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The Arian or Anti-Trinitarian Views Presented in Seventh-day Adventist Literature and the Ellen G. White Answer

by Erwin Roy Gane


C H A P T E R   VI


Writing for the Review and Herald in the period from 1867 to 1878, D. M. Canright confined himself, for the most part, to a very verbal and somewhat polemic reiteration of what his Seventh-day Adventist predecessors had written.


In 1867 he produced an article entitled, "Jesus Christ the Son of God." He wrote:

Christ came into existence first of all things…My grounds for this proposition are John i:1,2; Col. i, 17; Prov. viii, 22, 30. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. the same was in the beginning with God." Here, the existence of the Word, or Christ, is placed as far back as language can place it, even in the beginning with the great God.1

Canright understood that Christ was begotten, not created in the same sense as angels and men. We are commanded to worship the Son, and no created being is ever worthy of worship. The Son is not to be regarded as great as the Father for first all things are subdued under the Son and then the Son becomes subject to the Father. Here Canright quotes John 14:28 and 1 Cor. 15:28. Therefore, he concludes, "The Son is subordinate to the Father."2 Christ cannot be described, as the Father can, as the "very and eternal God." As did his predecessors, Canright assumes that Trinitarians teach that the Father and the Son are one person, and then proceeds to demonstrate the incorrectness of this position. When Christ died, every part of him died otherwise the sacrifice was only a human one.


In 1878, Canright produced a series of four articles headed "the personality of God," greatly amplifying his views and providing strong opposition to the Trinitarian position. He wrote, "Jesus says that his father is the only true God. but trinitarians contradict this by saying that the Son and the Holy Ghost are just as much the true God as the Father is."3 Canright opposed the creedal conception of God as "without body, part, or passion." "I do not believe," he said, "that any person, whatever his creed may be, ever prays to God without conceiving of him as having a body, form, and shape, and being located upon a throne in heaven."4 He provides considerable Scriptural quotation as evidence for his belief. He denies the usual distinction between matter and spirit, and regards God as possessing form and parts, even though He is a Spirit.5 "It is our opinion," he writes, "founded both in revelation and science, that celestial beings are as material as men, only that they are more highly organized, more refined,—matter on a higher plane."6

In the same year, 1878, The Signs of the Times published an article by Canright entitled "the Holy Spirit not a person, but an influence proceeding from God." He begins:

All trinitarian creeds make the Holy Ghost a person, equal in substance, power, eternity, and glory with the Father and Son. Thus they claim three persons in the trinity, each one equal with both others. If this is so, then the Holy Spirit is just as truly an individual intelligent person as is the Father or the Son. But this we cannot believe. The Holy Spirit is not a person. In all our prayers we naturally conceive of God as a person, and of the Son as a person, but whoever conceived of the Holy Ghost as being a person, standing there beside the Father and equal with Him?7

On the contrary Canright takes the decided stand that the Holy Spirit is "a divine influence proceeding from the Father and also from the Son, as their power, energy, etc."8 The Spirit is personified in the Bible only because it is the Spirit of a person. In a similar way is man’s spirit personified.


1D. M. Canright, "Jesus Christ the Son of God," Review and Herald, III (June 18, 1867), 1.


3D. M. Canright, "The Personality of God," Review and Herald, III (August 29, 1878), 73.

4Ibid., Sept. 5, 1878, 81.

5Ibid., Sept. 19, 1878, 97.


7D. M. Canright, "The Holy Spirit not a Person, but an Influence Proceeding from God," The Signs of the Times, IV (July 25, 1878), 218.


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