The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists


by William H. Branson


ON page 49 of Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, Mr. Canright makes a strange admission of insincerity.  

He tells of the time when he was still a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and when he temporarily dropped out of ministerial work and went onto a farm. After spending two years on the farm, he attended a camp. meeting and made the confession referred to by us in chapter l. Of this experience he says:

In the fall of 1884, Elder Butler, my old friend, and now at the head of the advent work, made a great effort to get ride reconciled and back at work again. He wrote me several times, to which I made no answer. Finally he telegraphed me, and paid my fare to a camp meeting. Here I met old friends and associations, tried to see things as favorable as possible, heard explanations, etc., etc., till at last I yielded again. I was sick of an undecided position. I thought I could do some good here anyway; all my friends were here; I believed much of the doctrine still, and I might go to ruin if I left them, etc. Now I resolved to swallow all my doubts, believe the whole thing anyway, and stay with them for better or for worse. So I made a strong confession, of which I was ashamed before it was cold. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced.

The confession to which he refers is the one made at the time when he had a wonderful experience with God, to which we referred in chapter 1. In it he declared: I am fully satisfied that my own salvation and my usefulness in saving others depends upon my being connected with this people and this work. He tells of a reconversion, the most remarkable change that I ever experienced all my life.

Now, in his book, he informs us that he was ashamed of this confession before it was cold. And yet, after it was cold, and after the meeting at which it was made was adjourned, he published it in the church paper!

Ashamed 'of it, and yet publishes it! What would such an admission be called if made in court, and what standing as a witness could one have after making such a statement? Nor is this the worst. In relating his experience at the time of making this confession, he declared that the Holy Spirit was working upon his heart. Said he: I never felt such a change before, not even when first converted, nor when I embraced the message, nor at any other time. I believe it was directly from heaven the work of the Spirit of God.- Review and Herald, Oct. 7, 1884.

And yet he was ashamed of this confession before it was cold. Think of it! A clergyman has a remarkable experience, publicly attributes it to the work of the Spirit of God, and then almost immediately is ashamed of this public utterance because it is insincere. What shall this be called?

How, then, shall a man who has thus made a mockery of the work of the Holy Spirit come forth in two or three years' time as a Moses to lead the people of God out of darkness and deliver them from a yoke of bondage? Is he not of those against whom Isaiah warned the church, saying: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter ! Isaiah 5:20.


In chapter 1, page 25, paragraph 2 of his work, he professes to enumerate the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that differ from those held by other evangelical churches. His very first statement of these differences is, They reject the doctrine of the Trinity. Had Mr. Canright said that when he was among them there were some Seventh day Adventists who did not believe the doctrine of the Trinity, it might have been difficult to challenge his statement. But his sweeping indictment, involving, as it does, the whole denomination, is not true today, nor was it true when made. And this Mr. Canright well knew, for in an article which he published in the Review and Herald, the Seventh-day Adventist Church paper, under date of April 12, 1877, he himself had said:

Do we not all agree that in the providence of God, special light is now being given upon the subjects of the second advent near, the kingdom, the new earth, the sleep of the dead, the destruction of the wicked, the doctrine of the Trinity, the law of God, God's holy Sabbath, etc.? All Seventh day Adventists will agree in these things.

For many years our theological schools have taught the doctrine of the Trinity very definitely, and for almost as many years it has appeared incidentally in some of our denominational books. For example, we quote this from page 671 of The Desire of Ages, by Mrs. E. G. White, printed in 1898:

Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer.

In the statement of belief found in the' Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, which sets forth the official discipline and doctrinal position of the denomination, is found this statement on the subject of the Trinity:

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. - Page 180.

Doubtless there were those of a different opinion when Mr. Canright was an Adventist, as there may be such individuals even today, but a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be justly charged against Seventh-day Adventists as a body, and never could, for in their earlier history the issue was not raised, and when later on it was raised, it was decided, not by official vote, but by common consent, in favour of the Bible doctrine of three persons in the Godhead-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Another deliberate effort to confuse the issue and to create a false impression regarding the belief of Seventh day Adventists is found on pages 74 and 75 of Mr. Canright's book. We quote him as follows:

'What do Adventists believe? Go ask what language was spoken by the people after the Lord confused their tongues at Babel. . . . Such a brood of errors and heresies as has resulted from Adventism, cannot be found in the history of the church before. Time setting, visions, miracles, fanatics, false prophets, sleep of the dead, annihilation of the wicked, non resurrection of the wicked, future probation, restoration, community of goods, denial of the divinity of Christ, no devil, no baptism, no organization, etc., etc. Gracious! And these are the people sent with a 'message' to warn the church!

Of course, the inference here is that Seventh-day Adventists hold and teach these doctrines. It is Seventhday Adventism that Mr. Canright is professedly writing against. True, he here uses only the terms Adventists and Adventism but he leaves the reader to believe that he is speaking of the system of doctrine which he renounced. Now, there are in existence a number of religious bodies which use the word Adventist or Adventists as a part of their denominational name, and he here proceeds to throw all these Adventist bodies into one group, and then begins to enumerate doctrines supposedly held by them, leaving the reader to draw the conclusion that these are the doctrines held by Seventh-day Adventists. It is just as if we should set out to write a book against the faith of the Missionary Baptists, and then charge to that church all the beliefs, good or bad, of the many other branches of the Baptists.

Seventh-day Adventists hold little in common with other churches who use the term Adventist in their denominational name. What these others may believe is their own concern, and the name they go by is no doubt of their own choosing. Whether some of them believe in the non resurrection of the wicked, future probation. . . . community of goods, denial of the divinity of Christ, no devil, no baptism, we do not know, but we do know, and Mr. Canright knew when he wrote these words, that Seventh-day Adventists do not believe these things. Not one of these doctrines was ever held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But Seventh-day Adventists do believe in visions when these visions are from the Lord, and they also believe in the miracles recorded in the Bible. To cast aside the miracles of Jesus Christ is to reject His divinity, and to refuse the instruction God has given through visions, is to reject a very considerable portion of the Sacred Scriptures. As to the views of the Seventh-day Adventists regarding the sleep of the dead and the final annihilation of the wicked, the reader is referred to the chapter in this book dealing with these subjects.

These facts were, of course, well known to Mr. Canright, but in an effort to confuse the minds of his readers he apparently gathered together all the errors he could think of, charged them against the Adventists as a group, and left the reader to infer that these things were held and taught by the denomination under review, i.e., the Seventh-day Adventists. We ask our readers to ponder this for a moment, and then decide whether it is straightforward and honest.


On pages 61-64 of his book Mr. Canright tries to make out a case against Seventh-day Adventists because some have left their ranks. He counts up forty-seven who were once connected with the denominational work of the Seventh-day Adventists, and who, at the time of writing his book, were no longer with that denomination. The clear inference is that a movement could not be of God and at the same time lose so many men.

Now let us 'notice this point: The first company of Sabbath keeping Adventists came into existence in 1844-45. Mr. Canright left the church in 1887. This was forty three years after the work began.

At that time he managed to count up forty-seven persons who had had some connection with the work of the church, but who, he claims, had renounced the faith and severed themselves from the church. Think of it! Forty-seven leave the church work in forty-three years!! About one a year, on the average. Still, Mr. Canright tells us on page 26 of his book that at the time he left the church the Seventh-day Adventists still had 26,112 members and 400 ministers, even after the forty-seven workers had gone away.

Does the fact that a few persons, who have been more or less prominent in the church, leave that communion and make other connections, prove that church to be untrue? We think not. If so, the work and teachings of our Lord would be discounted, for there were a number of apostasies from the ranks of His followers. Of one such experience it is stated that from that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him. John 6:66. It was a question as to what even the twelve apostles would decide to do, for Jesus turned and said unto them, Will you also go away? Verse 67. If every disciple of Jesus had gone away from Him, that fact would in no way have affected the truthfulness of His teaching.

Truth is not dependent upon the following -it may have, nor the ability of those who may once have accepted it. The fact that Judas had a devil and still remained among the disciples, did not in any way affect the truthfulness of Christ's doctrines, any more than did the departure from, Him of others who also were not in harmony with His work. Of those who left the faith in Christ's day, John says: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19.

So we say of those of whom Mr. Canright speaks as having left the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The fact is that a number of them did not go out willingly, but were disfellowshiped because their lives were not in harmony with the high standards of the church. It might be of interest to the reader to know Mr. Canright's own evaluation of these persons, as he stated it in writing just a short while before he left the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Concerning one of them he wrote:

''The next thing I heard was that the church [which he joined after he left the Seventh-day Adventist Church] had expelled him for bad conduct. He was turned out of the church and silenced as a preacher. - Review and Herald, May 24, 1877.

Of others among his list of forty-seven he had written while he himself was still a Seventh-day Adventist:

I know many of the persons who have left us, and I know them to be hard cases. That party [the organization to which some of them had gone] may whitewash them and defend them as long as they choose, but these are the facts. -Ibid.

He then proceeds to tell of the misconduct of some who for this reason were disfellowshiped, and then later, when he writes a book against Seventh-day Adventists, he holds up the fact that these persons had left the Seventh-day Adventists as evidence that the work of this church was crumbling and that their leading men were all leaving the sinking ship. Mr. Canright says that forty seven had left us. But let it be clearly understood that these forty seven were not the pillars of the church. Since that time many thousands of others have come into the church to fill up the ranks, and instead of 400 preachers, as at the time of Mr. Canright's leaving, there are now 10,850 evangelical laborers and as many other workers giving their full time to various other lines of the work of the church, in practically every land of earth.


One of the most serious charges made against Seventh day Adventism by Mr. Canright is, It leads to infidelity. Seventh day Adventism Renounced, p. 64.

Surely this is a most astonishing charge! Seventh-day Adventists believe in a personal God, in the deity of Jesus Christ, and in the deity and work of the Holy Spirit. They believe in a literal creation; in the vicarious atonement made by Christ on Calvary; in the Second Advent of our Lord; and in a literal heaven and hell, but not in eternal torment. They believe that the Bible is the very word of God, given to men by inspiration of the Spirit; that it constitutes a perfect rule of conduct for man. Seventh-day Adventists are the Fundamentalists of the Fundamentalists. And yet Mr. Canright, knowing these facts, boldly asserted-to his readers that Seventh-day Adventism leads to infidelity! Such a charge is manifestly absurd.

To buttress his argument on this point, Mr. Canright mentions some who had left the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and relates how they had made shipwreck of their faith. Thus he tells us on pages 62 and 63 of his book that one brother became a Universalist, while two others became Spiritualists. Two persons joined the Age-to Come party, one became a noted blasphemer, another a libertine, etc., etc. And this, he says, proves that Seventh day Adventism leads to infidelity! Does it? Or does it, perchance, prove that those who renounce Seventh-day Adventism turn away from the light into darkness, and thus drift away from God?

Infidels and Seventh-day Adventists have nothing in common. If a member should turn toward infidelity, it would lead speedily to his separation from the church, as the teachings of the church are diametrically opposed to infidelity. The two cannot walk together, because they are not agreed. Mr. Canright's statement, therefore, is untrue and misleading. It is just the reverse of the fact. Seventh-day Adventism is a safeguard against infidelity, and anyone ardently believing the doctrines of this church is entirely safe from this grossest of all errors.


One of the charges made by Mr. Canright against the Seventh-day Adventists is on the point of their lack of scholarship. They are all an ignorant lot, therefore how can their doctrine be true? Note his words:

Mrs. White received no school education, except a few weeks when a child. She ... was wholly illiterate, not knowing the simplest rules of grammar. Not one of the leading men in that work ever graduated from college or university, and many are illiterate as Mrs. White herself.- Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 35.

This affords a fair sample of the exaggeration so common in Mr. Canright's books. Webster defines illiterate as unlettered; ignorant of letters or books, . . . unable to read. Now to say that Mrs. White was wholly illiterate is equivalent to saying that she was unable even to read. But Mrs. White could not only read, but she could read well, as the many thousands who heard her read the Scriptures can testify. And not only did Mrs. White read well, but she read rather widely and very intelligently, as her writings bear witness.

As to the illiteracy of the leading men among Seventh day Adventists, the charge breaks down before the undeniable facts which Mr. Canright himself admits. On page 63 of his book he talks about their college professors, and speaks of their colleges in Battle Creek and California and of academies in the East. On page 64 he speaks of their physicians, naming a number of them, and of the sanitariums which they were conducting.

Think of it! An organization made up of illiterate people, who do not know the simplest rules of grammar, carrying on full fledged colleges, its members acting as college presidents and professors, and receiving recognition in many lands! Think of physicians who have never been to college, registering under the laws of various States and being licensed to practice medicine! Surely this statement is utterly ridiculous.

Seventh-day Adventists have developed an efficient system of denominational education. They have a chain of colleges, junior colleges, academies, and primary schools that reaches around the earth. Their students now number 150,000. A Grade A medical college is operated in California, whose credits are recognized in most of the countries of the world. A graduate theological seminary was established in Washington, D.C., in 1934. Graduates from these institutions of learning are to be found in every land, where they are serving as ministers, teachers, and physicians. Surely it is strange that such an efficient educational system should be established on a foundation of such profound ignorance!

But Seventh-day Adventists do not rely upon their scholarship. The theology of a church should never be tested by the number of college credits which its ministers can muster. The truths of God are established on a far more solid foundation than human learning. When Mr. Canright was naming some of the so-called unlearned Seventh-day Adventist leaders, he might, had he thought to do so, have added to his list such men as Peter, James, John, Matthew, and others whom Jesus chose as His disciples and to whom He committed the affairs of His church. He might have mentioned John the Baptist. One of the charges brought against Jesus Himself was that He was unlearned. In every age there have been those who have trusted in the multitude of their mighty men. (See Hosea 10:13.) 

Put not your trust in princes, said David, (nor in the son of man, in whom. there is no salvation Note-On our desk, as these pages are being prepared for the printer, lies a copy of the New Testament in Chasu, one of the native languages of Africa. This volume, neatly printed and strongly bound, bears on its title page the imprint of the British and Foreign Bible Society, 1922. The translation was made by a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, who prepared also a grammar of the Chasu language, a work listed today by a Paris firm specializing in Oriental and other tongues.

It is the only grammar of the Chasu language. Uneducated men do not make Bible translations in harmony with the rules and regulations for translators given out by the British and Foreign Bible Society; they do not reduce native languages to writing, nor standardize languages by the creation of grammars.- Book EDITORS. [margin].... Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalms 1463-5.

The great apostle to the Gentiles also earnestly warned the church against the danger of trusting to worldly wisdom, when he wrote to the Corinthians:

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, bath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:25-31.

Scholarship, therefore, is no' safe test of theology. The doctrines of a church are not to be tested by the learning or ignorance of its membership or ministry. A Thus says the Lord is the only safe foundation for our faith, and the Word of God is so plain 'that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein. (See Isaiah 35:8.)

This must not be understood, however, as granting, even for the sake of argument, that Seventh day Adventists are a company of ignoramuses, or that their ministers come behind those of other Protestant denominations in sound Christian scholarship, for such is not the case. Jesus never attended the rabbinical schools of His day, yet the testimony of the most learned of His time was that never man spake like this man.


Of the work of Seventh-day Adventists, Mr. Canright says:

They have missions in many of the large cities and in foreign lands; but they are wholly proselyting agencies. They do not work among the heathen, nor for the destitute and fallen. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 31.

And again we read:

Their 'missions,' of which they boast so much, Are not to convert the heathen of the foreign lands, nor the drunkards, wretched and degraded, of our cities, but to proselyte or work among people already in fair circumstances.' - Ibid. p. 83.

As stated in chapter I of this volume, Seventh-day Adventists believe that they have a message to bear to all the peoples of earth, Christian and pagan, Jew and Gentile, civilized and uncivilized. Said the prophet Joel,

Blow you the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord comes, for it is nigh at hand. Joel 2:1. They preach the message to all who will hear.

But to suggest that this preaching is addressed only to church members, either at home or abroad, is a gross misrepresentation. The writer spent a number of years as a missionary leader in Africa, and therefore can speak from firsthand knowledge. He knows personally that in the Dark Continent the vast majority of the many thousands of converts to the Seventh-day Adventist faith have been won from the most primitive tribes; often our missionaries have gone where others had never been before them; they have established hospitals, schools, and chapels, and have civilized and Christianized natives who hitherto had had no knowledge whatsoever of God.

Seventh-day Adventist mission stations are to be found far away from the centers of civilization, out where the darkness of heathenism has reigned supreme for generations. The writer has personally had the privilege of preaching in many a heathen village the first gospel sermon the villagers had ever heard. And what is true of the work of Seventh-day Adventists in Africa is true of their work in the cannibal islands of the South Seas, in India, in Borneo, in China, and in fact in every, heathen land. Seventh-day Adventists. probably have more missions operating today amid heathen surroundings than any other single Protestant church in the world.

What, then, becomes of the statement that they do not work for the heathen? It is untrue, just as are most of Mr. Canright's other statements regarding the faith and work of Seventh-day Adventists.


Again Mr. Canright says:

Seventh-day Adventism is a system of popery-one-man power. - Ibid., p. 81.

This is one of the most amazing charges made by Mr. Canright against the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of course anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the character of the Seventh-day Adventist organization knows that this statement is as far from the truth as the south pole is from the north. A system of popery is exactly what Seventh day Adventism is not. It is the antithesis of popery. In a system of popery the people take their orders from the head. The pope's word is law. In Seventh-day Adventism the head takes orders from the people and from committees of control. Their word is law. The head cannot alter their decisions.

For instance, in each State or provincial conference, the people choose a president, who holds office for two years. But he is not made a lord over God's heritage. He is the chairman of a committee of control. This committee is chosen by the people. The people make their own plans for the conduct of the work within their territory, while together in conference session. They delegate to the president and this executive committee the authority to carry out these plans and make them effective.

The conference president is the ranking officer of the conference committee. The committee usually consists of from seven to fifteen men, all chosen by the people. They have no authority to change anything that was done in conference assembled. If they feel that a change should be made in any important plan or policy, they must wait until the next conference session or call a special session. At the session they can lay their proposals before the people, but the people can accept or reject them at will. No one has any power of coercion. Every two years the term of office of the president and members of the executive committee expires. They may be re-elected or they may not. It depends entirely upon how they have performed their work whether they have given satisfaction. They have no life lease on these positions. They cannot continue themselves in office.

The General Conference organization embraces all local, union, and division conferences. It has a president, four general vice presidents, an additional vice-president for each great continental division, a secretary, six associate secretaries, a treasurer, a sub treasurer, four assistant treasurers, and a secretary treasurer for each continental division. If these officials constituted the entire board of control of the general affairs of the denomination, it would even then be far from a system of popery, for this group alone would constitute a board of some forty men.

But as a matter of fact, these men are only servants of a large committee of control known as the General Conference Committee. This committee consists of some two hundred members, and holds council meetings in the spring and autumn of each year, to consider policies and plans for the prosecution of the denominational work throughout the world. Other meetings of easily available members of this committee are held frequently throughout the year, but these minority meetings have no authority to alter any general policy adopted by the full committee at its regular councils, when representatives from the world field are present.

In a system of popery the head of the church has power to set aside decisions of councils with which he is not in agreement. Note the following statement from a Catholic authority:

He [the Pope] is not subject to them [the canons of the church], because he is competent to modify or to annul them when he holds this to be best for the church. - The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 12, art. Pope, p. 268.

But the president of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, who is the highest official in the church, cannot set aside any council action. The decisions of the councils govern. He cannot change a jot or tittle of them. He may recommend changes in policy at the next meeting, but he has no means of enforcing such recommendations, except by debate and personal influence, based on the confidence the council may have in his leadership. He cannot spend $100 of the denomination's funds for any purpose whatsoever, be it ever so worthy, without authorization of the General Conference Committee. Neither can the General Conference treasurer do so. The president does not take a trip into any part of the field without committee action. He writes no official letters to his under officers in an effort to enforce his individual opinion; his correspondence must represent the will of the committee. He issues no fiats and hands down no personal decisions. He is a servant of the General Conference Committee, and he and the committee serve the people.

The General Conference president, his assistant officers, and many members of the committee hold office for four years. They are elected at a quadrennial session of the General Conference, which is usually attended by about six hundred official delegates representing the church in every land, and by some six to ten thousand non official visitors. This great and thoroughly representative gathering chooses Whom so ever they will for the leadership of the church for the ensuing term. The former officials have no further claim on the offices they have held. Their term has expired. They lay down the burden. If perchance the conference should so desire, these same individuals may be re-elected to office for another four years. But this decision rests entirely with the delegates. They are the people's representatives. This large body of representatives is acknowledged by all Seventh-day Adventist churches and organizations as the highest administrative authority among them. A one-man power? No! It is exactly the opposite. In Seventh day Adventism the church officers serve the people instead of the people serving their officials.

From the foregoing review it must already be evident to the candid reader that Mr. Canright certainly handles the truth lightly, and that his book is filled with misstatements and misrepresentations. Much more could be said, but enough has been presented to reveal fully the unreliability of Mr. Canright's books. And if his statements are thus unreliable, then surely he is not a safe guide to those who are earnestly inquiring for truth.