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Tuesday
May102011

Theological Term of the Week

Sandemanianism
The system of beliefs of a sect founded by John Glas and his son-in-law Robert Sandeman in Scotland in the mid-18th century, which included the distinguishing tenet that justifying faith is no more than “bare belief of the bare truth,” or mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel; also used loosely of any system of beliefs that teaches that saving faith is no more than mental assent to certain propositions about Christ.

  • Scripture used by Sandemanians to support their view: 

    And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…. (Romans 4:5 ESV).

  • From Andrew Fuller in response to the Sandemanians in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume III:1

    [The term ungodly in Romans 4:5], I apprehend, is not designed, in the passage under consideration, to express the actual state of mind which the party at the time possesses, but the character under which God considers him in bestowing the blessing of justification upon him. Whatever be the present state of the sinner’s mind—whether he be a haughty Pharisee or a humble publican—if he possess nothing which can in any degree balance the curse which stands against him, or at all operate as a ground of acceptance with God, he must be justified, if at all, as unworthy, ungodly, and wholly out of regard to the righteousness of the mediator.

  • From Sandemanianism by Michael Haykin: 

    In a genuine desire to exalt the utter freeness of God’s salvation, Sandeman sought to remove any vestige of human reasoning, willing or desiring in the matter of saving faith. He was convinced that if the actions of the will or the affections are included in saving faith, then the Reformation assertion of ‘faith alone’ is compromised. Thus, in the Sandemanian system, saving faith is reduced to intellectual assent to the gospel proclamation about Christ. To be fair to Sandeman, it should be noted that he was quite prepared to admit that affections come into play once a person believes. But at the time of conversion, they play no role in saving faith. 
    It should occasion no surprise that many of those who embraced Sandeman’s intellectualist view of faith became stunted in their Christian lives. For instance, Christmas Evans (1766-1838), an influential Welsh Baptist leader, adopted Sandemanian views for a number of years in the late 1790s, but eventually found himself dwelling in ‘the cold and sterile regions of spiritual frost’, and in the grip of ‘a cold heart towards Christ, and his sacrifice, and the work of his Spirit’.

Learn more:

  1. Wikipedia: Glasites
  2. Michael Haykin: Sandemanianism: Andrew Fuller and the Sandemainians
  3. Tom Ascol: Old Error Rediscovered
  4. John Piper: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Vision: Andrew Fuller’s Broadsides Against Sandemanianism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Global Unbelief (mp3)

Related terms:

1I found this quote in Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Vision: Andrew Fuller’s Broadsides Against Sandemanianism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Global Unbelief by John Piper

Do you have a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (3)

Mr. Sandeman, bring me a dream
Make it the broadest way that I've seen
Don't make me repent and be born again
Just say I can believe and hang on to my sin
Sandeman, my heart's a stone
But mental assent can change it alone
So I'll turn on my magic beam
Mr. Sandeman brought me a dream!
(bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum...)

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSimple Mann

Very clever!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

Ok. I had never heard of this one! Thanks Rebecca.

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

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