Monday, September 22, 2014

19 August 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 12:58
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Presbyterians Week Headlines
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[1] Death of Calvin Synod and Lorain, Ohio, Hungarian Reformed Church Leader Julius Albert Pongracz
[2] 73rd General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church Held in Bristol, Virginia
[3] Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out Ministry Transitions to Exodus International in November 2009
[4] Westminster Larger Catechism Commentary by Dr. Chuck Baynard Published by Full Bible Publications on Lulu.com
[5] CRCNA’s Faith Alive Christian Resources Releases Behind Closed Doors, Addressing Internet Pornography Addiction
[6] Trinity Foundation Publishes Can the Presbyterian Church in America Be Saved?
[7] American Vision Offers the Chalcedon Foundation’s The Ten Commandments for Today DVD Interviews with R.J. Rushdoony
[8] Somali Islamists Behead Four Christians Providing Aid to Orphans
[9] Yale University Press Coddles Islamists by Censoring Material from Upcoming Publication The Cartoons that Shook the World
[10] WCC General Secretary Candidate Says WCC Needs to Give More Attention to Relations with Islam
[11] Baptist World Alliance Issues Resolution on Baptist-Muslim Relations
[12] Fellowship of Confessing Churches Member Responds to Anonymous Characterization as “Rebels”
[13] On the Eve of the 450th Anniversary of the Scottish Reformation, Scottish History Professor and Roman Catholic Tom Devine Chides Scots Secularists for Disparaging Calvinism
[14] Presbyterian Lay Committee Files Amicus Curiae Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Support of California Episcopal Congregation that Lost Church Property to The Episcopal Church
[15] HSLDA Survey and Report Shows Average Home Schooled Student Scores Thirty-Seven Points Higher than Average Public School Student on Standardized Tests
[16] Westminster Seminary California to Provide Faculty Introductions via Office Hours Podcast and MP3 Downloads

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[1] Death of Calvin Synod and Lorain, Ohio, Hungarian Reformed Church Leader Julius Albert Pongracz

Calvin Synod and Lorain, Ohio, Hungarian Reformed Church leader and the eighth child of Hungarian immigrants, Julius Albert Pongracz, 77, died 13 August 2009 after a year-long battle with renal cancer.

After graduating from high school in 1950, Pongracz served in the U. S. Army in Alaska. After military service, Pongracz worked for U.S. Steel’s Lorain National Tube, retiring as an expeditor after thirty-nine years of service. Pongracz was an active member of the Steelworkers Union Local 1104.

Pongracz served the Lorain (Ohio) Hungarian Reformed Church in many leadership roles including General Chairman Emeritus of the church Consistory, President of the Men’s Brotherhood, member of the Sick Benefit Society, and Youth Fellowship Advisor. Pongracz too took an active leadership role in the Calvin Synod, serving on many committees and representing the bilingual churches at the National Conferences.

Pongracz is survived by his wife of almost fifty-four years, Donna, two daughters, four grandchildren, a brother, three sisters, and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral service was held 18 August 2009, and Pongracz was interred at the Ridge Hill Memorial Park in Amherst, Ohio.

+ ObitsOhio.com, info@obitsohio.com

+ Calvin Synod, C/O Rt. Rev. Koloman K. Ludwig, Bishop, 7319 Tapper Avenue, Hammond, Indiana 46324, 219-931-4321, kkludwig@aol.com

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[2] 73rd General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church Held in Bristol, Virginia

The 73rd General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC) met in Bristol, Virginia the week of 3 August 2009, hosted by the Ryder Memorial Presbyterian Church in Bluff City, Tennessee. Meetings were held in the restored Train Station in Bristol.

The BPC Synod was comprised of twenty-four ministers and ten delegate elders. One of the ministers in attendance was the Rev. John Janbaz, who attended the very first BPC Synod in 1938. Fraternal delegates included the Rev. Tony Curto of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and the Rev. Roger Schultz of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Hanover Presbytery (RPCHP).

On the first evening of synod, Dr. Joel Beeke addressed the delegates on Calvin and Piety. The 73rd BPC Synod theme of The Sweetness of Prayer was developed in a series of messages which traced Calvin’s Biblical thoughts on prayer as recorded in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book Three, Section Twenty.

Among the resolutions passed were a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, as well as statements opposed to Islam, homosexuality, and feminism.

The General Synod of the BPC continues fraternal relations with the Independent Presbyterian Church in Kenya and the RPCHP, and maintains corresponding relations with the OPC.

The Rev. Steven Johnson delivered the concluding message of the 73rd BPC Synod on The Risen Christ Our Intercessor.

The 74th General Synod of the BPC is scheduled for 5-10 August 2010 at Grace Bible Presbyterian Church in Sharonville , Ohio.

+ The Sweetness of Prayer, Report on the 73rd General Synod of the
Bible Presbyterian Church

+ Bible Presbyterian Church

+ Hanover Presbytery, Reformed Presbyterian Church, hanoverpresbyter@yahoo.com

+ Independent Presbyterian Church of Kenya, Post Office Box 37, Mwingi, Kenya, 254-1-42-22-035

+ The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 607 North Easton Road, Building E, Box P, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania 19090, 215-830-0900, Fax: 215-830-0350

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[3] Focus on the Family’s Love Won Out Ministry Transitions to Exodus International in November 2009

Love Won Out (LWO), the Focus on the Family (FOF) ministry begun in 1998 to minister to homosexuals and their families is transitioning to being managed by Exodus International (EI) beginning in November 2009. LWO exists in order to help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome. EI is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian organization promoting the message of Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.

FOF is handing off production of LWO events to EI for financial reasons, and for strategic reasons separate of the financial issues. Melissa Fryrear, LWO speaker and host, said no one is better equipped to handle the events than EI, saying: “[EI has] been with [LWO] since the beginning. They have stood alongside us in sharing the hope that, with Christ, transformation is possible for those unhappy with same-sex attractions. And we will stand alongside them as they continue to share that message as the organizer of Love Won Out.”

Additionally, EI has made church education one of their top priorities, and has recently formed new partnerships with the ex-homosexual ministries of the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Transforming Congregations and OneByOne, respectively; and has provided support to individual church ministries of Presbyterian Church in America and Reformed Church in America congregations.

+ Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80995, 800-232-6459

+ Exodus International, Post Office Box 540119, Orlando, Florida 32854, 407-599-6872

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001, ac@pcanet.org

+ Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512, 800-968-6065, questions@rca.org

+ United Methodist Church General Conference, Post Office Box 188, Beaver Dam, Kentucky 42320

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[4] Westminster Larger Catechism Commentary by Dr. Chuck Baynard Published by Full Bible Publications on Lulu.com

Dr. Chuck Baynard has written a complete treatment of the Westminster Larger Catechism in the Westminster Larger Catechism Commentary I and the The Westminster Larger Catechism Commentary II, available from Full Bible Publications on the Lulu.com website. Volume I covers the first ninety questions or the 1st Table of the Law, with Volume II covering the last 106 questions dealing with the 2nd Table of the Law. Both volumes contain full Scripture references as footnotes.

Volume I is US$12.95 plus shipping in print, and US$2.50 as a PDF download. Volume II is US$14.95 plus shipping in print, and US$2.50 as a PDF download.

Full Bible Publications is the book publishing arm of the Christian Observer Foundation. Dr. Chuck Baynard is an Associate Editor for the Christian Observer.

+ Christian Observer, 9400 Fairview Avenue, Manassas, Virginia 20110, 703-335-2844, christianobserver@christianobserver.org

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[5] CRCNA’s Faith Alive Christian Resources Releases Behind Closed Doors, Addressing Internet Pornography Addiction

The Christian Reformed Church in North America’s publishing agency Faith Alive has released Behind Closed Doors: Christians, Pornography, and the Temptations of Cyberspace, which chronicles the problem of addiction to Internet pornography among Christians, including pastors, describes problems that this type of addiction can create, and provides solutions for how people can break the cycle of addiction.

Authors Robert. J. Baird and Ronald Vanderbeck of Hope and Healing Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, write about real situations (with names and places changed) they have encountered in their counseling sessions. Baird illustrates the extent of the problem, saying: “Thirty-five percent plus of the Protestant pastors I was able to include in a study for my Ph.D. thesis have used Internet pornography. They are not immune and are particularly at risk, since they often work on their computers and are unaccountable for their time.” The authors additionally relate that twenty percent of all Internet users deliberately look for sexual material, that forty-two percent of children and teens report seeing online pornography, and that two-thirds of these young people say they came across it unintentionally.

Behind Closed Doors is available through the Faith Alive Resources website.

+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803 crcna@crcna.org

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[6] Trinity Foundation Publishes Can the Presbyterian Church in America Be Saved?

The Trinity Foundation has just published a new book – Can the Presbyterian Church in America Be Saved? – by Sean Gerety (119 pages, trade paperback, US$9.95). Mr. Gerety traces the problems that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is having with the Federal Vision back to the Vantilianism of many of its critics, who uphold paradox and drive a wedge between God’s knowledge and the knowledge possible to man. Despite strong language in the PCA Committee’s report on the Federal Vision, Auburn Avenue, and New Perspectives on Paul theologies, nonetheless the committee called those teaching the Federal Vision not false teachers, but “brothers.” The Apostle Paul did not call the Judiazers, who were teaching another gospel, brothers; rather he said if anyone teaches another gospel, which is no gospel at all, let him be accursed (anathema).

Another new book, Clark and His Critics, will be available beginning 1 September 2009.

+ The Trinity Foundation, Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692
423-743-0199, Fax: 423-743-2005,
tjtrinityfound@aol.com

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001, ac@pcanet.org

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[7] American Vision Offers the Chalcedon Foundation’s The Ten Commandments for Today DVD Interviews with R.J. Rushdoony

American Vision is offering the Chalcedon Foundation’s five hour, two DVD set titled, The Ten Commandments for Today, which is a twelve-part series of interviews with the late R.J. Rushdoony. Each of the Ten Commandments is covered in detail as Dr. Rushdoony challenges modern humanistic remedies that have obviously failed, concluding that only through God’s revealed will as laid down in the Bible can the standard for righteous living be found.

+ American Vision, Post Office Box 220, Powder Springs, Georgia 30127, 770-222-7266, Fax: 770-222-7269, mail@AmericanVision.org

+ Chalcedon Foundation, Post Office Box 158, Vallecito, California 95251, 209-736-4365, Fax: 209-736-0536, chalcedon@att.net

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[8] Somali Islamists Behead Four Christians Providing Aid to Orphans

Somali Al-Shabab Islamists on 27 July 2009 abducted four Christians working for an organization providing aid to orphans, and later beheaded them after they refused to renounce Jesus Christ and convert to Islam.

The Al-Shabab Islamists killed at least six Christians in 2008, and in July 2009, beheaded seven Christians in the southwestern Somali town of Baidoa after accusing them of converting to Christianity and of spying for the Somali transitional federal government.

+ International Christian Concern, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest #941, Washington DC 20006, 800-422-5441, Fax: 301-989-1709, superadmin@persecution.org

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[9] Yale University Press Coddles Islamists by Censoring Material from Upcoming Publication The Cartoons that Shook the World

Yale University Press (YUP) is preparing to publish Jytte Klausen‘s book The Cartoons that Shook the World, about the controversy sparked in February 2006 by twelve cartoons depicting Mohammed that were published in the Danish newspaper Jylland-Posten in September 2005. YUP has chosen to censor the subject twelve cartoons and other illustrations of Mohammed from the upcoming book.

In response, the American Association of University Professors issued a strong statement condemning YUP. The first line sums up their opinion of what Yale‘s actions say about its commitment to academic freedom: “We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands.”

Winfield Myers of Campus Watch responded to a subsequent statement released by Yale University, saying: “[The Yale] statement smells of cowardice and compromise. We wanted to do the right thing, it claims, and publish the illustrations which, after all, are the subject of the book. But after we spoke to these experts [on Islam] (and you can’t just ignore the advice of experts), we figured we’d skip out on our obligations to our author and readers and hide behind their advice, which we appreciate an awful lot.”

+ Campus Watch, 1500 Walnut Street, Suite 1050, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania19102, campus-watch@meforum.org

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[10] WCC General Secretary Candidate Says WCC Needs to Give More Attention to Relations with Islam

A candidate for the post of general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, a 48-year-old Norwegian Lutheran, says that the WCC needs to give more attention to relations with Islam and to supporting Christians in mainly Muslim regions. Tveit has been the general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations since 2002.

+ Ecumenical News International, Post Office Box 2100, CH – 1211, Geneva 2, Switzerland, 41-22-791-6111, Fax: 41-22-788-7244, eni@eni.ch

+ World Council of Churches, 150 route de Ferney, CH-1211, Geneva 2, Switzerland, 41-22-791-6111, Fax: 41-22-791-0361

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[11] Baptist World Alliance Issues Resolution on Baptist-Muslim Relations

The General Council of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), meeting in Ede, the Netherlands, 27 July-1 August 2009 issued “Resolution 2 – Baptist-Muslim Relations” stating that BWA:

Welcomes the opportunities opened up by the friendly and constructive spirit in which A Common Word, signed by 138 Muslim scholars and leaders, has been written;

Appreciates the advances in friendship and understanding made through conversations between Baptists and Muslims at Andover Newton Theological School in January 2009 and in Amman, Jordan, in March 2009;

Agrees with A Common Word that the double command to love God and our neighbor is at the heart of the message of Jesus Christ, and that this can form a common ground for conversation and for working together for a co-existence characterized by peace, justice, mutual understanding and respect;

Recognizes that Baptist Christians living in situations of religious conflict wish to create friendly and peaceful relations with their neighbors of other faiths;

Believes that we can humbly but confidently make our witness to the uniqueness of Christ as the way of salvation and to the self-giving of the Triune God in ways that are not demeaning of other people’s beliefs;

Asks Baptist theologians to study the response made by the BWA to A Common Word, together with the original document, and to use both in their teaching;

[and,] Encourages Baptist conventions and unions to engage in conversations and joint activities for human welfare with Muslims in ways that are appropriate for their own regions and cultures.

+ Baptist World Alliance, 405 North Washington Street, Falls Church, Virginia, 22046, 703-790-8980, 703-893-5160, bwa@bwanet.org

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[12] Fellowship of Confessing Churches Member Responds to Anonymous Characterization as “Rebels”

In a 12 August 2009 letter to The Scotsman, the Rev. Dr. William J. U. Philip, pastor of St. George’s Tron Church in Glasgow, Scotland, responded to an anonymous characterization by an unnamed Church of Scotland official in a 7 August 2009 article that called the Fellowship of Confessing Churches (FCC) a group of “rebels.”

Philip responds by saying the FCC is “…“not a breakaway group” as had been said in the article, but is in fact a “a fellowship of congregations of the Church of Scotland” that still gladly confess the historic, orthodox Christian faith.”

Philip continues: “The Confessing Churches Covenant says nothing about a “campaign of non-co-operation”. Nor does it contain only the (three) paragraphs singled out in your article. The covenant is a basic, ten-point confession of belief no orthodox Christian should have any issue with. The confession is thus clearly, and deliberately, “in reaffirmation of our historic identity as the Church of Scotland“, not a departure from it.”

Philip concludes: “We are not rebels. We are orthodox, Christian churches, and we want the world to know it. We warmly urge all congregations that believe likewise to stand with us, for the sake of the gospel of Christ in Scotland.”

+ The Scotsman, Barclay House, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 8AS, 0131-620-8620

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 4YN, 0131-225-5722

+ Fellowship of Confessing Churches

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[13] On the Eve of the 450th Anniversary of the Scottish Reformation, Scottish History Professor and Roman Catholic Tom Devine Chides Scots Secularists for Disparaging Calvinism

Tom Devine, Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh, and a Roman Catholic, wrote a 10 August 2009 column for TimesOnLine titled “Thank Calvin for Great Scots Minds.”

Devine writes: “In the secular Scotland of this new millennium, the Reformation usually has a bad press. The Calvinist tradition that has moulded the nation is seen through a negative lens. Its malignant influence is said to have spawned intolerance, oppressive social disciplines, an aggressive and rapacious capitalism, sexual guilt and dysfunction, and warped attitudes to music, painting and the creative arts, which have only been changing in recent generations.”

While admitting a measure of truth to some of the stereotypes, Devine argues that they: “…entirely ignore the profoundly positive influence which reformed Protestantism also had on Scottish history….Calvinism was a key factor inspiring that great flowering of intellectual culture in the 18th century, the Scottish Enlightenment.”

Devine describes the Scots reformers’ “commitment to developing a basic level of literacy among the population in order that they might read the Bible and comprehend the lengthy sermons which were the new Church’s chosen method of communication with the laity….” and that post-reformation learning “…was pursued systematically and relentlessly as a crucial part of a nationwide religious crusade….” in contrast to the old church.

Devine describes Calvinism as “…a cerebral belief system that appealed more to the mind than the heart or the senses. Complex theological issues were constantly debated in lengthy sermons, learned tracts and public debate….” and argues that the “Scottish Enlightenment’s central focus on trying to understand the bases of human conduct, the ideas which evolved in time into the modern subjects of economics, sociology and anthropology, has its roots in Scottish Calvinism’s obsession with human morality and man’s relation to God.”

Devine concludes that, “…far from being aggressive secularists, challenging the outdated orthodoxies of Christian tradition, some of the greatest figures of the Enlightenment, such as William Robertson, Adam Ferguson and Thomas Reid, were themselves ministers of the gospel or sons of the manse, such as Francis Hutcheson….” and that the “…Scottish Enlightenment, unlike its French counterpart, was therefore a decidedly Christian Enlightenment.”

+ The London Times, Times House, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1TT, England, 44-0-20-7782-5971, pressoffice@thetimes.co.uk

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[14] Presbyterian Lay Committee Files Amicus Curiae Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Support of California Episcopal Congregation that Lost Church Property to The Episcopal Church

Editor Emeritus of The Layman, Parker Williamson, reports that the Presbyterian Lay Committee on 27 July 2009 filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of St. James Parish in Newport Beach, California following a California Supreme Court (CSC) ruling that awarded the congregation’s property to its former denomination, The Episcopal Church.

The PLC brief argues that the CSC’s decision violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment and Free Exercise clauses by exempting a hierarchical church government from fundamental property laws that all other persons and organizations are required to honor.

+ Presbyterian Lay Committee, Post Office Box 2210, Lenoir, North Carolina 28645, 828-758-8716, Fax: 828-758-0920, laymanletters@layman.org

+ Anglican Church in North America, 1001 Merchant Street, Ambridge, Pennsylvania 15003, 724-266-9400, admin@theacna.org

+ Episcopal Church Center 815 Second Avenue New York, New York 10017, 800-334-7626, cdawkins@episcopalchurch.org

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

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[15] HSLDA Survey and Report Shows Average Home Schooled Student Scores Thirty-Seven Points Higher than Average Public School Student on Standardized Tests

The Home School Legal Defense Association on 10 August 2009 released a new study titled: Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics conducted by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, which shows that homeschoolers, on average, scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests.

Additionally, the report showed that homeschooled boys (87th percentile) and girls (88th percentile) scored equally well; the income level of parents did not appreciably affect the results (household income under US$35,000: 85th percentile—household income over US$70,000: 89th percentile); and while parent education level did have some impact, even children whose parents did not have college degrees scored in the 83rd percentile, which is well above the national average for public school students. Homeschooled children whose parents both had college degrees scored in the 90th percentile.

The report shows that the average public school spends nearly US$10,000 per child per year whereas the Progress Report shows that the average homeschool parent spends about US$500 per child per year.

There are an estimated 2 million homeschooled children in the U.S. today, which is about four percent of the school-aged population, and homeschooling is growing at around seven percent per year.

+ Home School Legal Defense Association, Post Office Box 3000, Purcellville, Virginia 20134, 540-338-5600

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[16] Westminster Seminary California to Provide Faculty Introductions via Office Hours Podcast and MP3 Downloads

Westminster Seminary California (WSC) is beginning a series of podcast and MP3 downloads called Office Hours, designed to introduce the listener to the faculty of WSC through personal, thirty-minute interviews, discussing biblical and exegetical questions, historical and theological questions, pastoral matters, and Christian living.

The first two installments of Office Hours will be available on 31 August 2009 on the WSC website or on iTunes. Episode One features an interview with W. Robert Godfrey, President of WSC and Professor of Church History, and Episode Two features an interview with Julius J. Kim, Associate Professor of Practical Theology.

As an incentive to prospective listeners, WSC is offering several free books, conference admission tickets, and MP3 downloads for Office Hours listeners.

+ Westminster Seminary California, 1725 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido, California 92027, 760-480-8474, Fax: 760-480-0252, info@wscal.edu

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