D M CANRIGHT
(Investigator 156, 2014 May)
Dudley M Canright (1840–1919) was a Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) for 28
years (1860-1888), an ordained minister of theirs for 22 years, and a
"foremost leader". He then became their most informed opponent.
FROM DEFENDER TO OPPONENT
In 1887 Canright was still criticizing the critics:
AND SISTERS: It is a sad, but well known fact, that
during the whole history of this message from the first to the last,
there have arisen here and there, now and then, among our own brethren
and sisters, those who have taken occasion to murmur and complain, and
find fault with various things in the work. Quite generally this
murmuring has centered upon Bro. and Sr. White, or their labors in some
way… (Review And Herald, March 15, 1887)
The following year he left the SDAs and joined the Baptists. In a tract
titled The Truth About Seventh-Day Adventism And Its Founders
Canright starts off:
was one of the foremost leaders of Seventh-Day Adventism in his day –
Professor of Theology in their college; Associate Editor of their
church periodical; writer of lessons for all their Sabbath Schools; had
charge of 18 churches in Michigan. In 1876-77 he was one of the General
Conference Committee of Three which had control of all Seventh-Day
Adventist work in the world. God delivered him from this cult and he
wrote the book, "Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced" (1889)…
Canright's final book, published after his death, is Life of Mrs.
E. G. White (1919). It has the following chapters:
Great Denominational Test
Claims Made For Her Writings
Brief Sketch of her Life
Where Now Is Their "Spirit of Prophecy"?
Erroneous Views Concerning The Sanctuary
Shut Door, Or Probation For Sinners Ended Oct. 22, 1844
Damaging Writings Suppressed
Philosophy Of Her Visions
Used Her Gift To Get Money
High Aims Disproved
First Visions Childish
Editor Smith Rejected Her Testimonies
Claimed To Reveal Secret Sins
Influenced To Write Testimonies
Broke The Sabbath Nine Years
False Vision About The Planets
"Give Sunday To The Lord"
Chapters 15 and 20 and 22 are here reprinted:
HER PROPHECIES FAIL
MRS. WHITE and her followers claim that she had the "spirit of
prophecy" from December, 1844, to the end of her life, August,
1915—seventy one years. During these long years she wrote over twenty
volumes. All this time she claimed that the future was being revealed
to her, and predicted what would happen. Here her claims can be
examined and tested.
God's prophets foretold definite things to occur; named persons and
cities, and told what would happen to each, and when. Joseph foretold
the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine (Gen. 41); Samuel
told Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him and given to another
(1 Sam. 15: 28); Isaiah named Cyrus two hundred years before he was
born (Isa. 44:28); Jeremiah foretold the fall of Babylon (Jer. 51);
Daniel prophesied regarding the rise and fall of Babylon, Medo Persia,
Greece and Rome (Dan. 2 and 7); Jesus warned of the destruction of
Jerusalem (Matt. 24); Agabus fore¬told what would happen to Paul at
Jerusalem (Acts 21:10, 11). Scores of such cases could be given.
But where are the fulfilled predictions of Mrs. White during her
seventy one years of prophesying? What definite events did she foretell
to occur at definite times and to definite cities? Where are these
prophecies? Nowhere in all her numerous volumes.
At first she did venture to foretell a few things definitely, but they
all failed. After that she invariably put everything in general terms,
not venturing to name definitely any persons or cities or places or
time. She predicted numerous floods, storms, earthquakes, wars, etc.,
all in general terms. Any one could do that safely, without any
prophetic gift. If she really had the spirit of prophecy, that should
have been the outstanding feature of her books. Instead of this, her
"Testimonies" and other books are devoted almost wholly to personal
matters, expositions of the Bible, and to practical subjects regarding
Christian conduct and duty, the same as any intelligent religious
teacher, could write.
Once in her early work she did venture to predict the curse of God upon
a definite person, Moses Hull. In 1862 he was about to give up his
faith in Adventism. Mrs. White wrote him thus: "If you proceed in the
way you have started, misery and woe are before you. God's hand will
arrest you in a manner that will not suit you. His wrath will not
slumber" ("Testimonies for the Church," Vol. L, pp. 430, 431). Mr. Hull
lived on many long years to a ripe old age, and noth¬ing of the
kind predicted happened. After this she threatened many, but always in
ABOUT THE CIVIL WAR.
The Civil War of 1861 65 placed Seventh-day Adventists in a trying
position. They could not engage in war and keep the Sabbath. The draft
threatened them. Now, what? I was one of them, twenty years old —the
right age to go to war. So I remember it all distinctly.
Something had to be done. We hoped Mrs. White would have a revelation.
And she did have — several of them, covering thirty pages of printed
matter in Volume I. of "Testimonies for the Church." At the time, we
read these revelations with great anxiety, hoping for light ahead. We
were disappointed. They simply told just what everybody already knew,
reflecting the sentiments of those opposed to the Government and the
It was a forced attempt to say something when she had nothing to tell.
Read in the light of today, it is seen to be mere guesswork, mostly
wrong. She says, "It was necessary that something be said"
("Testimonies," Vol. I., p. 356). It was all directed to us, a little
handful of about ten thousand, half women, none of any influence in the
Government or in the war. Bible prophets went directly to the king and
told him how to conduct the war, and what the end would be.
Our prophet had no such message. She says: "Jan. 4, 1862, I was shown
some things in regard to our nation" (p. 253). It is all a bitter
denunciation of Lincoln's administration and his management of the war.
Every move had been wrong, and only defeat was prophesied. But the
verdict of history is that Lincoln was one of the wisest and most
successful men who ever led a nation through a crisis. The whole world
honors him. With the most tremendous odds against him on the start, he
conducted the war to a glorious victory, preserved the union, freed the
slaves, and benefited even the South. During the dark hours of that
awful struggle, how he needed the encouragement of a prophet of God, if
there was one, as Mrs. White claimed to be. But her whole message was
one of opposition, faultfinding, condemnation, and a prophecy of defeat
and final failure — exactly that of the opponents of Lincoln and his
management of the war. Listen to her:
"The rebellion was handled so carefully, so slowly, that many…joined
the Southern Confederacy who would not, had prompt and thorough
measures been carried out by our Government at an early period… How
little has been gained! Thousands have been induced to enlist with the
understanding that this war was to exterminate slavery; but now that
they are fixed, they find that they have been deceived; that the object
of this war is not to abolish slavery, but to preserve it as it is."
"The war is not to do away with slavery, but merely to preserve the
Union" (pp. 254, 258).
This was only a few months after the war began. Like her, some unwise
hotheads urged Lincoln to immediately declare slavery abolished.
General Fremont had to be removed from his command because he began
that very thing in the West. It was premature. The general sentiment of
the nation was not ready for it. Lincoln only waited and watched for
the proper time. Then it was a success. Now all see the wisdom of his
Mrs. White goes on: "They [the soldiers] inquire, ‘If we succeed in
quelling the rebellion, what has been gained?' They can only answer
discouragingly, ‘Nothing'" (p. 255) Fine language to encourage Mr.
Lincoln, the soldiers and the North in the dark hour of their need!
She continues: "The system of slavery, which has ruined our nation, is
left to live and stir up another rebellion" (same page). A plain, false
prophecy. No such thing happened, as all now know.
Again: "The prospects before our nation are discouraging" (same page).
Yes, as far as humans could see. But she claimed to have divine
revelations of the future. Had her claim been true, she would have seen
the victory at the end, disproving her words.
Hear her again in the same gloomy tone: "As this war was shown to me,
it looked like the most singular and uncertain that has ever occurred…
It seems impossible to have the war conducted successfully" (p. 256).
Yes, to her it was uncertain, impossible to succeed. But was that all
God new about it?—all he could tell her?
Remember, she is writing by God's inspiration; writing the words he
tells her! Everything she writes, whether in a private letter or
newspaper article, she says, is inspired. Thus: "God was speaking
through clay… In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I
bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I
do not write one article in the paper, expressing merely my own ideas.
They are what God has opened before me in visions—the precious rays of
light shining from the throne" ("Testimonies," Vol. V., p. 67). There
you have it, Simon pure—every word she writes is a ray of light from
the throne of God! So, to God it was an uncertain war, impossible to
succeed! So the Lord must have been greatly surprised when it did
Mr. Lincoln, in his need, asked the prayers of all Christians, and
appointed days of fasting and prayer. Of these Mrs. White said: "I saw
that these national fasts were an insult to Jehovah… A national fast is
proclaimed! Oh, what an insult to Jehovah!" ("Testimonies," Vol. I., p.
257). That was the way she sympathized with Mr. Lincoln and the nation
in the hour of need.
A day before the awful battle of Gettysburg, on which the destiny of
the nation would turn, Mr. Lincoln spent the night in agonizing prayer
to almighty God. So his biographer testifies. But neither Mrs. White
nor any of her followers offered a single prayer for him or the nation.
I was with her—and with them—and know. During the entire twenty eight
years I was an Adventist I never offered one prayer for the President,
for Congress, for a Governor, or any one in authority. I never heard
Mrs. White, Elder White, or any one of them, do it. I have often
attended their large meetings since then, but have never heard a prayer
offered for any Government official. Yet one of the plainest commands
of the gospel is that we should pray for kings, rulers and all in
au¬thority (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). Since Mrs. White died, Adventists have
begun to pray for Government officials.
Again Mrs. White said: "This nation will yet be humbled into the dust…
When England does declare war, all nations will have an interest of
their own to serve, and there will be general war" (p. 259). For awhile
this is what seemed probable, and what was feared; but it never came.
Here, again, her prophecy was a complete failure. Our nation was not
humbled into the dust. England did not declare war. All along it is
clear that Mrs. White simply saw things just as circumstances at the
time seemed to indicate, and wrote as those around her talked. If it
had been true, as she claimed, that she was not writing any of this out
of her own mind, but was simply recording what God told her, would he
have told her that way? Did not the Lord know that England would not
declare war? Surely. If her predictions were not reliable then, they
are not now. If she was not God's prophet then, she never was at any
Here is another blunder: "Had our nation remained united, it would have
had strength; but divided, it must fall" (p. 260). No such thing
happened. It was not divided, nor did it fall. Did not the Lord know
better than that? Yes. But she did not.
Mrs. White interpreted the Civil War as a sign of the end of the world,
just as Adventists have been interpreting the European war. She says:
"The scenes of earth's history are fast closing" (p. 260). Under the
heading, "The Rebellion," she says: "The one all important inquiry
which should now engross the mind of every one is, Am I pre¬pared
for the day of God? Time will last a little longer" (p. 363).
Since then a generation has gone. Mrs. White, Elder White, and
nearly all who then preached and heard that warning, are laid away.
They needed no such warning, for they did not live to see that day, as
she then predicted. Failure, failure, failure is marked by ineradicable
letters against all her predictions.
Notice now how she forbade her followers taking any part in sustaining
the Government in the struggle to save the Union and free the slaves.
"I was shown [that is, the Lord showed her] that God's people, who are
his peculiar treasure, can not engage in this perplexing war, for it is
opposed to every principle of their faith" (p. 361). Hence not a single
Seventh day Adventist took any part in the effort to save the Union and
free the slaves—not so much as to go as nurses. Had all the people done
that way, the nation would have been divided, and slavery would be with
During those dark days of the Civil War, Mrs. White privately warned
our married people not to have any more children. Time was so short,
and the seven last plagues were so soon to fall, that children born
then would never grow to maturity, she said, and would be liable to
perish. But children born since then are now grandparents!
The horrors of the great Civil War, she, in her vivid imagination,
interpreted as proof that the end of the world was right at hand, as
already stated. In the same manner she interpreted the great war and
revolution in Europe in 1848. It will be remembered that in that year
there was quite a general war in Europe, in which several nations were
engaged. In January, 1849, Elder Bates pub¬lished a pamphlet
entitled "Seal of the Living God." He interpreted that war as the
beginning of Daniel's time of trouble. (Dan. 12: 1), and as fulfilling
Rev. 11:18: "The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come." On page 48
of his pamphlet he says: "The time of trouble, such as never was (Dan.
12: 1), has begun." In proof of this he names several of the powers at
war, thus: "Prussia, Hanover, Sardinia, Sicily, Naples, Venice,
Lombardy, Tuscany, Rome, Austria," etc. On page 15 he says: "And now
the trouble has began, what is our duty?" On pages 24 and 26 he relates
how, while he and others were discussing this question, Mrs. White had
a vision in which she saw the same thing! She said: "The time of
trouble has commenced, it is begun. The trouble will never end until
the earth is rid of the wicked."
Elder Bates then says: "The above was copied word for word as she spoke
in vision, therefore it is unadulterated."
Notice here, again, how she is influenced by Bates to see in vision
just what he was arguing in her presence. Both were wrong.
Aug. 3, 1861, Mrs. White had a vision in which she was shown the Civil
War, then just fairly begun. She says:
"I was shown the inhabitants of earth in the utmost confusion. War,
bloodshed, privation, want, famine and pestilence were abroad in the
land ("Testimonies," Vol. I., p, 268).
This was exactly what all faultfinders at that date predicted—famine
and pestilence. But nothing of the kind happened. There was no famine,
no pestilence. Her predictions utterly failed. Where, then, did she get
that "vision"? Not from God, surely, but from the ideas of those around
her, the same as she got all her "visions." The event proved this.
HER FALSE VISION ABOUT THE PLANETS
AS previously stated, Elder Joseph Bates first met Elder White and his
wife in 1846. He was keeping the Sabbath, and urged it upon them.
Neither saw any great importance in it at first, but nominally accepted
it to please Bates, as it was important to gain his influence. Mrs.
White was having visions which Bates did not believe were of God; but
they were anxious to convince him that they were genuine. Bates had
been a sea captain, and had consequently studied the stars; had, in
fact, become enthusiastic about astronomy. In the presence of Mrs.
White and others he had often talked about the different planets, their
positions, moons, and the "opening heavens." In his book, "The Great
Second Advent Movement," page 260, Elder J. N. Loughborough, Mrs.
White's great exponent and apologist, quotes a Mrs. Truesdale thus:
"We all knew that Captain Bates was a great lover of astronomy, as he
would often locate many of the heavenly bodies for our instruction."
Mrs. White seemed to pay no attention to the subject, or to have any
interest in it. But soon she had a vision about the various planets,
which is thus told by Loughborough on page 258 of his book just quoted:
"One evening at the conference above mentioned [Topsham, Maine, 1846],
in the house of Mr. Curtis, and in the presence of Elder (Captain)
Bates, who was yet undecided in regard to these manifestations, Mrs.
White, while in vision, began to talk about the stars, giving a
glow¬ing description of the rosy tinted belts which she saw across
the surface of some planet, and added, ‘I see four moons.' ‘Oh,' said
Elder Bates, I she is viewing Jupiter.' Then, having made motions as
though traveling through space, she began giving descriptions of belts
and rings in their ever-varying beauty, and said, ‘I see eight moons.'
‘She is describing Saturn.' Next came a description of Uranus with his
six moons, then a wonderful description of the ‘opening heavens.' "
This was sufficient, and accomplished its purpose. Elder Bates was
convinced, and became a firm believer in the visions.
But what are the facts? Mrs. White simply saw what her companions at
the time generally believed and talked about. Had God given her that
view about the planets and the number of moons to each he would have
given her the correct number in each case, and thus she would have
revealed what astronomers at the time did not know, but later
discovered. This would have proved her vision to be of God. But,
blundering as she did, proves that the Lord was not in it.
This vision was like all the rest of her revelations; she simply saw
what others at the time had studied out and believed and talked about.
Whether she pretended to see all this to win Elder Bates, or whether
she really imagined she saw it, the fact remains that her statement of
the number of moons to each planet was incorrect, and not in harmony
with what we now know to be the truth about them. Here cold facts which
can not be denied prove her revelations to be wholly unreliable. Here
are the facts as compiled by E. E. Frank, of New York City:
Jupiter has nine moons instead of four; Saturn has ten moons instead of
eight; and Uranus has only four moons instead of six.
These discoveries were made as follows:
Jupiter. In 1892, Bernard, at Lick Observatory, discovered the fifth
moon of Jupiter; in 1905, Perrine, at the same observatory, discovered
the sixth and seventh; in 1908, Melotte discovered the eighth at
Greenwich; and in 1914, Nickolson, at the Lick Observatory, discovered
Saturn. In 1899, Prof. W. H. Pickering discovered the ninth moon of
Saturn, and in 1905, the tenth.
Uranus. Sir Wm. Herschel discovered the two largest moons of Uranus,
and supposed he had seen four others, which was be¬lieved up to
1851, five years after Mrs. White's vision. In 1851, Lassell positively
proved that Uranus has only four moons.
For these facts and the names of all these satellites see "Manual of
Astronomy," by Charles Young, Ph.D., LL.D., late professor of astronomy
at Princeton University.
The conclusion is self evident—Mrs. White's claim was false. She did
not see Jupiter, for Jupiter has nine moons instead of four, as she
said. She did not see Saturn, for Saturn has ten moons instead of eight
(seven), as she claimed to see. She did not see Uranus, for Uranus has
only four moons instead of six, as she claimed. And yet she represents
that the Lord showed her all these things in vision.
This vision of the moons, corresponding exactly with what Elder Bates
believed, convinced him the visions were of God. He asked her if she
had ever studied astronomy, and she replied by saying that she did not
remember ever having looked in a book on astronomy. That settled it
with him. But she could easily have learned all this from his own
previous conversations. Later discoveries have now shown that both
Jupiter and Saturn have more moons than she said.
Elder Loughborough is obliged to confess this. In a foot note on page
258 of his book already quoted he says: "More moons to both Jupiter and
Saturn have since been discovered."
As a matter of fact, Mrs. White herself, relating this vision,
described Saturn as having only seven moons, the number then assigned
to that planet by astronomers. Here are her own words in "Early
Writings," page 32: "Then I was taken to a world which had seven
moons." But by the time Elder Loughborough had written his book, "Rise
and Progress of Seventh day Adventists," another moon had been
discovered, and the publishers had the audacity to change her words to
read, "I see eight moons." (See page 126 of that work.) This was in
1892. When Elder Loughborough revised this book in 1905, and issued it
under another title, still more moons had been discovered to this
planet, hence his admission.
The progressive discoveries of astronomy since Mrs. White had that
vision have proved her revelation to be false. But it was a master
stroke to win an influential convert to her cause. And it succeeded,
fraudulent as it was.
Were Elder Bates alive to day he would be compelled to reject her
alleged vision of the planets as spurious, in view of her
contradictions of known facts discovered since his death.
Revelations and visions which can be produced on demand or made to
order to suit an occasion, may safely be questioned and distrusted, as
well as may the peepings and mutterings of familiar spirits which come
at a call.
MRS. WHITE had much to say about the three messages of Rev. 14:6-10.
These, she said, were the foundation of her message and movement.
The first, she held, was fulfilled in William Miller's time-setting
movement of 1843-4.
For over sixty-five years she applied the second message, or fall of
Babylon, to the Protestant churches, and said it could not, apply to
the "Romish Church." But, as we have seen, in 1911 she changed her
teachings regarding this message, and applied it particularly to the
Roman Church. If correct in her later exposition, she was in error, and
taught error, regarding the second message nearly all her life. See
pages 218, 219.
The third message warns against false worship and receiving the, mark
of the beast. Nearly all her life Mrs. White taught that the mark of
the beast is Sunday-keeping; but, as we have seen from the preceding
chapter, near the close of her life she changed her views regarding
this, and said that to "give Sunday to the Lord" was always acceptable
In other words, she mistook and taught error regarding all three of the
very messages which she and her followers have held to be the
foundation of their movement. If wrong on the fundamentals, how can she
safely be relied upon in other matters?
To summarize briefly some of her more prominent mistakes, the following
may be noted:
She endorsed William Miller's time-setting of 1843-4.
She endorsed Captain Bates' time-setting for 185l.
She taught that there was no more salvation for sinners after Oct. 22,
She suppressed some of her early visions and writings, and yet, in
1882, issued a book claiming to contain all of her early writings.
She predicted that the Civil War would be a failure, that the nation
would be ruined, and that slavery would not be abolished.
She characterized Lincoln's proclamations for days of humiliation and
prayer as "insults to Jehovah."
She taught a "reform dress" which made her followers a laughing-stock,
and which she herself gave up after attempting to force it upon her
church for eight years as a divine revelation and a religious duty.
She wrote against the eating of both butter and eggs.
She forbade the eating of meat, and said, "Can we possibly have
confidence in minis¬ters who, at tables where flesh is served, join
with others in eating it?" (Lake Union Herald, Oct. 4, 1911), and yet
secretly she herself ate meat more or less most of her life.
She taught her followers that they should not apply their tithes as
they saw fit, but applied her own and those of others as she chose.
She denied having been influenced by letters or conversations in the
writing of her testimonies, when the opposite was the fact.
She based many of her alleged inspired testimonies and rebukes on mere
hearsay reports, and, contrary to the Scriptures, upon the testimony of
only one witness.
She claimed to have been divinely commissioned to reveal secret sins,
but miserably failed in this.
In numerous instances she rebuked the wrong man, and frequently accused
individuals of doing things they had not done.
She seriously erred in her vision regarding the planets and the number
of their satellites.
She plagiarized to such an extent that one of her books had to be
suppressed altogether, and another had to be revised at an expense of
In 1905 she promised to explain her mistakes and blunders, and said
that God would help her to do it; but in 1906 she said that God had
told her not to attempt this.
One of the worst features of her life and writings is that she was
always making God responsible for her mistakes and failures.
Her worst deception, as that of her followers, was to mistake her
unfortunate affliction of epilepsy and epileptic fits as divine
revelations and visions from God.
Mrs. White not only claimed that her writings are the "testimony of
Jesus" and the "spirit of prophecy" referred to in Rev. 12:17 and Rev.
19:10, but she firmly held that she and her followers are the 144,000
of Rev. 7:1-4 and Rev. 14:5, although their present adult membership is
The great characteristic of the 144,000 as described in the last named
Scripture is that "in their mouth there was found no guile."
Guile is deception. No guile, therefore, means no deception.
But, as pointed out in so many instances in this book, Mrs. White's
claims to being an inspired prophet of God have been main¬tained
very largely by deception, both on her own part and on the part of her
defenders and supporters. Both she and they, therefore, fail
to meet the very description and characteristic which Inspiration has
seen fit to give of the 144,000.
No genuine gift of God, no true gift of the Spirit, has ever required
guile—deception, deceit, fraud, or double-dealing—to defend and sustain
That she meant to be a Christian, and that her works contain many
things good in themselves, need not be denied. Her motives we may
safely leave with God. But her high claims are not defensible. They are
disproved by too many patent and incontrovertible facts.