We want to share with you the note
that Vanessa VanSpall wrote to us about what God’s Word to
Women meant in her life.
I am so happy to find you and your
website. I recently ran across the book
God's Word to Women in my mother's basement while searching
for something else. I was struck by the strong title and
decided that either this book would truly be "God's word to
women" or the author was just very arrogant. After tearing
through the entire book like a spy novel, I feel that it is the
I am 26 years old and have grown up in
the church (my father is a minister of music). This book has
changed my life. I have been blessed with a gift of faith in
God and assurance of my salvation since my conversion as a
child. However, I have sometimes wondered what God's perspective
is of me. There are a lot of conflicting messages that women
receive in the church. Bushnell's book answered so many
fundamental questions I have long had in my heart about being a
daughter of God. Her writings reflect qualities of God that I
have found to be true of Him in my own life such as gentleness,
hope and life to name a few. On my own, I have not always been
able to reconcile my knowledge and intuition of God's nature
with certain passages of scripture regarding women or even an
overall plan for me as a Christian woman. This book has
enlightened me, and I marvel at the fact that it was written so
I am disappointed that it is not cited
more often in scholarly works. For example, I did not see it
referenced in the book Paul,
Women and Wives by Craig S.
Keener, which deals with some of the same passages of scripture.
In fact, my complaining about this issue to my boyfriend caused
him to run the web search that located your website. I
appreciate your "Tips for Study"
and am wondering which translation of scripture you find most
Well, thanks for your time. I am so excited to find others
who have read this book. I'm certainly going to pass your
website along to all my friends.
Vanessa Van Spall
Happening on the Web?
We want to call your
attention to some new articles that have recently been put up on
the website. You can always find the latest by clicking on
“What’s New” found at the top of each page.
by Drs. Eddie & Susan Hyatt gives three reasons why Ephesians
5:21-33 is not about authority in marriage.
This article is a brief summation of
the arguments presented in the Hyatts’
new book by the same name.
The Sonship of Women
Cindye Coates. Many have been hindered by the generic
implication of the word, "sonship." In this article Cindye
declares that the time has come for kingdom women to move from
the wilderness over into their covenant place, possessing that
which was already possessed for them in, through and by Jesus
Kate Bushnell -
much I wish that I could look you in the eye and thank you for
your life and work, particularly God’s Word to Women.
For years, I struggled with the subservient role given women by
the traditional church. I condemned myself for not being able
to accept the limitations that were imposed on women simply
because of their gender. I was like the child who is told to
sit down and does it, but inside she is still standing up.
“Rebellion is as the sin of
witchcraft,” I was told. I begged the Lord to make me what I
had been taught was a truly “submissive” woman. He didn’t.
Through the years, I came across some hints that traditional
teaching might be in error, but how do you get around “women
keep silent in the church,” or “wives submit to your husbands as
unto the Lord?” Then a crisis arose where I had to know what I
believed God intended for women, and my opinion had to be backed
up by the Word.
friend, Gay Anderson, loaned me three books, Who Said Women
Can’t Teach by Charles Trombley, The Apostle Paul and
Women in the Church by Don Williams and God’s Word to
Women by Katharine C. Bushnell. The first two were
wonderful, and I highly recommend them. However, God’s Word
to Women was the life-changer. I tried to read it
critically, and there were a few things that I questioned, but
overall, I simply rejoiced.
Katharine Bushnell died in 1946,
her book had been out of print for years. The work she had
done seemed to have been in vain. Yet,
she never quit writing. Like the prophets of old,
looking toward the day when women would
take their God-given
place in society and the church. Thank you Lord for preserving
the work of your servant and using it in this day when you are
setting your women free!
GOOD NEWS FOR WOMEN
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you to forward the newsletter to those that you believe
would be interested.
Who was Katharine
many of us, the book God’s Word to Women by
Katharine Bushnell is known and loved. We thought you might
like to know something about the life of the remarkable woman
behind the words. It is a testimony to the ongoing leading of
God’s Spirit in a life given to Him.[i]
Katharine Bushnell was born February 5, 1855 in Peru, Illinois,
the seventh of nine children.
After graduating from public school, she studied classics at
Northwestern for two years while pursuing medicine privately.
When she was at Northwestern,
she met Frances Willard, future
president of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union),
who was to have a great
influence on her life. Bushnell left Northwestern and
entered medical school. It is said that
“professors put up a screen around her in classes so she could
recite without being seen, at which the men in the room would
hoot and yell.” When she
graduated in 1876, she was three years younger than the others
in her class!
After graduation Bushnell did a short internship and then was
persuaded to go to China as a medical missionary. While in
China, Bushnell became even more aware of the effects of a
male-dominated society on women. She also discovered a passage
in the Chinese Bible that was mistranslated. When she asked
why, she was told that it was because the pagan culture was
prejudiced against the ministry of women. This experience
caused her to question whether this same male bias might
prejudice English translation as well.
Bushnell went to China believing that it was not proper for
women to preach the Gospel. Now, her opinion began to change.
She saw a desperate need for women, including herself, to learn
the biblical languages and look at questionable passages for
themselves. Katharine had begun to study Latin and Greek while
at Northwestern. She now intensified that study,
concentrating on the Greek New Testament, then the Septuagint
and later moving on to Hebrew.
Bushnell was forced to leave China in 1882 because of a back
injury. She went to Denver and established a medical practice
but was not happy with the work since she had studied medicine
not for itself but as a means of Christian ministry. There
Katharine became associated with the WCTU (Women’s Christian
Temperance Union) in the Department for the Advancement of
Social Purity (Bible-based
Christian morality) where she lectured and worked with “fallen
1885, Bushnell left her medical
practice, having been persuaded by Frances Willard to come to
Chicago as National Evangelist of the Social Purity Department
of the WCTU. She saw drinking as a problem but believed that
the root cause of society’s ills to
be male dominance, which was supported by biased translation of
the Bible done by all-male
is impossible in this short space to give even casual mention to
all Bushnell’s accomplishments during the time she was with the
WCTU. (For a thorough biography of Katharine Bushnell complete
with an annotated bibliography of her works,
read Oh Thou Woman That Bringest Good Tidings by Dana
Along with Elizabeth Andrew, Katherine
helped found the Anchorage Mission in Chicago, which cared for
up to 5,000
women and girls a year. The mission provided a way of escape
for those who desired to leave the “oldest profession.”
After hearing numerous reports of a “white-slave-trade”
kidnapping that forced women into prostitution in the Michigan
and Wisconsin lumber camps,
she began the first of her “crusades.”
Katharine found the reports to be true and spent four months
obtaining proof of the allegations.
It was dangerous work as the brothels had support from many of
the town fathers, including the doctors. Bushnell carefully
documented verifiable evidence. She proved that women as young
as fourteen and some retarded women, were kept in subjection by
force with barricades, and even dogs,
used to prevent their escape.
In many places,
the police not only refused assistance
but returned runaways to the brothels. Local WCTU chapters and
ministers in the towns where she was investigating supported her
When Bushnell presented her report at a WCTU meeting in Chicago,
the newspapers got hold of it,
and many exaggerated her
the credibility of the report. She believed that the newspapers
deliberately distorted the facts in order to discredit her
findings. A retraction undid some of the damage. Officials
denied her reports, which blackened the name of their state, but
were forced by the publicity to give her a hearing. Bushnell
had to be protected by police when she was called to testify to
an out-of-session meeting of the Wisconsin legislature.
Standing as the lone woman in the room, she sought strength from
the Lord. As she prayed, the door behind her opened, and some
fifty ladies of high social position filed in and stood with her
as she spoke!
Legislation was later passed to stop the practice, but it was
not enforced. The notoriety changed things for Bushnell.
People wanted to hear her speak on the lumber camp findings
rather than the message on Christian lifestyle and morality.
When despite, or
maybe because of her notoriety, she was not included on the
program of the National Convention of the WCTU. Bushnell kindly
reminded everyone that temperance was the major focus and not
moral issues. However, these problems led her to seek the Lord
for direction for her ministry.
The WCTU commissioned her to make a round-the-world
speaking tour with her friend Elizabeth Andrews. A dream led
her to contact Josephine Butler, the head of WCTU’s Social
Purity Department in England. Butler responded that it had come
to light that the British troops in India were being furnished
Indian girls “for the sake of their health” and requested that
Bushnell and Andrews stop in India as part of her tour and
quietly investigate the allegations.
Since no financial help was given to the women, Bushnell planned
a speaking tour to earn the money for the trip. However, she
became ill and was unable to complete it. After prayer,
she decided to go anyway and
found God’s provision in numerous letters containing
contributions waiting for her in New York.
wish there were room to detail these amazing trips. The
women’s only contact in India was not helpful. Although they
were unfamiliar with Indian customs, God provided the way to
learn what they needed to know. Then, He protected them from
the authorities and local danger
while they traveled thirty-six hundred miles as lower-class
passengers. They would arrive at their destination in the
middle of the night, sleep in ladies waiting rooms and eat what
they could buy at the stations. Then, they would go to the
brothels, hold a service, and ask how the women came to be
there. The stories poured out. After the service, they left
immediately for their next destination.
When the report was completed and sent to England,
they were warned to keep
silent. They continued their tour going to Australia and New
Zealand and then were called back to England to testify.
Although their testimony was proven true and there was much
outrage in the end,
Next came China and the Opium dens. Again,
the two women proved beyond a doubt the effects of opium on its
users and society. They found that both prostitution and opium
use were supported by many of the American and British men in
positions of power. The actions of these men, who were supposed
to be Christians, were a condemnation of Christianity to the
For ten years, Bushnell worked for
the WCTU--touring, speaking and investigating.
In 1898, she
resigned from the world organization when the English branch
compromised their position on the very issues they had asked her
Bushnell continued her study of the Bible and the original
languages throughout her life. She could concentrate anywhere,
having developed the ability to distance herself from her
surroundings as a child in a large family. Now, the study would
be put to use. After her return from England, she wrote and
conducted Bible studies. In 1904, she moved to Oakland,
California and became involved in one more crusade against vice
and prostitution in San Francisco. When even her greatest
efforts did not get results, she focused her attention on the
work that would dominate the rest of her life.
Bushnell had seen the plight of women around the world held
captive by male-dominated culture and religion. She believed
that until both men and women realized that they were of equal
value, no permanent change could come. Only Christianity,
supported by the Bible properly translated and interpreted,
taught equality. Bushnell intensified her study, returning to
England in 1907 to polish her language skills and do intensive
biblical study in their libraries. She had published
occasionally before this time, but now it became a regular
event. Katharine concentrated on providing accurate translation
and teaching that would free women to seek the place that God
had prepared for them in the divine economy. Her work on
scripture was ahead of its time and would be considered cutting
edge on many of today’s issues. Her life and work are a
testimony to our Lord’s desire to
convict his people of the consequences of choosing tradition
ahead of truth.
Information in this article was taken from Oh, thou
Woman Who Bringest Good Tidings, The Life and Work of
Katharine Bushnell by Dana Hardwick and God’s
Word to Women by Katharine C. Bushnell.
Order Hardwick’s book from GWTW, 600 Partridge Ln.,
Eagle Lake, TX 77437 for $7.50 plus $3.00 postage. For
an order form, go to