Paul's Passing Thoughts

“It’s Not a List of Do’s and Don’ts”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 24, 2017

Originally published October 24, 2016
Protestant orthodoxy wreaks havoc in the lives of believers.  It produces confusion, fear, and lack of assurance of salvation.  The screen captures below represent the confusion of one such Facebook user, who’s single-perspective on the law produces the very same “loveless” christianity that she bemoans.

janine-01 janine-02

Notice in her post, it’s not our love but “Jesus’ love through us”.  It’s a list of rules and regulations that no one can follow.  She claims she wants to “emulate” the love of Jesus in her life, but that is impossible to do when your orthodoxy takes away the very means of doing so (anomia).

This same person had posted just a few hours earlier that she was “feeling like a screw-up”, and that she prayed to God to show her that He loved her.  How sad is that!  But this is what protestantism does!  Of course she’s going to feel like a screw-up, because she feels like she is constantly under condemnation.  When you  make perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, how else can you expect to feel when you fail to keep the law?  Of course you would feel like God doesn’t love you because you’re a screw up.

But then protestantism turns around and teaches us that, don’t worry,  we’re all just totally depraved screw-ups.  We’re just sinners saved by grace.  As if that’s supposed to make everything perfectly acceptable.

Andy

The Songs of Protestantism Say It All – Christians Are Still Sinners in Need of Daily Re-Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 28, 2017

This Sunday while you’re sitting in your local institutional protestant church, take out the hymnbook in front of you and open to any hymn. Read the lyrics carefully and ask yourself why the words talk about saved people as if they are still unsaved.


Nothing but the Blood
– Robert Lowry, 1876

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain:
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my hope and peace, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

His Robes for Mine – Lyrics by Chris Anderson, Music by Greg Habegger; 2008

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

Refrain:
I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:
Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.
Bought by such love, my life is not my own.
My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?
God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.
Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,
Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.
Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.
Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “’Tis done!”
Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.
Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.
He, as though I, accursed and left alone;
I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!

If you look up the above hymn on Anderson’s Church Works Media web page, you will find the following under the heading “Doctrinal Notes.” I don’t think any commentary is needed from me. The words speak for themselves.  But notice the authentic protestant orthodoxy of Law being the standard of righteousness in direct contradiction to Romans 3:21, 28!

“Because God delights in worship that is biblical, thoughtful and passionate—what we often call intentional—please consider the following overview of the biblical texts and doctrinal themes behind the hymn ‘His Robes for Mine’:

“The 4 verses focus on 4 major themes included in the doctrine of justification. Verse 1 addresses the hymn’s overriding theme of “The Great Exchange.” Jesus Christ was made sin for us in order that we might be declared righteous in Him. The great doctrine of imputed righteousness and unrighteousness grows out of a number of wondrous texts (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:19-4:8; Philippians 3:9) and is often pictured in Scripture by the exchange of garments (Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3; Matthew 22:1-14; Revelation 7:9-14). Hence, the theme of the song.

Verse 2 focuses on Christ’s active obedience—the fact that He mastered God’s Law in the place of sinners who could not, thus earning righteousness on our behalf. It was added essentially at the recommendation of my teacher and friend Michael Barrett, who has done a great deal to assist me in my understanding of justification. The key lesson here is that the righteousness imputed to me was Christ’s earned righteousness which He acquired by perfect obedience to God’s Law, not the inherent righteousness which He has eternally possessed by virtue of His deity. The great truth of Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father’s will and the imputation of that righteousness to repentant sinners is taught in Matthew 3:15; John 8:29; 1 John 2:1; Romans 1:17; 2:13; 3:22; 4:4-6, 11b and 5:17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:30, et al.

“Verse 3 focuses on the grand doctrine of propitiation, the fact that God’s wrath was not merely deflected from us by Christ, but was rather absorbed by Him in our place. Jesus Christ bore the infinite wrath of God against sin, satisfying God’s wrath and enabling sinners to be forgiven—and justly so. Isaiah 53:10-11 describes it this way: God looks on the travail of Christ’s soul and is satisfied by it. His wrath has been exhausted on Christ. The doctrine of propitiation is taught Isaiah 53, Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2 and 4:10, et al.

“Verse 4 summarizes the hymn by describing the results of the Great Exchange—Christ forsaken and the sinner embraced by God. The role change of the sinner and Christ is amazing: the beloved Son of God was forsaken (Matthew 27:46) in order that the cursed enemy of God might be beloved (Romans 5:1-2; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 4:9-14). Though I understand this doctrine biblically, I certainly cannot fathom it. It is astounding. It is wonderful.

“Finally, we added a refrain which expresses our wonder at the cost of our salvation, then responds to Christ’s love with worship and consecration (Romans 6:19-20; Romans 12:1-2; Acts 20:28b). Thus, the song doesn’t really progress from verse 1 to verse 4, but instead moves toward and peaks at the refrain after each of the four meditations. Greg expresses the heartbeat of the refrain wonderfully with a gorgeous melodic line, and I trust that your congregation will delight to lift your voices and proclaim: ‘I cling to Christ and marvel at the cost!’

“As with other projects, our greatest delight would be for the Lord to use this song to point people toward Christ. I pray that it will help you mine the infinite riches of the salvation won for us when Christ donned our filthy garments of sin and provided for us the robes of His own righteousness! What a Savior the Lord Jesus is! To Him be all glory, honor, and praise!”

Isn’t it telling that a man who graduated from seminary and is leading his own church as a senior pastor needs assistance in understanding justification?  So not only are the laity clueless but the leadership is as well, and here is one who comes right out and admits it!

~ Andy

 

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 8, 2017

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

“It’s Not a List of Do’s and Don’ts”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 24, 2016

Protestant orthodoxy wreaks havoc in the lives of believers.  It produces confusion, fear, and lack of assurance of salvation.  The screen captures below represent the confusion of one such Facebook user, who’s single-perspective on the law produces the very same “loveless” christianity that she bemoans.

janine-01 janine-02

Notice in her post, it’s not our love but “Jesus’ love through us”.  It’s a list of rules and regulations that no one can follow.  She claims she wants to “emulate” the love of Jesus in her life, but that is impossible to do when your orthodoxy takes away the very means of doing so (anomia).

This same person had posted just a few hours earlier that she was “feeling like a screw-up”, and that she prayed to God to show her that He loved her.  How sad is that!  But this is what protestantism does!  Of course she’s going to feel like a screw-up, because she feels like she is constantly under condemnation.  When you  make perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, how else can you expect to feel when you fail to keep the law?  Of course you would feel like God doesn’t love you because you’re a screw up.

But then protestantism turns around and teaches us that, don’t worry,  we’re all just totally depraved screw-ups.  We’re just sinners saved by grace.  As if that’s supposed to make everything perfectly acceptable.

Andy

Good Works, Sin, and the Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 7, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology.”

Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved…Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience.”

Truth be known, most professing Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that salvation is a mere legal declaration by God based on a signed contract. According to the contract, we are declared legal by God if we denounce all self worth, declare all of our works and the works of others as “filthy rags,” and submit ourselves to “godly authority.” According to Luther and Calvin, we are in breach of contract if we think we can do a good work. And because of our supposed natural pertinacity to think we have some goodness within us, we can never be sure that we are upholding our end of the bargain. Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology. Of course, this so-called gospel is couched in spiritual sounding terms like “covenant” and “grace” and “justification,” etc.

Most Christians are uncomfortable with what goes on in the institutional church, but what else is there? Protestantism, like all doctrines of tyranny, seeks to dumb down the masses they seek to control. Why? Because one of the major essences of sin is a desire to control. Collectivist doctrines and Sin have always walked closely together, and always will, be driven by low information. Protestants can make no sense of the world at all without paradox as a primary hermeneutic; and in fact, paradox is the primary hermeneutic of orthodoxy. Funny, if not so sad, would be the Protestant assertion that “walk by faith and not by sight” means that it is perfectly alright that life makes no sense at all. After all, we are “totally depraved,” and cannot really know anything except “Christ and Him crucified.”

The Catholic Church has never been shy about stating that information in the hands of the great unwashed is like handing a toddler a loaded gun, but Protestant academics skinned the cat a different way: knowledge about the fact that you can’t know anything is really, really deep, and shame on any saint that does not “study [this fact] to show yourself approved.” And, but of course there is work in the Christian life; as Tullian Tchividjian also said, seeking to see your depravity in a deeper and deeper way IS hard work! Again, because of our “natural” tendency to think we can do something good.

So, a knowledgeable Protestant will interpret the following event this way: a garage mechanic finds 10,000 dollars left in a car, and the former owner was unaware that her dead husband left it there to surprise her. He turned in the money to his manager; seemingly a good deed. But, this auto mechanic is going to hell because he thinks he did a good work. According to Luther and Calvin, believing you can do a good work is “mortal sin,” and the belief that one can fulfill any aspect of the law perfectly. Less knowledgeable Protestants are merely confused by these kinds of events because they, by design, have no real knowledge of biblical law/gospel.

First of all, we must begin with a very, very short philosophy lesson that dumbed-down Protestants don’t think they need. But, fact is, if you don’t have at least a basic knowledge of Gnosticism, you will be unable to understand little going on in the church today, if anything. However, I am going to make this very simple: holiness can dwell with weakness. The present creation, though fallen, is not inherently evil, but rather weak. Weakness does not equal evil. Let me demonstrate. Are the angels weaker than God? Yes, but are they also “holy”? Yes.

Our mortality makes us weak, and Sin abides in our mortal bodies, but Sin does not define mortality. We have the treasure of the new birth in clay (weak) vessels. Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved. In the lost who are not born again, Sin’s foe is the law written upon the heart’s of every individual born into the world. The conscience is the judge that sits over this law and either accuses the individual or excuses them. Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience. If the conscience (judge) has no law, there is no condemnation.

Hence, lack of a developed moral compass via teaching will generally determine the potency of a child’s conscience, and also determine one’s moral compass into adulthood. A judge without a law sits silently. We see this dynamic at work in the aforementioned article cited by the embedded link. Christ often noted that the law written on every person’s heart is a sort of thumbnail version of the more specific law that is the Bible. It is not uncommon for the secular “Golden Rule” to be biblically consistent. This is why the mechanic said he gave back the money; it’s the way he was raised (learned common decency that gives the conscience [judge] a law to work with), and he imagined how he would have felt if the money was his and he lost it (do unto others as you would have others do to you).

So did he do a good work? Yes, of course he did. He obeyed the law written on his heart by God. Will that good work save him? No, of course not. The conscience may temporarily reward him with good feelings, but that will not save him either. This is where we must segue into a little more philosophy. What is your perception of God? Is He an invisible aloof God that disdains everything material? Should we be amazed that He would even acknowledge our existence on any level? Or is He a God that makes Himself known and wishes to see all people saved? Does He actively push all to the precipice of salvation through the very design of His gospel? I think it is the latter, and this is where freewill comes into play: God creates a conscience and a law within us, but it is up to us to develop the conscience through choices. If parents understand this biblical dynamic, they have a clear choice in how they raise their children including the acceptance of contrary philosophies regarding the conscience.

So, God sought to further define what we will call the common heart law with the Old Covenant law, or the law of Moses. There are two laws being dealt with here, and Sin is against both laws. Therefore, the increase of law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn. Sin came into the world as an enemy of good, and its mode of operation is to incite rebellion for purposes of condemnation. Sin seeks the destruction of God’s creation on all counts. More law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn through sinful desires. Sin appeals to the individual through sinful desires, and those desires will prevail according to the strength of one’s developed conscience. Have no doubt: there is a warfare going on inside the unbeliever. Remember, the mechanic acknowledged that keeping the money was a desirable thought, but he knew that would be wrong, was not how he was raised, and wouldn’t be treating others the way he wants to be treated. Moreover, he probably knew his conscience would not allow him to enjoy the booty anyway.

The law is also good. The more law the better. The law is the standard for loving God and others. What if God ended the law’s ability to condemn and only made it useful for love? This would disarm Sin; if sin cannot condemn, it has no power, purpose, or incentive. This is where we talk a little bit about the gospel of Moses. The law can condemn leading to death, and it can love leading to life. As far as those born under the law, they can choose life or death, but ultimately, their end is death. They will suffer lesser death to the degree that they obey their consciences.

This is where the true gospel comes in according to the new birth. The law of Moses not only defines all sin leading to death, but it also defines all love leading to life. Until Christ came, all sin was imputed to the law as a possible indictment. The law held sin “captive” until “faith” came. Of course, the law could still be used to love as well. Christ’s primary gospel role was to die on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, and thereby ending it. Sin or the law? Both. Christ’s death ended the law’s ability to condemn. His death on the cross paves the way for the Spirit to baptize a believer in His death, and resurrect the believer in the same way He resurrected Christ. The new creature born of God cannot be condemned by the law, and therefore, Sin is stripped of its power. That is, IF the believer knows this. Sin can still make an appeal through desires, but the new birth counters that with NEW DESIRES infused by the new birth, specifically, a love for the law that did not previously exist. A believer can still experience the consequences of temporary death from disobedience and the fear thereof, but not the fear of eternal death because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, viz, born into His literal family with God the Father.

So, yes, everyone does good works, but for the unsaved it is lesser death; for the believer it is more life. The unbeliever is still under the condemnation of the law, has an indifference to God’s law, and doesn’t see God’s law as the definition of love. This is why unbelievers often distort the meaning of the word, for one example among myriad, “I love you, but I am divorcing you.” This makes the unbeliever captive to sin. Depending on one’s upbringing, and consequently the strength of their conscience and good habits, their life will be commended by lesser death, but not more life.

In contrast, the born again believer is free from all eternal condemnation, thus stripping Sin of its power, is given a new-found love for the law and truth, and experiences life more abundantly unless he or she obeys sinful desires still present leading to death albeit temporary consequences.

BUT, if so-called believers are taught that they cannot obey the law “perfectly” (which is not the point to begin with) which is supposedly the standard for being truly justified, and thereby leading to a relaxing of the law, you can now easily understand why secular people often live better than church members: their lesser death looks better than lesser life. In other words, the lost world can obey their consciences better than “God’s people” can obey the Bible because they don’t believe they can.

Moreover, so-called saints can also see the law written on their hearts as equally futile because law is law either way—law can only condemn. This totally eliminates the concept of justice which is not absent from the law written on the hearts of all born into the world. This means that the world will have more of a concept of justice than the church. Sound familiar?

Justification is not a mere “legal declaration.” In fact, law has not one wit anything to do with justification. The law either condemns or loves depending on whether a person is saved or unsaved. For the true believer, the law is for love—not justification. The belief that Christ keeps the law for us, because all are unable, accomplishes nothing because the law cannot justify—it can only love.

paul

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