Enter Sandeman: A Thanksgiving Post

As you gather together today with friends and family and feast on delicious plates (yes, plural.. go for it, it’s Thanksgiving!) of food and dessert, I’m sure you’re mind isn’t wandering on obscure 18th century Scottish theologians. However, Robert Sandeman has much to teach us on this day of Thanksgiving.

See, Sandeman taught, in error, that faith in Christ was merely something we intellectually acknowledged; something we simply believe.  Or as Sandeman himself put it, “Bare belief of the bare truth.”  To Sandeman, faith in Christ was simply an intellectual assent to what Christ has done.

As I’ve written several times on this blog, while it is important to understand the what Christ has done, it is equally important to understand it in light of who Christ is.  (Imperative and Indicative).

So what does that mean on Thanksgiving? I mean, seriously, after 3 plates (c’mon, be honest) of food and a couple of stealthy ninja trips to the pie table, am I really supposed to be working through this?

Well, here it is:

Theology leads to Doxology

While most of us would quickly see Sandeman’s error, our human nature seems to repeat it as we focus today on what he has done (given us) and less on who he is.

Gift over giver may be a stretch, but not my much.

Being thankful is not telling God you appreciate the fact that your life is not in shambles. If that is the basis of your gratitude, you are on slippery ground. Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in your life may be taken away. But blessings are only signs of God’s love. The real blessing, of course, is the love itself. Whenever we get too attached to the sign, we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us. Churches are filled with widows who can explain this to you. We are not ultimately grateful that we are still holding our blessings. We are grateful that we are held by God even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers. 

Craig Barnes

Theology leads to Doxology

By understanding who God is (Theology) we are driven to thank and praise Him (Doxlogy).  While thanking God for what He has given us is good, it is imbalanced if our gratitude is on gifts and not giver.

This was certainly the norm for the Apostle Paul as he finished great theological sections with great doxological sections (Romans 11, 1 Timothy 1).

[33] Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

[34] “For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

[35] “Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

[36] For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)

[17] To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

(1 Timothy 1:17 ESV)

So as you sit down today and list the things for which you are rightly grateful, remember that every good gift comes from the Father above.  Thankful? For sure, Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!


Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise him, all creatures here below;

Praise him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.