IN DEFENSE OF THE FAITH
Truth About Seventh-day Adventists
REPLY TO CANRIGHT
1. WHAT DID MR.
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.
WHAT IS SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM?
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.
FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS OF 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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
We believe that
the law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of His moral
government. Baptist Church Manual, art.
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.
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
PROTESTANTS AND THE LAW
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
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.,
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
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
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.
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!
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,
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.'
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