Theology and Doxology
In December 1967, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave an address to what was then known as the Puritan Conference, speaking on what some might have considered an esoteric topic: the teachings of a small eighteenth-century movement known as Sandemanianism. Ever a believer in the value of church history for guidance in the present, Lloyd-Jones argued that the errors of this movement had much to teach his hearers, for he felt that there were far too many in contemporary evangelical circles who were replicating the central Sandemanian error, namely, that true faith can be held without deeply felt affections.
Robert Sandeman, the Scottish theologian after whom this error is named, maintained that saving faith is “bare belief of the bare truth.” Sandeman was insistent that faith becomes a work of human merit if it includes anything beyond simple assent to the truth of what God has done through Christ’s death and resurrection. 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 wrongly 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.