Book Review – One With Christ (Hudson Taylor)

In this short book, Hudson Taylor works his way through the Song of Songs, treating it as an allegory of the union between Christ and the believer. Of course there are many expositors who approach the book from a very different angle, seeing it as primarily about human love. Personally, I think there is profit in both approaches, as well as dangers of trying to force the details of the book to fit a system (whether it be “Christ and the church” or “courtship and marriage”). Taylor asserts that the book is unintelligible without its New Testament key, and that it teaches us of the benefits of abiding in Christ.

He breaks the song down into six main sections, each with a spiritual lesson. The first is about the remedy for the “unsatisfied life” in which he urges us to give ourselves fully to Christ. We are called to “please” the Lord, which means more than simply not grieving him by our sin, but actively seeking to bring him pleasure.

The real secret of an unsatisfied life lies too often in an unsurrendered will

Sections 2 and 4 deal with the causes of broken communion with the Lord – worldliness and spiritual sloth or pride, while sections 3 and 5 are about the joy of restored communion. Taylor warns that we cannot enjoy both the world and Christ, and that it is only in the place of entire consecration in which the fulness of Christ’s love and power can be experienced. The book closes with a section on “final oneness”.

Taylor’s heart for mission shines through in a number of places, as he sees soulwinning as the natural outworking of closeness to the Lord.

If you are interested in studying the Song of Songs as an allegory, this book would be a good place to begin. It is short enough to be read in a few hours and the call to be closer to the Lord is one that will be extremely profitable to meditate on. It will probably not answer all your questions about the book and its “correct” interpretation, but it will introduce you to an understanding of the Song that has been shared by many throughout church history.

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