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Taylor, Faith, and Finances: Theory, Practice, and Controversy of Non-Solicitation in the Early CIM

Taylor, Faith, and Finances: Theory, Practice, and Controversy of Non-Solicitation in the Early CIM

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Published by Karl Dahlfred
It should come as little surprise that Hudson Taylor is noted as having a strict Non-Solicitation Policy (NSP) with respect to funds. However, several questions remain. Is this steeped in fact, or is it merely part of the “myth and legend” of J. Hudson Taylor? Did Taylor ever present need, and if so, did he ever solicit funds? Did Taylor stick to what he claimed, and did he even see this as an important issue?
It should come as little surprise that Hudson Taylor is noted as having a strict Non-Solicitation Policy (NSP) with respect to funds. However, several questions remain. Is this steeped in fact, or is it merely part of the “myth and legend” of J. Hudson Taylor? Did Taylor ever present need, and if so, did he ever solicit funds? Did Taylor stick to what he claimed, and did he even see this as an important issue?

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Published by: Karl Dahlfred on Mar 29, 2012
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 Taylor, Faith, and Finances: Theory, Practice, and Controversy of Non-Solicitation in the Early CIM
Kenneth WarnockKenneth.Warnock@omfmail.comLittleton, COFebruary 15, 2012
 
2It should come as little surprise that Hudson Taylor is noted as having a strict Non-Solicitation Policy(NSP) with respect to funds. However, several questions remain. Is this steeped in fact, or is it merely
part of the “myth and legend” of J. Hudson Taylor? Did Taylor ever present need, and if so, did he
eversolicit funds? Did Taylor stick to what he claimed, and did he even see this as an important issue?I should point out that there have been doctorate theses, and even books written on this topic. It isneither my purpose nor my desire to delve into such great detail. Rather, I intend to provide a brief 
summary of the issues, challenges, and controversies surrounding Taylor’s views towards finances.
 Keep in mind that this is almost exclusively based on printed documents; what Taylor actually said ordone in person may have been different. Given his elaborate theology on the subject, it seems highlyunlikely that this would be the case, but it is an important limitation to consider.In this paper we will explore both the rationale and theology behind Taylo
r’s NSP. We will touch upon
the dynamic nature of the NSP and how views toward it changed over time.
We will explore Taylor’s
actions regarding solicitation and statement of need
1
, and we will also examine Taylor’s desire for
financial transparency and t
he reports that ensued. We will briefly touch on Taylor’s views toward
advertising the sales of books and mobilization materials, and we will close with a summary andapplications for the NSP today.As a final caution, the statements and trends listed in this paper are accurate to the best of myknowledge and ability. A thorough reading of the over 40,000 pages of material may render certaintrends or claims false. There may be facts that I simply did not find. The purpose of this paper is not tofind r
are exceptions and use them to disprove Taylor’s theology
2
. Rather, the purpose is to find ageneral framework that encapsulates both what Taylor believed and actually practiced regarding theNSP.
1.
 
The NSP as an Ideal
The first question to consider is whether Taylor actually emphasized the NSP and whether he saw this asan important matter.
This question receives an astounding, unbiased “yes”. Taylor frequently and
consistently emphasized that the China Inland Mission (CIM) was
“Supported by God through the unsolicited offerings of his people” (China’s Millions *CM+, 1875
-1876 p. 69)This was printed in the first volume of CM, and this verbiage continued without change for the entirety
of Taylor’s tenure. This attitu
de was quite unique to Taylor and the CIM at the time, and caused several
1
While many acknowledge that Taylor stated need, there was actually a systematic pattern that he seemed tofollow. This point will be discussed in that section.
2
 
Critics of Taylor and the NSP are quick to point out that Taylor violated his own “rules” re
garding the NSP. Whilethis is true, it simply does not do the topic justice to seek out these violations for the sole purpose of discreditingthe policy. We shall explore and acknowledge some of these exceptions, but we must also keep in mind that theseoccurred no more than a few times over 25 years.
 
3contemporaries to note the unique non-solicitation practices. There is no doubt that Taylor consideredthis to be a vital aspect of the CIM.Taylor had very specific reasons for the NSP. First, he wanted to ensure that the CIM was not detracting
from other mission boards or from people’s giving to their church. Second, Taylor had a strict belief that
he and other missionaries of the CIM should be totally reliant on God for their provision and support. By
not soliciting, this “left things in God’s hands,”
 
so to speak. (See Wigram’s essay
Hudson Taylor and Non-Solicitation: Historical Context and Practice,
pp. 3-5 for more information regarding the history andcontext of the NSP.)We will explore in future sections how this practically played itself out, but suffice it to say, Taylorstrongly believed and preached his mantra of non-solicitation. Before delving into the financial aspectof the NSP, however, we must first visit Taylor
’s views on prayer. In many ways, the NSP was just as
much, if not more, about soliciting faithful prayer as it was about not soliciting funds.
2.
 
The Link Between Need and Prayer
There is also little doubt that Taylor expressed financial issues to the readers of CM. He wouldoccasionally reference new projects, including the financial obligation they would likely entail. He
frequently printed a financial “expense report” of CIM for the year, listing income, expenditure
s, cash-on-hand, and the like. In fact, Taylor was incredibly transparent, providing itemized accounts of bothexpenditures and incomes (E.G. CM 1887, pp 104-105).It should be noted, however, that the statement of financial need was inexorably linked to petitions forprayer.
“We need, however, not merely funds … for this too, we shall be glad of united prayer.”
 
“Property is expensive in Shanghai, and 800
-1,2000 pounds might be required to meet our
need… We should therefore be very glad for prayer for guidance and help in this matter” (Both
 from CM 1885, p.52).For Taylor, received finances were a direct result of God answering prayer, and he would frequentlypraise God for these provisions (E.G. CM 1875-1876, p. 70 and CM 1888, p.3). It is little surprise thenthat any explanation of financial need followed the formula of 
‘This is what we’d like to
do; this is how much it will cost, so pray for us.
 Some may see that as a very round-about sort of way to ask for money, particularly given our current
culture’s method of soliciting funds. “Will you pray about supporting me?” “Will you pray and see if God leads you to give?”
 
To reach the center of Taylor’s message, however, we must be willing to leave our own cultural baggageat the door. When read in the full context of Taylor’s theology tha
t support comes from God, it seemsperfectly reasonable that he meant exactly what he wrote with respect to appeals for prayer. Letters

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