Pierre Maury: The cross is unjust like election, but this injustice is our righteousness. Karl Barth: He is rejected in order that we might not be rejected.

Maury, Pierre : Election and Faith :  Foi et Vie 37 (1936), 203–23. Translation from the French © Simon Hattrell 2014 & 18

We can go further here, those of us who say, regarding election, that it is not right that God treats each of us in the same way. In fact, he does not treat Jesus Christ and us in the same way. He strikes him, while welcoming us; he causes him to die while letting us off. If he punishes him, it is so that he can extend peace to us. This is the wonder of “negative” election, as we say. It affects the only one who did not deserve it. We are not subjected to it, we will not be subject to what the Christ was subject to and to which he should not have been subject to. The cross is unjust like election, but this injustice is our righteousness.

Whoever has understood that, whoever does not speak of this too hastily, can rejoice that such is the secret of God. He can move forward in this mystery and know that, all things considered, election is always positive when it is in Christ, that it has only been negative for him on Good Friday. Before the cross we do not understand and we worship, we do not question, we bless. And whom would we worship if not the one who has extended grace toward us? Why would we not bless, if not because of his positive grace? The cross where Christ is condemned does not condemn us, it makes us children of God. By it we pass from death to life, because the Son has made our death his and here more than ever, as Paul says “There is only yes in him.”

Once more, let us say it again, that this is only true in Christ, that is to say, before the cross, in faith. Here, here alone, here truly, faith knows that double predestination has become simple and that “God is love.” This is because they have known it; this is because they have believed it, which Calvin and so many others have above all sung about, uniquely, the joy of election. Not that they were hard of heart—harder than us—that is to say more knowledgeable and more proud in their chosen discipline. Just simply, that they had understood that in Christ crucified there is only cause for the believer to experience a triumphant joy. Believing, from now on believing here in their election, cannot be to believe in their own perdition.  In the same way, the Apostles Creed does not say, in the third article: I believe in eternal death—but nevertheless it does not say: there is no eternal death—so in the same way, in Christ—without ever denying that one cannot not be in Christ—there is no negative election.


Barth, Karl ; Bromiley, Geoffrey William ; Torrance, Thomas F.: Church Dogmatics, Volume II: The Doctrine of God, Part 2. Edinburgh : T. & T. Clark, 2004, S. 167.

The exchange which took place on Golgotha, when God chose as His throne the malefactor’s cross, when the Son of God bore what the son of man ought to have borne, took place once and for all in fulfilment of God’s eternal will, and it can never be reversed. There is no condemnation—literally none—for those that are in Christ Jesus. For this reason faith in the divine predestination as such and per se means faith in the non-rejection of man, or disbelief in his rejection. Man is not rejected. In God’s eternal purpose it is God Himself who is rejected in His Son. The self-giving of God consists, the giving and sending of His Son is fulfilled, in the fact that He is rejected in order that we might not be rejected. Predestination means that from all eternity God has determined upon man’s acquittal at His own cost. It means that God has ordained that in the place of the one acquitted He Himself should be perishing and abandoned and rejected—the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. There is, then, no background, no decretum absolutum, no mystery of the divine good-pleasure, in which predestination might just as well be man’s rejection. On the contrary, when we look into the innermost recesses of the divine good-pleasure, predestination is the non-rejection of man. It is so because it is the rejection of the Son of God. It is so because it is indeed a foreordination of the necessary revelation of divine wrath—but a revelation whose reality was God’s own suffering in Jesus Christ. Only if we are unbelieving or disobedient or unthankful in face of what is ordained for us, only if we misunderstand completely the divine predestination, can we think of this revelation as something which has to do with our own suffering. If in face of the divine predestination we are believing and obedient and thankful, if we have a right understanding of its mystery, we shall never find there the decreed rejection either of ourselves or of any other men. This is not because we did not deserve rejection, but because God did not will it, because God willed the rejection of His Son in our stead.

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