Suzanne McDonald’s foreword to the 2nd revised edition of ‘Election, Barth and the French Connection’.

It is my delight to offer the foreword for the second edition of this important volume. The first has already been of immense significance, and this revised and expanded edition will continue to make a valuable contribution to scholarship on Pierre Maury himself, on Karl Barth, and on the doctrine of election more generally. The translation of Maury’s work, “Election and Faith,” has been revised, thanks to the collaboration of Professor Pierre-Sovann Chauny, of the Faculté Jean Calvin (Institut de Théologie Protestante et Evangélique, Aix en Provence), and there are three new essays in addition to revised versions of the essays in the first edition.

Many who have an interest in Barth studies have heard of Pierre Maury, and know that it was his account of election that became one of the catalysts for Barth’s monumental re-working of the doctrine. Few know much more about Maury himself than is contained in the excursus that Barth devotes to Maury’s lecture, “Election and Faith,” from the 1936 International Calvinist Conference, in Church Dogmatics II/2.

Who was Pierre Maury? What was Maury’s own understanding of the doctrine of election? What was the nature of his relationship with Karl Barth, and the extent of their influence upon each other?

Here we have a volume that sets out to help us answer those questions and more. In so doing, it offers a contribution both to Barth scholarship and also to twentieth-century historical theology more generally, by allowing us to hear the distinctive voice of Pierre Maury on his own terms, as well as in relation to Barth. This is possible thanks to the new, and now revised and corrected, translations of Maury’s key works on election found here, most of which are otherwise unavailable in print or very difficult to obtain.

This volume also provides significant insight into the personal and theological relationship between Maury, Barth, and Charlotte Von Kirschbaum, who corresponded with Maury and translated Maury’s works on election into German. As such, it casts light on a noteworthy friendship that has been somewhat neglected in comparison to Barth’s relationships with more widely recognized theologians. Given the significance of Barth’s account of election in Church Dogmatics II/2 for the remainder of his theology, it could be argued that this connection with a relatively obscure French pastor-theologian is of more moment for Barth’s theological development and his legacy than any of his more famous theological friendships.

Fruitful intersections with contemporary issues in Barth studies also abound within the essays that engage both Maury and Barth, and there are some significant glances towards aspects of the fraught historical context in which both men were working on their respective doctrines of election, from the mid 1930s through the early years of World War II. The essays also explore some of the implication of both Maury’s and Barth’s approaches to election for contemporary accounts of the doctrine, and for proclaiming the gospel. Maury’s pastoral and preaching focus in his treatment of the doctrine remind us that this is an exploration of election not simply for those of us in the theological academy, but also for those of us whose priorities are preaching and teaching in churches.

While Maury’s account of election will inevitably remain in the shadow of Barth’s, and will always be interpreted in relation to Barth’s, as this volume indicates, Maury offers a re-appropriation and development of the Reformed tradition which merits more than simply a footnote explaining its role in the origins of Barth’s mature exposition of the doctrine.

Suzanne McDonald, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, USA.

Suzanne McDonald was born and brought up in Australia and came to faith as an undergraduate through studying English 16th & 17th century literature. After postgraduate studies in literature at Oxford, she lived in the UK from 1998 until 2007. While there, she began training for ordained ministry in Cambridge, but an inspiring professor and mentor encouraged her to consider whether she might have a calling to theological teaching and writing. He was the catalyst for Suzanne to discover that this is indeed the calling that holds her deepest joys and best gifts together.

She did her Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews on the doctrine of election and then taught for a year as an interim professor of theology at her former seminary in Cambridge before joining the Religion Department at Calvin College in 2007. She taught there for seven years until joining WTS in 2014.

Dr. McDonald is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church and is the author of two books and several essays and articles on topics in systematic and historical theology.

In her spare time, Suzanne is likely to be out watching and photographing birds. She also loves reading, art, and music, is a life-long cricket fan (not an easy sport to follow in the US!) and has somehow become an NFL fan too.


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