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Concerning the True Care of Souls – A Review by Kenneth Macleod

Category Book Reviews
Date October 1, 2010

Bucer was to Strasbourg what John Calvin became to Geneva. Bucer was the older Reformer; Calvin learned much from him during his stay in Strasbourg when exiled from Geneva. Eventually Bucer himself was forced out of Strasbourg and became a Professor of Divinity in Cambridge University.

This volume has now been translated into English for the first time, by Peter Beale, a retired English minister. Bucer desired that every Christian should

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 that ministry is to be ordered and performed, in relation to all those are brought to the Church of Christ.

He discusses ‘how the lost sheep are to be sought’. He refers to the Lord’s words: ‘Compel them to come in’, and explains:

It is not that anyone can be compelled to come to Christ against his will, but that one should be so persistent with people that to the evil flesh it seems to be a compulsion and urgent pressing, because the Spirit in this way works against the flesh in order to lead people to Christ.

This is true care for the lost.

But the author spends most time on ‘the hurt and wounded sheep’, and how the Church should deal with them. Repeatedly he uses the word penance, but he does not mean the Romish sacrament. One could wish that a different word had been used in the translation, but Bucer indicates his meaning when he sums up as follows:

Those who are Christians . . . and continue in obedience to the gospel, but fall into conscious sin, are to be given counsel and help so that through true repentance and amendment of life they may again become healthy and well, that is, return to real, holy Christian life.

He is referring to the nurture and discipline of the Church.

A helpful ‘Historical Introduction’ has been provided, from the pen of the late Professor D F Wright. Mr Beale indicates that he has sought ‘accuracy of translation at the expense of felicity of expression’. It is therefore most surprising to find him using an English translation of the Scriptures, the NIV, which uses rather different principles. This book will clearly be most useful to ministers and elders, though it is not exclusively directed to them.

Notes

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      Bucer was to Strasbourg what John Calvin became to Geneva. Bucer was the older Reformer; Calvin learned much from him during his stay in Strasbourg when exiled from Geneva. Eventually Bucer himself was forced out of Strasbourg and became a Professor of Divinity in Cambridge University. This volume has now been translated into English for […]

Taken with permission from the Free Presbyterian Magazine, September 2010.

www.fpchurch.org.uk

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