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Concerning the True Care of Souls (Bucer)

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We want to demonstrate to all the pious children of God, who from their hearts pray for the future of the kingdom of Christ, our own duty in this so deplorable scattering of the church.

The fact that all people have been made by God and are God’s creatures should therefore be reason enough for us to go to them, seeking with the utmost faithfulness to bring them to eternal life.

This is why we have undertaken the writing of this little book concerning all these matters, inserting various quotations from the word of God and, insofar as the Lord has given us grace, explaining them. From these every Christian can thoroughly learn what sort of fellowship the church of Christ is, how Christ the Lord alone rules, what ministry he requires in that rule and how this ministry is to be ordered and performed, in relation to all those who are brought to the church of Christ and wish to be kept and built up in it.

We have throughout set out the spiritual quotations, so that the Christian reader can himself see the foundation of the word, consider it and lay it up in his heart. For there are not a few who, as soon as anything is said about church discipline and order, are always crying out that we want to bring back the traditions and bondage of men; and so we do not wish to put forward anything other than the obvious and certain teaching and clear undoubted command of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Table of Contents: 

  1. The nature of the church
  2. Christ’s rule in his church
  3. How the Lord carries out his pastoral office and the work of our salvation in his church through his ordained ministers
  4. The various ministers the Lord has and uses in his church: the ministry of teaching and spiritual discipline, and the ministry to the needs of the body
  5. How and by whom elders are to be chosen and installed, and the choosing and installation of ministers
  6. What the principal work and activity of careers of souls and ministers are to be for the flock of Christ in general and individual members in particular
  7. How the lost sheep are to be sought
  8. How the stray sheep are to be restored
  9. How the hurt and wounded sheep are to be bound up and healed, and the imposition of penance and exclusion form the Lord’s table in the case of those who have in some matter grievously sinned
  10. How the weak sheep are to be strengthened
  11. How the healthy and strong sheep are to be guarded and fed, and the exclusion of those who trouble the church and refuse to listen and mend their ways
  12. The obedience of Christ’s sheep
  13. Summary of chapters 



Martin Bucer (1491–1551) was one of the most important sixteenth-century Reformers, who became leader of the Reformed Churches in Switzerland and South Germany after the death of Zwingli.