Paul's Passing Thoughts

How to Debate A Calvinist: Part 1 – By John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 2, 2019

The following is part one of a five-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five

“Have you read Calvin’s Institutes today?”

(Watch original session video here)

I must confess, I really struggled this year with what I wanted to talk about. My brain bounced off about a dozen things. I originally thought I was going to dig deeper into the impact of John Locke on American civil government, American religion, the American Revolution. But at the end of the day it didn’t really catch and sustain my attention too much.

Then I thought I might actually discuss death and life and exegete the first four chapters of the book of Genesis. And that didn’t really stick with me very long. And I toyed with a half a dozen other things that just don’t bear mentioning.

Then about two or three months ago I was reading an interaction on Paul’s Passing Thoughts between Paul Dohse and a guy by the name of “GraceWriterRandy”. Now, trust me, this conference is not about GraceWriterRandy, but he is a fantastic anecdote. And so I decided to go ahead and talk about what he did and how that applies generally.

So here is what I noticed. And what so caught my attention was that Randy presumed to set the tone for the entire conversation, and frankly it didn’t matter what part of the conversation. He decided that he was going to dictate the moral and intellectual terms across the board. He reserved the right to make the discussion as narrow or as broad as he wanted.

And then what really bothered me is that everybody accepted the premise. Everybody tended to follow along. So if Randy reframed the conversation, everybody accepted the shift. If Randy argued scripture, everybody started stacking up scriptures. If Randy shifted to moral criticism, everybody started lobbing moral accusations. If Randy challenged a definition, everybody started parsing meanings.

And this is when I realized that I actually had my topic of conversation: Arguments with Calvinists, and trying to unravel the roots of their arguments.

And this is why no one ever gets anywhere in a debate with a Calvinist, because they let the Calvinist shape the direction of the conversation. People rarely ever challenge the Calvinist root assumptions. They let the Calvinist decide that it is their sole right to define all things moral, spiritual, and intellectual. And the foundation of all their arguments is the myth of their [Calvinists’] own authority and their entitlement to dictated force.

So I came up with a brief algebra of historic “Christian” authority:

The Algebra of Authority

Catholic Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Apostolic Authority + Scripture = Error Free Doctrine + Apostolic Succession = Papal Authority = Orthodoxy = Government Force

I want you to notice that the fulcrum of Catholic doctrine is Apostolic Authority PLUS Scripture. Everything else, how they get their doctrinal interpretations, is a direct product of this. Catholics had decided long ago that the reason that “Scripture Alone” got so much traction is because the Catholic church, specifically Papal Authority, decided that it was their job to interpret what it said. But at the end of the day, Orthodoxy is what determines Government Force. In other words, the Pope has the right to compel you to what you think.

Here’s what happened when Protestantism showed up:

Protestant Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Scriptural Authority = Predestined Elders = Error Free Doctrine + Ecclesiastical Force = Orthodoxy

It is very important that you see the relationship here. Predestined Elders inherit the implications of their own Absolute Truth. The function of Predestined Elders in the Protestant world is to compel you to think whatever it is they think they have the right to compel you to think.

This is crucial for you to understand: Authority = Force

Any time somebody says, “I am an authority,” what they are really saying is, “I have the right to force you to do something.” There is nothing elegant about it.

So then how do you debate a Calvinist?

The answer is: You challenge the roots.

This is why I insist, particularly with regard to GraceWriterRandy, no one ever successfully challenges the roots of the assertion.

I have been talking about my web of tyranny now for the last six years. This is my contribution to the world of philosophy. I have identified what I believe are the five fundamental pillars of tyranny. It doesn’t matter what the ultimate end game is, all tyrannies have these five sub-categories or arguments: Dictated Good, Universal Guilt, Abolition of Ambition, Collective Conformity, and Incompetent Masses. The function of all these sub-categories is designed to create “Utopia,” or an alternate reality.

The reason I have rendered this as a web is because it is not specifically linear. In other words, there is not specifically a logical progression of one to the other. Instead there is a dynamic tension between all five, so all of the arguments act in harmony with all of the others to compel you down the path of this alternate reality; the right to determine some other realm of thinking.

What we have never really discussed is how the arguments fit into the web. On occasion over the last few years I have made reference to when an argument sits, but I want to have an overarching view. I want to start subdividing some of the arguments that you will hear. I’ve tried to pick archetypes of the arguments, and we will try to unravel them in later sessions.

If we are going to successfully debate Calvinist, we have to get good at identifying the foundational assumptions, because:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Frankly, I don’t think we can have any better object lesson of this truth played out in our civil discourse than the logical assumption of a group of people tearing down historic monuments over wars that were fought long ago over offenses that are entirely manufactured. They are in actuality fulfilling a body of logic that produces some action.

Ideas are what drive human action. There is body of ideas, and a fundamental integration of those ideas, that produces your actions in any given day. This integration is called Philosophy.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

The roots are your metaphysical assumptions; whatever you accept about the nature of existence. Once you actually establish your foundation of metaphysical assumptions, you move to epistemology. That is what you believe your mind can understand. Once you identify what your mind can and cannot know, you move on to ethics. These are the moral judgments that you have about your actions; what is good and what is evil. This is how we define how we interact with other people through politics. Once man is able to establish these first four disciplines, he is able to refresh his existence with artistic expression. His art is a reflection of his most deeply held values.


The Orthodoxy Happy Dance

You might begin to talk to a Calvinist by presenting to him what Luther or Calvin said regarding a certain doctrine, and all is well and good until the Calvinist encounters something he doesn’t like. At this point he might respond by saying, “Well, Calvin might have believed that, but it was really the Synod of Dort that came up with this thing called T.U.L.I.P.” At this point they have made the Synod of Dort their authority over Calvin and Luther.

So then you proceed to point out a fallacy in T.U.L.I.P or the Synod of Dort, and now they might cite the Westminster Confession as being the final authority on the matter, rejecting the Synod of Dort. Notice what they are able to do. At any point in the argument that they don’t happen to like a given intellectual conclusion, no matter where it starts, they get to dance around between any given authority that suits them at any particular moment.

Take a look at the video below. This is an excerpt from a breakout session at the 2016 Cross for the Nations Conference in Indianapolis, IN. In this clip, you will hear John Piper make a reference to being committed to “the whole Calvinistic scheme.” Watch then, as Paul Dohse challenges Piper on the matter of election, Piper proceeds to engage in this orthodoxy happy dance.

Did you catch it? What you just saw Piper do is exactly what Calvinist do with impunity. They want the right to pick any given authority as their intellectual forbearers and then disown those intellectual forbearers whenever it suits their purpose. And this is why I call it the Orthodoxy Happy Dance, because orthodoxy at the end is this amorphous concept to which they get to appeal. They make an appeal to something that has no functional definition. At the end of the day, the real root of what they are advocating is their right to their own authority.

Notice that when pressed on the Calvin Institutes, Piper immediately became a Biblicist. What you will eventually realize, if you care to pay attention, is that Calvinists don’t read the Calvin Institutes ever. They read a few select excerpt here and there and then pretend that it is their intellectual pedigree, which they then believe gives them the license to tell you what to think. You peg them down on what they think and then they just jump to some other source of intellectual pedigree.

This sort of intellectual two-step is a direct violation of Aristotle’s Law of Identity; that A is A. Something cannot be “A” and “not A” at the same time. But with Calvinists, orthodoxy can be anything they want it to be. They have no intellectual integrity. They are not committed to anything specific. This is why every time you start debating Calvinists your conversations go nowhere.

Any time you have such a conversation, what you must do is make them responsible for their intellectual pedigree. If at any point they want to reject any point of Calvinism, they are rejecting the roots of orthodoxy. You will see this comment consistently:

“Calvinists don’t believe everything that John Calvin said…The Bible says blah, blah, blah…”

This is a glittering gem of colossal ignorance. It kills me every time I see it. I guarantee if you read anybody’s blog and you take somebody to task you will get a similar response. Pay attention to this. This is the formulation. They will identify themselves as Calvinists, and then they will pretend that they don’t believe what Calvin said. Suddenly they are independent thinkers and Biblicists. This is a gambit to what they believe they control – Biblical interpretation.

The next time you hear this line of logic, what you must say is, “So, you reject John Calvin’s ideas? Excellent! We agree on something. In your copy of Calvin’s Institutes, show me specifically to what you object.” This must be the only answer you will accept, but here is the thing; they will never do it. They will want to play their gambit of Biblical interpretation because they believe they own it.

Your rebuttal when they go back to the Bible, you say, “So, you are really saying that Calvin’s ideas are not in the Bible, right?” If they have to constantly run back to the Bible, then that means they cannot find those ideas in the Calvin’s Institutes. The moment they concede that point, then the next question you ask is, “So that means that Calvin’s teachings are unbiblical, right? That would make him a heretic, right?”   Follow this progression of questioning, and don’t let them leave this point! They must commit to what they are advocating.

You want to make sure they can never escape either an acceptance of Calvin or a rejection of Calvin. They must either accept that there is a synonymous relationship between Calvin and the Bible or there is not one. The moment you drive that wedge they are stuck. They use Calvin to establish their historic pedigree – “I have authority because I believe what all these other historic thinkers think.” Yet at the same time they want to turn around and claim intellectual autonomy whenever they choose. So which is it; historical authority or your own intellectual authority? That is the fulcrum of the debate.

If the truth is defined as “authority,” then there is no such thing as “I think…” The assumption is Authority = No Doctrinal Error; that the only way you can hedge against doctrinal error is to have authority. So the reason they argue “authority” is because they insist that they are the ones who get it all right. But the moment you confront them with something that isn’t right, they want to renounce the very thing that gives them authority. This is what you can never let them get away with.

The real argument here is that they have abandoned the right to the Aristotelian Law of Identity. They are constantly trying to say that “A” can be “B” and “B” can be “A”. They want to have a “both/and” reality.

  • Both final authority and error-filled humans.
  • Both defender of orthodoxy and an individual thinker denouncing Calvin’s doctrine.
  • Both herald of God’s mystic revelation and defender of “objective” truth.
  • Both lowly unoriginal mind slave and epitome of rational judgment.
  • Both champion of God’s hard truth and pitiful victim of undeserved criticism.

The way to defeat Calvinists is to deny them their authority and hammer away at reality. Reality is their enemy. The reason they engage in the Orthodoxy Happy Dance is because the moment they are confronted with the specifics of history they are toast.

But be forewarned:

  • Try to rebuff a Calvinist’s right to define all things and they pretend that no is their equal.
  • Try to reject a Calvinist’s monopoly on moral virtue, and they snarl that no man is righteous.
  • Try to refuse to let a Calvinist define reality, and they resort to force.

…To be continued


Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five

How to Debate A Calvinist: Part 1 – By John Immel

Posted in John Immel, TANC 2017 by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 13, 2017

The following is part one of a five-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five

“Have you read Calvin’s Institutes today?”

I must confess, I really struggled this year with what I wanted to talk about. My brain bounced off about a dozen things. I originally thought I was going to dig deeper into the impact of John Locke on American civil government, American religion, the American Revolution. But at the end of the day it didn’t really catch and sustain my attention too much.

Then I thought I might actually discuss death and life and exegete the first four chapters of the book of Genesis. And that didn’t really stick with me very long. And I toyed with a half a dozen other things that just don’t bear mentioning.

Then about two or three months ago I was reading an interaction on Paul’s Passing Thoughts between Paul Dohse and a guy by the name of “GraceWriterRandy”. Now, trust me, this conference is not about GraceWriterRandy, but he is a fantastic anecdote. And so I decided to go ahead and talk about what he did and how that applies generally.

So here is what I noticed. And what so caught my attention was that Randy presumed to set the tone for the entire conversation, and frankly it didn’t matter what part of the conversation. He decided that he was going to dictate the moral and intellectual terms across the board. He reserved the right to make the discussion as narrow or as broad as he wanted.

And then what really bothered me is that everybody accepted the premise. Everybody tended to follow along. So if Randy reframed the conversation, everybody accepted the shift. If Randy argued scripture, everybody started stacking up scriptures. If Randy shifted to moral criticism, everybody started lobbing moral accusations. If Randy challenged a definition, everybody started parsing meanings.

And this is when I realized that I actually had my topic of conversation: Arguments with Calvinists, and trying to unravel the roots of their arguments.

And this is why no one ever gets anywhere in a debate with a Calvinist, because they let the Calvinist shape the direction of the conversation. People rarely ever challenge the Calvinist root assumptions. They let the Calvinist decide that it is their sole right to define all things moral, spiritual, and intellectual. And the foundation of all their arguments is the myth of their [Calvinists’] own authority and their entitlement to dictated force.

So I came up with a brief algebra of historic “Christian” authority:

The Algebra of Authority

Catholic Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Apostolic Authority + Scripture = Error Free Doctrine + Apostolic Succession = Papal Authority = Orthodoxy = Government Force

I want you to notice that the fulcrum of Catholic doctrine is Apostolic Authority PLUS Scripture. Everything else, how they get their doctrinal interpretations, is a direct product of this. Catholics had decided long ago that the reason that “Scripture Alone” got so much traction is because the Catholic church, specifically Papal Authority, decided that it was their job to interpret what it said. But at the end of the day, Orthodoxy is what determines Government Force. In other words, the Pope has the right to compel you to what you think.

Here’s what happened when Protestantism showed up:

Protestant Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Scriptural Authority = Predestined Elders = Error Free Doctrine + Ecclesiastical Force = Orthodoxy

It is very important that you see the relationship here. Predestined Elder inherit the implications of their own Absolute Truth. The function of Predestined Elders in the Protestant world is to compel you to think whatever it is they think they have the right to compel you to think.

This is crucial for you to understand: Authority = Force

Any time somebody says, “I am an authority,” what they are really saying is, “I have the right to force you to do something.” There is nothing elegant about it.

So then how do you debate a Calvinist?

The answer is: You challenge the roots.

This is why I insist, particularly with regard to GraceWriterRandy, no one ever successfully challenges the roots of the assertion.

I have been talking about my web of tyranny now for the last six years. This is my contribution to the world of philosophy. I have identified what I believe are the five fundamental pillars of tyranny. It doesn’t matter what the ultimate end game is, all tyrannies have these five sub-categories or arguments: Dictated Good, Universal Guilt, Abolition of Ambition, Collective Conformity, and Incompetent Masses. The function of all these sub-categories is designed to create “Utopia,” or an alternate reality.

The reason I have rendered this as a web is because it is not specifically linear. In other words, there is not specifically a logical progression of one to the other. Instead there is a dynamic tension between all five, so all of the arguments act in harmony with all of the others to compel you down the path of this alternate reality; the right to determine some other realm of thinking.

What we have never really discussed is how the arguments fit into the web. On occasion over the last few years I have made reference to when an argument sits, but I want to have an overarching view. I want to start subdividing some of the arguments that you will hear. I’ve tried to pick archetypes of the arguments, and we will try to unravel them in later sessions.

If we are going to successfully debate Calvinist, we have to get good at identifying the foundational assumptions, because:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Frankly, I don’t think we can have any better object lesson of this truth played out in our civil discourse than the logical assumption of a group of people tearing down historic monuments over wars that were fought long ago over offenses that are entirely manufactured. They are in actuality fulfilling a body of logic that produces some action.

Ideas are what drive human action. There is body of ideas, and a fundamental integration of those ideas, that produces your actions in any given day. This integration is called Philosophy.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

The roots are your metaphysical assumptions; whatever you accept about the nature of existence. Once you actually establish your foundation of metaphysical assumptions, you move to epistemology. That is what you believe your mind can understand. Once you identify what your mind can and cannot know, you move on to ethics. These are the moral judgments that you have about your actions; what is good and what is evil. This is how we define how we interact with other people through politics. Once man is able to establish these first four disciplines, he is able to refresh his existence with artistic expression. His art is a reflection of his most deeply held values.


The Orthodoxy Happy Dance

You might begin to talk to a Calvinist by presenting to him what Luther or Calvin said regarding a certain doctrine, and all is well and good until the Calvinist encounters something he doesn’t like. At this point he might respond by saying, “Well, Calvin might have believed that, but it was really the Synod of Dort that came up with this thing called T.U.L.I.P.” At this point they have made the Synod of Dort their authority over Calvin and Luther.

So then you proceed to point out a fallacy in T.U.L.I.P or the Synod of Dort, and now they might cite the Westminster Confession as being the final authority on the matter, rejecting the Synod of Dort. Notice what they are able to do. At any point in the argument that they don’t happen to like an given intellectual conclusion, no matter where it starts, they get to dance around between any given authority that suits them at any particular moment.

Take a look at the video below. This is an excerpt from a breakout session at the 2016 Cross for the Nations Conference in Indianapolis, IN. In this clip, you will hear John Piper make a reference to being committed to “the whole Calvinistic scheme.” Watch then, as Paul Dohse challenges Piper on the matter of election, Piper proceeds to engage in this orthodoxy happy dance.

Did you catch it? What you just saw Piper do is exactly what Calvinist do with impunity. They want the right to pick any given authority as their intellectual forbearers and then disown those intellectual forbearers whenever it suits their purpose. And this is why I call it the Orthodoxy Happy Dance, because orthodoxy at the end is this amorphous concept to which they get to appeal. They make an appeal to something that has no functional definition. At the end of the day, the real root of what they are advocating is their right to their own authority.

Notice that when pressed on the Calvin Institutes, Piper immediately became a Biblicist. What you will eventually realize, if you care to pay attention, is that Calvinists don’t read the Calvin Institutes ever. They read a few select excerpt here and there and then pretend that it is their intellectual pedigree, which they then believe gives them the license to tell you what to think. You peg them down on what they think and then they just jump to some other source of intellectual pedigree.

This sort of intellectual two-step is a direct violation of Aristotle’s Law of Identity; that A is A. Something cannot be “A” and “not A” at the same time. But with Calvinists, orthodoxy can be anything they want it to be. They have no intellectual integrity. They are not committed to anything specific. This is why every time you start debating Calvinists your conversations go nowhere.

Any time you have such a conversation, what you must do is make them responsible for their intellectual pedigree. If at any point they want to reject any point of Calvinism, they are rejecting the roots of orthodoxy. You will see this comment consistently:

“Calvinists don’t believe everything that John Calvin said…The Bible says blah, blah, blah…”

This is a glittering gem of colossal ignorance. It kills me every time I see it. I guarantee if you read anybody’s blog and you take somebody to task you will get a similar response. Pay attention to this. This is the formulation. They will identify themselves as Calvinists, and then they will pretend that they don’t believe what Calvin said. Suddenly they are independent thinkers and Biblicists. This is a gambit to what they believe they control – Biblical interpretation.

The next time you hear this line of logic, what you must say is, “So, you reject John Calvin’s ideas? Excellent! We agree on something. In your copy of Calvin’s Institutes, show me specifically to what you object.” This must be the only answer you will accept, but here is the thing; they will never do it. They will want to play their gambit of Biblical interpretation because they believe they own it.

Your rebuttal when they go back to the Bible, you say, “So, you are really saying that Calvin’s ideas are not in the Bible, right?” If they have to constantly run back to the Bible, then that means they cannot find those ideas in the Calvin’s Institutes. The moment they concede that point, then the next question you ask is, “So that means that Calvin’s teachings are unbiblical, right? That would make him a heretic, right?”   Follow this progression of questioning, and don’t let them leave this point! They must commit to what they are advocating.

You want to make sure they can never escape either an acceptance of Calvin or a rejection of Calvin. They must either accept that there is a synonymous relationship between Calvin and the Bible or there is not one. The moment you drive that wedge they are stuck. They use Calvin to establish their historic pedigree – “I have authority because I believe what all these other historic thinkers think.” Yet at the same time they want to turn around and claim intellectual autonomy whenever they choose. So which is it; historical authority or your own intellectual authority? That is the fulcrum of the debate.

If the truth is defined as “authority,” then there is no such thing as “I think…” The assumption is Authority = No Doctrinal Error; that the only way you can hedge against doctrinal error is to have authority. So the reason they argue “authority” is because they insist that they are the ones who get it all right. But the moment you confront them with something that isn’t right, they want to renounce the very thing that gives them authority. This is what you can never let them get away with.

The real argument here is that they have abandoned the right to the Aristotelian Law of Identity. They are constantly trying to say that “A” can be “B” and “B” can be “A”. They want to have a “both/and” reality.

  • Both final authority and error-filled humans.
  • Both defender of orthodoxy and an individual thinker denouncing Calvin’s doctrine.
  • Both herald of God’s mystic revelation and defender of “objective” truth.
  • Both lowly unoriginal mind slave and epitome of rational judgment.
  • Both champion of God’s hard truth and pitiful victim of undeserved criticism.

The way to defeat Calvinists is to deny them their authority and hammer away at reality. Reality is their enemy. The reason they engage in the Orthodoxy Happy Dance is because the moment they are confronted with the specifics of history they are toast.

But be forewarned:

  • Try to rebuff a Calvinist’s right to define all things and they pretend that no is their equal.
  • Try to reject a Calvinist’s monopoly on moral virtue, and they snarl that no man is righteous.
  • Try to refuse to let a Calvinist define reality, and they resort to force.

…To be continued


Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five

Reformed Caste System: The Puritans Saw Violation of Caste as Equal to Violation of the 5th Commandment

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 2, 2016

This article is updated and revised from an article originally published on October 4, 2012

“But with this considered, the Puritans believed that the idol of upward social mobility was a specific violation of the 5th commandment. Yes, wanting to improve the lot you were born into was dishonoring one’s parents.” 

There is a reason for everything. I like reasons; the “why.” I understand that “Stupid is—is stupid does,” but I want to know why people are stupid. “They’re just stupid”; that’s easy, discovering why they are stupid can enable us to save them from their stupidness and thus give them hope. See, I really am a loving, hopeful kind of guy.

Why do Protestants constantly quote and point to the Westminster Confession to make their points? And why does that irritate us so much? The second why is easy; they act like the Confession has the same authority as Scripture. An added third why changes our irritation to fear: the Westminster Confession was a standard of civil law compiled by Calvinistic Puritans at the beckoning of the Church of England. Hence, when Protestants cite the confession, they are exposing their kinship, knowingly or ignorantly, to a theocratic document (“Theocracy is a form of government in which official policy is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or is pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group”[and I will give you three wild guesses as to who Protestants believe are the “divinely guided” ones]).

Later, the Church of England and the Puritans had a lovers quarrel over control of European mutton, and the Puritans were labeled, “nonconformists.” Other groups of Baptist origin were labeled the same regardless of their devotion to the same totalitarian principles as the Church of England; ie., the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was drawn from the Westminster Confession and written by Puritans as well. After this totalitarian plague landed in America, another document was drafted from the Westminster model, this time by the “Pilgrims” (alien European Puritans): The Savoy Declaration.

These documents encompass a conviction for state and church to rule together at the supposed pleasure of God, and with all of His authority by proxy. Ooopsies and boo-boos are covered by diplomatic immunity. Be not deceived: the spirit of the Westminster Confession is the lust of every authentic Protestant. That’s the why behind their obsessive citation of it.

However, the central idea of the Westminster Confession, that totally depraved mankind must be ruled with a divine iron fist, is going to manifest itself in a number of different applicable elements. Authentic Protestants use this for cover; the “fact” that they don’t “agree with everything” in the Confession supplies cover for the fact that they are totally sold out for the central idea that is the foundation of the document. That would be the control of the totally depraved by the “Westminster divines” of whom they are kin.

The heart of the document and its sentiment is revealed in the applicable elements—one being a caste system modeled after the extreme European social caste system of that day. Misrepresenting your social class to marry into a family that was in a higher social stratum was a capital offense.  Different social classes dressed differently, and entitlements were also determined by class as well.

The Puritans were really, really big on the whole idea of being content with were God had sovereignly placed you in life. In all caste systems, your social stratum is determined by what stratum you were born into; ie, determined by the social stratum of your parents. The system disallowed mobility between the social strata, or for all practical purposes: improvement. Of course, there were rare exceptions born of the milieu of life combined with intentionality for those who dared.

Notwithstanding, the Puritans saw a desire to climb the social strata as a “heart” problem: pride, discontent, thinking that your totally-depraved-self deserves more than your sovereignly appointed lot in life—which is a magnificent gift compared to what you deserve: hell. Today’s authentic Protestant Puritan wannabes would say that you have “idols of the heart.”

But with this considered, the Puritans believed that the idol of upward social mobility was a specific violation of the 5th commandment. Yes, wanting to improve the lot you were born into was dishonoring one’s parents:

The essence of the Puritan idea of status is found in the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith, that comprehensive body of theology hammered out by the Puritan scholars of Cromwell’s England in the mid-1640′s. The question of status was basic to the Puritans’ interpretation of the Fifth Commandment, “honor thy father and thy mother.”

By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth…. The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals (Gary North: The Freeman; June 1974 • Volume: 24 • Issue: 6).

The logical conclusion is borne out by what the Americanized Puritans (Pilgrims) instituted as civil law in their own New England old England way. Undoubtedly, due to European influence that connected dress to status,  the Pilgrims included what is known as Sumptuary Laws (laws regarding what one may or may not wear) in their theocratic laws:

Colonial Laws of Massachusetts, 1651

Sumptuary Laws (Laws Regarding What One May or May Not Wear)

ALTHOUGH SEVERAL DECLARATIONS and orders have been made by this Court against excess in apparell, both of men and women, which have not taken that effect as were to be desired, but on the contrary, we cannot but to our grief take notice that intolerable excess and bravery have crept in upon us, and especially among people of mean condition, to the dishonor of God, the scandal of our profession, the consumption of estates, and altogether unsuitable to our poverty.  And, although we acknowledge it to be a matter of much difficulty, in regard of the blindness of men’s minds and the stubbornness of their wills, to set down exact rules to confine all sorts of persons, yet we cannot but account it our duty to commend unto all sorts of persons the sober and moderate use of those blessings which, beyond expectation, the Lord has been pleased to afford unto us in this wilderness.  And also to declare our utter detestation and dislike that men and women of mean condition should take upon them the garb gentlemen by wearing gold or silver lace, or buttons, or points at their knees, or to walk in great boots; or women of the same ran to wear silk or tiffany hoods, or scarves which, though allowable to persons of greater estates or more liberal education, we cannot but judge it intolerable. . . .

It is therefore ordered by this Court, and authority thereof, that no person within the jurisdiction, nor any of their relations depending upon them, whose visible estates, real and personal, shall not exceed the true and indifferent value of £200, shall wear any gold or silver lace, or gold and silver buttons, or any bone lace above 2s. per yard, or silk hoods, or scarves, upon the penalty of 10s.  for every such offense and every such delinquent to be presented to the grand jury. And forasmuch as distinct and particular rules in this case suitable to the estate or quality of each perrson cannot easily be given: It is furtber ordered by the authority aforesaid, that the selectmen of every town, or the major part of them, are hereby enabled and required, from time to time to have regard and take notice of the apparel of the inhabitants of their several towns respectively; and whosoever they shall judge to exceed their ranks and abilities in the costliness or fashion of their apparel in any respect, especially in the wearing of ribbons or great boots (leather being so scarce a commodity in this country) lace, points, etc., silk hoods, or scarves, the select men aforesaid shall have power to assess such persons, so offending in any of the particulars above mentioned, in the country rates, at £200 estates, according to that proportion that such men use to pay to whom such apparel is suitable and allowed; provided this law shall not extend to the restraint of any magistrate or public officer of this jurisdiction, their wives and children, who are left to their discretion in wearing of apparel, or any settled militia officer or soldier in the time of military service, or any other whose education and employment have been above the ordinary degree, or whose estate have been considerable, though now decayed.

And:

By 1674, Cotton Mather’s father, Increase Mather, was convinced that the continual violation of the Fifth Commandment — the status commandment — was the chief sin of his generation. (That someone named Increase could take this position only serves to emphasize the irony.) Inferiors were rising up against superiors in the commonwealth — in families, schools, churches. It was not an uprising that he feared, but this incessant rising up. “If there be any prevailing iniquity in New England, this is it…. And mark what I say, if ever New England be destroyed, this very sin of disobedience to the fifth commandment will be the ruin of the land.” Samuel Willard agreed with Mather.

The problem, as the Puritan divines saw it, was that men were not satisfied with their lot in life. Daniel Dension’s last sermon, appended by another famous preacher of his day, William Hubbard, to Hubbard’s funeral sermon for Denison, cities ambition as the curse of the land, along with envy:”… Ambition is restless, must raise commotions, that thereby it might have an opportunity of advancement, and employ envy to depress others, that they fancy may stand in their way….” Such ambitious men are unwilling “to abide in the calling, wherein they are set; they cannot stay for the blessing, nor believe when God hath need of their service, he will find them an employment, whatever stands in the way of their design, must give place…”(Ibid).

Of course, Protestants would reject this outwardly, but what they can’t deny is that they are merely rejecting a nuance of the central idea that they embrace with all passion.

Caste is king.

paul

Romans 12:17-21, More on Forgiveness and Enemies

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 2, 2015

ppt-jpeg4I don’t know how many articles I have written for my ongoing attempt to slay the blank check forgiveness evangelical sacred cow, but I continue to chop away at him. Despite all of the blood, the stinkin’ thing still lives.

So, let’s keep trying, but first, where does this “offering grace” blank check forgiveness stuff come from? If you followed our Heidelberg Disputation series, you know. There are two kinds of Protestants: Calvinists, and functioning Calvinists. The former hold to predestination and the soteriology, the latter function according to the soteriology while denying the specific orthodoxy.

Blank check forgiveness comes from the Reformation doctrine of total depravity which results in moral equivalency and a single perspective on justice. Basically, due to the total depravity of man, and the idea that man saved or unsaved possesses no good or righteousness within (Luther’s Alien Righteousness), everybody deserves hell; including Christians regardless of their conversion; anything other than hell or lesser than hell is “grace,” and therefore, being wronged is only valuable for showing forth the same grace that we received. Few Protestants understand the doctrine of mortification and vivification. That’s “deep theology,” so instead, they teach and apply the applications of the doctrine that are too deep for them to understand. Blank check forgiveness is one of them.

Mortification and vivification is the perpetual revisiting of our spiritual baptism. In other words, the new birth doesn’t happen once, but is experienced numerous times throughout our Christian lives. Now, Baptists can moan and cry in denial like alley cats in heat, but that’s Protestant doctrine reflected in the Westminster Confession and London Baptist confessions as well. I will keep saying it; there is no religion more confused nor pathetic than Protestantism. At least even Muslims know what they believe for crying out loud.

But back to mortification and vivification which is the primary model for change in Protestant orthodoxy. The goal is to experience our baptism as much as possible via joy. That’s the vivification part that is totally out of our control—it is the resurrection part. But it begins with our part/role in the Christian life: “dying daily,” or mortification. This is how the whole taking up our cross and dying daily verses are interpreted. According to Luther and Calvin, God helps us out with the dying part by bringing tragedy into our lives. Look, if you are, for example, a rape victim that has been counseled by ACBC or CCEF, lightbulbs are starting to turn on right about now.

Enough of that for now, let’s go to Romans 12:

“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is one of the many love your enemies verses. I guess I will keep on saying it: why would Paul concede that we will have enemies in spite of our best efforts if we are to simply forgive everybody who offends us? This passage gives instructions for dealing with enemies. Furthermore, the Bible promises rewards for relating to our enemies in the biblically prescribed way; therefore, does blank check forgiveness deprive us of reward? I think it does. And moreover, there is NO forgiveness of enemies with God unless they repent. In the same way that God blesses His enemies who have not repented, we bless our enemies who have not repented, and this is what leads them to repentance (Romans 2:4). Now, I have some learning to do in regard to how this model works itself out, but that IS the model, NOT blank check forgiveness. It would appear that replacing revenge with blessings prevents bitterness and leads to repentance. It would also seem that the goodness unresponded to will lead to a greater judgment in the end by God.

So, all in all, do I think blank check forgiveness keeps people from repenting? Yes.

paul

The Interpretation of Reality and the Calvinist Swamis

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 14, 2015
Swami Albert Mohler

Swami Albert Mohler at 2011 FBC Conference: pastors are “God-appointed agents to save God’s people from ignorance.”

The fact of the matter follows when you boil it down to the least common denominator: the Protestant Reformation was a quarrel about how one should interpret reality. In other words, sola scriptura is pure propaganda. Especially in our present day, preaching for the most part uses Scripture to promote a certain view of reality. The specific studies on this are the historical-redemptive hermeneutic and what is known as Biblical Theology. These terms are egregiously misleading. Instead of the Bible being used to develop a theology with a historical-grammatical view of reality assumed, the Bible is used as a mere tool for aiding one in interpreting reality as a story, or metaphysical narrative written by a god or plethora of gods.

The concept finds its roots in good old fashioned mythology. One should not think of mythology as rank superstition; to the contrary, mythological narratives are stories written by “gifted” spiritual leaders who understand spiritual truth that the populous at large are not able to understand. The gifted leaders package these truths in bedtime stories that the totally depraved masses can understand for purposes of life application. In Protestant context, we know it as orthodoxy and “subordinate truth.” One example would be the Westminster Confession which was penned by the “Westminster Divines.”1 Ponder that one for awhile if you think words mean things.

The foundation and historical progression is not hard to follow.2 It began in the garden when the serpent attempted to present himself as a mediator between people and God. The case presented to Eve follows: there are things about God that you can’t understand, but because I am a superior being, I can guide you in them to make you more like God. At issue from the very beginning was additional mediators between mankind and God. The serpent suggested that the direct relationship between God and mankind was lacking. This is the lie that forms the foundation of all false religions. Instead of mankind at large having initial and ongoing direct access to God at all times, false teachers make the case that they are the gateway to God or some kind of utopia.

Almost immediately after the garden, the religion of spiritual caste was off and running. More than likely, Hinduism was the first formal religion of spiritual hierarchy. True salvation is a body with one head—Christ. Because we are literally born of God into His literal family, we love God and are new creatures who think like Him, and have the same mind of His Son, Christ. Unity comes from having the same mind in Christ, and coming to agreement on such.3 If there is only one mind, and there is disagreement, obviously everybody must agree that someone is right and someone is wrong. However, Scripture instructs us to leave room for the members to be convinced in their own minds and according to the development of a biblical conscience.4 Of course, this would exclude the gospel of first order that cannot be compromised.5

In spiritual caste, an elite class understands reality while the masses are unable. This is usually divided between the material and the invisible as two different realities. Fundamentally, the material is evil and the invisible is good. One may suspect that the incarnation of Christ was a direct pushback to that idea. And of course, if the elite know what’s best for the great unwashed, for the best possible well-being of humanity in general, they must rule over those enslaved to interpreting reality through their five senses. This is where authority comes in; supposedly, for the sake of mankind. So, let’s review the primary tenets of most religions:

  1. Two realities divided by truth versus illusion.
  2. Mediators between truth and illusion.
  3. The mediators should have authority for the sake of humanity.

Usually, the invisible realm is represented by virtue or some sort of deity. Mediators are the elitists in the caste system. They can be visiting deities, or those specially gifted in the material realm. And because they are part of the material realm, they are subject to it, but not to the degree that the ungifted are so…do what they say, not what they do. It’s primarily a gift of perception; because they can see things that the common man cannot see. They create understandable teachings that will best serve man in the material realm.

In most of these caste religions, predeterminism is the centerpiece. This is because in the vast majority of these caste religions, reality is a story orchestrated by the truth realm, or invisible realm. And all stories have an author. If reality is a story, the story must have an author. And if reality has an author, of course everything is predetermined by the author—this is unavoidable. So if redemption is a story as academics of the Reformed tradition constantly state as if in a manner of speaking, of course every detail of reality is predetermined because reality is a story, and all stories have an author. In addition, it may be noted that determinism and fatalism are the historical norm in general, and Protestantism is just another player in the same old song and dance.

The progression of caste started in the garden, found its first formality in Hinduism, was passed on to Plato when he studied in India, became Gnosticism, and later dictated the basic principles of the Protestant Reformation. Augustine’s City of God is a remodeled version of Plato’s Republic and Martin Luther, as well as John Calvin, were rabid followers of Augustine. Luther was a friar in the Augustinian Order, and Calvin quotes Augustine more than 400 times in the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. In some translations of the Institutes, that’s an average of every 2.5 pages.

In the final analysis therefore, the Reformers, especially Martin Luther, made the gospel a metaphysical story that interprets all of reality. When you go to see a movie at your local theater, you are a character in the movie watching a movie. The movie you are in was prewritten by God like all movies are prewritten by an author. Therefore, in some sense, saving faith is seeing yourself in God’s plot which is totally out of your control and would exclude all freewill. If you have any freewill at all, you are trying to write your own reality; you are writing your own story; you are trying to be your own god. In fact, this is the very primary theses of the founding doctrinal statement of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order. In that founding document presented to the Order six months after the 95 Theses, Luther presented reality in two parts: the cross story and the story of man. According to Luther a theologian is either a theologian of the cross, or a theologian of glory (the glory of man rather than God).

Presently in the Protestant evangelical church, the idea of Christianity being a story dominates church media. Consider the following citation by the contemporary father of historical-redemptive hermeneutics and Biblical Theology:

If the story is true, Jesus Christ is the interpretative key to every fact in the universe and, of course, the Bible is one such fact. He is thus the hermeneutic principle that applies first to the Bible as the ground for understanding, and also to the whole of reality.6

Similar quotations among evangelicals in our day are myriad. The Bible is merely a prototype of redemptive reality that describes generalities, or prisms of redemptive reality in which we see our own lives. Our own lives are part of the story, and we are to interpret our lives through the redemptive reality described in the Bible. The Bible describes the redemptive reality of the past (other lives as interpretive prisms/examples) and the future (how the story will end), and we are experiencing the present redemptive reality IF we have “entered into the plot”7 or entered the “Divine drama.”8 This is little less than the Hindu Lila.

The basic recurring theme in Hindu mythology is the creation of the world by the self-sacrifice of God—”sacrifice” in the original sense of “making sacred”—whereby God becomes the world which, in the end, becomes again God. This creative activity of the Divine is called lila, the play of God, and the world is seen as the stage of the divine play. Like most of Hindu mythology, the myth of lila has a strong magical flavour. Brahman is the great magician who transforms himself into the world and then performs this feat with his “magic creative power”, which is the original meaning of maya in the Rig Veda. The word maya—one of the most important terms in Indian philosophy—has changed its meaning over the centuries. From the might, or power, of the divine actor and magician, it came to signify the psychological state of anybody under the spell of the magic play. As long as we confuse the myriad forms of the divine lila with reality, without perceiving the unity of Brahman underlying all these forms, we are under the spell of maya. (…) In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play. The dynamic force of the play is karma, an important concept of Indian thought. Karma means “action”. It is the active principle of the play, the total universe in action, where everything is dynamically connected with everything else. In the words of the Gita Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.9

And of course, if reality is a story with an author, hard determinism is the order of the day; stories do not write themselves, nor do the characters in the story have freewill to write the story. Consequently, the notion that Calvinists derive their theology from the Bible rather than metaphysics is a misnomer, and in many cases outright deceptive. The Reformed tradition is really the same worn out deterministic mythology that has always dominated world philosophy and wreaked havoc on historical experience from the very beginning. And invariably, converts to Protestantism in the Reformed tradition will mutate from freewill, to soft determinism, and finally hard determinism. Or from “Pelagianism,” to “Semi-Pelagianism,” to “orthodoxy.”

Karma is the infant stage of Hinduism where saints believe they are responsible for their own actions, but as growth moves forward, the mature saint…

“[…] becomes convinced that God has been doing everything by using his body, mind, energy and the senses. He feels that he is only an instrument in the hands of God, and whatever God has been doing to him is for his ultimate spiritual good. At this high level of spirituality the doctrine of predestination becomes the only valid doctrine to him. To him the doctrine of karma ceases to be a valid doctrine.

Therefore, these two doctrines, even though apparently contradictory to each other, are valid for people at different stages of spiritual growth.”10

In regard to practical application, the parallels become even more vivid. The trichotomy of soul and society in Hinduism and Platonism are identical, and the same principles are mirrored in Gnosticism and Calvinism as well. The soul of each person is threefold, and predetermined by God or some other force/deity. In each person, there is the spiritual, intellectual, and instinctive. However, each person will be dominated by one of these characteristics, and society benefits to the degree that each person lives according to the predetermined dominant aspect of their souls. This is the basis for caste systems, and usually coincides with lineage. In other words, you are expected to stay within the social strata determined by birth for the good of society at large. This is jumping ahead a little, but this idea had deep roots in Puritan beliefs who were theological descendants of Calvin. To not remain in the social strata you were born into was thought to be a violation of the 5th commandment according to the Puritans—it was dishonoring your parents.11

The theory also coincides with the two realities of material and invisible, the material being evil and the invisible being truth. The spiritual are the mediators who are able to see beyond the material while the intellectuals are wise enough to know that the mediators should be trusted. They have a special love for the truth, so they love the mediators as well. Those who have souls dominated by instinct are enslaved to the material world and their five senses. To insert another connection somewhat prematurely, the Puritan Jonathan Edwards believed that salvation required a sixth sense in order to see the kingdom of God. In other words, the five senses that evaluate the material world were all but useless for salvation.12 This sixth sense, according to Edwards, is experienced by “delightful conviction” and “inward, sweet delight in God and divine things.” Well known pastor and Puritan wannabe John Piper borrowed these ideas from Edwards to form his Christian Hedonism movement.

In regard to Plato and the aforementioned metaphysical trichotomy, this is the philosopher king, warrior, and producer classes. This coincides with the Hindu Bhramin, Kshatryia/Vaishya, and Sudra/Untouchables. And, John Calvin had his own construct communicated via his election doctrine with more of a Gnostic flavor. Unbeknownst to most people who actually call themselves “Calvinists,” John Calvin propagated three classes of elect: the elect of the elect (those who persevere, the “P” in TULIP), the temporary elect (the called who do not persevere), and the non-elect. This coincides with Gnosticism as follows:

Calvinism derived its 3 classes ultimately from the 3 classes in Valentinian Gnosticism (see Ireneaus’ five books Against Heresies):

1. Pneumatics (spirituals) – The elect of the elect.

2. Psuchics (soulys) – The average elect.

3. Hylics (carnals) – The non-elect.

Meaning, the Hylics have no chance. As for the Psuchics, they are (as you put it) “entered into the race” but not given “the gift of perseverance.” And the Pneumatics, of course, are elect to the uttermost, meaning nothing they do can damn them.

In Gnosticism, this is natural selection, or election by nature according to Clement of Alexandria in Stromata: 2. 3. More specific definitions follow:

In the gnostic view, hylics, also called Somatics (from Gk σώμα (sōma) “body”), were the lowest order of the three types of human. The other two were the psychics and the pneumatics (from Gk πνεύμα (pneuma) “spirit, breath”). So humanity comprised matter-bound beings, matter-dwelling spirits and the matter-free or immaterial, souls.

Somatics were deemed completely bound to matter. Matter, the material world, was seen as “evil” in the gnostic world view. The material world was created by a demiurge, in some instances a blind, mad God, in others an army of rebellious angels as a trap for the spiritual Ennoia. The duty of (spiritual) man was to escape the material world by the aid of the hidden knowledge (gnosis). *

The pneumatics (“spiritual”, from Greek πνεῦμα, “spirit”) were, in Gnosticism, the highest order of humans, the other two orders being psychics and hylics. A pneumatic saw itself as escaping the doom of the material world via the transcendent knowledge of Sophia’s Divine Spark within the soul.†

They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal . . . The material goes, as a matter of course, into corruption. The animal, if it make choice of the better part, finds repose in the intermediate place; but if the worse, it too shall pass into destruction. But they assert that the spiritual principles which have been sown by Achamoth, being disciplined and nourished here from that time until now in righteous souls (because when given forth by her they were yet but weak), at last attaining to perfection, shall be given as brides to the angels of the Saviour, while their animal souls of necessity rest for ever with the Demiurge in the intermediate place. And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the [spiritual] seed [and becoming pneumatic]; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive that seed [and become hylic].—Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I. 7, 513

Calvin held to these same three types of categories except the determinism is by God rather than nature. For Calvin, it is the non-elect, the elect, and those of the elect that are gifted with perseverance:

In fine, we are sufficiently taught by experience itself, that calling and faith are of little value without perseverance, which, however, is not the gift of all (CI 3.24.6)

The expression of our Savior, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” (Mt. 22:14), is also very improperly interpreted (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12). There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear—viz. that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness (CI 3.24.8).14

Calvinism is nothing new; it’s the same worn out ancient mythological song and dance foisted on the Bible. Many preaching in Protestant temples in our day think that it all comes from the Bible because Protestant academics told them such. We call that “orthodoxy.” It is mythology’s noble lie of metaphysical bedtime stories for serfs. Sunday church is hosted by two kinds of pastors: those who think orthodoxy actually came from the Bible and therefore think they are teaching the Bible, and those who know what’s really going on. The former is sad enough, but those who sit under the latter are paying good money to be perceived as useful idiots.

_______________________________________________________________________

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Assembly

2 Historical progression will be documented in detail: TTANC volume 3

3 Phil 2:2, 2:5-8, 1Cor 1:10, 2:15

4 Romans 14

5 1Cor 15:1-4

6 Graeme Goldsworthy: Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics; p.48

7 Paul David Tripp: How People Change

9 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lila_(Hinduism) Frijof Capra, The Tao of Physics (1975)

10 Swami Bhaskarananda: Chapters 9-11 The Essentials of Hinduism; Predestination

13 https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2014/01/30/predestination-and-the-gnostic-connection/

14 https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2014/01/30/predestination-and-the-gnostic-connection/

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