The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists


by William H. Branson


MR. CANRIGHT says that he renounced Seventh-day Adventism. He had served as a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for about twenty-eight years (with two or three short interruptions) before he permanently withdrew from the Adventists and united with the Baptist Church. He informs us, however, that even during these years of ministry, while he was ardently proclaiming the doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists, he had many qualms regarding the truthfulness of his own teachings, and that this so preyed on his mind that on two or three occasions he dropped his ministry and took up other work. After he finally gave up Adventism entirely, and severed his connection with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he offered the following reason for having ever been deceived by what he later came to look upon as a system of error:

I united with the Adventists when I was a mere boy, uneducated, with no knowledge of the Bible, or history, or of other churches. I went into it through ignorance. For years my zeal for that faith, and my unbounded confidence in its leaders, blinded me to their errors. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 52.

Then we are told of his growing doubts and final renunciation:

'My doubts of the system did not come to me all at once and clearly. It was well known that for the last dozen years I was with them, I was greatly troubled over these things. Gradually, year by year the evidence accumulated, till at last it overbalanced the doctrine, and then reluctantly and sorrowfully I had to abandon and renounce it. Ibid., p. 53.

It is only proper that we should now pause to ask, what is this system into which Mr. Canright went in through ignorance, and concerning which he later began to have doubts? What is the faith which his doubts overbalanced and which he finally felt compelled to abandon and renounce? Did Mr. Canright really renounce a system of error built upon the superstitions of an ignorant people; or did he, perchance, renounce the truth and go away into darkness?

These questions are vital, and should be understood by the reader before we proceed to reply to some of the many arguments Mr. Canright employs against the doctrines themselves.


Mr. Canright says he renounced Seventh-day Adventism. His book indicates that he rejected it in toto. He brands it as a system of error and a yoke of bondage (Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 59), and declares that it leads to infidelity (Ibid., p. 64). If, therefore, we can ascertain what Seventh-day Adventists really believe, we shall understand clearly what it was that Mr. Canright renounced. We will therefore briefly state their cardinal doctrines, as recorded in their denominational Yearbook, edition of 1933, pages 5 to 8.


Seventh-day Adventists hold certain fundamental beliefs, the principal features of which, together with a portion of the Scriptural references upon which they are based, may be summarized as follows:

1. That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, contain an all-sufficient revelation of His will to men, and are the only unerring rule of faith and practice. 2 Tim. 3:15- 17.

2. That the Godhead, or Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual Being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom all things were created and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power in the work of redemption. Matt. 28:19.

3. That Jesus Christ is very God, being of the same nature and essence as the Eternal Father. While retaining His divine nature He took upon Himself the nature of the human family, lived on the earth as a man, exemplified in His life as our Example the principles of righteousness, at tested His relationship to God by many mighty miracles, died for our sins on the cross, was raised from the dead, and ascended to the Father, where He ever lives to make inter cession for us. John 1:1, 14; Heb. 2:9-18; 8:1, 2; 4:14-16; 7:25.

4. That every person in order to obtain salvation must experience the new birth; that this comprises an entire transformation of life and character by the re-creative power of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16; Matt. 183; Acts 2:37-39.

5. That baptism is an ordinance of the Christian church, and should follow repentance and forgiveness of sins.' By its observance faith is shown in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that the proper form of baptism is by immersion. Rom. 6:1-6; Acts 16:30-33.

6. That the will of God as it relates to moral conduct is comprehended in His law of Ten Commandments; that these are great moral, unchangeable precepts, binding upon all men in every age. Ex. 20:1-17.

7. That the fourth commandment of this unchangeable law requires the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. This holy institution is at the same time a memorial-of creation and a sign of sanctification, a sign of the believer's rest from his own works of sin, 'and his entrance into the rest of soul which Jesus promises to those who come to Him. Gen. 2:1J; Ex. 20:841; 31:12-17; Heb. 4:1-10.

8. That the law of Ten Commandments points out sin, the penalty of which is death. The law cannot save the transgressor from his sin, nor impart power to keep him from sinning. In infinite love and mercy, God provides a way whereby this may be done. He furnishes a substitute, even Christ the Righteous One, to die in man's stead, making 'Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.' 2 Cor. 5:21. 

That one is justified, not by obedience to the law, but by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. By accepting Christ, man is reconciled to God, justified by His blood for the sins of the past, and saved from the power of sin by His indwelling life. Thus the gospel becomes 'the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes.' This experience is wrought by the divine agency of the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin and leads to the Sin-bearer, inducting the believer into the new covenant relationship, where the law of God is written on his heart, and through the enabling power of the indwelling Christ, his life is brought into conformity to the divine precepts. The honor and merit of this wonderful transformation belong wholly to Christ. 1 John 3:4; Rom 7:7; 3:20; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 John 2:1, 2; Rom. 5:8-10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17; Heb. 8:8-12.

9. That God only bath immortality. Mortal man possesses a nature inherently sinful and dying. Immortality and eternal life come only through the gospel, and are bestowed as the free gift of God at the second advent of Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Tim. 6:15, 16; 1 Cor. 15:51-55.

10. That the condition of man in death is one of unconsciousness. That all men, good and evil alike, remain in the grave from death to the resurrection. Eccl. 9:5, 6; Ps. 146:3, 4; John 5:28, 29.

11. That there shall be a resurrection both of the just and of the unjust. The resurrection of the just will take place at the second coming of Christ; the resurrection of the unjust will take place a thousand years later, at the close of the millennium. John 5:28, 29; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 20:5-10.

12. That the finally impenitent, including Satan, the author of sin, will, by the fires of the last day, be reduced. to a state of nonexistence, becoming as though they had not been, thus purging God's universe of sin and sinners. Rom. 6:23; Mal. 4:1-3; Rev. 20:9, 10; Obadiah 16.

13. That no prophetic period is given in the Bible to reach to the second advent, but that the longest one, the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, terminated in 1844, and brought us to an event called the cleansing of the sanctuary.

14. That the true sanctuary, of which the tabernacle on earth was a type, is the temple of God in heaven, of which Paul speaks in Hebrews 8 and onward, and of which the Lord Jesus, as our great high priest, is minister; and that' the priestly work of our Lord is the antitype of the work of the Jewish priests of the former dispensation. That this heavenly sanctuary is the one to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14; its cleansing being, as in the type, a work of judgment, beginning with the entrance of Christ as the high priest upon the judgment phase of His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary foreshadowed in the earthly service of cleansing the sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. This work of judgment in the heavenly sanctuary began in 1844. Its completion will close human probation.

15. That God, in the time of the judgment and in accordance with His uniform dealing with the human family in warning them of coming events vitally affecting their destiny (Amos 3:6, 7), sends forth a proclamation of the approach of the second advent of Christ; that this work is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14. And that their threefold message brings to view a work of reform to prepare a people to meet Him at His coming.

16. That the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, synchronizing with the period of the proclamation of the message of Revelation 14, is a time of investigative judgment, first with reference to the dead, and secondly, with reference to the living. This investigative judgment determines who of the myriads sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of translation. 1 Peter 4:17, 18; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 14: 6, 7; Luke 20:35.

17. That the followers of Christ should be a godly people, not adopting the unholy maxims nor conforming to the unrighteous ways of the world, not loving its sinful pleasures nor countenancing its follies. That the believer should recognize his body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that therefore he should clothe that body in neat, modest, dignified apparel. Further, that in eating and drinking and in his entire course of conduct he should shape his life as becomes a follower of the meek and lowly Master. Thus the believer will be led to abstain from all intoxicating drinks, tobacco, and other narcotics, and the avoidance of every body-and soul-defiling habit and practice. 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 9:25; 10:31; 1 Tim. 2.9, 10; 1 John 2:6.

18. That the divine principle of tithes and offerings for the support of the gospel is an acknowledgment of God's ownership in our lives, and that we are stewards who must render account to Him of all that He has committed to our possession. Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:.8-12; Matt. 23:23; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 2 Cor. 9:6-15.

19. That God has placed in His church the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. That these gifts operate in harmony with the divine principles of the Bible, and are given for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body of Christ. Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 1 Cor. 1:54.

20. That the second coming of Christ is the great hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel and plan of salvation. His coming will be literal, personal, and visible. Many important events will be associated with His return, such as the resurrection of the dead, the destruction of the wicked, the purification of the earth, the reward of the righteous, the establishment of His everlasting kingdom. The almost complete fulfillment of various lines of prophecy, particularly those found in the books of Daniel and the Revelation, with existing conditions in the physical, social, industrial, political, and religious worlds, indicates that Christ's coming 'is near, even at the doors.' The exact time of that event has not been foretold. Believers are exhorted to be ready, for 'in such an hour as you think not, the Son of man' will be revealed. Luke 21:25-27; 17:26-30; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; James 5:1-8; Joel 3:9-16; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Dan. 7:27; Matt. 24:36, 44.

21. That the millennial reign of Christ covers the period between the first and the second resurrection, during which time the saints of all ages will live with their blessed Redeemer in heaven. At the end of the millennium, the Holy City with all the saints will descend to the earth. The wicked, raised in the second resurrection, will go up on the breadth of the earth with Satan at their head to compass the camp of the saints, when fire will come down from God out of heaven and devour them. In the conflagration which destroys, Satan and his host, the earth itself will be regenerated and cleansed from the effects of the curse. Thus the universe of God will be purified from the foul blot of sin. Revelation 20; Zech. 14:14; 2 Peter 3:7-10.

22. That God will make all things new. The earth restored to its pristine beauty, will become forever the abode of the saints of the Lord. The promise to Abraham, that through Christ he and his seed should. possess the earth throughout the endless ages of eternity, will be fulfilled. The kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. Christ, the Lord, will reign supreme, and every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, will ascribe blessing and honor and glory and power unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever and even Gen. 13: 14-17; Rom. 4:13; Heb. 11:8-16; Matt. 5:5; Isaiah 35; Rev. 21:14; Dan. 7:27; Rev. 5: 13.

This is, in brief, what Seventh-day Adventists believe, and this is, therefore, what Mr. Canright renounced and endeavored to refute.

The point on which Mr. Canright centers his most powerful attacks, and which appears to have been his chief stumbling block, is the one mentioned under Nos. 6-8, the immutability and unchanging nature of the law of God as contained in the Ten Commandments. In his renunciation of Seventh-day Adventism he claims to have discovered that the law was given only to the Jews (Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 320), that it was nailed to the cross, and that it is, therefore, not binding on Christians. 

We would, however, call the attention of the reader to the fact that in declaring that Christians are no longer under obligation to observe the Ten Commandments, it was not only Seventh-day Adventism, that Mr. Canright renounced but practically all Protestantism. Seventh day Adventists do not stand alone in teaching that Christians are under obligation to obey God and keep His law as contained in the Ten Commandments. In fact, all the great denominations have for centuries believed in the binding claims of the moral law. This doctrine is clearly and emphatically set forth in the Baptist Church Manual, the manual of the church to which Mr. Canright fled when he escaped the so-called delusions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This Baptist document declares:

We believe that the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of His moral government. Baptist Church Manual, art. 12.

Now here is a strange spectacle: A Seventh-day Adventist, clergyman revolts against the teaching of his church that the Ten Commandment law is still binding upon Christians, holds up Seventh-day Adventists to ridicule because of their ignorance, revealed in their supposition that the moral law continued to exist after the cross, and flees to the Baptist Church for refuge from this yoke of bondage. Yet when we follow him to his new church home, where he professed to enjoy wonderful liberty and freedom from the law, we ascertain on inquiry that the official pronouncement of that church and of its founders on this point is in perfect accord with the teaching of Seventh-day Adventists, and uncompromisingly opposed to Mr. Canright's so-called new-found liberty.

In complete agreement with the foregoing pronouncement in the Baptist Church Manual are the following statements from official documents of the great Protestant churches and some of their representative leaders:


John Calvin, regarded as the father of Presbyterianism and also indirectly of the Calvinistic Baptists, said:

We must not imagine that the coming of Christ has freed us from the authority of the law; for it is the eternal rule of a devout and holy life, and must therefore be as unchangeable as, the justice of God, which it embraced, is constant and uniform.-Calvin's Comment on Matthew 5:17 and Luke 16:17, in Commentary on a Harmony of the Gospels, vol. 1, p. 277. 

In the Methodist Church Discipline, edition of 1904, page 23, we read: No Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral. Investigation will reveal the fact that the Wesleyan Discipline, and also that of the Church of England, read the same as the above. The Rev. Dwight L. Moody, whom Mr. Canright quotes as authority on a number of points, published a book some years before his death, in which is to be found the following clear-cut statement:

The commandments of God given to Moses in the mount at Horeb are as binding today as ever they have been since the time when they were proclaimed in the hearing of the people. - Weighed and Wanting (Fleming H. Revell Co., 1898), p. 15.

How tragic it is to see ministers like Mr. Canright turn away from this generally accepted doctrine, and help to break down God's moral barriers against sin and crime.

Again let us listen to Mr. Moody:

Infidels may mock the Lawgiver and reject Him who has delivered us from the curse of the law, but they can't help admitting that the commandments are right. Renan said that they are for all nations, and will remain the commandments of God during all the centuries.

If God created this world, He must make some laws to govern it. In order to make life safe, we must have good laws; there is not a country the sun shines upon that does not possess laws. Now this is God's law. It has come from on high, and infidels and skeptics have to admit that it is pure.-Ibid., p. 11.

In full accord with these declarations of faith are the words of the Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon, the well known Baptist preacher, who, in a sermon preached in London, England, in 1898, and widely published, appearing first in Australia, in the Melbourne Age, said:

The law of God must be perpetual. There is no abrogation of it, nor amendment of it. It is not to be toned down or adjusted to our fallen condition; but every one of the Lord's righteous judgments abides forever. . . . To show that He never meant to abrogate the law, our Lord Jesus has embodied all its commands in His own life.

Dr. Adam Clarke (Methodist commentator) writes:

Thus it appears that man cannot have a true notion of sin but by means of the law of God. . . . And let it be observed, that the law did not answer this end merely among the Jews in the days of the apostle; it is just as necessary to the Gentiles to the present hour. Nor do we find that true repentance takes place where the moral law is not preached and enforced. Those who preach only the gospel to sinners, at best only heal the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly. The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners; and he may safely show that every sinner is under the law, and consequently under the curse, who has not fled for refuge to the hope held out by the gospel: for, in this sense also, Jesus Christ is the end of the law for justification to them that believe.-

ADAM CLARKE, LL.D., A Commentary and Critical Notes (New York: Lane and Scott, 1851), Rom. 7:13.

Bishop Simpson, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, supports this teaching thus:

The law of God, in its great and solemn injunctions, should be distinctly set forth. Our congregations should be gathered as around the base of Mt. Sinai, while from its summit is heard the voice of God in those commandments which are unalterable and eternal in their character. . . .

Some will object to the sternness of the law, and say, 'Prophesy smooth things;' but still the law must be preached. It brings the sinner to a recognition of his sins, in having transgressed God's holy law, and shows him the fearfulness of the doom which is impending over him. The law must be followed by the gospel; the awakened sinner must be pointed to the Savior, that he may see that, deep as are the stains of his transgressions, the blood of Christ can wash them all away. Bishop MATTHEW Simpson, Lectures on Preaching (New York; Eaton and Mains, 1906), Lecture 4, p. 128.

'There are many preachers who love to dwell on the gospel alone. They talk sweetly and beautifully of the fatherhood of God. This is well. It is more than well, it is essential. But sometimes they go beyond this, and declaim against the preaching of the law,-intimate that it belongs to a past age, a less civilized society. . . .

Such a gospel may rear a beautiful structure; but its foundation is on the sand. No true edifice can be raised without its foundations being dug deep by repentance toward God, and then shall the rock be reached, and the building shall be through faith in Jesus Christ. The law without the gospel is dark and hopeless; the gospel without the law is inefficient and powerless.-Ibid., p. 129..

Also Dr. Albert Barnes (Presbyterian) agrees that Christians are bound by the Ten Commandments:

. We learn hence: 1. That all the law of God is binding on Christians. Compare James 2:10. 2. That all the commands of God should be preached in their proper place, by ,Christian ministers. 3. That they who pretend that there are any laws of God so small that they need not obey them, are unworthy of His kingdom. And 4. That true piety has respect to all the commandments of God. Compare Ps. 119:6. -REV. ALBERT BARNES, Commentary (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1868), note on Matthew 5:19.

The editor of the Sunday School Times agrees:

While God remains God, His moral law will be binding upon all who would have any part in His life. God's moral law is eternal; it is an expression of His very being. As such it can no more be abrogated than can God Himself. -Editorial in Sunday School Times, Jan. 3, 1914.

Let us turn also to the official statement of Presbyterianism (Cumberland) regarding the binding claims of the Ten Commandments. Note the following emphatic declaration:

The moral law is the rule of duty growing immediately out of the relations of rational creatures to their Creator and to each other . . . . This law is of universal and perpetual obligation .... This law is not set aside but rather established by the gospel .... It accordingly remains in full force as the rule of conduct.- Presbyterian Confession of Faith, pp. 43-45.

Again, let us turn to the teachings of John Wesley:

The ritual or ceremonial law, delivered by Moses to the children of Israel, containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices and service of the temple, our Lord indeed did come to destroy, to dissolve, and utterly abolish. To this bear all the apostles witness. . . . This 'handwriting of ordinances' our Lord did blot out, take away, and nail to His cross. [Col. 2:14.1

But the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken, which 'stands fast as the faithful witness in heaven.' The moral law stands on an entirely different foundation from the ceremonial or ritual law.... Every part of His law must remain in force upon all mankind and in all ages; as not depending either on time, or place, or any other circumstance liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other. Sermons on Several Occasions (New York: Waugh & Mason, 1836), vol. 1, pp. 221, 222.

In the highest rank of the enemies of the gospel of Christ, are they who, openly and explicitly, 'judge the law,' itself, and 'speak evil of the law.' Who teach men to break law, to dissolve, to loose, to untie the obligation of not one only, whether of the least or of the greatest, but all the commandments at a stroke; who teach, without any cover, in so many words, 'What did our Lord do with the law?

He abolished it. There is but one duty, which is that of believing. . . .' This is indeed carrying matters with a high hand; this is withstanding our Lord to the face, and telling Him that He understood not how to deliver the message on which He was sent. 0 Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do!

The most surprising of all the circumstances that attend this strong delusion is, that they who are given up to it really believe that they honor Christ by overthrowing His law, and that they are magnifying His office while they are destroying His doctrine! Yea, they honor Him just as Judas did, when he said, 'Hail, Master,' and kissed Him. And He may as justly say to every one of them, 'Betray thou the Son of man with a kiss?' It is no other than betraying Him with a kiss to talk of His blood and take away His crown; to set light by any part of His law, under pretense of advancing His gospel. Nor indeed can any one escape this charge who preaches faith in any such a manner as either directly or indirectly tends to set aside any branch of obedience; who preaches Christ so as to disannul, or weaken in any wise, the least of the commandments of God. Works of Wesley (New York: Waugh & Mason, 1833), vol. 1, pp. 225, 226.

Let us very carefully note again the category in which Mr. Wesley placed those who thus openly attack the law of God and teach men to disregard its precepts: 

In the highest rank of the enemies of the gospel of Christ, are they who, openly and explicitly, 'judge the law,' itself, and 'speak evil of the law;' who teach men to break ... not one only ... but all the commandments at a stroke. . . . This is indeed carrying matters with a high hand; this is withstanding our Lord to the face.' Ibid.

And yet this denial of the claims of the moral law is just what Mr. Canright taught after he broke his connection with the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was accepted by the Baptist denomination in Michigan, and ordained to preach his no-law doctrine to communicants of the Baptist faith! Would early Baptists have thus accepted him and endorsed his new teaching?

It was not, therefore, Seventh-day Adventism merely that Mr. Canright renounced, but the eternal law of God. Of this law Jesus said:

Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men to he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:18, 19.

Or, as Weymouth in his translation puts it:

Solemnly I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or smallest detail will pass away from the law until all has taken place. Whoever therefore breaks one of these least commandments and teaches others to break them, will be called the least in the kingdom of the heavens.- The New Testament in Modern Speech.