How SANDMEN Relates to
Heresy of Decisional Regeneration
|Robert Sandeman (1718-1771) is listed here for being an early example of the intellectual assent as "saving faith" heresy. He ridiculed New Light Calvinists for looking for evidence of regeneration, saying if a person was elected, "bare faith" was the only evidence needed. Sandeman elevating the Gospel above the Holy Spirit as the agent of regeneration. Sandeman's Letters On Theron And Aspasio is his most famous work. Starting in the 1820's, Baptist circular letters regularly cited Sandeman as the influence that gave birth to Campbell's view of water baptismal regeneration.|
If you want a timeline of the "bare faith" non-election heresy we now know as "decisional regeneration", you can start with John Locke. But the Locke presented his "bare faith" theory for political reasons, not theological. Locke's view made all men equal and all men could be saved by assenting to the historical fact that Christ is Messiah, without the need of a minister or religious observances that change with each generation, thus eliminating the destructive persecution of Baptists, Quakers, and other dissenters from the established church. Locke summed up the only requirement was to believe (without supernatural regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) the proposition that "Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God." Faith in that single fact he called saving faith, because it is faith in a saving fact. Locke spends hundreds of pages backing up this "bare faith" contention in The Reasonableness of Christianity until finally at the end he admits that unless there is some indication that the person has changed, his "bare faith" was not "saving faith".
Robert Sandeman used Locke's basic point to fashion a "bare faith" theology based on the predetermined state of all men. Sandeman was what some would call a hyper-Calvinist. His idea was since regeneration is entirely an act of the sovereign God, there is nothing needed from man to prove anything. Sandeman is who the Congregationalists and Presbyterians blamed for the "bare faith" heresy after the First Great Awakening. Sandeman is who the Baptist blamed for the "bare faith" heresy after the Second Great Awakening.
And when Alexander Campbell was converting thousands of Baptist with his "Restoration" theology based on "bare faith", Sandeman was who the Baptists blamed as the originator of the heresy. Campbell explained his "bare faith" version of the heresy as "Faith is the belief of testimony. Where testimony begins, faith begins; and where testimony ends, faith ends." This was the inexorable connection of saving faith to belief of Scripture, without the need of Biblical evidence of salvation in the change of character of the sinner to saint. When Campbell baptized a sinner, he told the sinner he was made a saint by virtue of his "bare faith". Campbell said the Holy Spirit does nothing apart from the written Word, so conversion is entirely a matter of moral persuasion. Campbell, like Locke, admitted after justifying "bare faith" in 99.999% of his writings, admits that unless there is some indication that the person has changed, his "bare faith" was not "saving faith".
SO WHY USE THE TERM SANDMEN?
Sandeman has historically been identified with the "bare faith" heresy. Sandeman made regeneration a metaphiscal de facto result of "bare faith".
Most historians believe Sandeman influenced Campbell greatly, although Campbell dropped predeterminism as the basis for his "bare faith" as "saving faith" version of the heresy because he was an Arminian. Campbell made regeneration a metaphysical de facto result of "bare faith" and water baptism.
When ministers educated in Scottish Common Sense Reality changed the BEST system to the BIST system in the Inquiry Room after the Civil War, they used the same rational as Campbell, that is, belief in Salvation Scriptures is evidence of saving faith. They made regeneration a metaphysical de facto result of "bare faith" in scripture (without Campbell's water baptism).
1) SANDMEN BUILD THEIR HOUSE UPON THE SAND OF "FAITH IN YOUR FAITH", THAT SAVING FAITH IS BELIEVING SCRIPTURE AS APPOSED TO THE ORTHODOX VIEW OF BUILDING YOUR HOUSE UPON THE ROCK OF HEARING AND DOING AND EVALUATING YOUR CONSTRUCTION BASED ON WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS, NOT YOUR SUPPOSED BELIEF IN IT.
2) SANDMEN BUILD CASTLES IN THE SAND THAT ARE DESTROYED BY REALITY. SANDMEN SPEND 99.99% OF THEIR TIME DEFENDING "BARE FAITH" AS "SAVING FAITH" ONLY TO ADMIT IN THE END (WHEN THE TIDE COMES IN AND DESTROYS THEIR CASTLES) THAT IF THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF CHANGE OF CHARACTER, THE "BARE FAITH" COULD NOT HAVE BEEN "SAVING FAITH'.
3) SANDMEN BELIEVE IN A METAPHYSICAL (INSTEAD OF A SUPERNATURAL OR EXPERIENCIAL) CONNECTION BETWEEN SAVING FAITH AND REGENERATION. THE ANALOGY OF WATER BREAKING SAND IS THE BEST WAY OF EXPLAINING HOW A METAPHYSICAL VIEW CAN ALSO BE A LACK OF FAITH IN THE SUPERNATURAL, MOMENT BY MOMENT WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. FIRST GENERATION NEW LIGHT CALVINISTS BELIEVED THE REAL REASON MANY OF THE OLD LIGHT CALVINISTS OBJECTED TO "RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS" AS EVIDENCE OF REGENERATION WAS THEY DID NOT BELIEVE REGENERATION WAS A SUPERNATURAL CHANGE OF CHARACTER, BUT RATHER A MORAL PERSUASION OF THE WORD OF GOD- A REASONABLE SALVATION, LIKE THE METAPHICAL EXPLANATION OF HOW SAND IS CREATED OVER MILLIONS OF YEARS BY WATER BREAKING ROCK. THE SUPERNATURAL EXPLANATION OF HOW SAND WAS CREATED IN THE SIX DAYS OF CREATION IS ANALOGOUS TO SUPERNATURAL REGENERATION. THE FIRST VIEW THAT SAND WAS CREATED OVER MILLIONS OF YEARS BY WATER BREAKING ROCK IS THAT OF A DEIST. THE SECOND THAT SAND WAS CREATED IN THE SIX DAYS OF CREATION IS THAT OF AN ORTHODOX CALVINIST. A SANDMAN IS LIKELY TO NOT BELIEVE IN SUPERNATURAL REGENERATION BECAUSE HE HAS A METAPHYSICAL VIEW OF REGENERATION.
4) SANDMEN BELIEVE IN A PSYCHOLOGICAL VIEW OF SAVING FAITH. PUT SIMPLY, THEY THINK SAVING FAITH IS A STES OF MIND, WHILE THE ORTHODOX VIEW IS THAT SAVING FAITH IS A STATE OF BEING (EXPERIENCIAL REGENERATION). JONATHAN EDWARDS GIVES THE BEST EXPLANATION OF HOW DANGEROUS THIS SANDMEN VIEW IS:
"To press and urge [the lost] to believe, without any spiritual light or sight, tends greatly to help forward the delusions of the Prince of Darkness. Men not only can't exercise faith without some spiritual light, but they can exercise faith only in such proportion as they have spiritual light. Men will trust in God no further than they know Him: And they can't be in the exercise of faith in him one speck further than they have a sight of his fullness and faithfulness in exercise, nor can they have the exercise of trust in God, any further than they are in gracious frame. They that are in a dead carnal frame, doubtless ought to trust in God; because that would be the same thing; as coming out of their bad frame, and turning to God; But to exhort men confidently to trust in God, and to hold up their hope and peace, though they are not in a gracious frame, and continue still to be so, is the same thing in effect, as to exhort them confidently to trust in God, but not with a gracious trust: and what is that but a wicked presumption? It is just so impossible for men to have a strong or lively trust in God, when they have no lively exercises of grace, or sensible Christian experiences, as it is for them to be in the lively exercises of grace, without the exercises of Grace".
"Those that thus insist on persons living by faith, when they have no experience, and are in very bad frames, are also very absurd in their notions of faith. What they mean by faith is, believing that they are in a good estate. Hence they count it a dreadful sin for them to doubt of their state, whatever frames they are in, and whatever wicked things they do, because it is the great and heinous sin of unbelief; and he is the best man, and puts most honor upon God, that maintains his hope of his good estate the most confidently and immovably, when he has the least light or experience; that is to say, when he is in the worst and wickedest frame and way; because, forsooth, that is a sign that he is strong in faith, giving glory to God, and against hope believes in hope.
But what Bible do they learn this notion of faith out of, that it is a man's confidently believing that he is in a good estate? If this be faith, the Pharisees had faith in an eminent degree; some of which, Christ teaches, committed the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. The scripture represents faith, as that by which men are brought into a good estate; and therefore it can't be the same thing, as believing that they are already in a good estate. To suppose that faith consists in persons believing that they are in a good estate, is in effect the same thing, as to suppose that faith consists in a person’s believing that he has faith, or in believing that he believes.