Where do you start with a charismatic? (presuppositional approach)

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Eoghan, Jul 20, 2011.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    Where O where do you start with a charismatic?

    I detect several threads maybe more in their thinking.

    1. They seem to have no concept of what it means when I say that the canon of scripture is closed. This is perhaps because they have little experience of an expository ministry (them and a lot of others). This results in a predisposition to fresh revelation. This in turn requires some sort of clearing house for prophecies which sets you up nicely for modern day apostles.

    2. There appears to be a misunderstanding of the "will of God". In the NT this can be designated as either His Sovereign Will or His Moral Will. This somehow is missed and or misread to mean specific will. Hence most charismatics are constantly seeking His "specific will". This may in part be a misunderstanding of Sovereign Will which we know in broad brushstrokes. Charismatics however seem to want the detail such as which job to take, which house to buy etc...

    3. Signs and wonders - obviously this is a significant element of the charismatic movement but perhaps it's weakest. I have observed that a lot of "healing" is emotional healing and that the healing of cancer or AIDS is left out for the most part. It also seems to be a hedge against disasters. I have grown weary of the number of occasions that I have been told how a petrol tank was topped up miraculously or food provided or multiplied. It also lends itself to a lack of preparation - i.e. making sure you have enough petrol money!

    4. Health and Wealth - whilst not specifically unique to charismatics the health bit certainly fits. This seems to view the Christian faith as a way of guaranteeing success. It is part of a mentality I would sum up as "What can Jesus do for me?"

    5. Ego centric? - I find this one a bit difficult to nail down but it seems to consist of ME doing things, ME winning victories over Satan, ME being a blessing to others. Sadly it sees prayer walking and spiritual readings at psychic fairs as major blows for the kingdom. This is in contrast to scripture that characterizes us as resisting (James) or withstanding (Ephesians). The real attack on Satan was done on calvary, we only "attack" him in as much as we plunder individuals from his kingdom. Even this is a task we delegated. The rest is standing firm on the ground Christ has won for us.

    The longer I am a Christian and the more deeply I study the Word the more difficult I find it to witness to those who do not share my presuppositions. I just cannot talk meaningfully with Charismatics. I know that one approach is to show the false premises they are building on but they have so many false premises!

    So which of the five is "the root" of the charismatic/ later day rains outlook?
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Generally, you are dealing with the trappings of broad evangelicalism:

    Arminian influence + dispensationalism + no confession +
    low view of the church + low view of the sacraments

    plus a practice of seeking new revelation outside of Scripture as an ordinary means of grace.

    After all this, there are definitely some believers in these communions (I was in them for several years).

    The "zeal" is often not based on biblical knowledge. A systematic biblical theology is a brand new idea in these communions.

    I would start by discussing sola scriptura, the idea that Scripture (not spiritual gifts) is the ordinary means of special revelation.

    All of these terms will likely be foreign to them, as well as their precepts. Be patient, and cheerful as you contend.

    When you get to the point where they say that tongues/interpretation is not above Scripture, but has to line up with it explain that they are implicitly making it equal authority with Scripture. Why would they need an unknown/interpretation for something that is already in front of them? Why would they center corporate worship on such?

    These concepts will likely have never dawned on them. Don't allow simple, subjective, superficial answers (very characteristic of charismatic/pentecostal theological teaching), but go deeper.

    After sola scriptura, go to the doctrines of grace, gradually. Get them thinking about the sovereignty of God, especially if they have also absorbed aspects of the "prosperity gospel."
  3. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I would start with specific vs general revelation. Pentecostals/charismatics generally don't know how to read the bible. Seriously. Begin with basic hermeneutics and teach them how to read scripture in proper context. If they learn this, the majority of their errors will take care of themselves. This is what happened to me. I was a staunch Pentecostal. My "error" was thinking I needed to know more about the bible. I decided I wanted to go off to bible college. I went to a Christian school and majored in biblical studies. In one class we had to read the book, How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth. This book, coupled with meeting a few Calvinist friends, was the beginning of the end of my Pentecostal days.
  4. CharlieJ

    CharlieJ Puritan Board Junior

    Eoghan, I think you're misunderstanding the idea of presuppositions, at least in the sense that those who employ presuppositional apologetics use that term. "Presuppositions" applies only to the basic antithesis that exists between Christian and non-Christian thought. Presuppositional apologetics is a bit broader than this, but it basically boils down to the idea that the Triune God is the precondition for any knowledge, and that all who refuse to acknowledge this are living inconsistently with their own worldview.

    Now, you may disagree with some of the assumptions that your charismatic colleagues make, and you are quite right to point those out, but you are not going to be using presuppositional apologetics.

    To answer your question, I rarely confront charismatics head-on. Most of them aren't going to listen to rigorous logical proofs. I might say something like, "Could I share with you something the Lord's been teaching me?" Charismatics can't say no; it's a mortal sin for them. Then you can just quote some Scripture and talk a bit about the blessedness of those who diligently study God's law, or the meaning of the names of God, or anything else that has doctrinal and spiritual value.
  5. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    You guys are over thinking. All you need do is tell him that you have received a 'word of knowledge'. When he asks, excitedly, what it is? you simply quote the Westminster Confession. You have told the truth and he has received knowledge as well as the titillation he was seeking in the first place. Not to boast but this is why I'm considered the 'smartest guy in the world'.
  6. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Brilliant!!! :lol:
  7. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Actually, I now see that Charlie had already spoke of this method in his post. I guess that makes my the 'second smartest man in the world'. {sigh}
  8. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    We just had a Bible Study on Monday night where the topic drifted to tongues and almost everyone was shocked that I thought that given the fact that at Pentecost everyone heard the Apostles speak in "his own language" and that Paul cites Isaiah 28 in 1 Corinthians 14:21, that what the majority of Evangelicals think of as tongues might not be what Paul is talking about. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on things given 1 Corinthians 14:2, but I know that I tend to be on the very conservative end of things in my denomination when it comes to this. I also know that because of my sinful nature I can speak about these things with a lack of gentleness and, most dangerously, swing too far to being cautious and ignore the Spirit working in people.
    I think the term charismatic is a broad brush stroke to paint all people who aren't cessationists with because for most the term has come to mean full blown Pentecostal babbling. There's a difference between a pentecostal and people who believe the gifts still exist, try to pursue them, and are very very cautious about applying the gifts to make sure the application is biblical. Don't people like Piper and (I was told) D.A. Carson believe in the continuation of all Spiritual gifts except for the office of Apostle and are "charismatic"? I would hardly think they fit the labels provided in the original post.
  9. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  10. Reformation Monk

    Reformation Monk Puritan Board Freshman

    I believe Eoghans' use of presuppositions was correct.

    My answer is to simply share the Gospel with them. Pentecostals and Charismatics are humanist moralists who are grounded in a false gospel.

    The situation in the modern Church culture is very tough. Most will reject "your interpretation" of the Scriptures and go on in their deception.
  11. FenderPriest

    FenderPriest Puritan Board Junior

    When Paul engaged "crazy Charismatics" in 1 Corinthians, he started by affirming and celebrating the free grace of God that was evident in their lives, and then immediately jumped into celebrating and delighting with them as brothers in Christ in the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:4ff). In fact, when correcting serious problems for the "spiritually high and mighty" he starts and ends with the Gospel (1 Cor. 2 and 1 Cor. 15). Starting on the grounds of grace as partners in Christ, affirming your love for them, and then over time helping your brothers and sisters who are mistaken or deceived see how the centrality of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ rules every part of life is probably the best place to start.
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Good comments, Jacob.

    I might (later with this person) look at I Cor 14 with 3 main points about unknown tongues/interpretation:

    1) they are not to be the center of corporate worship
    2) they are a lesser gift compared to prophesy (forth-telling) the Word
    3) they are a sign to unbelievers
    (not an ordinary means of revelation for the believer)

    This was the Apostle Paul correcting the error of his day- and yet, standard practice in charismatic/pentecostal communions in our day.

    I like to use the word "ordinary" (e.g. unknown tongues/interpretation) because that allows for miracles (and will save you hours of debate and misunderstanding), you can illustrate God's sovereignty in this.

    The same God who can do as He pleases establishes both the ends (what happens) and the ordinary means, His completed Word, laid by the prophets and apostles, once, until the end of the world.
  13. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    We should make decisions based upon what Scripture teaches. The Bible does not give us all of the possible details of every possible decision that one could make. If you know the commands and principles that are found in Scripture, then you can know how to make a decision.
  14. Bookworm

    Bookworm Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Eoghan,

    When I was going through the process of re-evaluating the charismatic theology I'd been taught (many years ago now), I read lots of books that critiqued aspects of the movement. Some were better than others, but, to be honest, a common failing seemed to be a lack of comprehension on the part of the authors as to what it was really like to be a part of a moderate charismatic church. Some seemed to be critiquing an extreme movement that didn't fit my actual experience while others seemed to lump all charismatics together with the "health-and-wealth" prosperity teachers (and yet I personally knew many charismatics who rejected that teaching as strongly as they did). Some books were simply too harsh and abrasive in tone, and I thought they were more likely to alienate than persuade a charismatic believer encountering them for the first time.

    By far the best book I read at that time, however, was Neil Babcox's My Search for Charismatic Reality (Wakeman). In that book, I was confronted with the personal testimony of someone who clearly knew the movement well and could speak as a former "insider". It was also written in a gentle and irenic tone, managing to avoid the pitfalls of exaggeration and caricature. It also had a winsome title (c.f. Macarthur's Charismatic Chaos!), and the added advantage of being brief. I think I would be tempted to offer a copy of that book to any enquiring charismatic friend that I struck up a conversation with today. Unfortunately it may currently be out of print because Wakeman's website doesn't seem to list it any longer, but I'm sure you could pick up a secondhand copy online.
  15. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Always remeber that these "crazy charismatics" are probably brothers and sisters in Christ, so your presupositional aproech should be love above all. You don't need to agree with what you find to be unbiblical just be tactful in how you handle them, as my mother always taught pick your battles. When I was 17 I thought it my duty to correct all error in everyone, at 29 I really just let people be people and gently and subtly attempt to lead them into the truth (if at all, it is really hard to get me to disagree with someone on trivial matters). They are in error but how bad of error. We know that they contradict the bible but is in regenerated ignorance or unbeleiving rebbellion?
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    One thing as believers, whether in what are called "charismatic/pentecostal" communions in our generation- is that if our Christian identity is founded in being "charismatic," there is another problem biblically- ultimately relating back to the sovereignty of God and the sin of human pride. Our identity is in Christ, because He chose us to be His, and to bring forth obedience informed by His Word.

    While I realize this thread is not debate of these terms (there have been some thorough ones, use the search feature, upper right), one must realize that the denomination of one as either of these terms, in this generation at least, denotes basic scriptural error.

    It means centering corporate worship on extra biblical revelation as an ordinary means of grace.

    I Corinthians 14 tells us that was error in the Apostle Paul's day, let alone that it undermines the now completed Scripture, centered as it is on revelation God uniquely gave to the prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20), and once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3), until the end of this world.

    So, its not a matter of being "moderate" in this error (as opposed to being more flamboyant). It's a matter of substance, and often in those communions joins much other error- e.g. a man-centered view of salvation, dispensationalism, no accountable doctrine (confession), a low view of the church, a low view of the sacraments, etc.

    It's about approaching, charitably, a brother or sister who has built upon a foundation of wrong doctrine that leads to more and more confusion and inconsistency- and a zeal that is not built on (biblical) knowledge.

    Share that knowledge with them, for God's Honor, and God's Glory.
  17. rookie

    rookie Puritan Board Sophomore

    If I may add something, a fellow by the name of Justin Peters has a great video called "A Call for Discernment"

    He covers over 3 hrs of this, mostly based on the Word of Faith movement. I have passed this DVD to a few friends, and they are really enjoying the education he is providing in it.

    I highly recommend picking that video up.
  18. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    The older I get and the more I have meditated on the nature of discipleship, the more I have come to appreciate how important discipleship is. There are no magic bullets to "fix" people on this issue (or for that matter, many others).

    The type of charismatic you are describing is of a certain kind. I just don't have a one-size-fits-all approach for "charismatic". For instance, I have a problem with those that attempt to blend Reformed orthodoxy with a confused sense of continuationism but my approach would be radically different as I can build upon some common foundations that I will not share with word of faith proponents. The prior is a matter of discipleship, the latter is (in many cases) rank paganism baptized in Christian lingo and the foundation needs to be completely torn up.

    I guess my default approach to every spiritual deficiency (including my own) is to build from the richness found in God's Word as it proclaims the Gospel. For those whom the Father draws unto Himself, they will experience a transforming richness of experience from hearing the Words of Life that any counterfeit posing as religious experience will seem vacuous by comparison. If the Father does not draw them, then I can relate these riches until I'm blue in the face and they'll still be following Jesus for the physical bread He offers in the wilderness. I exhorted recently on John 6 (http://www.hopeofchrist.net/2011/07/the-living-bread-from-heaven-john-6/). Afterward, my Pastor was chuckling with me about the fact that the Jews in the wilderness were sort of like Homer Simpson every time Jesus spoke about bread. If you've ever seen the Simpsons then think about someone saying "bread" and Homer starts thinking "Ummmm, Bread...." and everything else the person says goes out the window. That's the nature of how the truths of the Kingdom of the Age to Come fall on the ears of those to whom Life has not been granted. Unfortunately, today, we have far too many Homers preaching to Homers. Nevertheless, my confidence is in the Bread.

    I've witnessed some pretty radical transformations in several people's lives that I've just consistently hammered these things home to. No sense in getting upset at carnal thinking if you expect it. What eventually happens is that when you invest enough time teaching people patiently they begin to see the nature of the Gospel. The Gospel, in turn, transforms them into lovers of God's Word. God's Word, in turn, teaches them to trust not their hearts. The moment you have that pegged (especially as they allow Rom 6-8 sink in) then you can start undoing all the bad work that was taught them by bad teachers.
  19. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is a very personal approach in dealing with individuals. I think that in one way you can begin to open some thinking in your Pentecostal friends is try and get them to interface with he idea of truth itself and obeying the truth. That may sound over-simplistic, but let me explain. You can start on the common ground, 'we both want to believe and follow the truth, correct?' 'We both believe the Word of God to be the ultimate source of truth and beyond question in its authority for our lives, correct?' (If they make it this far, and most I believe would agree with those premises) then ask, 'what should a believer do in light of Paul's command that in worship all should be done "decently and in order?"' Then ask the friend to 'explain the use of, say specifically, the gift of "tongues" in worship.' What you'll find in many, perhaps most, is that they will say, it is an untamed, uncontrollable, unrehearsed and unrestricted expression available to believers (in some circles, REQUIRED as an evidence of salvation!) Then simply take them to 1 Cor 14:

    "26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God....31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
    34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
    40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

    Then ask, when these "tongues" are spoken, are they:

    1) done only 2 or 3 at a time
    2) done each in turn
    3) done each with an interpreter?
    4) are these tongues spoken ONLY by men, or by both men and women?

    Very few will make it over these problems. It is often very easy to present a challenge to their precommitments from here. If you are violating clear restrictions made regarding the use of the "gift," how can it be said that there is a desire to follow God? The Scriptures say that Jesus' sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Are they unwilling to submit to the unquestioned authority of God on the founding passage that they like to use to justify tongues modern use in worship when they are submitting to only the excerpt, "39...do not forbid to speak with tongues." This could be a tool that God will use to show that they are reading Scripture the lens of their movement's unbiblical precommitments. Often it is easy to point out other issues.
  20. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    One of the things to keep in mind with the charismatics/pentecostals is their view on the work of the Holy Spirit. From my experience, they tend to have a flawed view. (I just wanted to share this. I can say more on this later but right now I'm off to school.)
  21. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    John MacArthur and his take on the charismatic movement

    I bought Charismatic Chaos by John and was surprised (well not really) to see him focused on the canon of scripture. He interprets the charismatic as an unconscious (and sometimes conscious) rejection of sola scriptura. This then paves the way for "fresh revelation".

    Most interesting was the background to the Pentecostal movement. On p37 he traces the roots of the charismatic movement to Charles Fox Parham and a small Bible College in Topeka, Kansas. Here there was NO systematic exposition but a focus on chain referencing and thus isolating scriptures from their immediate context.

    Outside of the Puritan Board this probably has no significance. It fairly shouts out to me though that topical study with a concordance does not constitute a due consideration of the texts in context.

    So as I suspected it comes back

    1) the sufficiency of scripture
    2) the closed canon, (Rev. 22:18-19 warns about ADDING to scripture before it warns about taking away!)
  22. PuritanKyle

    PuritanKyle Puritan Board Freshman

    Biblical Christianity begins with the Bible.

    As one who spent nearly 20 years in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement before the Lord lead us out. I would say, take them to the wonder of the Scriptures. Allow them to see the majesty of the sovereign God as revealed in the Bible. Introduce them to historical Christian faith the Lord Jesus. Walk them through the Scriptures. Show them the true Jesus as seen through the Word of God.
    Most Pen/Char believers have no idea of systematic Bible study and are sadly held captive by the deceptive hear say teachings of someone else.

    They are taught to trust their "gut" instinct and judge by experience. And that the Bible is secondary in revelation to that of the Spirit. Indeed that the Spirit speaks directly to them, a kind of personal revelation as it were. I have heard a great many make the claim "Jesus said to me!" Or "the Spirit revealed this to my mind!"

    Therefore, when I talk and share to those whom I am know, that still remain a part of this system of belief, I always begin with " Did you know, the Bible says...?" And walk them through it. Establish the absolute centrality of the Scriptures to the understanding of our Faith.
    When they try and pull you into a "discussion" on the so called gifts, as they understand them.(Sadly this all that most Pen/Char. know about.) Simply ask them "Well what do the Scriptures really have to say about that?" And pull the conversation back to the centrality of the Bible to our Faith.

    I have often asked the question "Do you know what the real difference between say, the JW's or the Mormon's and the true Christian Church?" The answer being that the JW's and the Mormon's add to the Bible, they lean on other sources. Whilst, believers hold to what is written in the sacred text of the Holy Scriptures. We declare " The Bible says..!" And there we stand. That often awakens a few sleepers. And gets them to consider their way's.

    As the Confession says- "The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience" :2cents:

    Take them to the Scriptures!! Not in a way that simply seeks to win an argument and crush a weaker opponent, seek to win the man!
  23. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    Amen. And have patience. If anyone struggles as I do, you know how easy it is to become frustrated and simply write a person off who hasn't immediately conformed to your way of thinking.
  24. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    PuritanKyle, thanks for your post.
  25. Apologist4Him

    Apologist4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    I think it depends on the individual charismatic, especially since a number of denominations fall under the label (Assemblies of God, and Church of God for example), including many non-denominations. I am 36 years old, have been Reformed for roughly 7 years, but came from an Assemblies of God/conservative/fundamentalist/Arminian background. Something I remember which helped me considerably, was the discovery that there are Calvinists whom believe all of the gifts of the Spirit are still in operation today (Continuationists). Matt Slick of CARM is the primary person I have in mind, I had joined his messageboard and took some time to learn more about him. But then I discovered there were others like D.A. Carson (whom I was familar with) and later Wayne Grudem. What this bit of knowledge did, was help to open my mind and make me more friendly to Calvinists.

    Depends on the charismatic. Even when I was an Arminian with an Assemblies of God indoctrination, I never bought into the "Word of Faith" movement. I was always leery of people when words to the effect of "I have a word from the Lord" would come out of their mouths. I wouldn't presuppose a "Word of Faith" mentality on all charismatics, because although they may entertain such, it doesn't mean they agree with it. I've always held firm to the notion of a closed canon, then and now. Based on all my experiences, you are quite accurate in your assessment on expository preaching. I wouldn't say it results in a predisposition to fresh revelation so much as a poor understanding and grasp of the Holy Scriptures. Though they would think otherwise, the truth is, most charismatics never get past the milk of the Word. They're mostly baby Christians, caught up in emotionalism or "sensationalism". I'm not knocking emotions, they are important, but there needs to be balance, among other things. Another pointer in dealing with charismatics, show them in the same books which Paul writes about the gifts, Paul's emphasis on order in the Church, and his emphasis on love. Charismatics have their points of emphasis wrong, they stress certain spiritual gifts at the neglect of greater things.

    I wouldn't classify the type of thinking above as exclusive to charismatics...and there is but a fine line of difference in how we ought to pray. With that said, the "name it and claim it" charismatics are a lonely group, and unless they've resurrected, mostly died out with Jim Baker and the PTL club. What I would do in approaching the will of God with a charismatic is point to the mysteries in the will of God. I would point to the claims of cult leaders, JW's, Mormons, etc. I would chip away at their experiential epistemology.

    My thought here would be to avoid the trap of a judgemental attitude and spirit. We do believe in a sovereign supernatural God of many wonders. We do believe in prayer and a God whom answers prayer today according to His mercy, purpose, and will. I would only point out that God is not our puppet, He is in control and it is not as though He were an apple tree we can shake apples off of. I would point out the sufferings of Christians throughout history and today, and that He causes rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous. Finally I would point in Scripture to Jesus' words concerning signs and wonders, where He say's a wicked and adulterous generation seeks them. Our focus is to be on God and His glory, not the works of His hands.

    I would point to the words of Jesus again, if anything we are promised persecution! I would explain what happened to most of the apostles, and whatever health and wealth we have in this life, is meant for the glory of God. So much could be said on this point alone.

    I would say all non-Reformed theology (not just charismatics) lends whether consciously or unconcscouly to ego centric. But this is because the Reformed Christian view, is 1.) the Biblical view 2.) is God-centered 3.) puts man in his proper place, and therefore 4.) is about Soli Deo Gloria, not only in logical conclusions, and on paper, but in practice.

    It is difficult, especially the more emotional they are, and unwilling to listen. However for those with ears, I would focus on the Doctrines of Grace and proving them with Scripture after Scripture. If they hold a high view of Scripture, and God opens their eyes, slowly they may come to realize their own theological presuppositions. It may be a very long process indeed. There were a number of things going on all at once when God opened my eyes, and it took some time. Cornelius Van Til had a major role in my conversion to the Reformed faith.

    The primary root is Arminianism, the secondary root I think is Continuationism
  26. Iconoclast

    Iconoclast Puritan Board Junior

    3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints[/B

    Carefully establish that the scriptures alone are the authority.2Tim 3:16-17
    Then develop the teaching of Apostolic uniqueness...Jn 14,15,16
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