VI. The Church of God in Marion, Iowa
Hope Moves to Iowa
October 18, 1865 was the date of the last issue of the Hope of Israel from Waverly, Michigan. Financial problems were probably the cause of the paper's demise.
On May 29, 1866, the paper was revived, published semi-monthly by the Christian Publishing Association, at Marion, Iowa. With sixteen pages per issue and a $1.50 per year subscription price, the Hope of Israel entered a new era.
The President of the Christian Publishing Association, Henry E. Carver, wrote in the first issue at Marion explaining the origins of the move to Iowa. He and B.F. Snook and W.H. Brinkerhoff had been disfellowshipped from the Seventh-Day Adventist church, primarily over the visions and their interpretations of Revelation 12 and 13. And a "Church of God" had grown up in Iowa at about the same time as Cranmer and the "Church of God" in Michigan. The Iowa group was mentioned frequently by the Hope while it was issued in Michigan, showing a close inter-relationship. Samuel Everett, 1865 editor of the Hope, was from Iowa.
The Iowa delegate to the Waverly Conference, possibly Everett or Kramer, was instructed by those in Iowa to urge for the continuation of the paper, and pledge support for it to be resuscitated in Michigan. But the conference decided to move the paper to Iowa, and sent the press, type and fixtures to Marion. (L.I. Rodgers reports that Cranmer sold the paper to the Iowa group.)1 The same press that had been used to publish the Messenger of Truth published the Hope of Israel in Michigan and now was transferred to Iowa.2
History of Iowa Church of God
The development of the Church of God in Iowa is every bit as controversial as that in Michigan. An even greater thorn in the side of the Review Adventists, the group in Iowa was derisively termed "the Marion Party."
The first Sabbath Adventist church in Iowa was at Waukon in the northeastern corner of the state. This church was said to be established by James N. Andrews, who supposedly at the request of James White left Maine and settled there along with his family in 1855-56. Others who came to Iowa from the East were E.P. Butler and his son George I. Butler, J.N. Loughborough, Asa Hazelton, and Calvin Washburn. Thirty families in all settled in northeast Iowa, all Sabbath-keepers. James White had the object of spreading the Sabbath (Third Angel's Message) into the Midwest through these settlers.3
However, White reports in his Life Sketches that Andrews and Loughborough had become discouraged and quit the work. While the Whites were working in Round Grove and Green Vale, Illinois, Mrs. White had a vision. In it she learned that the brethren that had moved to Waukon, Iowa were now opponents. "Their sympathies had withdrawn from the Review office, and from the Church of God generally." Eventually they recanted and returned to the work.4
Jesse Dorcas made a lecturing tour of Iowa in the summer of 1856. In southern Iowa he lodged with David Christopher at that time. Toward the end of 1857, Moses Hull made the first sustained Adventist evangelistic work in Iowa, resulting in raising up about twenty Sabbath-keepers. By the summer of 1858, a tent was secured by the Iowa Sabbath-keepers. With the help of Adventist preacher J.H. Waggoner, little groups were raised up in several towns in southeast Iowa. Many more converts were gained in campaigns in the summer of 1859. In the autumn of 1859, a church of one hundred was organized at Knoxville, Iowa, with a Sabbath School of seventy. In 1860, a church building was erected there.
Rapid growth continued into the summer of 1860, when the number of Sabbath-keepers in the state quadrupled. This was the year the Marion, Iowa church was established. According to Seventh-Day Adventist history, the first "Seventh-Day Adventist" church in Iowa was organized at Richmond with thirty-one members.
In the spring of 1862, the Whites visited Iowa and spoke at the Knoxville court house. Here B.F. Snook and William H. Brinkerhoff were ordained to the ministry, soon becoming prominent leaders in the state. Snook had been a Methodist preacher, Brinkerhoff a lawyer.
A meeting was held at Fairview, Iowa, January, 1863, attended by delegates from nine churches favoring organization. They formed themselves into an Iowa State Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. J.F. Mitchell was elected chairman of a committee of four to supervise the work. Apparently, B.F. Snook became its president.5
Not all Iowa Sabbath Adventists agreed with the Whites and their Seventh-Day Adventist organization. Opposers formed the nucleus of the Iowa Church of God.
Origins of the Marion, Iowa, Church of God
I.N. Kramer, descendant of M.N. Kramer, who was one of the founders of the Marion church, has recorded the founding of the Marion, Iowa Church of God.6
Early in 1860, Sabbath Adventist preacher Merritt E. Cornell came to Marion, Iowa, "preaching the second coming of Christ, the unconscious state of man in death, and the observance of the Sabbath day." Who sent him was not known, but his preaching, especially on the Sabbath, caused quite a stir. A "disciple minister" debated Cornell over the Sabbath issue, and was utterly confounded.
The result was the organization of a "Church of Jesus Christ," composed of fifty or more members, mostly from the different churches of Marion. The church "compact," or "covenant," dated June 10, 1860, was:
We the undersigned, do hereby express our wish to be associated together in Christian fellowship as the Church of Jesus Christ, at Marion, whose covenant obligation is briefly expressed in keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, taking the Bible, and the Bible alone, as our rule of faith and practice.7
As related in a letter signed by V.M. Gray, E.P. Goff and M.N. Kramer, published in the Hope of Israel, September 7, 1864, the Marion church was soon to be fraught by dissension. Nearly one and one half years after the church's organization (1862), Elder Cornell held up Ellen G. White's visions as "of equal authority, and binding forever with the Bible, and urged us to adopt their teaching also, as a rule of faith and discipline." The result was that "about one half of the Church decided to receive these volumes as valid Scripture, and drew off from us, or rather repelled us from them, denouncing us as rebels," no longer desiring to meet with the Church of Christ.
The real reason for the cry for organization, the Marion Church of Christ could now perceive, was not to hold church property against impostors, but "to put the visions of Ellen G. White on the same eminence with the Bible, and secure the recognition of Elder James White as the latter-day Moses."
The letter concluded, "we boldly assert that we are not rebels. We have not rebelled against the constitution which we adopted, for we stand firm on it yet. We have not rebelled against Ellen G. White, for we never endorsed her; nor have we rebelled against any of the messengers, for we never acknowledged allegiance to them; so the charge of rebellion reflects with shame on them, who have made it, they being the ones who have departed from their first position, [the Bible and the Bible alone] and have adopted a new one."8
Controversy and Confusion
It was difficult for Sabbath Adventists to remain faithful to their original beliefs and not get swallowed up by the White Party. Other churches besides Marion faced the same thing. After entering a church covenant adopting "the Bible alone," a "tutoring process" began to prepare the members for a change in name and organization. In the words of Church of God historian Monroe, "Everywhere the remnant remained, there was suffering and pressure of the Adventists to accept the 'more perfect way' - loyalty to the new General Conference, which according to Mrs. White, was God's highest authority on earth; the visions and claims for [the divine inspiration of] Mrs. White; and other non-Biblical doctrines that were beginning to show up in Seventh Day Adventism."9
Other Churches of God in Iowa
After the 1860 organization of a church at Marion, churches were organized at Vinton, Iowa with 100 members and also at La Porte City and Lisbon. They were tested the same way Marion was, and the faithful associated with the Church of God of Marion. A circular letter was written calling for a conference of scattered believers, and a preliminary conference was held at Marion on November 5, 1862, where plans were made for further meetings.10
Marion Establishes Contact with Michigan
The Seventh-Day Adventists at Marion, who had withdrawn from the original church, came to believe that the object of the conference at Marion was to put E.W. Shortridge as their minister. He had been one of the Marion members and was in trouble with the Seventh-Day Adventists probably because of his return to the original faith adopted by the Church of Christ. The Advent Review reported this rumor that the "rebels" were planning to put Shortridge in as minister. The Church of God at Marion had as yet no minister. All ministers that the Seventh-Day Adventists sent out had to accept the visions of Ellen G. White.
Shortridge lived in Illinois some distance from Marion. A letter by an unnamed person in Michigan to Shortridge in Marion, where it was supposed he lived, found its way to him in Illinois. This opened up communication between the group at Marion and that in Michigan. The Marion people learned that they were not the first in rejecting the visions. Seventh-Day Adventists had not publicized differences so the Marion people had not heard previously of Cranmer and the Church of God people in Michigan. However, the Marion incident was too big to ignore. From this Michigan contact, Shortridge and the Marion people learned that in Michigan and other eastern states, anti-White, Sabbatarian churches were already holding state conferences and preparing to publish a paper, Hope of Israel.
In the end, V.M. Gray took charge of the Sabbath meetings at Marion and was voted in as elder of the church.
"Snook and Brinkerhoff Rebellion," or, "The Marion Party"
It was the custom for one or more of the Seventh-Day Adventist General Conference committee to attend each of the State Conferences, reporting the proceedings in the Review. For the fall, 1864 conference in Iowa, circumstances prevented a General Conference Committee member from attending. No report came to the Review office, and no reason was given why not.
In the spring of 1865, the Whites and Loughborough made a trip west to hold meetings in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Snook and Brinkerhoff had just returned to Iowa from the General Conference at Battle Creek held in the spring, 1865. They spread to Iowa their discontent of the Whites and other leaders among the Iowa churches. Elder B.F. Snook had begun to have serious doubts of the divine inspiration of Ellen G. White's visions, and he wrote to Elder Ingraham in Wisconsin proposing to him that they act independently of Battle Creek in proclaiming Bible truths. At Monroe, Wisconsin, Ingraham handed the letter to James White, who saw the proposal in a postscript that Ingraham apparently overlooked, and wrote "There is rebellion in Iowa." When they traveled to Washington, Iowa, their knowledge was confirmed; they learned from R.M. Kilgore that Elders Snook and Brinkerhoff were stirring up war against the Whites.11
Apparently, the Whites had the date for the next Iowa conference changed from the fall to the summer, scheduling it for Pilot Grove, Iowa, June 30-July 2, 1865. White wrote to Snook and Brinkerhoff, notifying them that their case would be attended to there, and asked them to be present.12
Snook and Brinkerhoff, in the meantime, gathered information against Ellen G. White's visions to be used during their trial. Loughborough presided over the investigative meeting, which began June 29. He maintains that at the previous "secret" Iowa conference, Snook and Brinkerhoff had gotten themselves paid $15 a week, paid in advance quarterly. Previously, no minister had gotten over $12 a week. That is why the report had been withheld from the General Conference.13
On the other hand, Carver maintains that the Whites refused to enter into a discussion of the merits of the visions until the "rebels" had capitulated. The Whites pledged they would not leave Iowa until every point of difference was made plain, and every objection to the visions was removed. They did not live up to their pledge.14
On July 2, Snook admitted before the crowd at the conference that he had rebelled against the Battle Creek office and the Whites and that in so doing he had been serving Satan's purposes. Later both Snook and Brinkerhoff gave written confessions, which were printed in the Review, Volume XXVI, Number 8. Snook said he was "led by the wicked one," and Brinkerhoff said, "I have been deeply under the influence of Satan, and . . . have done you [Elder White] a great wrong, and wounded the cause of God."
Snook had drawn his quarterly salary in advance and had spent at least half of it at home instead of working for the cause. George I. Butler was put in as State Conference President, and apparently the forces of "rebellion" were at bay.15
Ellen G. White later reported that she was inspired to go to Iowa and knew nothing of the rebellion until a few hours before they met its leaders at Pilot Grove. This is patently false because two weeks earlier White found out about the "Rebellion in Iowa."
After the Pilot Grove meeting, the Whites visited Marion, but entered into no public vindication of the visions. To appear friendly, they stayed at the H.E. Carver house, one of the Marion Church of God people. Carver had previously been a believer in the shut-door error. Snook and Brinkerhoff were gathering evidence from early publications to disprove the divine inspiration of Ellen G. White. Carver asked Ellen G. White if she was a believer of the shut-door theory at the time of her first vision, and she said yes. White admitted to Carver that it was likely that their belief of the shut door gave "coloring to the vision" (White's own words). Yet Snook and Brinkerhoff had found in James White's 1847 pamphlet, "A Word to the Little Flock" that he maintained they had given up the shut-door belief before the vision. This is an open contradiction; one of these statements was a lie!16
On the eve of their departure from Iowa, the Whites were at the house of Brother Hare. James White, in the midst of a roomful of brethren and sisters, in a contemptuous manner stigmatized Snook as a "church pauper." This was soon reported to Snook who was convinced that White's pretended reconciliation and friendship was untrue.
Carver maintains that although their group was all this time opposed to the visions, they hesitated from breaking openly with the Seventh-Day Adventists because they held to the Seventh-Day Adventist view of the Three Angels' Messages and the two-horned Beast. Brinkerhoff thoroughly investigated these subjects in the next few months and soon came out against the Seventh-Day Adventist view. Now there was nothing to hold them back.
The commotion brought a public discussion between Elder Brinkerhoff, assisted by Snook, versus Elder W.S. Ingraham, assisted by Elders Sanborn and R.F. Andrews. The discussion was abruptly terminated by Ingraham who refused to continue, notwithstanding the urging of the whole Marion church for him to continue. Instead, Ingraham called a private meeting of those with his views and organized a new church outside the majority of the old church. The Church of God thus became distinct when the Seventh-Day Adventists withdrew. The meetinghouse was sold and bought by those against the visions. Its upper story was soon to be the publishing house of the Hope of Israel. More than half of the church went with the "rebels."17
Snook and Brinkerhoff's names were dropped from the Seventh-Day Adventist roll in 1866. They gathered the remnants of the now defunct Hope of Israel Cranmer party,18 and since the headquarters of the movement was at Marion, the Seventh-Day Adventists termed them the "Marion Party." Previously, in 1865, discussion in the Hope had resulted in the changing of the name to Church of God from Church of Jesus Christ. The Hope now was reissued from Marion starting May 29, 1866. Brinkerhoff became editor and Snook went out preaching. Kramer reports that Snook and Brinkerhoff had not led the Marion church to break with the Seventh-Day Adventists, for the church had broken in 1862, three to four years before the "Great Rebellion in Iowa."19
Contrary to what Seventh-Day Adventists teach, Carver shows that the Seventh-Day Adventists withdrew from the Church of God, not vice versa!20
Church Meetings and Conferences
On July 14, 1866, the Marion church met to elect church officers. At this time they called themselves the "Church of God," whereas previously they had generally gone by the name "Church of Jesus Christ."21
Another conference was held at Marion in November of that year, attended by Sabbath-keepers from La Porte City, Marysville, Lisbon, Moscow, Keokuk County, and Fairfield, Iowa, as well as Keithsburg and Mt. Carroll, Illinois. Letters of correspondence were received from Wisconsin, Michigan, and the New England Sabbath-keepers. Among those present were E.W. Shortridge of the church in Maple Grove, Illinois, whose ministerial credentials were accepted.22
The Michigan Church of God met at Hartford, March 22, 1867, resolving to invite W.H. Brinkerhoff to participate in their conference, and appointing a committee of Samuel Everett, E.M. Kibbee, and Brother Wallen to drum up support for missionary work at home, and report to the "General Conference" at Marion what the Michigan brethren were doing.
The "Second Annual Meeting of the Christian Publishing Association" was held at Marion, May 8, 1868. It chose B.F. Snook to be the editor of the Hope of Israel, replacing W.H. Brinkerhoff (who resided at La Porte City) who had served since 1866. Brinkerhoff's health had been failing, and the mechanical publication of the paper had previously been given over to a D.W. Hull (possibly a former Seventh Day Baptist). Jacob Brinkerhoff, apparently the younger brother to W.H. Brinkerhoff, became the "office editor" when Hull was dropped for inefficiency. Hull drifted away from the church and became a Spiritualist.23
W.H. Brinkerhoff is not heard of again until 1869, when H.E. Carver, President of the Publishing Association, wrote that the older Brinkerhoff had defected to the Universalists. This had a disastrous effect on the church at La Porte City, Iowa, where he was pastor. Another source reports that Brinkerhoff returned to teaching and law practice.24
There are also reports of meetings of the Marion and Vinton, Iowa churches on November 28, 1868, and of the Hartford church on December 5 of that year.
Preaching Extent - Into Missouri
B.F. Snook traveled for years, preaching and raising up numerous Sabbath groups. He went into southern Iowa, Illinois, and elsewhere.
A.C. Long wrote a letter to the Hope office from his home in Missouri, dated July 6, 1866, requesting a visit from Snook. Apparently Snook went there, and the Church of God in Missouri thus began. Another source indicates that the Sabbath was proclaimed in Hatfield, Missouri before the Civil War. This was the home of the staunch Sabbath-keeping family of the Moores (D.P. Moore, Jasper Moore, and others), the Davises and the Ayres.25
In Horse Creek, Barton County, Missouri, J. Millard held meetings in 1866 which drew large crowds. Apparently he was a Sabbath preacher, and was unopposed by the White Party, which had not penetrated this far.26
In September of 1868, Snook and "Brother Davison" journeyed to Daviess County in Missouri, stayed at the home of William Rogers, and began meetings at the nearby Union Church, the following month. They held meetings also in Victoria, Altevista, Pattensburg, Salem, and Fairview School. Twelve new Sabbath-keepers were said to have been added. Staunch local members, including Morrison, Long and Rogers, said they had been keeping the Sabbath for many years previously.27
During the same time, a church was being organized (September 1, 1868) at Sulphur Springs, Indiana, due to the labors of Snook and Shortridge. It began with 28 members, took the Bible alone as the rule of faith, and immediately began a Sabbath School. J.B. Benbow was apparently its pastor.
During the summer and fall of 1868, Snook was said to have preached 84 sermons in 82 days, traveling widely and organizing numerous Sabbath Schools and churches.28
Prominent Iowa Sabbatarians
Iowa seems to have been the home of a number of prominent men who later became leading ministers in the Church of God (Seventh Day). Elder J.H. Nichols, grandfather of L.I. Rodgers, began preaching in La Porte City, Iowa in 1861. He was said to have been the first preacher of the Sabbath west of the Rocky Mountains, when in 1862 he preached at Santa Rosa, California. He also preached in Oregon. Nichols was frequently mentioned in the pages of the Advocate during the later years of the 1800's. When he died in 1916, it was stated that he had preached in every state of the union.29
S.W. Mentzer, later president of the Church of God General Conference, accepted the Sabbath in 1860 in Iowa, and "joined the church" in 1864. He was ordained in 1876, and died in 1927.30
Alexander F. Dugger, Sr., editor of the Bible Advocate from 1903-1909, father of Andrew N. Dugger, began preaching as an Advent Christian minister in Simpson, Iowa, in 1867-68. He later accepted the Sabbath and became a Church of God leader.31
Dugger is first mentioned in the Church of God paper in 1874. His first-day church had commissioned him to write a book against seventh day Sabbath-keeping, but during his research he became convinced that the Sabbath must be kept in this dispensation. Instead, he wrote a booklet for the Sabbath, called "The Bible Sabbath Defended," which became an important tract of the Church of God, of which Dugger became a part.32
Church of God - Seventh-Day Adventist Controversy
The schisms that rocked the Iowa Sabbath Adventist churches were also felt elsewhere, even in Michigan, the "home" of the Seventh-Day Adventists. In the fall of 1866, James White broke the silence with regard to the "Marion Party" and denounced the group strongly in the pages of the Review and Herald. The Church of God paper responded and there ensued virtual mudslinging. In 1871, Elders L.R. Long, A.C. Long, and William Rogers of Civil Bend, Daviess County, Missouri, asserted in the Church of God paper that James White had used the epithets "as ignorant as a Missouri mule," "bold slanderer," baptized liars," and such like inferring to the Church of God people.33
B.F. Snook, during his evangelistic meetings, often engaged in debates with first-day ministers, but was unsuccessful in luring Seventh-Day Adventist ministers into debates with him. Brinkerhoff likewise was rebuffed in his efforts to stir up debate.34
Two main points raised by "The Marion Party" were: (1) Ellen G. White's visions, and (2) the identity of the two-horned beast.
Another point of difference concerned the Third Angel's Message. Extreme opposition to Mrs. White's visions led many to hold that there were no spiritual gifts given to Christians in the present time.35
Carver's Objections to Mrs. White
In 1877, a tract, published by the Advent and Sabbath Advocate in Marion, Iowa, gave much of the history of the Marion period of the Church of God. It was called "Mrs. E.G. White's Claims to Divine Inspiration Examined," and it was written by H.E. Carver, the original president of the Christian Publishing Association which began the Hope of Israel in Iowa.36
Carver states in this work that he became "fully convinced" of the Sabbath "about 20 years ago" (1857?) in Iowa City through the preaching of J.H. Waggoner, a Sabbath Adventist preacher. He admitted that he became attached to the group of people who later became known as Seventh-Day Adventists, and did so with a full knowledge of Ellen G. White's claims to divine inspiration. Carver's previous Advent ideas (apparently he had been a Millerite) predisposed him to receive the common Sabbath Adventist theory of the Three Messages of Revelation 14 and the Two-horned Beast of Revelation 13. He was in "perfect union" with the other brethren on these main points. Faith in the visions was not then made a test of fellowship, and Carver wanted to see them vindicated.
Seventh-Day Adventist historian Loughborough had stated that opposers to Ellen G. White's visions came from "those who have been reproved for defects in character, for wrong habits, or for some wrong course in their manner of life." And being thus reproved, the opposers maintained that they were not as bad as the "testimony" stated and broke off from the main body of Sabbath-keepers.37
Carver maintained that this was not the case with him. He had never used tobacco, had entirely discarded the use of pork, and was never reproved in any way by Ellen G. White, by a vision or otherwise. He long enjoyed the full confidence of both the Whites, and only by an accumulation of evidence was Carver forced to give up hope that the visions would be vindicated, and to have his confidence shaken as to the Christian integrity of the Whites.
Mrs. White maintained that "I am just as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in relating, or writing a vision, as in having a vision." A "vision" of hers, published January 31, 1849, purported that she saw that those who stood in the present truth (Sabbath-keepers), but rejected the visions, were speaking against the Holy Spirit. Thus, the fear to commit the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit undoubtedly made many reluctant to condemn Mrs. White's visions.
The Pork Question
A brother and sister Curtis were intimate friends of Carver in Iowa for many years. Mrs. Curtis, long before the Whites believed pork to be injurious, tried to banish it from her table. She was a sincere believer in Ellen G. White's visions, and wrote to Mrs. White for instruction in the matter. Ellen replied: "I believe you to be in error. The Lord showed me two or three years since that the use of swine's flesh was no test. Dear sister, if it is your husband's wish to use swine's flesh, you should be perfectly free to use it." Mrs. White further stated that it was "fanatical" to "deprive yourselves of nourishing food."
At the time of the 1865 Pilot Grove conference, Curtis had Mrs. White's letter and promised Snook a copy. James White admitted to Carver at this conference that the Whites had just downed a 200-pound porker.
Strangely enough, with all this and other evidence to the contrary, Uriah Smith, an apologist for Ellen G. White, later reported that Mrs. White's visions never taught that swine's flesh was good and nourishing food.38
Mrs. White was soon to have a vision contrary to her first one concerning pork. In Spiritual Gifts, Volume 4, page 124, she claims a vision against the use of pork: "God never designed the swine to be eaten under any circumstances." Thus, "divine inspiration" was claimed for opposite doctrines.
James White Counsels Breaking God's Law
H.E. Carver was conscientiously opposed to Christians fighting with carnal weapons, that is, in warfare. He believed that the church should adopt the same position and urged that the question be discussed in the columns of the Advent Review. This occurred at the outbreak of the Civil War, shortly before the foundation of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination.
The Whites stated at a council in Lisbon, Iowa that the subject should not be discussed because of the danger of being destroyed by the war elements in the country for seeming to be unpatriotic. James White wrote in the Review that to engage in war would be a violation of two of God's commandments, but in case of being drafted, the government would be responsible for an individual's violation of God's commandments. In effect, he said that it was all right to break God's law! This error was so obvious that Ellen G. White had to apologize in the Review for her husband, but maintained that something had to be said on this delicate subject.39
Conscientious objection was too controversial for Mrs. White to pronounce a vision concerning it. Yet she did publish a vision purporting to foretell the outcome of the Battle of Bull Run, after it had been fought and the result was known.
The Iowa Church of God brethren were firmly convinced that it was wrong for Christians to engage in warfare. During the initial phase of the Civil War, Elders B.F. Snook and J.H. Waggoner prepared a petition to the Iowa state government, asking their church be exempted as non-combatants. The petition was circulated among the brethren for signatures, and sent to the state capital. Battle Creek did not sanction this effort, terming it "fanaticism." Due to the Church of God petition, a law was enacted exempting non-combatants from bearing arms. Carver termed the non-action of the Battle Creek Seventh-Day Adventists as "cowardly."
However, Uriah Smith reported that the Seventh-Day Adventist General Conference did indirectly exempt Seventh-Day Adventists by petitioning the government to exempt them through an already existing law.40
Further Objections of Carver to Mrs. White's Visions
In Seventh-Day Adventist publications, it was claimed that Ellen G. White's visions were given "to correct those who should err from Bible truth." Yet to Carver, it became more and more apparent that the visions were given to correct and rebuke those who disbelieved in their divine inspiration. The visions were politically motiviated.
A friend of Carver's, Samuel Everett, protested Mrs. White's claim and was warned of the result: believe in the divine inspiration of Ellen G. White or be put out of the church. Carver reported that Elder Cornell acted very unkindly towards Everett in an attempt to force him into submission. Carver and most of the church were on Everett's side.
Because of the incident, Carver refused to become a member of the Pilot Grove church. Carver did not openly break with the vision believers until after this incident, when he came to disagree with their two-horned beast interpretation. Despite the numerous contradictions he found in Mrs. White's visions, Carver did not separate himself from the White Party until doctrine forced him to do so.41
Doctrine of the Church of God at Marion
Carver's 1877 pamphlet against Mrs. White was probably a reprint and revision of one published in 1871. The earlier tract was strongly refuted by James White in the June 13, 1871, Review.
On the cover of Elder Carver's 1877 tract is listed the purpose of the Church of God paper, the Advent and Sabbath Advocate, as it was then called:
The Advocate is devoted to the promulgation of the doctrines of the Second Advent of Christ, the Signs of the Times, The duty of mankind to observe the Bible Sabbath (the seventh day of the week) together with the other Commandments of God, The Nature of Man, his Unconscious state in Death, The End of the Wicked, The Earth restored to its original glory and condition as the future inheritance and abode of the Redeemed and the Kingdom of God, The Atonement and Redemption by Jesus Christ, The Prophecies, The Christian Life, and kindred Bible subjects.42
The pamphlet lists several other Church of God tracts, offered for sale, as follows:
Tracts available, and the prices, were:
The Bible Student's Assistant $0.10
The Seventh Day Sabbath .09
The Second Coming of Christ .03
Moody's sermon on the Second
Coming of Christ .03
Who Changed the Sabbath? .02
The Sabbath for Both Jew and Gentiles .01
What is the Seal of God? .02
Review of J.M. Stephenson on the
Sabbath Question .10
The Soul .02
Where Are the Dead? .02
Man, Mortal or immortal? .03
Man's Condition on Death .04
Man, a Living Soul .02
The Sanctuary .10
The Saints' Inheritance .03
The Kingdom of Heaven upon Earth .20
Three Important Questions for Seventh Day
Adventists to consider .10
The Testimonies of Mrs. E.G. White
compared with the Bible .15
Thoughts on the First day of the Week .04
Mrs. E.G. White's Claims to
Divine Inspiration Examined .18
Some of the doctrines expressed by the Church of God during the Iowa period are these:
1. In 1869, the tithing principle, called a "systematic tax," was definitely adopted at Marion.43 However, John Kiesz reports that "Tithing apparently was not much advocated and practiced in general among our people before 1881." He bases this assumption on a 1881 letter of W.C. Long in the Advocate, in favor of tithing.44
2. As early as 1866, the teaching was that the Jews would return to Palestine and become a nation once more.45
3. Apparently the Church of God was ahead of the Seventh-Day Adventists in prohibiting the use of pork. Several articles appeared in the Church of God papers as early as 1866, reporting the dangers of trichinosis and the evils of eating pork. The editor was definitely against pork. However, since the paper was free to open discussion, pro-pork articles were also allowed.46
4. As for the proper time for celebrating the "Lord's Supper," the first definite report of a yearly Passover in Marion was in 1899. According to Cranmer in 1870, the Marion Church adopted foot washing and the Lord's Supper at least once in three months.47
In the April 23, 1867 issue of the Hope of Israel appeared an article by Samuel Cronce, Mt. Carroll, Illinois, contending that the early church, to the time of Constantine, observed the Lord's Supper annually at the beginning of the 14th of Abib, and then we should now show His death until He comes, by also observing it at the beginning of the 14th. Certainly this is a strong indication that some of the Church of God people observed the annual Passover.48
Various Adventists apparently came independently to the observance of the Sabbath and/or Passover. In 1875, J.L. Boyd of Philadelphia wrote the Church of God paper, reporting that he and a group of about 175 Philadelphia Adventists learned to practice the Sabbath and the "feetwashing" accompanying the yearly recognition of the Lord's Supper. This practice began in 1845, the year following the Great Disappointment.49
5. Also in 1867, appeared an article by Thomas Hamilton stating that fermented wine is to be used in the Lord's Supper, since it was used in the drink offerings of the Old Testament, and also at the Passover. Another article refuted this.50
6. The August 27, 1867 Hope showed that the editorial position was anti-trinitarian, in opposition to the Seventh-Day Adventist teaching in favor of the Trinity doctrine.51
7. During 1868 there appeared a series of articles on the question whether the wicked dead will be resurrected or not. Some held they wouldn't, but others stated that since there was a second death, there had to be a resurrection of the wicked in order to mete out the second death penalty.52
Later History of the Marion Period
Volumes of the Hope of Israel are missing from the official files between the May 4, 1869 and June 27, 1871 issues. Although not mentioned in the "official" church history of Kiesz, it appears that during this time B.F. Snook left the ministry and the editorship of the magazine. Loughborough reports that Snook became a Universalist preacher for $1,000 a year.53
With the 1871 issue, thirty year old Jacob Brinkerhoff, a relative of W.H. Brinkerhoff, became editor of the paper. H.E. Carver was still President of the Publishing Association, and the Publishing Committee was composed of N.M. Kramer, Asahel Aldrich, and V.M. Gray.54
On September 15, 1871, there was held the Second Annual Meeting of the General Conference of the Church of God at Marion. This indicates that in 1870 a General Conference had been organized. A Quarterly Meeting was also held in conjunction with this conference.
On September 29, 1871, a "Conference of the Church of Christ" was held at Waverly, Michigan. Elder Gilbert Cranmer was still the leader of the work in Michigan.55
During 1868-1869, there appeared articles in the Hope written by: Samuel Everett, I.N. Kramer, S. Davison, M.A. Harris, D.W. Randall, M.A. Dalbey, L.E. Horton, J.C. Day, J.H. Nichols, William O. Munro, J.R. Goodenough, and others.56
Also in 1871 there began to appear reports of A.C. Long doing missionary work in Missouri and Kansas. In 1872 he preached in Harrison and Worth counties, close to Stanberry (Gentry County).57
One meeting lasted for three weeks, and was held at the Union School House near the Moore residence in Harrison County. Six convents were added, making 23 Sabbath-keepers in the area. The Moore's reported they had been keeping the Sabbath there since 1861.58
Name Changes and Internal Disputes
At the Third Annual Conference of the Church of God General Conference, reported in the March 12, 1872 issue, it was decided to change the name of the paper from the Hope of Israel to the Advent and Sabbath Advocate and Hope of Israel, because the latter was a more distinctive name that would appeal to more people. In March of 1874 the sub-title Hope of Israel was dropped altogether.59
Also at this conference the Church of God brethren heard the Seventh Day Baptist Elder V. Hull, a delegate from the American Sabbath Tract Society, give a report of the Seventh Day Baptist activity in promulgating the Sabbath. Hull lived in Welton, Clinton County, Iowa. Because of the historical and geographical proximity of the Seventh Day Baptists and the Church of God, there may have been an attempt for some sort of joint effort at this time. Indeed, Hull requested that a Church of God minister be sent to visit a group of Sabbath Adventists at Welton, Iowa. The Conference voted to send M.N. Kramer as delegate to the Seventh Day Baptist Northwestern Association, at its next meeting at Albion, Wisconsin, in June.60
In October of 1873, the paper was suspended, and not resumed until March of 1874. It appears that Brinkerhoff and the Publishing Association were at odds over something. The office property was sold, but to save the Advocate and the Church of God publishing work, Jacob Brinkerhoff sold his home and bought the office, press, and accoutrements so as to continue publishing. The Christian Publishing Association composed of Kramer, Carver, and Gray, previously the overseer of the magazine, was dissolved, although it appears in the end they approved of Brinkerhoff's buying the paper from Aldrich. They instructed Brinkerhoff to increase the paper's circulation to make it self-supporting.61
On April 5, 1874; the Marion church rented the upper floor of the church building to Brinkerhoff for the publication of the Advocate.62
Generally, the editorial policy of the Advocate remained the same as that of the Hope. In the March, 1874 issue, Brinkerhoff stated: "The editor of the Advocate does not hold himself responsible for the sentiments contained in articles written for the paper. Each writer will be responsible for his or her views of scripture. We hold ourselves responsible only for editorial selections, and comments."63
Missouri Becomes Leading Center of the Church of God
Although Jacob Brinkerhoff of Marion, Iowa continued to be the editor of the Advocate until 1887, it appears that from 1874 on, the real thrust of the Church of God was carried on in Missouri rather than Iowa. Reasons for this are difficult to determine. Even today, besides the Church of God in Marion, there is little evidence of the church in Iowa. On the other hand, Missouri churches of God grew and flourished, several of which continue today.
A.C. Long's Missouri Efforts
Apparently, much of the Missouri growth was due to the preaching efforts of A.C. Long. In early 1874, he held three months of meetings in Harrison and Worth counties. At Martinsville, he garnered seventeen converts and began a church. In a series of meetings at Denver, Missouri, four more began the Sabbath, including S.C.B. Williams, owner of a large grist and saw mill. Williams posted an ad in the local paper stating that henceforth his mill would be closed on the Sabbath.64
Long's July 30, 1874 meeting at Denver was a "Grove Meeting," one held out of doors in a grove of trees. This was a common practice of itinerant ministers, as the trees acted as a canopy and sound shell magnifying the voice. Church of God ministers in the 1920's were still continuing this practice.
Other evangelistic efforts in Missouri, such as that by W.C. Long in 1881, were done with the use of "Gospel Tents."65
Moores of Missouri
Jasper Moore and his family moved from Iowa to Missouri in about 1867. In 1873 or 1874, his son Samuel (S.A.) Moore, of Harrison County, Missouri was baptized by Elder A.C. Long on one of his evangelistic campaigns. Moore claimed that "The Spirit of the Lord fell on me, and I felt the power of that Spirit so much so that I hurried over to Brother Long, and gave him my hand . . . . While this was all going on, my heart was just burning like fire. Oh, I never felt so good in my life. But that was all the Lord's work . . . .66 Chosen elder of a local church about 1879 at the age of twenty, Seth Munger, and Jasper Moore became leading Church of God ministers and officials.
Moore distributed tracts, and it may have been his urging that caused A.C. Long to travel to Missouri. Long organized two churches, one in Denver, Worth County, with sixty members. Here many of the new converts had been Seventh Day Baptists, and had believed in the immortality of the soul. However, tracts from Moore convinced them otherwise. The second church Long organized was near the Moore place, with about forty members.
Kramer reports that a Missouri state conference was organized in 1873. However, Kiesz reports that it was 1874. From the pages of the Advocate, it appears that the Missouri Conference, known first as the Sabbatarian Adventist Conference of Missouri, was organized on August 2, 1874, with a constitution and By-Laws. The officers were:
S.C.B. Williams President
A.C. Long Vice-President
H.R. Perins Secretary
Alistes Williams Treasurer
S.C.B. Williams, Jasper Moore, William C. Long, Executive Committee.
Ministers appointed to Districts were: District Number 1, W.C. Long and A.D. Leard; District Number 2, A.C. Long and I.N. Rogers; District Number 3, A.F. Dugger.
The extent of such a work in Missouri apparently never had a counterpart in Iowa.
Northern Missouri and Southern Iowa Church of God brethren had a conference near Hopkins, Missouri on October 23, 1874.
The second Missouri conference was held at Pleasant Valley School House, Harrison County, Missouri on August 13, 1875. The following report was given: "Objections having been made to the name, 'Sabbatarian Adventist Church,' as adopted at our first conference, it was moved and carried that we select the scriptural name 'Church of God', and henceforth known in a church capacity by that name."
Present at this conference were: A.C. and W.C. Long, A.C. Leard, Alistes Williams, R.S. Wheat, T.L. Davison, H.R. Perine, and Jasper Moore67
Missing Church History
Often, the critical years of Church of God history are obscure because of missing articles of the church paper. If all the issues were extant, presumably much more would be known. As the 1936 Census of Religious Bodies reports, "The history of the church is closely connected with the history of the publication . . . ."68
I.N. Kramer of Iowa was responsible for preserving much of the early issues of the Church of God paper without which there would be very little to record.
There are no issues available from late 1875 or early 1876, until April 5, 1881, when the Advocate went from semi-monthly to weekly. Some of the new names of ministers and writers appearing after 1881 were:69
N.A. Wells, R.E. Caviness, R.V. Lyon, J.A. Nugent, John Branch, G.W. Admire, W.O. Munro, and B.G. St. John.
Conferences and Campmeetings
What was life in the Church of God like during the 1880's? It seemed from the publications to be one consisting of going to Sabbath meetings and Sabbath Schools, campmeetings and conferences.
The "Annual Conference of the Church of God" was usually held in the fall, in August or September, in conjunction with a general church campmeeting. An example is the campmeeting held at Mineral Springs, Gentry County, Missouri beginning Thursday, September 1, 1881, and continuing until Tuesday, September 6. The eighth annual conference meeting was held at the same time. The Long brothers and N.A. Wells comprised the executive committee.
Jacob Brinkerhoff, the editor of the Advocate from Iowa, attended this conference and reported of the prayer and social meetings and sermons. He stated that attendance rose as high as 1,200 to 1,500 people, and that the Church of God was greatly expanding in northwestern Missouri at this time.
The highlight of this meeting, as all others, was the official conference meeting, conducted according to parliamentary law. President W.C. Long presided. Leading members and ministers there were: W.C. Long, A.G. Long, A.C. Long, N.A. Wells, E.L. Pierce, Thomas Beckman, Elisha Marshall, A.C. Leard, Jacob Lippincott, Samuel A. Moore, Jasper Moore, J.W. Osborn, C.T. Pierce, James A. Sims, T.L. Davison, and J.H. Nichols.
Ministers reported on their work and Brinkerhoff gave an overall report of the state of the work, from the Advocate office. Businesslike and devoid of human interest and real life content, the reports of these meetings give little besides who attended and who were chosen new officers.
The year 1881 also saw Church of God meetings at Spring Ranch Grove, Nebraska and Hartford, Michigan. J.H. Nichols, Enoch Owens, John Sperry, and G.W. Admire were working in Nebraska, while Lemuel J. Branch reported from Michigan.70
Two Types of Ministers
The Michigan meeting decided that "all who labor among us as ordained ministers must have credentials as such, and those preaching without being ordained must have license." This shows the existence of the two common types of Church of God ministers:
1. credentialed, that is ordained ministers
2. licensed, not ordained, ministers.
Credentials were issued by the General Conference, and renewable from year to year.
Also in the 1880's, it appears that there began the practice of holding ministerial conferences. A ministerial conference was held in Stanberry, Missouri on March 18, 1884.71
Some Kept the Passover
The April 12, 1881, issue of the Advocate sets forth reasons for observing the Lord's Supper, or Passover, annually at the time of the Jewish Passover. Pro and con articles were printed on the subject, but Passover reports in the spring of that year showed that many brethren had accepted it. A group in Nebraska at Samuel Barackman's kept the Passover and footwashing on the evening after the 13th of Nisan, as did R.E. Caviness of Beckwith, Iowa, and a "Brother Davison." The May 24, 1881 issue of the Advocate contains a long article by A.F. Dugger explaining the reasons for annual observance.72
The Year 1884: General Conference Organized
Copies of the Advocate are missing for the year 1883. However, the year 1884 seemed to show a decided upturn in events of the developing Church of God.
For one, there was the first mention of the Church of God at Stanberry, Missouri, where a Ministerial Conference was held, March 18, 1884. Churches and members had sprouted up around Stanberry for some time previously, and it appears that by now there was a church at Stanberry.73
Church of God historian Stanley J. Kauer reports that this ministerial meeting was held March 28 to April 3. The ministers made a report, accepted by the General Conference, that the Church of God in Missouri would have unity of doctrines and practices, in agreement with the Bible and with each other. The "combined experience and judgment of ministers" would "decide what is Gospel and Bible truth, and the most successful way of getting people to obey them." Sermons during the meeting were on the following topics: "Observance of Christian Passover, and the duty of feet-washing; . . . Life and death; The kingdom; Age to come or Restitution; Baptism, . . ." and others. M.B. Moyer, Jasper Moore and D.M. Spencer preached "to improve their talents," in preparation for ordination.74
In April of 1884, Elder A.F. Dugger, then living at Fairfield, Nebraska, announced the creation and planning for a department of Sabbath School work, designed to help the young people in the church. January of 1885 saw the beginning of a Sabbath School paper, "Sabbath School Missionary," published at 50 cents a year. Seventh-Day Adventists early established a Sabbath School paper, and now the Church of God was continuing this practice.75
The 1884 Missouri campmeeting was held from August 21 to 27 at Albany, 13 miles east of Stanberry. The eleventh annual conference of the Church of God was held in conjunction with the campmeeting. It appears that a move to closer Church of God organization was well underway. President W.C. Long of the Missouri Conference urged that the church elders choose a delegate for every ten members to represent the local congregations at the conference. The ministers present, and their areas of service, shows the extant of the church at that time:76
Missouri W.C. Long, N.A. Wells, A.C. Leard, J.C. Kerns
Kansas J.H. Nichols
Iowa Jacob Brinkerhoff, S.W. Mentzer
Michigan John Branch, L.J. Branch
Indiana Brother Stahl
A meeting was held at Marion, beginning September 6th, attended by all the Iowa brethren as well as the Michigan brethren returning from the Missouri Conference. An Iowa Conference, and a Constitution and By-Laws, was adopted. Elder A.C. Long was elected President, indicating he had moved from Missouri to Iowa.
Next was held the "Fourth Annual Conference of the Church of God" in Michigan, October 2-6, at Irvington, in Van Buren County. Michigan finally moved to take the name Church of God, and as Kiesz later noted, 1884 was thus the year that "every local group associated with the General Conference, that had not done so previously, accepted the name of 'Church of God'."77
L.J. Branch was then President of the Michigan Conference, while other Michigan ministers were Gilbert Cranmer, M. Davoist, Thomas Howe, Elsis L. Robinson, A.N. Fisher, and John Branch. The Long brothers and I.N. Kramer visited the Michigan meeting.
With these several meetings, in Missouri, Iowa and then Michigan, the subject of a more unified body was brought forth. And during the Michigan Conference, it was voted to organize a General Conference, made up of the state conferences of Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska. The first officers were:
A.C. Long President
A.F. Dugger Vice-President
Jacob Brinkerhoff Secretary
I.N. Kramer Treasurer
A.C. Long, W.C. Long, John Branch, General Conference Committeemen
It is surprising to note the full circle that the Church of God people had come to. In 1860 and 1861, they had vehemently been against any form of organization, especially that which the White Party formed at Battle Creek, with a "General Conference." Yet by 1884, they had come to form the same conference system that they previously had denounced. To be sure, there were articles in the Advocate as late as 1885 against organization. Before this, articles began appearing for organizing, written by Brinkerhoff and the Longs.78
The General Conference System
As organized in 1884 (Kramer says it was 1883), the Church of God General Conference was in reality only a loose confederation. Individual churches and individuals seemed to have great liberty about many points of belief, although the 1885 session outlined 24 articles of common Church of God belief.
From the start, the Hope of Israel had been open to views from both sides of controversial issues. However, now beginning with the November 15, 1887 issue, the Advent and Sabbath Advocate was published not by Jacob Brinkerhoff who had bought the press previously, but by the General Conference of the Church of God. Brinkerhoff was hired by the conference to publish the Advocate and the Missionary. The General Conference Committee was to examine all articles not in harmony with the Church of God Constitution.
Apparently this "new editorial policy" did not in reality change anything, as far as article content. Controversy was still allowed. From W.H. Brinkerhoff on, articles had appeared advising strongly against the use of pork. Now, from 1885 and in following years, a number of articles appeared in favor of eating the unclean meats. A possible reason for this is that some of the brethren were so much against Seventh-Day Adventists that they became pro-pork.79
The unclean meats issue was one that has long been, and still continues to be, a dividing factor in the Church of God (Seventh Day).
However, the general trend of articles on the subject of tobacco was that it was a "filthy weed." In 1874, A.C. Long noted that he and some of his converts at Denver, Missouri entered into a "solemn vow" never to engage in the "filthy habit" of tobacco. Mr. and Mrs. Williams, their sons Enoch and Amzy Williams, and Brother Moore were among the signers of the pledge.80
H.C. Blanchard Refused to Support Visions
In 1877, a 43-page tract was printed at Marion, Iowa by the Advent and Sabbath Advocate press, entitled "The Testimonies of Mrs. Ellen G. White Compared with the Bible." Written by H.C. Blanchard, the tract records the plight of a man who refused to go along with Mrs. White's visions.
Blanchard united with the Seventh-Day Adventists in 1861, covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Soon afterwards, he received a license to preach. At that time he knew little of the visions, had read a few of them, and believed they were of divine origin. He did not heartily endorse the "Health Reform" visions, but said little on the subject.
In 1869, he moved from Illinois to Missouri. He relates, "I did not preach the visions and health reform, but I still continued to labor with the Seventh-Day Adventists." Officials of the Kansas and Missouri Seventh-Day Adventist Conference checked up on Blanchard, discovering that he did not preach the visions nor proscribe tea, coffee, flesh meats, and pork. As a result, in 1874, Blanchard's ministerial credentials were withheld. In 1875, he was notified that they would be renewed, providing he accept the visions and Health Reform. He then turned in the credentials, preaching his views fully for 4-5 months at the Labette, Kansas church, of which he was a member.
In March of 1876, Elder J.H. Cook visited the church, remaining several weeks, and condemning Blanchard's "rebellion." Most of the church sided with Blanchard, so he could not be put out. At a church business meeting, on May 13, 1876 with the advice of G.I. Butler, some fourteen members withdrew in order to conform with the Seventh-Day Adventist teaching. Blanchard continued to hold regular meetings in the Labette church, now composed of independent Sabbath-keepers.
Blanchard's 1877 tract zeroes in on the Health Reform. Referring to Genesis 18:8; Isaiah 9; I Samuel 17:18 and II Samuel 17:29, he showed that the Bible is not against meat, butter, cheese and eggs, as Ellen G. White's visions purported. To Seventh-Day Adventists, the prohibition against pork was as binding as "thou shalt not steal," but Blanchard believed that pork was permissible.
Whether Blanchard joined the Church of God or not is as yet unknown.
Almon Hall Refutes Adventist 2,300-Day Interpretation
Another tract writer during the Marion period was Almon Hall, who in 1880 published a 44-page tract, "The Command and the Weeks of Daniel 9:24-27" at the Advocate press.
A native of Vermont, born in 1820 and "converted" in 1835, Hall received the Advent message of Miller prior to 1840. Shortly before October 22, 1844, he was convinced that no definite time for Christ's return could be known.
After a long and careful investigation, Hall embraced the Sabbath in September, 1849, and was one of the first Sabbath-keepers in Washington County, Vermont. In 1880 his address was Transit, Sibley County, Minnesota. In his tract, Hall refuted the Millerite connection of the 70 weeks prophecy to the 2,300 days prophecy, holding that 490 years are not part of the 2,300 days, and was not sure that the 2,300 mornings and evenings should even constitute 2,300 years.
Jacob Brinkerhoff on the Seventh-Day Adventists
In 1884, Jacob Brinkerhoff published a 16-page tract at Marion (the third edition) entitled "The Seventh-Day Adventists and Mrs. White's Visions." It is of a rather mild tone and without caustic criticism or bitter vituperation, but simply explains why the visions are wrong.
The main point Brinkerhoff emphasized was the Mrs. White's visions were of human origin. He quoted Elder White's 1868 edition of Life Incidents, noting that since 1845, Ellen had had some 100-200 visions, "the most apparent change being that of late years they have grown less frequent and more comprehensive." Thus, Brinkerhoff concluded, after keeping "the laws of health," that is, abstaining from pork, she became more healthy in mind and body, and therefore had less visions, which were the product of an unhealthy body and mind.
An examination of Mrs. White's visions convinced Brinkerhoff that they corresponded to what people already believed. "For instance, for a space of several years they believed that probation for sinners ceased in 1844, and the visions taught the same thing . . . [viz.,] 'the time of their salvation is past'." Later the visions said the opposite. Another case was that of conditionalism. In 1845 or 1846, Elder George Storrs had brought to the attention of Adventists at a conference at Exeter, New Hampshire, the doctrine that the dead sleep until the resurrection. Later, Mrs. White's visions upheld this.
Brinkerhoff felt that Mrs. White's visions had greatly hurt the spread of the Sabbath truth. He felt that the Whites had gotten lots of money because their people were led to believe that they were the only church and "are taught that to be saved they must be with 'the body,' that is, their organization." Seventh-Day Adventists treated their dissenters with intolerance, for "The power exercised over the people, and their treatment of dissenters," Brinkerhoff insisted, "very much resembles the Roman Catholic Church."
How did Brinkerhoff explain the great growth of Seventh-Day Adventists versus the insignificance of the Church of God at this time? "Some are held with that people because of the large work they are doing, saying they must be right, or they would not be so prospered; forgetting that other bodies of professing religious people have had great prosperity, though holding and teaching gross errors." Their prosperity, Brinkerhoff believed, was not due to their being right, but because of the managing skill of James White.
A final interesting comment by Brinkerhoff is his reference to a conference in western New York in the early history of Adventists, where the Whites attended. There Mrs. White had visions against certain positions the Whites opposed, but that Brinkerhoff said were correct. This must have reference to the 1848 conference at Volney, New York and William E. Arnold, who held to a yearly Passover observance and the Age-to-Come doctrine.81
Canright's Defection from Seventh-Day Adventists
D.M. Canright began keeping the Sabbath in 1859 as a result of the preaching of the Whites. In 1864 he was licensed to preach by the Seventh-Day Adventists, and in 1865 ordained by James White.
He soon became dissatisfied with Seventh-Day Adventists, because he "saw that he [Elder White] ruled everything, and that all greatly feared him. I saw that he was often cross and unreasonable."
An incident occurred in 1867, in which Canright saw that Elder White was clearly wrong, but Mrs. White's "Testimonies" sustained him. J.N. Andrews was adamantly against White, and Canright was sympathetic to Andrews' position. But they were forced to make a written confession that they had "been blinded by Satan." Canright noted, "I saw that her revelations always favored Elder White and herself. If any dared question their course, they soon received a scathing revelation denouncing the wrath of God against them."
For years in the late 1860's, the main business at major Seventh-Day Adventist meetings was the complaints of Elder White against leading ministers. Canright related that "Elder and Mrs. White ran and ruled everything with an iron hand. Not a nomination to office, not a resolution, not an item of business was even acted upon in business meetings till all had been first submitted to Elder White for his approval." Seventh Day Adventism was a fear religion, a "yoke of bondage," or "cold legalism," Canright felt, because members were cowered by White's use of the visions, to either accept them or "fear of being damned if they refuse."
Canright left the Seventh-Day Adventists in 1880, was back for a time, but left them for good in 1887 when he became a Baptist minister. He notes that most of those who left them became infidels, because "the natural rebound from fanaticism and superstition is into infidelity and skepticism . . . the ripe fruit of Adventism in the years to come will be a generation of infidels."82
In her Testimonies for the Church, Ellen G. White seemed to show the corruption extant in her church, which was a cause for Canright and others withdrawing. She wrote, "The Spirit of the Lord has been dying away from the church . . . . The churches have nearly lost their spirituality and faith . . . I saw the dreadful fact that God's people were conformed to the world with no distinction, except in name [author's emphasis] . . . . Covetousness, selfishness, love of money and love of the world, and all through the ranks of Sabbath-keepers . . . . There is little love for one another. A selfish spirit is manifest. Discouragement has come upon the church . . . . There is but little praying . . . . Right here in this church corruption is teeming on every hand . . . . There is a deplorable lack of spirituality among our people."83
Canright on Others Who Left the Seventh-Day Adventists
D.M. Canright's 1889 book, Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced, shows that he was not the only one to withdraw from the Seventh-Day Adventists. He records others who had also withdrawn. J.B. Cook and T.M. Preble, whose Sabbath tracts converted many to Sabbath-keeping in the 1840's, left Sabbath-keeping, as did O.R.L. Crozier. Elder B.F. Snook, a leading Sabbath Adventist minister, was in 1889 a Universalist. Elder White W.H. Brinkerhoff of Iowa had also renounced the faith. Elders Moses Hull (according to Canright the most able speaker Adventists ever had) and Shortridge had become Spiritualists. Elders Hall and Stephenson were with the "Age-to-Come" party. A.C.B. Reynolds of New York had become "a noted blasphemer." Elder H.C. Blanchard and T.J. Butler of Avilla, Missouri, had renounced the Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine. Elder L.L. Howard of Maine left them, as did H.F. Haynes of New Hampshire. Nathan Fuller of Wellsville, New York became a libertine. M.B. Czechowski went to Europe and died in disgrace. H.S. Case, Elder Cranmer and Philip Strong of Michigan all left the Seventh-Day Adventists, as did Elder J.B. Frisbie, a pioneer preacher for many years in Michigan.
Others who left included Dr. Lee of Minnesota, who inaugurated work among the Swedes there; Elder A.B. Oyen, missionary to Europe and editor of their Danish paper; Elder D.B. Oviatt, for many years President of the Seventh-Day Adventist Pennsylvania Conference, who became a Baptist minister, as did Elders Rosquist and Whitelaw of Minnesota; Elder C.A. Russell of Otsego, Michigan became a Methodist; and Elders Hiram Edson and S.W. Rhodes, pioneer preachers, died cranks and a trial to the church.
Those who wrote against their former church previous to Canright were: H.E. Carver, H.C. Blanchard, J.W. Cassady, A.C. Long, Jacob Brinkerhoff, J.C. Day, H.W. Ball, J.R. Goodenough, Bunch.
The main reason why he and others left, Canright states, was the question of Ellen G. White's visions.84
Canright mentions the Church of God with headquarters at Stanberry, Missouri who separated from Adventists because of opposing Ellen G. White's visions. He notes that "they have grown steadily, and now have thirty ministers and about six thousand believers . . . . They have done a good work in exposing the fallacy of Mrs. White's inspiration."85
Extent of the Church of God on the Eve of the Stanberry Era
Statistics for the Church of God for the middle 1800's have been almost impossible to locate. The first instance occurs in the report of the fall, 1886 General Conference
meeting at Marion. Elder J.H. Nichols reported a membership of 75 in four churches in Kansas; Elder W.C. Long reported 440 members in 13 Missouri churches; Elder John Branch reported 365 members in 8 Michigan churches, and Jacob Brinkerhoff, 81 members, four churches in Iowa. Total was 961 members and 29 churches. At the same time, 485 copies of the Advocate were being published weekly.
Receipts for the year were $1,032.38, total conversions for the year, 122, and number of ministers and licentiates, 30. Also in 1886, average salary for each minister and licentiate was $34.40 per year. Mostly the ministers had farms of their own to supplement their income.86 W
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