The Legacy of Anne Dutton

Anne Dutton lived from 1692-1765, a time when women were discouraged from being authors, something I find curious, as a female author. Amidst this tension, Anne wrote, “not for fame but for only the glory of God, and the good of souls.”[1] She published 50 plus books over her lifetime, all the while wrestling with whether it was biblical for a woman to be an author. She argued that since her books were intended for private reading of believers, she was not in violation 1 Timothy 2:12.[2]

Anne’s life and ministry are chronicled in chapter three of the book, 8 Women of Faith, by Michael A.G. Haykin. Her story is a warm hug from a kindred spirit because I know this struggle. I’ve wondered if I grappled alone or if other women in ministry, other authors, have wrestled with when and where to speak and when and where to remain quiet. I’ve spent much time these past few months studying the Word, praying, and examining my heart. What motivates me to write? Am I teachable when corrected? Do I truly desire to lift the name of Christ higher than the name on the cover of my books?

I’ve learned from Anne that speaking up might be necessary no matter how uncomfortable it may make me feel. She boldly critiqued theological positions of her day that threatened the integrity of the gospel. She corresponded with many leaders, gently challenging them while remaining respectful. Her final days on earth have been said to illustrate Ps 92:12-14 and Gal 5:22. Anne flourished like the palm tree, bringing forth fruit in her old age of seventy-four, exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[3]

O Lord, I pray it may it be said of me that when my days are done and all that remains is the legacy of my words that every written word and every spoken word has been for the glory and fame of Jesus Christ. May I be remembered for a teachable spirit, for speaking in gentleness, correcting in love, and always respectful of the authority placed over me. When I quiver on the precipice of eternity, may there still be much fruit, much evidence that anything good that came from my life was and is the work of the Spirit in me. 

[1] Michael A. G. Haykin, 8 Women of Faith, (Wheaton, Il: Crossway 2016), 58.

[2] Haykin, 8 Women, chapter 3.

[3] Haykin, 8 Women, 65.

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