Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

September 27, 2005

Reading again for my class the assigned text "Prea…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 4:31 am

Reading again for my
class the assigned text “Preachers and Preaching” I learned about something that I have never heard of in all my 57 years: the heresy of Sandemanianism. Here is how it works, in case you wanted to get on board. “The bare death of Jesus Christ without a thought or deed on the part of man, is sufficient to present the chief of sinners spotless before God.” (You can find that quote inscribed on Robert Sandeman’s tombstone). Reading from wikipedia’s entry on Sandemanianism we learn that Sandeman may have tempered that line a bit. He apparently maintained that justifying faith is a simple assent to the divine testimony concerning Jesus, differing in no way in its character from belief in any ordinary testimony. Well, R. Sandeman isn’t around to defend his view, having died in the 18th century. But I would like to ask him how a “simple assent” is somehow not a thought.

Be that as it may*, his idea may be worth bouncing around a little. If you know me, you’ll know that I never met a heresy I didn’t like. As you also know, St. Paul was the chief of sinners. And he didn’t do a single thing to “get saved”. He was converted entirely without his permission having been granted. No thought, no deed did Paul do, none. And when he resumed walking along the Damascus road, there can be no question that he was the Lord’s possesion. So, at least Sandeman can point to an example of his “heresy”. Leaving Paul aside, since his conversion is not normative (or is it?) let me ask if it’s a problem with Sandemanianism that it teaches entry level faith, the new Christian’s “I believe”, to be sufficient for salvation?

This issue pops up in a few ways. Does your faith entail a mere agreement with a checklist of doctrines? Is your Christian life a matter of doing the Christian thing out of duty, tradition, habit? Are you a Christian because you have the mistaken notion that your salvation will occur because of it, not because of Christ? (A bit of a twist there – is there a difference between faith as the simple assent in the testimony of Christ or are you trusting in your faith?)

One thing that I wrestle with is that critics of this heresy enjoy pointing out that Christianity can’t be merely a mental thing. But I claim that, first, they came to that conclusion entirely by thinking about it, and second, I can think of no other way to get out of the mind game than by thinking my way out of it. (Do you want to get into salvation by deeds?) So, until further notice, I claim that Christianity is a mental thing.

Furthermore, while no-Lordship salvation is one of the hallmarks of Sandemanianism, Lordship salvation is just as much “it’s all in my head”.

In the final analysis, there are plenty of believers running around that make a living out of practicing their own brand of no-Lordship salvation, but none of us would actually foist it onto our brothers as a safe way to go. That is what Sandeman did.

*First time ever in print I wrote “Be that as it may”.



  1. I guess under his view even demons would be saved James 2:19.

    Was Sandeman from America or Europe?

    Comment by mike s. — September 28, 2005 @ 1:59 am

  2. I don’t know if he or his followers wrote much. I don’t know what is available by way of better details about his beliefs. I would bet he could explain his doctrine without conceding the salvation of demons. Blame me for what is probably a poor job of relating his ideas.

    He was a Scot. Most of the churches that followed his beliefs were in Scotland, although some were in England and even the U.S.

    Comment by Bruce S — September 28, 2005 @ 3:43 am

  3. Bruce, I’ve seen several references to an electronic journal article on modern Calvinism…you might be interested in reading it


    Comment by Sister — September 28, 2005 @ 8:47 pm

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