We marvel at courageous acts; God seeks to empower us with His Holy Spirit that even greater works might be accomplished. We are enamored by daring escapades; Christ calls us simply to be witnesses of His Kingdom on earth. It should be stated clearly that missionaries are not better Christians than those who stay at home. Each member of the body of Christ has a specific role to play, and every one of these roles is necessary. The missions venture requires that some go and some stay behind. Those who go seek to advance the Kingdom of God where it is not; those who stay at home hold the ropes in prayer and support, shining the light of Jesus in their local context.
Their faithful prayers often open doors for the overseas missionary to walk through unhindered. But the blessing goes both ways. The home Church experiences spiritual benefits while extended family abroad witnesses breakthrough. The soldiers who go out to battle and those who remain back to guard the supplies all share in the spoils of war. With God, nothing is impossible. We admit that we believe this reality, but do our actions state otherwise? These impossibilities become simple difficulties. Then, through the working of the Holy Spirit in and through us, God accomplishes His Kingdom purposes in ways we never thought possible.
First, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. Regardless of the physical, emotional, or spiritual struggles he encountered, God stood by his side. Confident that his identity tucked into Christ, he paved the way for the Gospel message to transform China. It is in the secret place of prayer and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that God wields broken vessels into glorious instruments that He can use. Seemingly daunting dangers pepper the mission fields of the earth. Global Kingdom workers count the physical, emotional, and spiritual risks they will indubitably face when going to serve abroad.
But in chapter nine of The Mind of a Missionary, you will see that intimacy with God through prayer bolsters the Christian mind. Actual spiritual experience was vital for Taylor. The unregenerate person was unable to profit from it, even though he might appreciate it. Taylor maintained that the Bible became a natural part of the life of the Christian and that in every part he could find testimony to the work of Christ whilst also gaining some understanding on the past and the future. This obedience was itself proof of inspiration. Paul, in his missionary career, emptied himself of advantages of birth, of position, and of education in spiritual barter to know Christ and Taylor urged such a pattern upon his readers.
The parlous spiritual state of China could only be resolved by applying the teaching of the Bible.
Such ministry reflects the character of God. Taylor did not speculate over the Bible, that is to say that he was aware but uninterested in pursuing contemporary developments in theological thinking. His views on the inspiration of Scripture gave him a negative attitude to any critical approach to the Bible which might impede his aims for the work in China. Instead, his efforts were channelled into a spiritual formation based on specific readings of biblical texts as illustrated by his use of The Song of Songs in his book Union and Communion. In common with many Victorians he used allegory and typology to interpret Old Testament texts.
He believed in presenting the needs of the world to the church in the context of the direct appeals of Christ in the Scriptures. For Taylor the life and death of Christ was the best reason for the centrality of mission in the New Testament.
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Knowledge of the truth could come from personal experience which was then imposed upon the interpretation of Scripture. This emphasis on applying texts directly to himself and his focus on the spiritual meaning was one example of the elevation of experience over reason. He was able to read from the text those things that explained his own spiritual experience, repeatedly drawing on his pivotal spiritual experience of and other faith experiences.
Taylor believed a sharpened form of missionary spirituality was essential for missionary work. Taylor drew from the Bible a spirituality which included devotion, meditation, prayer, and a lifestyle that had mission at its centre. Taylor rejected intellectual approaches, emphasised the preaching of the crucified Christ, and honoured self-denying service amongst the Chinese.
He was prepared to demonstrate theological flexibility over some doctrinal issues if the overall strategy for China remained fixed. The latter followed in due time but could never become the main focus of his exhortations to the Christian public. He was facilitating the work of many individuals rather than those of a corporate body. It was those who were motivated in such a way who became members of faith missions.
As a new movement they arose alongside existing denominational missions and did not replace them. Firstly, he failed to gather the strands of his teaching into a comprehensive theology of mission. It was an approach incapable of supplying an overall framework of theological principles that would guide and control policy.
J. Hudson Taylor: Founder of the China Inland Mission
His teaching and advice to those within the CIM concerning the practice of mission were based more on personal observation and experience, some of it forged in his years with the Chinese Evangelisation Society CES. The development of critical theology was beginning to pose a challenge but, for the majority of those involved in the CIM, the overriding priority of the task predominated over biblical reflection. He did not make the determination of the authorial intent of Scripture a priority, although his Christological centre and his belief in the inspiration of Scripture provided some check on an arbitrary use of the Bible.
Secondly, the highlighting of mission and personal holiness rooted in the practices of prayer and Bible study did not necessarily equip the CIM missionaries and supporters to meet the intellectual challenges to the Christian faith. It was this emphasis that accounts for the criticisms of Taylor for having diminished theological concerns in mission. Even a key theme in his teaching—for example, the kenotic example of Christ—was seen as a product of an activist rather than a reflective biblical method for evangelism. Taylor was a notable example of those who sidestepped these challenges by cultivating a piety that attempted to preserve the emphases that had ebbed and flowed from the Reformation.
He placed the authority of the Bible in the spiritual realm entirely outside the sphere of rational and historical argumentation.
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His biblical spirituality provided an enduring template for international evangelical mission in the twentieth century, but it would also expose evangelicalism to a profound intellectual crisis in due course. By separating spirituality from definite theological reflection, the CIM missionaries enhanced a form of spiritual formation in their converts that lacked the tools required to advance a biblical response in the face of intense opposition to a conservative approach to Scripture.
However, this emphasis should not obscure the fact that theology was also important to them. The above motivations were seen as eminently biblical as were the practices of mission that issued from them. This is an important observation, for the activism and the focus of men like Taylor made sure that an experiential understanding of the Bible was exported around the world at a time when more critical ideas were surfacing in the West.
The CIM acted as an important instrument for the defence and propagation of conservative theology in China. This had far-reaching consequences, shaping Chinese Christian spiritual life in the early twentieth century and laying a template that is still influential. For Taylor, the primary function of the Bible was to provide a basis for personal spirituality which was the pre-requisite for any involvement in mission. His disciplined approach to the Bible and his enthusiasm for seeing it put into practice overrode all other theological influences in contemporary thought.
Hudson Taylor and the Bible - OMF | Missions to East Asia's People
Faith in God and trust in his provision executed by abiding in Christ took priority over using the Bible as a source for any particular mission practice within the CIM. Perspective: J. This was not only confined to Protestantism. From the beginning, Taylor noted the great mental power of the Chinese and predicted an influential future around the world especially through the diaspora—the Chinese were observed to be earnest, industrious, laborious, and frugal. There had been a period of deep spiritual struggle accompanied by feelings of unworthiness despite prayer, fasting, and meditation on the Bible.
What was most important for Taylor was not so much the church they joined but the expression of conversion and faith. The early CIM did not even register the denominational background of its members although Taylor knew that all of the leading Protestant denominations were involved with him. Taylor resisted tight definition of the working of the CIM and church government was one area in which he defied precision. He responded to criticism of the mission concerning church order and practice and denied that the CIM favoured one specific view of baptism.
He knew how contentious issues like baptism could become. Taylor believed that many joined the CIM because of liberty in this area of doctrine. Some of them managed to travel inland. It launched Taylor and others on their careers in China. OMF Content Feed. Christopher Wigram.