Obviously, Ross Douthat isn’t following 2k debates nor has he read A Secular Faith:

What’s more, the alternative perspective here — that a politician’s religious commitments are so personal and private that no one else can reasonably be asked to comment on them, or even to identify them at all — usually belongs to a particular slice of the secular left: The slice that doesn’t think that religion should have any public role in politics, the slice that was so anxious about “theocracy” in the Bush era, the slice that finds Walker’s own public expressions of faith eminently mockable today. That’s where you’ll find a principled argument for regarding Obama’s religious profession as irrelevant to our political conversations. But that argument points toward a full privatization of religion, toward a system much more like French laïcité than the American tradition of religiously-informed politics — and as such it’s a very strange argument for American conservatives to embrace.

Heck, he hasn’t even read J. Gresham Machen:

you cannot expect from a true Christian Church any official pronouncements upon the political or social questions of the day, and you cannot expect cooperation with the state in anything involving the use of force. Important are the functions of the police, and members of the Church, either individually or in such special associations as they may choose to form, should aid the police in every lawful way in the exercise of those functions. But the function of the Church in its corporate capacity is of an entirely different kind. Its weapons against evil are spiritual, not carnal; and by becoming a political lobby, through the advocacy of political measures whether good or bad, the Church is turning aside from its proper mission, which is to bring to bear upon human hearts the solemn and imperious, yet also sweet and gracious, appeal of the gospel of Christ.


147 thoughts on “Disappointed

  1. Some guy claiming to be a Presbyterian minister launched into a diatribe directed at the leader of my Synod, Rev. Matthew Harrison, at a lecture Harrison was giving on 2K and Lutheranism just last night at Hillsdale College. It seemed that the angry minister was perturbed mainly because Harrison said things much like what Machen says in the quotation above. Seems odd. Wish you could have been there, D. Hart. I think you could have set the record straight.


  2. D. Hart,

    I can’t recall much except he threw out a few quotes from the Institutes, offered Geneva as the paramount example of a functioning Christian society, and, for some odd reason, said that the Salem Witch trials were the product of the influence of paganism on the Puritans (neither the Puritans, nor the Salem Witch Trials had been mentioned at all up until then). It was mostly enraged bluster.


  3. Though Machen has some good things to teach, he is hardly the final rule. He was pretty much a libertarian so we want to look at how much of his statement above comes from political convictions and how much of it comes from his spiritual convictions. And with both sets of convictions, we need to realize that he is a voice, not a canon.

    The problem stated above is limited. It doesn’t allow for further questioning. That means that one’s answer is limited to the issues raised above. For example, one question we can ask is, is it possible to both use one’s faith as a rule for policies while sharing society as an equal? It is the concept of sharing society as an equal that seems to be the overriding issue rather than using an electron microscope to see if policy decisions are based on religious convictions.


  4. Curt: Though Machen has some good things to teach, he is hardly the final rule. He was pretty much a libertarian so we want to look at how much of his statement above comes from political convictions and how much of it comes from his spiritual convictions. And with both sets of convictions, we need to realize that he is a voice, not a canon.

    Today is Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday. The apple I left on the counter looks to have ripened a bit too much. Oh dear. Blah blah blah.


  5. “the Church’s proper mission to bring to bear upon human hearts the appeal of the gospel of Christ”

    based on some amount of evidence, don’t think there is clarity, agreement on scope of this appeal
    Mark 9:50, Col 4:6; Rom 12:21; Gal; 5:14-16; John 17:23


  6. Cat (Zingano) had the bad judgment to plan an opening flying knee; acontextualism is a disaster in MMA. Cat missed, was off balance, and Rousey moved her around until she found an arm. Shall I break your arm, Cat? I didn’t think so; I win.

    Thankfully the OPC hasn’t done a statement on “Women in the UFC.”

    Also, note that it was a Cat fight.


  7. Heck, he hasn’t even read J. Gresham Machen:

    “You cannot expect from a true Christian Church any official pronouncements upon the political or social questions of the day.”

    They didn’t have legalized abortion yet. Hell, the Holocaust had not yet occurred. JG Machen was a visionary, but even he couldn’t imagine the depravity to come.


  8. Tom, right, because the 20th Century is Thee Most Important One Ever and changes ev.er.y.thing. But Paul also write before modernity and said no women ruling the church, a principle which your favorite (but not affiliated) kind of church still follows. You realize that by your reasoning that if Machen is preaching pro-life political gospel then your favorite (but not affiliated) kind of church should be getting jiggy with egalitarianism, right? Still, even if Machen does preach pro-life political gospel then Protestants of a sturdier stuff can call him out, while if Rome ordains women it has to be explained by the shell game of development of doctrine.


  9. “What has Christianity to do with education: What is there about Christianity which makes it necessary that there should be Christian schools? Very little, some people say, Christianity, they say, is a life, a temper of soul, not a doctrine or a system of truth; it can provide its sweet aroma, therefore, for any system which secular education may provide; its function is merely to evaluate whatever may be presented to it by the school of thought dominant at any particular time. This view of the Christian religion…is radically false. Christianity is, indeed, a way of life; but it is a way of life founded upon a system of truth. That system of truth is of the most comprehensive kind; it clashes with opposing systems at a thousand points. The Christian life cannot be lived on the basis of anti-Christian thought. Hence the necessity of the Christian school.”

    ~ J. Gresham Machen

    “It is this profound Christian permeation of every human activity, no matter how secular the world may regard it as being, which is brought about by the Christian school and the Christian school alone. I do not want to be guilty of exaggerations at this point. A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearings of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth, even in the sphere of mathematics, seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life — those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school.”

    ~ J. Gresham Machen


  10. AB, but like Keith Mathison might say, what a difference a vowel makes. In this case, the long one means aligns with Radical Reformation and the short the Protestant Reformation.


  11. Seth reported,

    “I can’t recall much except he threw out a few quotes from the Institutes, offered Geneva as the paramount example of a functioning Christian society, and, for some odd reason, said that the Salem Witch trials were the product of the influence of paganism on the Puritans (neither the Puritans, nor the Salem Witch Trials had been mentioned at all up until then). It was mostly enraged bluster.”

    I was also in attendance at the lecture to which Seth refers, and I must offer that Seth’s reporting is really quite inaccurate. I remember this exchange because I was sitting just cattycorner from the gentleman in question. Also I was taking notes since I am a lay-person and I am trying to understand this issue.

    1.) The gentlemen in question did not claim to be “a Presbyterian minister.” As near as I can recall he said something like … “In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a Calvinist,” or something like that.

    2.) The gentleman in question most certainly did not quote the Institutes. The Speaker, Dr. Harrison, is the one who quoted the Institutes. I remember this because Dr. Harrison gave the Calvin quote and then said nothing to rebut Calvin’s contrarian insight except to say that “Luther would have never said that.”

    3.) The gentleman that Seth mentions said nothing about Calvin’s Geneva. Again, that was the speaker that mentioned Geneva (and again Dr. Harrison said nothing to rebut the reality of Calvin’s Geneva.)

    4.) Seth is not accurate again when he says that the Calvinist gentleman mentioned the Salem Witch trials. The person who mentioned the witch trials was a much younger man sitting 1/2 way across the room. And his comment was in context of the discussion even though Salem had not been mentioned.

    I don’t want to jump to conclusions but one can only hope that Seth documents and footnotes his papers better at Hillsdale then he reports on conversations.

    If anyone is interested in what the Calvinist gentleman said I’ll be happy to report back if they ask. This message is already long enough.



  12. Darryl,

    I prefer all my interpretations, including my Machen interpretations, minus the Escondido 2K spin cycle.

    And Zrim … there are plenty of Reformed ministers who don’t believe in Escondido 2K. They count also don’t they?


  13. Penelope, so you’re of the school that has Machen as a transformer of America? You disagree with him on the spirituality of the church? You disagree with him on prohibiting prayer and Bible reading from public education? You disagree with him on defending the rights of Roman Catholics to propagandize? And you’re on board with the Machen who favored the progressive policies that people who believed in Christian labor unions advocated?

    That Machen?

    When do you hold your next seance? I don’t want to miss the show.


  14. Barb here hit the nail right on the head. Seth, you misconstrued everything that Pastor said. And we don’t need you to report anything, Barb, because I was there and heard the whole thing as well, and I’m happy to speak up for truth regardless if I agree with that persons assessment.

    The pastor that Seth talked about pointed out that as Dr. Harrison’s common Kingdom is a “Law Order,” this necessitates a Law giver.

    Given the fact that there is a lawgiver it is seen that the public square is God conditioned. The Lawgiver is the God of the Dr. Harrison Left Handed Kingdom. That Law-giver here is autonomous Man and this is seen by the positivistic law that is passed in the left handed Kingdom. (Humanism)
    That pastor also mentioned that Dr. Harrison’s appeal to reason as the standard for the left handed Kingdom is fallacious as a operative standard since man is fallen and his reason is fallen with him.

    The Calvinist also said that the appeal for pluralism, for the left handed Kingdom, is really an appeal for polytheism for the Left-handed Kingdom. As I recall this was mentioned because Dr. Harrison kept insisting he would die for Pluralism! The pastor said that pluralism in the left handed Kingdom is really just disguised polytheism in the left handed Kingdom. Dr. Harrison was basically saying he would die for Polytheism in the Left Handed Kingdom.

    There was a good deal more I didn’t get in my notes. The pastor was talking so quickly I couldn’t get all his points down. I do remember that he also repudiated the Anglican Faculty member in attendance who rudely interrupted one of the questioners. And as I recall he kept insisting that it is not possible for the left handed Kingdom to be irreligious.

    Seriously, Seth, if you’re going to trash talk a preacher of the Gospel of Christ, at least take better notes to back up your claims. Shameful.



  15. “What has Christianity to do with education: What is there about Christianity which makes it necessary that there should be Christian schools? Very little, some people say. Christianity, they say, is a life, a temper of soul, not a doctrine or a system of truth; it can provide its sweet aroma, therefore, for any system which secular education may provide; its function is merely to evaluate whatever may be presented to it by the school of thought dominant at any particular time. This view of the Christian religion…is radically false. Christianity is, indeed, a way of life; but it is a way of life founded upon a system of truth. That system of truth is of the most comprehensive kind; it clashes with opposing systems at a thousand points. The Christian life cannot be lived on the basis of anti-Christian thought. Hence the necessity of the Christian school” (142,143).

    “When we contemplate a type of Protestant orthodoxy that is content to take forlorn little shreds of Christian truth and tag them here and there upon a fundamentally anti-Christian or non-Christian education…[this is] humiliating to Protestantism” (143).

    “Christianity should have an educational system of its own…Thus and thus only will the darkness of ignorance be dispelled and the light of Christian truth be spread abroad in the land” (144).

    J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)
    Education, Christianity, and the State, edited by John Robbins, The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson, Maryland, 1987.



  16. “In the political and social discussions of the day, God’s law has ceased to be regarded as a factor that deserves to be reckoned with at all…[But] of one thing we can be sure—a nation that tramples thus upon the law of God…is headed for destruction” (140,141).

    A “very ancient principle in the field of education…has been one of the chief enemies of human liberty for several thousand years—the principle, namely, that education is an affair essentially of the State, that education must be standardized for the welfare of the whole people and put under the control of government, that personal idiosyncrasies should be avoided…It is a very ancient thing—this notion that the children belong to the State, that their education must be provided for by the State in a way that makes for the State’s welfare. But that principle, I think you will find if you examine human history, is inimical at every step to liberty” (87,88).

    “I hope therefore…that we may return to the principle of freedom for individual parents in the education of their children in accordance with their conscience…But let us be perfectly clear about one thing—if liberty is not maintained with regard to education, there is no use trying to maintain it in any other sphere. If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might just as well give them everything else…No, we do not want a Federal Department of Education and we do not want, in any form whatever, the slavery that a Federal Department of Education would bring” (98).

    “Uniformity in education under central control it seems to me is the worst fate into which any country can fall…parents have a right to educate children as they please…education is essentially not a matter of the State at all” (100-102).

    We “are dealing with the most important part of human life when we are dealing with education” (114).

    J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)
    Education, Christianity, and the State
    Edited by John Robbins, The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson, Maryland, 1987.


  17. (As) “a matter of fact the religion of the Christian man embraces the whole of his life…everything that he does he should now do as a child of God…[The] bearing of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth, even in the sphere of mathematics, seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life…I can see little consistency in a type of Christian activity which preaches the gospel on the street corners and at the ends of the earth, but neglects the children of the covenant by abandoning them to a cold and unbelieving secularism” (81,82).

    “Another line of attack upon liberty has appeared in the advocacy of a Federal department of education. Repeatedly this vicious proposal has been introduced in Congress.”

    “Uniformity in education, it seems to me, is one of the worst calamities into which any people can fall…Uniformity of education under one central governmental department would be a very great calamity indeed.”

    J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)
    Education, Christianity, and the State — 81, 82, 71, 73,74
    Edited by John Robbins, The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson, Maryland, 1987.


  18. J. Greshma Machen on Christendom, from his sermon, “The Creeds And Doctrinal Advance.” Machen could and did speak respectfully of Christendom.

    “So they sit down and concoct various forms of words, which they represent as being on a plane with the great creed of Christendom. When they do that, they are simply forgetting what the creeds of Christendom are. The creeds of Christendom are not expressions of Christian experience. They are summary statements of what God has told us in His Word.”


  19. “The truth is there can be no real progress unless there is something that is fixed. Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.” Well, Christian doctrine provides that place to stand. Unless there be such a place to stand, all progress is an illusion. The very idea of progress implies something fixed. There is no progress in a kaleidoscope

    That is the trouble with the boasted progress of our modern age. The Bible at the start was given up. Nothing was to be regarded as fixed. All truth was regarded as relative. What has been the result? I will tell you. An unparalleled decadence—liberty prostrate, slavery stalking almost unchecked through the earth, the achievements of centuries crumbling in the dust, sweetness and decency despised, all meaning regarded as having been taken away from human life. What is the remedy? I will tell you that too. A return to God’s Word! We had science for the sake of science, and got the World War; we had art for art’s sake, and got ugliness gone mad; we had man for the sake of man and got a world of robots—men made into machines. Is it not time for us to come to ourselves, like the prodigal in a far country? Is it not time for us to seek real progress by a return to the living God?

    J. Gresham Machen
    The Creeds and Doctrinal Advance


  20. “But this is not the first period of decadence through which the world has passed, as it is not the first period of desperate conflict in the Church. God still rules, and in the midst of darkness there will come in His good time the shining of a clearer light. There will come a great revival of the Christian religion; and with it will come, we believe a revival of true learning: The new Reformation for which we long for and pray may well be accompanied by a new Renaissance.”

    J. Gresham Machen
    The Modern Use of the Bible
    Princeton Theological Review, 23 (1925), p. 81


  21. No Escondido 2K spin cycle for me Dr. Hart. I’ll take my Machen straight up and do my own interpreting.


  22. Penny,

    Way to copy and paste.

    Last I heard Lee is doing OK. Was a wonderful preacher when I heard him in southern california when he was a minister in our church.

    You doing ok there?


  23. “The “other-worldliness” of Christianity involves no withdrawal from the battle of this world; our Lord Himself, with His stupendous mission, lived in the midst of life’s throng and press. Plainly, then, the Christian man may not simplify his problem by withdrawing from the business of the world, but must learn to apply the principles of Jesus even to the complex problems of modern industrial life…. At this point Christian teaching is in full accord with the modern liberal Church; the evangelical Christian is not true to his profession if he leaves his Christianity behind him on Monday morning. On the contrary, the whole of life, including business and all of social relations, must be made obedient to the law of love. The Christian man certainly should display no lack of interest in “applied Christianity.”

    Only—and here emerges the enormous difference of opinion—the Christian man believes that there can be no applied Christianity unless there be “a Christianity to apply.”

    That is where the Christian man differs from the modern liberal. The liberal believes that applied Christianity is all there is of Christianity, Christianity being merely a way of life; the Christian man believes that applied Christianity is the result of an initial act of God. Thus there is an enormous difference between the modern liberal and the Christian man with reference to human institutions like the community and the state, and with reference to human efforts at applying the Golden Rule in industrial relationships. The modern liberal is optimistic with reference to these institutions; the Christian man is pessimistic unless the institutions be manned by Christian men. The modern liberal believes that human nature as at present constituted can be molded by the principles of Jesus; the Christian man believes that evil can only be held in check and not destroyed by human institutions, and that there must be a transformation of the human materials before any new building can be produced. This difference is not a mere difference in theory, but makes itself felt everywhere in the practical realm….

    Thus Christianity differs from liberalism in the way in which the transformation of society is conceived. But according to Christian belief, as well as according to liberalism, there is really to be a transformation of society; it is not true that the Christian evangelist is interested in the salvation of individuals without being interested in the salvation of the race.

    The Non R2K Machen of Dr. Hart’s Nightmares
    Christianity and Liberalism


  24. “The early Christians lived in a society whose values were inimical to them in many respects. The pagan society around them was underpinned by a religion which they considered false, if not demonic; it was characterized by moral values they could not share; and it was entered into by an education steeped in paganism. So we might expect the early Christians to try to protect their young by providing some alternative form of education which would keep them free from the temptations and snares of the pagan world in which they lived. They had, after all, the example of the Jewish synagogue schools. But, rather surprisingly, the Christians did not take that course for several centuries. There was no fiercer critic of paganism than Tertullian (c. 160-c.225), but even he accepted the necessity for young people to share in the education on offer at pagan schools. His chosen image to describe the Christian pupil’s situation as he read the pagan authors whose work formed the ancient syllabus, was that of someone offered poison to drink, but refusing to take it (On Idolatry 10).

    “The young Origen (born c.185 AD)…is said to have received extra instruction in the Scriptures from his father, Leonides, each day before he set out for his secular schooling (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.2.7f.)…Here was a devout Christian father, later to be martyred for the gospel, who was nonetheless willing for his son to attend school, and follow the normal curriculum of the pagan classics. Origen himself became an enthusiast for secular education as a preparation for Biblical study, and in later life urged it on those who came to him for instruction (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.18.4: NE 192).

    “We hear of no Christian schooling outside the home in the early centuries. A century after Clement had written to Corinthian fathers and husbands to ‘instruct the young in the fear of God,’ the same pattern of family responsibility can be seen in Origen’s Alexandria. Christian parents were still content for their children to share a common education with their pagan neighbors, and the church was slow to copy the synagogue in providing an alternative pattern of schooling. Even when John Chrysostom (c.347-407) wrote the first Christian treatise on the education of children (On the Vainglory of the World and on the Education of Children), he addressed himself to parents, and said nothing about sending children to specifically Christian schools. The first Christian schools seem to have been those founded by the monasteries from the fourth century onwards (Marrou 1965 472-84).

    “It is worth asking why Christians did not take the opportunity to create their own schools. If we take the comparison with the Jewish community, one reason must have been that there was no need for Christian children to learn a sacred language; their Jewish contemporaries had to learn Hebrew. Those who spoke Greek could read the New Testament in its original language, and the Old testament in Greek translation. And the New Testament Scriptures were rapidly translated into the various languages of the Mediterranean. Further, Christians did not see themselves as culturally distinct from their neighbours. An anonymous writer of the late second century expressed eloquently how Christians were in the world, but not of it:

    For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, or by speech, or by dress. For they do not dwell in cities of their own, or use a different language, or practise a peculiar speech…But while they dwell in Greek or barbarian cities according as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the land in clothing and food, and other matters of daily life, yet the condition of citizenship which they exhibit is wonderful, and admittedly strange…Every foreign land is to them a fatherland, and every fatherland a foreign land. (Epistle to Diognetus 6.1-5: NE 55).

    “To set up their own separate educational provision would have been to withdraw from the common life they shared with their pagan neighbours. And, while they recognized the dangers and allure of paganism, the early Christians saw no need to do that. They let their children ‘share in the instruction which is in Christ’ (1 Clement), and they allowed them access to education for the wider pagan society. They were not trying to create a Christian ghetto, but to be salt and light in their world. Their attitude to their children’s education was an expression of this open yet critical attitude.”

    W.A. Strong, “Children in the Early Church”


  25. http://www.reformedliterature.com/machen-christianity-and-culture.php

    “The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom must be advanced not merely extensively, but also intensively. The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man. We are accustomed to encourage ourselves in our discouragements by the thought of the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. No less inspiring is the other aspect of that same great consummation. That will also be a time when doubts have disappeared, when every contradiction has been removed, when all of science converges to one great conviction, when all of art is devoted to one great end, when all of human thinking is permeated by the refining, ennobling influence of Jesus, when every thought has been brought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.”

    “But by whom is this task of transforming the unwieldy, resisting mass of human thought until it becomes subservient to the gospel–by whom is this task to be accomplished? To some extent, no doubt, by professors in theological seminaries and universities.”


  26. “In the political and social discussions of the day, God’s law has ceased to be regarded as a factor that deserves to be reckoned with at all…[But] of one thing we can be sure—a nation that tramples thus upon the law of God…is headed for destruction.”

    J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)
    Education, Christianity, and the State — pp. 140, 141
    Edited by John Robbins, The Trinity Foundation, Jefferson, Maryland, 1987.


  27. Penny, what exactly is your point, that you can copy and paste Machen? Gold star. But Kuyper disagreed with Calvin on the magistrate and 2kers side with Kuyper (who said he’d rather be un-Reformed if Reformed meant theocracy).


  28. “Human institutions are really to be molded, not by Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed … [I]t is not true that the Christian evangelist is interested in the salvation of individuals without being interested in the salvation of the race.”

    J. Gresham Machen
    Christianity & Liberalism — pg. 158-159


  29. Penelope, you not only cut and paste but you don’t interpret. You somehow act like these quotes are self-evident. The problem is, they don’t make sense of things like Machen’s argument for Blue Laws:

    April 20, 1933

    The Honorable Gifford Pinchot
    Governor of Pennsylvania
    Harrisburg, Pa.

    Dear Sir:

    Will you permit me to express, very respectfully, my opposition to the Bill designated “House Bill No. 1″ regarding permission of commercialized sport between the hours of two and six on Sunday afternoons?

    It is clear that in this matter of Sunday legislation the liberty of part of the people will have to be curtailed. It is impossible that people who desire a quiet Sunday should have a quiet Sunday, while at the same time people who desire commercialized sport on Sunday should have commercialized sport. The permission of commercialized sport will necessarily change the character of the day for all of the people and not merely for part of the people.

    The only question, therefore, is whose liberty is to be curtailed. I am convinced that in this case it ought, for the welfare of the whole people, to be the liberty of those who desire commercialized sport.

    The curtailment of their liberty, through the existing law, does not, I am convinced, go beyond reasonable bounds. There is, it seems to me, a sharp distinction of principle between complete prohibition of some form of activity or enjoyment and reasonable regulation of it in the interest of other people. To ask that commercialized sport should dispense with one day out of seven for the benefit of that large part of our population that desires a quiet Sunday and believes that it is necessary to the welfare of the State does not seem to me to be unreasonable.

    Of course it is perfectly clear that in a democracy the majority should rule in this matter as in other matters. I should be the last to advocate any attempt to make people religious or even to make people ordinarily moral or decent against their will by mere legislative enactment. I should also be the last to advocate any tyrannical imposition of the convictions of a minority upon the majority. But how shall the majority will be exercised? I think that it ought to be exercised through the ordinary processes of representative government. To allow commercialized sport on Sunday in Pennsylvania will be a radical change in the whole life of our people. It is a wise provision of representative government that such radical changes should not be hastily accomplished, as might be the case by the referendum vote, but that they should be accomplished only when it is quite clear that the majority of the people really and seriously and permanently desires the change. . . .

    As to the merits of the question, I could hardly find words strong enough to express what my feeling is. It does seem to me that the profoundest dangers to our entire civilization are found in the constant rush of noise and jazz and feverish activity which is one of the great faults of the American people and which is a great barrier to true efficiency as well as to the cultivation of the deeper things.

    Of course, my own cultivation of a quiet Sunday is based on considerations much more fundamental than these. I am a Christian, and it is quite clear that a commercialized Sunday is inimical to the Christian religion. There are many other Christians in Pennsylvania, and because they are Christians they do not cease to be citizens. They have a right to be considered by their fellow-citizens and by the civil authorities. But the reason why they can with a good conscience be enthusiastic advocates of the Christian practice in the matter of Sunday is that they regard it as right, and as for the highest well-being of the entire State.

    Very truly yours,

    J. Gresham Machen, Professor of New Testament in Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

    By your lights, or lack of it, Machen was not fully Christian in making a case for Blue Laws based on social realities rather than your chest-thumping certainty.


  30. Christianity and Culture – “Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.”

    J. Gresham Machen
    1912 centennial commemorative lecture at Princeton Seminary

    “Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.”

    ~J. Gresham Machen

    How much material from Machen has to be discounted Dr. Hart?

    You have laid your Escondido 2K hands upon Machen and forced him into a Escondido 2K mold.

    You have been biographically dishonest. Machen was not who you say he was.


  31. What shall you write next Dr. Hart?

    A biography proving that R. L. Dabney was really a Yankee?


  32. Yeah, because no one ever thought of Two-Kingdoms Theology of The Spirituality of the Church before they came up with it within the last 15 years at Westminster West.

    Never mind those hundreds of years of history that Van Drunen covers painstakingly chapter after chapter, none of which these clowns have read.

    Anyone who even uses the term “Escondido” in a pejorative sense is probably holed up in a bunker with a year’s supply of meals-ready-to-eat and a weapons cache.


  33. “Two-Kingdoms Theology or The Spirituality of the Church”

    Normally I don’t cite typos, but I don’t want to be accused of creating a new theology and inciting a witch hunt.


  34. Machen was a good guide for the modern world.

    But it’s a postmodern world, and maybe something beyond that.


  35. sing along!

    na-na-na-na-naaaa, na-na-na-na-naaaaa

    So ring the bell
    Bring it on
    That’s right, I said
    I am boxing shadows backstage of my head
    And take a swing at the one I want to be
    I go na na na . . .

    I don’t feel so strong up here today
    So it’s down to the basement
    Mason jars and memories
    Dim light sways from overhead
    From a corner of the ring
    Shadow of a better me
    So I take a swing at the could-have-beens
    I left up to the should-bes

    You’re docking every open door I’ve had
    We’re standing in the same place
    You in front of me
    Sucker-punch to the place it hurts
    Breaking my defenses from the inside
    Now fear is a fool who just won’t shut up
    The bigger, the harder it falls

    Oh, I want to walk in a field of light
    With no shadows casting me down


  36. Penelope is a dude, I guarantee it.

    Hey Penelope, do you like to dress in ladies clothes or only assume their identities?

    What did Machen say about impersonating a woman?


  37. From glancing at those quotes it doesn’t look to me like Machen said any of them in a sermon, from the pulpit.

    Machen’s as entitled to his opinions of how people should use their free time as much as the next guy. It’s all optional, though. None of it includes “thus saith the Lord”. We are free to accept or reject Machen’s non-conscience-binding suggestions as we see fit.

    That’s the essence of 2K, in other words.


  38. Penelope, so far you quote Machen the way liberals quote the Declaration of Independence. Try interpreting his life. Go ahead. Try.

    Don’t have a button on the keyboard for that? The nerve of the Asians.


  39. Penelope, I guess you haven’t read Machen on how to deal with adversaries. Never mind the bits that get in the way.

    Old Life has been around almost a decade. You enter the conversation like some — woman. Haven’t you read the Bible on women’s roles, or do you like the way secular liberal society has given you a voice?


  40. Dr. Hart

    What would you know about “interpreting?”

    After all … you are Escondido 2K. If you interpret Machen the way you interpret the Bible the next thing you know you’ll give us Machen the Trannie.


  41. Erik,

    I’m going to let her do the talking. It’s going quite all right.

    I knew we had a winner when she called Dr. Irons the “OPC reject.”

    You can’t make stuff like this up.


  42. D.G.,

    Nice Machen letter on sports on Sunday. Too bad he didn’t know that all he had to do was cite Belgic 36 and tell the magistrate that the church was the boss of him.


  43. Penelope, I know more about interpreting than you. I’m certified to do it. You’re not. But to your credit, you don’t interpret. You just quote — completely ignorant of context.

    Rabbi Bret has done a wonderful work with you — a woman who publicly mocks men. I guess you don’t interpret Titus 2 either.


  44. I’ve yet to see any men show up here.

    And certified by who?

    The State? Shall we talk about Historiographic methodologies now? I like the one you practice where you just explain away or ignore all the Machen quotes you don’t like.

    Face it Doc Hart … your Machen is a figment of your Escondido 2K.

    Now … I have to get the children started on their school work.


  45. Rabbi Penny, as long as we’re quote clogging…

    “. . . Politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character, to assume what does not belong to them, are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave, and of the character they assume. Wholly unacquainted with the world in which they are so fond of meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions they excite. Surely the church is a place where one day’s truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.”

    Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France. 1790 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 11-12.


  46. History has not seen anything this good since they caught Jefferson Davis dressed up like a woman.

    Where else have you been impersonating women, Rev. Bret?

    The CRC may be rubbing off on you more than you know.


  47. Sweet Penelope, please address us by the proper term…

    Radical-Escondido-Devil Horned Non-KJO 2K is more like it.


  48. “If then Christianity as interpreted in the Reformed creeds, as championed by Kuyper, Bavinck, Hodge, Warfield, and MACHEN, is to be presented to men today, ministers must learn to understand the riches of their own position. Christianity …is the sine qua non of the intelligibility of anything. Why am I so much interested in science? It is a) because with Kuyper I believe that God requires of us that we claim every realm of being for Him, and b) because with Kuyper I believe that unless we press the crown rights of our King in every realm, we shall not long retain them in any realm.”

    Cornelius Van Til, “The Defense of the Faith”, pg. 276


  49. But nobody whom we are trying to reach will allow Square One of Van Til to be accepted.

    It’s hard enough in Reformed circles.


  50. @Penelope I’m genuinely curious – what did you hope to accomplish by recycling these quotes? Is it just some sort of weird way to vent, did you think dgh hadn’t seen these before, do you think the lurkers or regulars here would find these proof texts convincing, something else?


  51. You seem to be making the same mistake typical of auto-didacts. Like TVD, kw, and Susan before you, you have gained some knowledge but you have really poor methodological skills. You don’t know the context of the quotes, you don’t understand what can be inferred from the full record, and you lack the humility to learn from people you disagree with who know much more than you. While one may study Machen and Hodge carefully and come to a different conclusion, one would probably discover the complexity of the historical record and perhaps trod a bit more circumspectly. There seems to be an astonishing relationship between ignorance and confidence.

    If you have questions about dgh’s interpretation of Machen and how he squares it with what Machen has to say in the items you quoted, it might be more productive to ask…nicely. maybe even privately. You might not be persuaded, but perhaps in the process you’ll learn something any way. As it is you’ve come across as a jerk and a real blowhard..like the drunk at a pub who overhears part of a conversation and buts in to set everyone straight. Not very becoming or a way to get taken seriously.


  52. sdb, do you think Penelope has even read Defending the Faith? Isn’t the profile much more, Hart is 2k, Hart wrote a book on Machen, avoid Hart’s book on Machen, trust Rabbi Bret.


  53. How did I miss out on this dustup? Rabbi as a transvestite or transgendered actually rings true. However, I’m still struggling with Malibu Barbie Bruce. It’s Bruce! That’s my Wheaties childhood the Kardashian women screwed up.


  54. I don’t know much about Mr. Machen and have only begun to read Christianity and Liberalism. At the portion on doctrine right now.

    He seems a little in despair. It’s a sympathetic despair and not a despair about the gates of hell prevailing, just the gates of man but it still seems very much a panicked call to me.

    While he won’t shrink from concluding that the Judaizers’ gospel in Galatia is (in effect) unbelief, he judges RCism as a perversion that, I guess, still holds to enough truth to not be conjoined to the Judaizers in his determination. But I don’t see that he’s made a good case there. He contends that the Judaizers believed in Christ as the Messiah, that He rose from the dead and that He was the only way to salvation. He judged them unbelievers because they added works to the faith. I don’t see how RCism escapes that judgement, according to his chronicle of the unbelief of the Judaizers. I don’t think he’s right about the Judaizers being unbelievers but he did think that and so his attempt at closing the circle on what christian sects could be accepted as true christians has a quality of desperation about it.

    He sees that doctrinal disagreement is the root of the troubles, but IMO, he doesn’t see far enough or clear enough to get at the root of what those doctrinal disagreements between the sects can’t help but produce and can’t help but dissolve.

    His writing is very clear and very warm even toward those he sees as the enemy within.

    I don’t know what year C&L was written but he’s already allowing that the Gospel of St. John, in terms of authenticity I think, might be a problem.

    He’s an honest man and, for me, his best observations so far are that we lack great minds and we’re in deep trouble because of that and that we’ve let claims of scientific discovery hold ground it can’t really hold.

    I wonder what he would think of Patheos? I caught an excerpt here and there before a couple of weeks ago when I did a browse around. It’s like a town with heavy regulations on the facade of any business wanting to set-up shop there, without any regulation on structure, plumbing or lighting. It seemed such a ghetto to me. Though, in its defense, it could be that I just don’t see solid thought and writing even when it’s right in front of me.


  55. Also, Machen seems, from C&L (so far anyway) to favor any type of social reform to occur within America’s Anglo-Saxon understanding of liberty and coercion. He doesn’t seem to want to trample rights.

    No wonder Mencken held him in such high regard. He didn’t write an obit, he wrote an eulogy.


  56. No doubt. But I am curious what drives someone to drop in like that and pontificate about something she knows nothing about. Inquiring minds and all that.


  57. MLD, I found myself the denomination Machen founded. Mistakes or no in C&L, he was a voice for Xtianity during a dark period in American Protestantism. Why, for example, did Bultmann review his Origin of Paul’s Religion?


    You are in the right place either way.

    Happy reading.


  58. The drunks are going to be on badchristian podcast. Badchristian appears to be formed by Xtian rock band “emery” which was on “tooth and nail records.” Its a California record company which I am quite aware of, since I was very active in the Xtian rock scene of late 90’s


    The more mainstream label that I have many CDs still from is “Five Minute Walk” records, now defunct. The connections to me are interesting because I grew up on this stuff.

    So to me, Jason seems to be at a stage I was at around my teenage years, and I don’t mean to be condescending.

    There’s much I could say about these topics I pontificate on, but only to say now that Jason to me is trying to find a way to promote Catholicism in a provocative way, and has said he’s going for an OLTS type vibe (open air convos, screw all the logic games of the Callers) which truly is fascinating for (all about) me to follow. I hate peering into what’s he’s up to, but he still talks about what the Calvinist position is. Where I see this going is that the further you are away from Protism, the less credibility you have to speak on it. Someone else will convert to RCism and want to spill their guts and share all our trade secrets.

    In other words, Jason and his drunk scheme has eclipsed Bryan. Although the hatted man is an academic, granted.

    Anyway, my musings. Hopefully EC enjoys this..



  59. Andrew, so far I don’t think there are mistakes in C&L just contradictions.

    Machen seems to want Christianity to retain a strong (not loud) voice and a vital role and he can see it disappearing.

    Christians, presently, for a bunch of reasons, are harmed by loud talkers. And the smart (if there are any 🙂 soft-talkers have to advance arguments obliquely.

    I have the same sense of alarm that Machen seems to have had. He, nor I, expect a communion to abandon its confession but he had to also think about Christ’s call for unity so that the world would know that He had come.

    Making God look bad can’t be good.


  60. In any case, Jason and the Callers sure did fit, as a moniker, though drunkards this new outfit is, now. The vadchristian dot com seems to have succeeded and these are former rock and rollers. If Jason can keep peddling his Calvinist credentials, he may have found a niche, which I usspose could continue to grow. But how anyone makes money in this podcasting business is a mystery to me (soooo many out there, would anyone really advertise on the drunks pod to make this a worth while endeavor)?

    Untimately, who wants to listen to former Calvinists talk Calvinism. As we always say, CTC was doomed from the start. If you look at Bryan’s latest comments, they really are trashy and desperate. I’ll let the good readers here decide if they want to get inside the mind of Bryan. Bob e
    ESS wrote something on his blog about our cat in the hat, off I go to peer into Bob’s world.



  61. MLD, you come off so charitable and well read, I hate to respond in such short fashion on this important topic.

    It’s likely you know the question is unity, but unity at what cost? How much purity do we sacrifice in the name of unity.

    Google “mark hausam” and you will find his free thought for christ dot blogspot blog. He talks the language you express above. He’s very wordy. DGH has blogged on Dr. Hausam, if you need me, I’m around, phone in hand, will type away.



  62. Andrew, I did say that a communion shouldn’t abandon its confession. And by that I meant what you detail regarding unity.

    And there’s no point in rehashing arguments that people a lot smarter than me have made, thousands of times before.

    Every once in while though, I think about God’s good name.


  63. MLD, How familiar are you with the latest thoughts from our denom re: reformed ecclesiology?

    My learning so far hearkens back to animus imponentis and JV Fesko’s words in The Theology of the Westminster Standards.

    You likely have reached the end of the line with me. In conclusion, Psalm 133 is real, so I hear you. But so too is Galatians 1:8, and the reformed are armed and at the ready, with whatever Francis puts out. Our confession seems to lay out the case for invisible/visible distinction, so we move forward, as Machen would have us, praying for unity, like a parent prays for a wayward child to return to the faith(so to we may rightly pray from rome and her children).

    Respond as led, I have nothing else to say. G’night.


  64. Erik, Bret Doubtfire is the moderate voice in his class. It’s the yankee Deliverance, Da da ding da ding da ding ding.


  65. Type II, central adiposity Doubtfire is actually talking about how following God’s law(ostensibly what he’s doing) leads to a healthier body and longer life. Ho ho ho, he he he, ha ha ha. Don’t you know that girdle laughs and cries every night when he puts it in the drawer, while the insulin pump is busy rolling dice with the CPAP machine, muttering, tonight’s the night, I’m feeling lucky.


  66. Andrew, I know nothing about reformed ecclesiology but I don’t see how there can’t be a visible/invisible distinction.

    I had a Reformed pastor preach two, maybe three, sermons (Galatians) from the pulpit right at me. Remember the cartoons where a character turned bright red? That’s how I felt. He was a big-hearted guy. He also had guest pastor who preached on the kindness of strangers. It was a sermon for pilgrims.

    I think the Reformed pastor appreciated Rome’s ecclesiology but being faithful to the Reformed faith, it was Rome’s soteriology that gave him great pause.

    Anyway, good night to you too, AB.


  67. well, a cheat sheet crib notes cliff notes on animus then?

    even if we have the perfect system of church government, it’s doomed to fail if in the hands of nefarious leaders (say hello to the PCUSA).

    We presbys don’t have a lock on xtianity, but for don’t the anglicans, EO, Lutheran, Penecostals, Anabaptist, Wesleyians, neither. Unity looks like something, but as Dr. Hart says, Christ didn’t preach organizational unity. So to aim for that and sacrifice THE GOSPEL in the process is the lose what it is we are fighting for in the first place

    Now i stop. sorry.


  68. Didn’t know if anyone would like to compare Machen’s quote above with something John R. W. Stott said:

    “It would be very insensitive to react to the whole current rebellion [against authority] negatively or to give it a blanket condemnation as devilish. For some of it is responsible, mature and in the fullest sense Christian. It arises from the Christian doctrine of mankind made in the image of God, and therefore protests against all forms of dehumanization. It sets itself against the social injustices which insult God the Creator, seeks to protect human beings from oppression, and longs to liberate them into the enjoyment of their God-intended freedom. In politics it protests against every authoritarian regime, whether of the left or of the right, which discriminates against minorities, denies people their civil rights, forbids the free expression of opinions or imprisons people for their views alone. […]

    When the rebellion is expressed in such terms as these, far from opposing it, Christians should be in the vanguard of those who promote it. For its inspiration is the glory of God in the humanization of Godlike human beings.”


  69. It isn’t the lack of organizational unity, it’s best illustrated by a thread on Stellman back in October of 2014.

    A Reformed Christian emphatically notes that RCs are heretics (damned, in his mind, I’m assuming). And DGH responds, “do you think they think the same thing about us?”

    We’re two different faiths then. Does that mean we each worship a different god? Maybe.

    But to an outsider looking in, it may seem like politics or it may seem something more sinister. And because of that the only conversation you can have with unbelievers involves hating the same people they do.


  70. MLD, we can discuss another day, in another way, I will leave you to whomever else wants to take up this subject. Thank you for the interaction! As alluded to, here are DGH thoughts on Dr. Mark Hausam, and my fellow reformed deacon Zrim helped correct my thinking in the comment thread, its only 58 comments total, read if interested .

    Grace and Peace.


  71. Is anyone able to post a video to You Tube and label it “L’Abri”?

    At the beginning of the video some girl is talking about someone killing a Muskrat.

    Later on I think a few junkyard dogs appear in the background.

    This may be the Michigan New Wave in filmmaking.

    Have these people never heard of framing a shot or film editing?


  72. Erik, there are huge tax breaks to film here. The beach scene at the end of “The Road to Perdition” was just down the road in Saugatuck.


  73. The Rabbi needs to take a lesson from Greg. If he has a case to make, come here under his own name and make it.

    The truth is, when him and his allies do that, they don’t fare very well.

    So what they do is come here under fake identities and grouse about Darryl and 2K in their own little groups on Facebook.

    It all reveals that their arguments aren’t very compelling to anyone but themselves.

    Meanwhile the broader church just kind of ignores them and hopes they’ll go away like the drunk uncle the day after Thanksgiving.


  74. The pretend theonomists can’t handle anyone disagreeing with them. They only post to boards they censor and manipulate, and only discuss their views with people over whom they have the power to slap across the face or send to their room without supper.


  75. I think C&L is on the net for free, can I just copy and paste the whole thing and not offer contextual comments and think I’m a big girl (or boy)?


  76. “While Hillis [Dwight Hillis was a minister promoting war with Germany] was beating the drum for intervention, other clergy lamented the prospect of war. J. Gresham Machen had never claimed to be an idealist or a pacifist, and over the past two years had spoken against American subservience to British policy. In 1915 he advocated genuine international pluralism over the British ambition to impose the “English mind” around the world. In 1916, he mourned America’s submission to British foreign policy, lamenting that “the spirit of ‘76 seems to be dead at last.” And now on the eve of intervention, he warned privately that the United States was heading toward bondage and statism, that is, toward “a permanent alliance with Great Britain, which will inevitably mean a continuance of the present vassalage….Princeton is a hot-bed of patriotic enthusiasm and military ardor, — which makes me feel like a man without a country.”

    “…The War For Righteousness, ISI Books

    Machen was R2K?

    And Dabney was a Yankee


  77. But, Rabbi Penny, Gamble’s book is a critique on the kind of Protestant liberalism your muse (and Curt) affirms.

    Sensing the rumblings of social discontent in the 1870s, as gauged by popular economist Henry George and others, the architects of the social gospel emphasized justice and physical redemption in this present world over spiritual salvation in the life to come. Consequently, they interpreted Christianity in terms of behavior rather than doctrine. They condemned moribund orthodoxy for its impractical talk of binding creeds and standards of faith, while they instead emphasized good deeds and standards of living. In his memoirs, Dean Shailer Mathews of the University of Chicago’s Divinity School contrasted the two competing views of man and redemption. “The older evangelical orthodoxy,” he wrote, “regarded the gospel as the message of forgiveness of sins by virtue of belief in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice. Faith in him was of course to be followed by moral life but the good news of salvation was not primarily moral.” In contrast, the social gospel “was aggressively ethical. It naturally produced moral discontent rather than spiritual complacency.

    In order to make the church “aggressively ethical,” the social gospel required that Christianity redefine its theology of man and society. In The Gospel and the Modern Man of 1910, Shailer Mathews argued for the new solidaristic view of man in society. Mathews believed that social consciousness had become an inseparable part of the modern mind, a mind guided by a sense of historical process, the immanence of God in human events, and the empirical basis of truth. He further argued that the condition of the social order itself would determine the agenda of “really vital religious issues” facing the contemporary church. This new solidarity meant that both sin and salvation, historically matters of supreme importance for the individual, were now social concepts. For Mathews, the new perspective—like the growing ideal of “service”—was attributable to historical development; society was moving inexorably from individualism toward collectivism, changing the very definition of sin. “As civilization develops,” he wrote, “”sin grows corporate. We sin socially by violating social rather than individualistic personal relations.

    The War for Righteousness (pgs. 60-61)


  78. And note that there is absolutely nothing in that quote that causes problems for 2K, proving yet again that her critics have never actually read anything about 2K and understand next to nothing about what the 2K case is.

    They just like right wing politics and can’t begin to understand how the church might not be firmly behind them 110%.


  79. Bret doesn’t see the connection between the left wing social gospel and the right wing social gospel, even though the evidence hits him squarely between the eyes like a 2×4.


  80. Here’s Bret’s basic problem, and it comes through loud & clear in those You Tube videos.

    There’s a notion that we’re going to fix society by getting on our horse, with our armor on, and riding into battle with the secularists. The problem is, the path we are on as Christians is narrow and few will find it.

    Now Bret will counter that he’s a postmillennialist, that Christ’s disciples will one day cover the earth like the waters cover the sea. Meanwhile 150 people have watched these videos that have been up 2 years, and half of them are us gawking at them.

    If he would just chill out, preach the gospel, tend to the saints he has been given, and reach out in practical ways to the unbelievers in his community, we would all be better off.

    No one needs a new Francis Schaeffer preaching to the world in a rocking chair next to a junkyard.


  81. No one needs a new Francis Schaeffer preaching to the world in a rocking chair next to a junkyard.

    Yeah, it’s not the 60s any more, for good or for bad.


  82. I was recommended to read Schaeffer, I was given a book by him. But I never started it.

    Instead, Michael has me going through 36 hours of Kline’s Kingdom Prologue (way to go Confessional Outhouser RubeRad for the wonderful page cataloguing those).

    Take that Penner. Grr.. (for you, Erik).


  83. Grateful I got the rainbow of FS books from The Conservative Book Club back in the early 80s.

    Helped me through some rough times.

    His laughers of errors on basic rock music examples kind of jaded me towards agreeing he was a complete master of all human thought progression.


  84. I guess 36 hours is overstating it.

    Anyway, trying to catch up with the out-housers. Clearly there’s some serious theology going on that I haven’t been up to speed on. Give me a few months, and I’ll be up on the Vos studies. I’m going to that place where you don’t see my letters appear in the top ten comments any longer. Oldlifers, you rock, as always. I can’t wait for the next Penelope to show up and watch the hounds devour. I got what I came for, good direction. Peace folks.


  85. Greg,

    My case is Hart’s “A Secular Faith” and Van Drunen’s “Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms”, mediated by my own inimitable style and savior faire.


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