D. M. Canright 


Part 6

After concluding the above study, the present writer found some additional information on D. M. Canright.

The following passage indicates that Dudley was emotionally unstable and subject to intense psychic depressions even prior to his first marriage:

"On April 10, 1867, Dudley Canright arrived in Battle Creek after conducting evangelistic meetings in Maine with J. N. Andrews. His diary reveals that a courtship by letter had been going on between him and Lucretia Cranson, the orphaned girl who had been cared for by George and Martha [Amadon]. Gloomy entries appeared in the diary when he had not heard from Lucretia for a week or more. Immediately after receiving a letter his spirits soared. Both before and after marriage he depended on her stabilizing influence to steer him between depths of despondency and delusions of grandeur.

"Before marriage [on April 11] he wrote in his 1867 diary:

‘January 2. Got a loving letter from Lucretia with her picture. How can I avoid loving her?’

‘February 3. I almost fear that I shall be lost.’

‘February 4. I got almost out of patience with Lucretia because she does not write.’

‘February 7. Got a loving letter from Lucretia. She is too good for me.

‘March 11. I am in a very bad state. Nearly dead spiritually.’

‘March 25. Got a good letter from L[ucretia]. I feel alright now.’—George Amadon Compilation, "Much in Little, "Heritage Room, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

"Lucretia was nineteen years old, and Dudley was twenty-six. In his diary entry for his wedding day, Thursday, April 11, 1867, he writes:

‘Lucretia never seemed half so lovely and good. About 30 assembled at 1 p.m. [at Amadon’s home in Battle Creek] and we gave some of them a surprise. Elder Loughborough married us. Then we had a good dinner and all seemed to enjoy it. This was truly the happiest day I ever saw. I will praise God for it.’

"After marriage the fluctuating pattern persists:

‘April 21. Lucretia is helping me much. We agree first rate and love each other more and more every day.’

‘August 17. I have got into a dark spell again. Hate myself and all others. Am very unhappy.’

‘September 22. Cretia was feeling bad because I neglect her.’

‘November 16. I am in a bad condition.. Had a long talk with L[ucretia] and told her how I felt. She wept bitterly. I fear that God has left me.’

‘December 26. [After returning from a trip.] Found Lucretia well and looking more lovely than ever.’ —Ibid.

The above is taken from pages 55-56 of the book, "Flames Over Battle Creek," by Milton R. Hook. Review and Herald.

"The death of Lucretia Cranson Canright struck even closer to the Amadon home [in Battle Creek]. Languishing with tuberculosis in the [Battle Creek] sanitarium as Mary Andrews [the daughter of J. N. Andrews], she drove to Oak Hill Cemetery on August 21 to choose the lot where she was to be buried. Dudley had brought her to Battle Creek with the slim hope of her recovery, but it was not to be. She passed away on March 29, 1879, at the age of 31. George and Martha cared for her two children just as they had cared for Lucretia [years before] as an orphan. Little 6-year-old Genevieve was the same age as Grace Amadon. Baby Fred was only 3 years old. So for more than two years there were four children in the Amadon home until Dudley Canright remarried. The personality of Canright disintegrated rapidly after the death of Lucretia." —"Flames Over Battle Creek," M. R. Hook, pages 84-85.

There are reformers and there are critics.

The reformers defend the historic teachings of their church in its original purity, and they plead with God and with men that it may be restored to its former condition. They love their church more than most, for they are willing to stand up and be counted on issues when there is danger that their beloved church is surrendering its heritage for the modernisms of the half-converted.

The critics do not love the church. They dislike it as well as its teachings. They would leave it if they had enough backbone to do so. But lacking this, they hang on, year after year, and protest when others wish to do a work for God or implement a return to its earlier, more godly, standards and beliefs.

In a sense, Canright was neither a reformer nor a critic. At his best, he wrote several articles defending the positions and beliefs of the church as they then existed, but generally he gave little concern to upholding the highest principles or urging others to do so.

D. M. Canright went out because of a personal emotional instability. And such a problem is generally keyed to a personal sin. He could not live with himself so he separated from the brethren, thinking that would solve the problem. But, in reality, it was only the brethren that kept him from completely going off the deep end years before—and sinking into that continuous state of abysmal dejection that he arrived at within a year after he finally separated from the people of God in 1887.

Canright was neither a petty critic nor a noble reformer. He was an attacker and destroyer. And yet he was an irrational one. Apparently all he lived for after 1887 was to see the Advent Movement terminated, but events and conversations revealed that what he really desired was to see D. M. Canright exalted in the eyes of men. It was this elusive hope that led to his separation from the church and his subsequent attacks upon it.

Yet it was quite obvious that he did not personally believe the lies that he wrote about his former associates, the message, and the Movement.

What lessons can we learn from the life of Dudley Mervin Canright?

(1) Cling to God and make Him first in your life. Neither profession nor Christian labor nor friends nor church membership can save you. Every morning you must renew a personal relationship with your Saviour.

(2) The next step is to walk with Him in humility of heart all the day long. A proud man is unstable in all his ways. Crying to your Father alone in prayer is the solution. Take time to talk with Him. You need Him so much! Admit your need; practice your need. Tarry long at Calvary and in the Sanctuary. Only there can the proud self be humbled in the dust. There alone can you arise a new man. God can only use humble people. To the degree that they hide in Him they are safe. It is the meek that shall inherit the earth.

(3) Never be afraid to admit to God that you are small and weak. You came into this world as a helpless child; why need you imagine now that you are much stronger? Cling to Christ as your only hope, and you will ever be safe—as long as you stay by His side. He will hold you by a hand that will not let go, save by your own choice.

(4) In the church, especially respect the brethren who have had an experience in Christian things. These are the brethren of experience. They have had years of insights in careful Christian living that you need. Although many may only appear to live for position, prominence, or approval, yet there are those who are men of God. Take note of them. Respect them and consider that which they have to say. You are not an island unto yourself.

(5) Canright had a cyclical personality. (A psychiatrist would probably call it manic-depressive.) If you have a tendency in this direction, recognize your weakness. There are times when, in your grief of mind, you need to lean on the arm of a strong Christian friend. Some people drive away all of their best friends. Then when they need help, there is no one to turn to. Be the kind of genuine friend that does not drive your loved ones away. You need them as they need you. But first and foremost—lean on God. Learn to make Him the great strength in your life and, I assure you, He will never fail you as others may.

(6) It is dangerous to permit the little sins to continue. Through them, Satan can and will take possession of the whole man in time. Any sin stubbornly clung to will eventually sweep you away. If you need a testimony to the terribleness of sin, consider the life of D. M. Canright. Peevish, pettish, ever willing to blame another instead of himself, he was ever at the mercy of the evil one. Always trying to rise still higher in the esteem of others, he was always subject to the depths of despair as soon as everything did not seem to go in a manner pleasing to him.

(7) Live on an even keel. Keep your emotions calm and level. It is the high rise that precedes the great fall. Prayer and study of God’s Word is the great stabilizer. Apart from Him we are nothing. Remember that little people cannot fall very far. They are on their knees too much of the time. Their concern is not how to rise higher, but how to bow lower before the cross—that grand monument of God’s love for mankind.

(8) Beware of printed literature that extols the critics and attackers of our historic beliefs and the Spirit of Prophecy. Throw such books and papers in the garbage; refuse to have anything to do with it. Beware of literature that presents either an open or a subtle attack on the Spirit of Prophecy or the historic beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists. Whether they know it or not, such authors are led of the devil. Harbor not their writings in your heart or in your home. Do not share them with your friends. They contain poison. In preparing a doctrinal defense to the arguments of Desmond Ford and fellow travelers (see our book, Biblical Defense), the present writer was particularly impressed with the willingness of Ford in his 500-page attack (which he called a "thousand-page thesis") to extol the attackers of Ellen White and historic Adventism. The very fact that he would honor such men as D.M. Canright, W.W. Fletcher, and A.L. Ballenger provides a strong indication of the camp in which he stands and the beliefs which he supports.

(9) Move from principle, stand by principle, live your principles. Principle is more important than popularity; the favor of God is more valuable than the flattery of men. Do not flinch because men in positions of prominence, in your local church or on higher levels, oppose basic beliefs. vf


And now D.M. Canright was locked in. Locked on the devil ship. Bound by haired and pride. Planning to curse, and then, in public meeting, uttering a blessing. Dictating curses, while wishing he could change it to blessings.   Locked into the Jekel-and-Hyde personality that Baalam had. For it is in Baalam that we can understand Canright. Both sold themselves for fame and honor. Although gripped by devils, God would yet speak through them from time to time. While at other times they would wish that they could return and die on the right side. But it was now beyond them. Because they were locked in by their hatreds and their pride and their love of approval and the high place with men. Baalam ‘s donkey was smarter than he was. Please, friend! Be smarter than Dudley Canright! Instead, accept Jesus as your pattern and the Word of God as your counsel. Go to the pure springs; stay away from the polluted streams. Refrse to listen to the words of men who bring to you messages based on the blueprint given to Canright.

New Theology

It is well known that the "New Theology, "the teachings of Desmond Ford, Robert Brinsmead, and the other opponents of historic Adventism, find their touchstone and original source in the writings of D.M Canright. He is their bible, just as he was to Ballenger, and, in his later years, to A. T Jones.

But where did Canright obtain his systematic ‘refutation" of the message? A careful study of his life reveals that he knew historic Adventism well and taught it fervently for years. And when he voluntarily wrote articles about it for the ‘Review, "he defended both the doctrines and the Spirit of Prophecy to the hilt.

But, repeatedly, within a short time after he would begin listening to the dark voices that whispered hatred for God's messenger, and as he accepted that hatred--then his mind would be given the outline for what is in our day called "the new theology."

Within days, Canright could radically change from an earnest advocate of the truth to an innovator of lies. And he did it over and over again. His later books contain the heart of the "new theology. "And yet a study of his life reveals that he lived with devils and was controlled by devils while he penned the books containing those sentiments.

He came to the point where he could no longer effectively control his words, his actions, his feelings, or his will. The devils who taught him no-obedience, no-mediation, and no-standards, finally led him to no-faith and no-hope. In view of the content of what he taught and where he obtained it from,—consider for a minute:

Is that the kind of religious teachings you want to pattern your life after?

For the truth is that it is devil talk. Devil talk? Yes, devil talk.

This devil talk that obedience to one's own whims is better religion than obedience to God's holy Law; that the ministry of worldliness is better than the ministry of Christ in the Sanctuary above; that the sin in your life will meet no judgment and therefore need never in this life be put away; that the theology of Canright and his followers down through the years can give you a better way to live than the pure counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy: that the whole Bible is not really safe—only part of the New Testament, as interpreted by men, with quotations from the "great theologians."

Yes, devil talk from the phantom ship. Flee from it— back to Revelation 14:12—obedience to the commandments of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Flee from it before you too find yourself enchained like Canright, wanting to say one thing, but uttering another; wanting to come back, but not knowing how; wanting the peace of God that you used to have, before the "new theology" came along and gave you assurance in sin.