Review: Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Hudson Taylor

Stirring – the good side of the Keswick Movement

I picked this up in anticipation of the 2014 Desiring God Pastor’s Conference, and John Piper’s biographical message on Hudson Taylor. (as an aside, I highly recommend the audio from that conference – the message on Hudson Taylor was one of the best evaluations of Keswick Theology I’ve ever heard).

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have a wariness to anyone promoting a “secret” to spirituality, and am not favorably disposed to the Keswick movement or their theology, but I read with an open mind, and this book stirred my soul.

It is the life story of Hudson Taylor, the man who founded the China Inland Mission, and advanced the gospel from the coasts of China to the unreached regions further in. It was written by his son, and emphasizes not just the facts of Taylor’s life, but his inward spiritual experiences as he went through them. The book is filled with excerpts from his journal and letters and you really get to see the innermost struggles and triumphs of the man.

Taylor was similar to George Muller, in that he did not ask people for money, and refused to take out debt. This was a firm conviction of his:

“I could not think that God was poor, that He was short of resources, or unwilling to supply any want of whatever work was really His.” (82)

God did prove in Taylor’s life and the CIM, that His arm is not short, and He is more than able to provide whatever is needed. There are multiples stories of remarkable providence, in which just the right amount of money came in for the need, and was on its way even before they prayed. One time, George Muller himself sent money over to the mission!

Taylor believed strongly in the power of prayer:

“We do well to remember that this gracious God, who has condescended to place His almighty power at the command of believing prayer, looks not lightly on the bloodguiltiness of those who neglect to avail themselves of it, for the benefit of the perishing…” (118)

Unlike other more extreme figures in the Keswick movement (Rees Howells, for example), there is no mysticism, or listening to “voices,” or growing out a beard to appease God. This is just straightforward: seeking, trusting, and serving God with your whole heart.

What God accomplished in and through this man and the CIM is incredible. His life is a great example for us. I was stirred greatly reading this book, and I highly recommend it.

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