Original Research - Special Collection: Holiness

From Holy Striving to Wholly Abiding: Mystical Transformation in James Hudson Taylor (1832–1905)

Judy Lam
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3483 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3483 | © 2016 Judy Lam | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2016 | Published: 16 November 2016

About the author(s)

Judy Lam, OMF International, Hong Kong and South Africa; Department of New Testament, Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, South Africa


James Hudson Taylor (1832–1905), founder of the China Inland Mission in June 1865, was one of the most influential 19th century British Protestant missionaries in China. His writings, sermons and personal letters are suffused with spiritual insights and mystical nuances, notably Union and Communion,1 his short devotional work on the Song of Songs which was published in 1894. This article focuses on his mystical or transformative experience of 1869 which effected a profound experiential union with Christ and a new consciousness of soul rest. Captured here as a transformation ‘from holy striving to wholly abiding’, the significance of this pivotal moment is elucidated in terms of its immediate personal effect and its lasting impact on Taylor’s mission vocation. The relevance of Taylor’s mysticism for contemporary missionary spirituality is briefly delineated.


Mystical transformation; James Hudson


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