and testified to. Even more, most certainly, when its testimony is shared with the strength of conviction articulated as Pierre Maury did, who knew full well that when the Gospel reaches its actual preacher, it becomes liberating Good News.