Pierre Courthial

May 2009

Dear Friends,

     One of the great spiritual forces of our day has moved from this world to the next. Pierre Courthial, born in 1914, went to be with the Lord he served so well, April 22, 2009.

     Some French Christian figures have been recognized by the media: Paul Ricœur, Jacques Ellul, and Pierre Chaunu. Others are less well- known, unjustly, except in certain circles: Henri Blocher, Pierre Marcel, and, it would seem, Pierre Courthial. Ordained to the gospel ministry in 1937, Dr. Courthial held three significant pastoral positions before moving into academics: in the Ardèche, in Germany, and, for many years, at the Église de l’Annonciation, in Passy, Paris. Then, in 1974, at the age of 60, he accepted the position of Dean of the newly formed FLTR, la Faculté Libre de Théologie Réformée, in Aix-en-Provence. He was appointed Professor of apologetics, ethics, and practical theology at this Seminary which we cherish and help sustain. He was its defining founder. 

     Dr. Courthial was committed to the heritage of Jean Calvin, Abraham Kuyper and the best theologians of the Reformed Faith. He wrote a number of books, including Le jour des petits commencements, a marvelous primer on the Covenant of Grace, articulated in contrast to the radical evils of secularization from the Enlightenment to today. More significantly, he was one of the great preachers of our day, combining biblical exposition with timely application. Thus, he was appointed “for such a time as this” in the landscape of the French-speaking world.

     For me personally this is a very great loss. Pierre, as I was allowed to call him, mentored me in the deep things of Reformed theology. We taught a course together. We spent hours in consultation. Despite an age gap of 30 years, he was the best friend one could have. We are sad for Hélène, his wife of 70 years, and their five children and numerous offspring. But we are joyful for the provision of this extraordinary champion of our great religion.

Very Truly Yours,

William Edgar, President