Pierre Maury: The only important thing is to proclaim grace, always positive, which is in Jesus Christ and the perdition which could be ours.


Pierre Maury


….those who, concerning election, never ask theoretical questions about God’s righteousness but are deeply concerned about what happens to the “others”, the rejected, those whom Calvin presented as the necessary terrible counterpart to the blessed elect of God….Are there elect and reprobates, all of them sovereignly, incomprehensibly, freely chosen by God?

It is not up to us to pose this question; we need to hear it asked about us. It is not our place to reply. What is more, we do not have any choice to make. It is God, or rather Jesus Christ, who reserves the right to pass judgement, that is to say, the authority to put some at His right hand side and some at His left. Moreover, this discrimination has been prophesied, that is to say, described as a reality of the Last Day, hidden until then. There are not elect and reprobate, there will be elect and reprobate. Down here until the Last Day, no one is elsewhere than around the cross.

This is the universalistic sense of the word of Jesus in John 12:32, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to me.” And around the cross there are no privileged places, that is to say, places where one would have less need than the others of the pardon of the cross. Even more: there is no one that the cross cannot save; hence the universalistic sense of Paul’s phrase, “God has shut up all men in disobedience so that He may be merciful to all” (Rom 11:32). Around the cross we see everyone, because the cross is for everyone, all enemies of God, all loved by God—the godless and the pious believer, the adulterer and the honest person, the lost and the saved, no exceptions. In Christ, the others will always be “those for whom Christ has died,” never the rejected which one could despise or pity. In Christ, when we consider this terrible question of reprobation, there are only two words which concern us—the reply of Jesus to Peter’s concern about what would happen to John: “What about him?” “What is that to you? Follow me!” (John 21:22), and the exclamation of the disciples when Jesus announced His betrayal by the “son of perdition”: “Surely not I?” (Mark 14:19).

On this point one will retort that this is hardly Calvinist doctrine. It is true that the Reformer strongly insisted on distinguishing between persons in predestination, as if the gratuitousness of the double decree of election and reprobation were linked to him. And arguably one can suspect him here of having ceded to the necessities of a very human reasoning, going beyond the limits laid down by biblical revelation. That is why we must not allow ourselves to be held back by the fear of a divergence from the conclusions of the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This divergence, which is arguably necessary to emphasize, remains secondary, because for Calvin, what he contemplates in the fate of the reprobate is the “mirror” of free election to salvation, as he has said, and not the fate of certain people to which he would have quite easily consented. For him too, the only important thing is to remain in an attitude of faith in case “we too were rejected” and not to be concerned with statistics concerning heaven and hell. The only important thing is to proclaim grace, always positive, which is in Jesus Christ and the perdition which could be ours.

From Pierre Maury Election and Faith in  ‘Election, Barth and the French Connection’ pp44-45.


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