We hear much about simple faith, and we as Baptists do believe in only faith for salvation. But we need to be careful about using the phrase “simple faith.” This subject has been a topic of great controversy among Baptists in the past.
During the early days of Baptists in America, these churches had to contend with many controversies. One was that of the anti-mission Baptists; another was the controversy over baptismal regeneration; and a third was the doctrine of Sademanianism. The Baptist theologian of the 19th century, Andrew Fuller, named this doctrine in 1812 in a book with twelve letters entitled “Strictures On Sandemanianism.” He says in this book that he calls this doctrine by this name, because no one has used any other name; so Mr. Fuller named it after its originator, Robert Sandeman.
This doctrine states that a person can make a simply “intellectual assent” to the truth of the Bible and be regenerated in that way. This is what many call “simple faith.” We do believe in “faith alone,” but not in a simple intellectual faith. I fear that too many people who call themselves Christians have a simple intellectual faith in Jesus Christ. But true faith in Jesus Christ involves both our emotions and our minds. Before I tasted honey, I did not like it; but after I tasted it, I wanted more and more honey. The same is true with Jesus Christ. Peter said in 1 Peter 2:2-3 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Faith is a taste of eternal things that directs our minds and hearts toward Jesus Christ, and we love him and serve him with a true heart. I have never lost my taste for honey.
Look for an article in The Baptist Defence on this in the next issue.