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A Letter to Glenn Beck

Caveatus Preemptum ::  The opinions expressed on this blog are not representative of The International House of Prayer, Hannah’s Dream Adoptions, The Zoe Foundation, any 4H club I have ever been a part of, or the AARP, who assures me I may already be a member.  I also maintain the right to recant later if proven wrong, although I don’t expect to have to.  I’m just saying I would.


September 1, 2010

Dear Glenn,

I watched your recent Restoring Honor rally last Saturday with intense interest.  I think I caught almost the entire presentation, pausing only to change a diaper here or there.   Several things struck a chord in me that I feel I need to mention.

Having been a part of another large event on The National Mall, I have a certain understanding of the amount of red tape, changing rules, and general bull pucky that is involved in something of that scale.  The production was smooth, and honestly, you picked the right venue.  I always wished we would have done our event at that end instead of the Capitol end.  The stage looked fantastic.

I’m not writing, however, to pat you on the back or, as some Christians have done, to bash you.  I’m writing to warn you.  I think you’re being schnookered.

To understand my position, you need to remember back to the race for the Republican nomination for the 2008 Presidential Election.  Of course, most people think of McCain/Palin v. Obama/Biden, but there were other interesting people in that race.  In particular, Mitt Romney.

Romney may very well have been the smoothest politician the right had to offer.  He had the looks, the intelligence, the experience and the east coast connections.  He was even palatable to the centrists.  He may have done better than John McCain had he been given a chance to run against Obama but he could never break away from the pack.

Romney could never please the party conservatives, who didn’t really believe he was one of them.  He was from Massachusetts, for crying out loud.  He was pro life, but only recently, and even then, not enthusiastically.  Romney had to go, and go he did, eventually forced out of the running by naysayers pledging their support elsewhere, and quietly, behind closed doors, whispering to one another about Romney’s quirky little secret.

He was a Mormon.

The whisper became an undercover roar to the point that Mitt had to make a speech assuring us that just as Jack Kennedy wasn’t Catholic enough to take orders from the Pope, neither was he Mormon enough to be spooky and that all the Evangelicals should get in line because he just might beat Obama.

The evangelicals didn’t buy it.  Romney went away.  McCain flamed out.  Obama went to Washington.  And conservatives were guaranteed four years of blogging fodder.

I think this is why I find it so interesting, Glenn, that so many evangelicals who were freaked out about Romney’s Mormonism are falling all over themselves to make excuses for yours.   I’ve raised the question with a few and they’re defending you vigorously.   “He’s not really that kind of Mormon.  You don’t know him.  He’s not really a good Mormon.  He’s accepted Jesus.  He’s really one of us….”.

They’re right in one respect, Glenn.  I don’t know you…but the argument for not being a good Mormon could have applied to Romney.  He as much as told us that himself, but we didn’t buy it.  So why did they launch a flamethrower at Romney yet seem to welcome you with open arms?

I think it might be that you have a few things that Romney could never muster.

You’re charming.  Romney made us a little nervous.

You’re quasi conservative. At least you talk like us, although you’re hesitant to take up any cause like abortion or gay marriage.  But you’re further right than Romney.  We think.  We know you’re fiscally conservative though, and if you cover our wallet, we have a tendency to look past a lot of other things.

You’re seeking God. I sincerely mean that. I really believe you’re on a spiritual journey.  I’d even agree with those who call you a prophetic voice – one calling a nation to line up with truth, even if you haven’t landed on truth for yourself yet.  I’m grateful you’re saying some of the hardest, bravest things being said anywhere.

And finally…

You have a big honking mailing list. The loyalty your audience has is phenomenal.  They will go where you go.  Raise the tablets above your head and wander into the wilderness and they’ll make the sacrifices to follow.   Romney couldn’t gather that many people to the Lincoln Memorial.  Neither could any of the evangelicals who stood with you on that day.  You have a massive, loyal following that makes your mishmash theology and quirky religion pale in importance.

Let me explain something about us, Glenn.  If there’s anything that western Christianity cannot resist, it’s a crowd.  We have interpreted numbers as blessing, and so we see your numbers and we give you the blessing.  You must be doing something right or pleasing God somehow, because look at all these folks!

It’s ironic, because Jesus managed to whittle His crowd from 5,000 (+ women and children) to 72 to 12 to 11 (and even those last 11 wavered at times.)   Conversely, western Christianity sees a crowd as a stamp of Jesus’ approval on a man and will ignore all sorts of things if it means getting to stand up in front of it.

I don’t know how to say this, Glenn, but you are, for lack of a better illustration, that dorky kid back in high school who owned the really cool car. When you pull into the parking lot with the windows down and Journey cranked up on the tape deck, a crowd gathers.  They want to be with you.  They want to stand with you.

And they want to drive the car, Glenn. In fact, if you didn’t have that car, they’d have all the tolerance for you that they did for Mitt.

I’ve got to be honest.  I like you.  I like you a lot.  I think you’re ridiculously smart and funny.  You’re a born communicator.  I think you’re right about a lot of stuff.  And I think you’re sincere in  your own way.  Unfortunately, simple sincerity doesn’t qualify us to speak with authority on all things.  I could be sincerely interested in dentistry, but I’m probably not the guy you want doing a root canal.  Likewise, with your Mormonism Lite, I’m pretty sure I’m not comfortable with your ecumenical call to repentance.

So obviously, I’m concerned with how people were willing to table significant differences with you in order to be near the aura.   Admittedly, your rally was huge.  The crowd was with you the whole day.  Your guests did a great job.  Dave Roever even managed to give at least two Jesus shout outs in the closing prayer.   I like Dave a lot – I grew up listening to him at youth camps.

Here’s where the wheels fell off for me, though…and this isn’t hearsay. I listened for this and prayed you’d get it right…but you didn’t.   Near the end, you encouraged people “Go back to your churches, your synagogues, your mosques….anywhere they do not preach hate.”

The only qualifier you have for an institution is that they do not preach hate?  That just might make Google the biggest church in the world.  Or perhaps First Church of Walmart.  No hate there, only falling prices.  Of course Google won’t save your soul.  Neither will Mohammad…but that’s where you sent people.

Glenn, the pursuit of God is a good thing…but not the pursuit of a bipolar god who would feel comfortable with all of those places, and not the pursuit of a general god or collective great spirit through whom all blessings flow.  You are an amazing student of US history, but are you not aware that the God/gods represented by churches and mosques do not play nice together?  They’re not the same thing.  After an incredibly motivating, encouraging sermon, you sent people back to embrace positions of opposition.

I don’t think you meant harm, but not meaning harm does not necessarily equate with doing good.

As for the evangelicals who stood with you, most of them meant well I’m sure.  Heck, I knew a few of them.  I admit to getting a little teary eyed when Alveda King (who I have met several times) declared that she had a dream and it included a nation repenting for it’s sins.

I’m saying all this because I don’t want to come off as too harsh with them, but I have to say – I wouldn’t have stood with them or  you, because when it all goes pear shaped, I want to stand with Jesus and no other.

I wish you the best, Glenn.  And I hope you fully embrace Him to the exclusion of all other gods, including the half Jesus of Mormonism.

I also truly hope you survive the Evangelical Christianese Celebrity role that is being unfortunately thrust upon you.  It’s killed far too many good people.

blessings,

Randy Bohlender

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23 Responses

  1. Randy – thank you. This is the most level headed, well written piece I have read since 8/28. You even voiced the concerns and pauses that I had. It is my hope that 8/28 will be a catalyst to get people off their blessed assurance and go out and be the church. Heck between you and that event I have been challenged to get deeper in my own walk. I hope Glenn’s role in this is similar to his role with 9|12 he is the catalyst but after it starts it goes far beyond him and he goes on to something else. I’m sure Glenn and I could share a meal or even a day together, but we wouldn’t go to church together. Maybe the Catholicism in him still wins out over the Mormonism, or at least tempers it, I donno.
    But again great post.

  2. nice!

    Coming from Mesa, Az and pastoring on a church staff just a block away from the Mormon Temple there, I am especially grateful to read this. I love Mormons, but I wouldn’t let them lead prayer in our National Day of Prayer services the 10 years I hosted the meetings. Their god is not our GOD.

    I am really amazed at how many of my friends who went with me to pray for, talk to, share Christ with the LDS down the street from us- insist that Glen is a Christian just like us- even when he clearly and regularly states that he is Mormon. I am blown away that they are so distressed about the state of the nation that they will hearken to a Christ-less message and call to action but not listen to a CALL.

    Glen is not the problem nor is he the solution. Jesus Christ is. The Jesus Christ who was…. you know… ‘his only begotten Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell: The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:..” that Jesus.

    Having said that… I have prayed and believed for years that a movement for true Christianity will come out of the Mormon Church and seriously shake it. I think there are even several who are in the community now who are following the true Jesus and are not aware of what all the church teaches. I have met a couple and watched them come to Christ and out of the LDS community. May Glen come to know the fullness of the truth in Christ Jesus and may he lead many to HIM.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows; may we remember the lessons of Hosea well.

    Peace,
    anita

  3. Randy, run for office…you’ve got my vote!!!

  4. Did you read Krakauer’s book? What a strange beginning for a faith. What was up with that hat thing?! How do really smart people like GB swallow all that super wacky history? I can not figure. it. out. Love this article. You are right and nice at the same time.

  5. Great post Randy. You expressed thoughts that I share without the usually accompanied anarchial-blogger vehemence that causes the pendulum to swing a little too far. It’s hard for me to come to terms with The Call, just days away, that there’s a high cost to the exclusivity of “Jesus is Lord.” We will probably never have the same crowds or widespread acceptance as Glenn’s gathering. We may never have the political clout, influence or national audience (t-shirts, mugs and various apparel). But what we do have is entry through a narrow gate that few find, and that sounds pretty good to me. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. Wow. A brain, a heart AND courage. Fantastic to hear from a man with his feet on the ground and a tight grip on truth with both hands.

  7. Thanks for Speaking the Truth in Love, Randy!

    I didn’t watch the rally at all, I did think it was kewl how he gathered people so quickly for a cause, I only wish the Body of Christ could do that, Imagine the impact!

    Between Glenn’s “mormanism” and the Christians standing beside him and those giving excuses for his level of faith in mormanism did make me cringe a bit.

    But I do hope and pray that the Believers in the bunch were able to speak the truth in Love with Glen and planted seeds for cultivating. I also pray that Glenn’s eyes are opened, and that God can and will used this opportunity to open Glenn’s eyes to the Truth of God’s Love and His Word.

    btw, I grew up with Dave Roever too! He lived in the next town from me in Azle,TX and several of my good friends when to school with his kids and he came and spoke at my school several times. He has an amazing Testimony and really has a heart for people to come to the knowledge of the Love of the one true God. SO I am hopeful that he was true to who he is and his calling and did exactly what God had asked of him.

  8. By far the best commentary on the event I’ve seen…

  9. I saw this post on Facebook today (via Tracie Loux) and I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’ve been trying to formulate my thoughts and an answer from a slightly different perspective.

    I watched a good 2.5 hours of the rally. It was incredibly moving. The speakers (plural) went out of their way to mention their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One pastor, upon receiving the honor for Faith practically preached a Bible-based sermon in his acceptance speech.

    As some of you have noted, it’s sad that Christians can’t get this sort of following and draw this sort of crowd, maybe, just maybe it’s because people see a lot of hypocrisy in the church (myself included at times) – just a thought.

    So now I’ll get to some of my points.

    1.) Glenn Beck calls himself a mormon. Guess what? Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama profess to be Christians. I would argue that their actions belie their professed faith. I’m not saying this is the case (none of us can see inside Glenn’s heart) but maybe he’s not “all that Mormon” for lack of a better term. Everything I heard Saturday, had I not known Glenn was a mormon, would have sounded just like something I’d expect to hear in my church on Sunday (except for the “go home to your Mosques, etc.” part.

    Some of you may know David Barton, of wallbuilders.com. The following is a quote from David,

    “For Christians concerned about Glenn’s faith, I would ask the following questions: What fruit do you see produced by Glenn,” David Barton, an influential evangelical activist who is joining Beck’s rally, wrote on his Facebook page recently. “Good or bad? If you judged Glenn only by the fruits he has produced, would you still hold concerns over his faith?”

    “Christians concerned about Glenn’s faith should judge the tree by its fruits, not its labels,” Barton, a former Republican National Committee consultant, continued. “After all, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton openly call themselves Christians… Although these individuals have the right labels, they have the wrong fruits.”

    2.) Is God not big enough to speak through someone other than a Christian?

    Are we following a messenger, or a message? Glenn was calling people to return to God, people were lifting up the name of Jesus Christ. It’s up to us to figure out the only true way to God. Yes, Glenn did not explicitly preach Christ as the only way, but this was a rally, not a church service.

    Remember how God spoke through Balaam’s donkey? I’d like to think that if God can use a donkey to speak to His people, just maybe he can use a Mormon (or someone by any other faith label for that matter) to call His children back to Him.

    God said in the last days He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Unless I’m misinterpreting, that means everyone. Not just the born again. Again, perhaps God could use someone with the label “Christian” to lead His people back to Him. Look how He used Pharoah and the desert to waken up the Israelites.

    While I do agree that we need to be discerning, I think we shouldn’t be so quick to write people off, and that we should look at the message as a whole.

  10. Jared, thanks for your comment. I appreciate the tone, which I find to be kind rather than cutting. That said, I to disagree with your major points. I’m trimming your comments significantly and would encourage anyone who has anything to say about this to go back and read your thoughts in their entirety as to make sure they’re best represented as written.

    You wrote:
    1.) Glenn Beck calls himself a mormon. Guess what? Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama profess to be Christians. I would argue that their actions belie their professed faith. I’m not saying this is the case (none of us can see inside Glenn’s heart) but maybe he’s not “all that Mormon” for lack of a better term. Everything I heard Saturday, had I not known Glenn was a mormon, would have sounded just like something I’d expect to hear in my church on Sunday (except for the “go home to your Mosques, etc.” part.

    Without passing judgment on anyone’s sincerity, let’s imagine for a moment that Clinton and Obama are sincere Christians and Beck is a sincere Mormon. Let’s imagine that their sincerity causes them to suddenly radically align their lives with their profession of faith. In a moment, we have two amazing Christians and….uh, an amazing Mormon. My point is that just because he might not be the best Mormon (by the book of Mormon) does not make it ok that he encouraged people to ‘go home to your mosques…’ etc. That would be a big deal if Glenn, Bill or Barack said it.

    You wrote:
    Some of you may know David Barton, of wallbuilders.com. The following is a quote from David, “For Christians concerned about Glenn’s faith, I would ask the following questions: What fruit do you see produced by Glenn,” David Barton, an influential evangelical activist who is joining Beck’s rally, wrote on his Facebook page recently. “Good or bad? If you judged Glenn only by the fruits he has produced, would you still hold concerns over his faith? Christians concerned about Glenn’s faith should judge the tree by its fruits, not its labels,” Barton, a former Republican National Committee consultant, continued. “After all, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton openly call themselves Christians… Although these individuals have the right labels, they have the wrong fruits.”

    I’m familiar with David Barton although we’ve never met. I think we judge people’s fruit, but certainly we don’t only judge their fruit. If doing the right things made us right with God, we’re headed straight back into legalism. So I applaud Glenn’s fruit. And I think we can all expect an accurate representation of who Jesus really is to go along with it without feeling judgmental.

    You wrote
    2.) Is God not big enough to speak through someone other than a Christian? Are we following a messenger, or a message? Glenn was calling people to return to God, people were lifting up the name of Jesus Christ. It’s up to us to figure out the only true way to God. Yes, Glenn did not explicitly preach Christ as the only way, but this was a rally, not a church service.

    God is absolutely big enough to do this. And I think we are looking for a message to follow. I’m pretty sure we didn’t hear that message from Glenn that day (although we did hear Jesus preached by others).

    You wrote:
    While I do agree that we need to be discerning, I think we shouldn’t be so quick to write people off, and that we should look at the message as a whole.

    If you felt I wrote Glenn off, I’d ask you to reread the piece. I think the guy is on a journey and I think he’s sincere. I believe God has great things for him. Nevertheless, at present, he is drawing thousands to a Jesus that is less than the Jesus of the Bible, and therefore I wish the church would give him the peace of continuing his journey in private until his spiritual maturity matches his obvious giftings.

    Again, thanks for your comments, and anyone else, please read his entire post if you’re going to respond.

  11. Randy, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    I guess what I don’t get is there is only one Jesus, what you believe about Him doesn’t change the fact of who He is. I can believe 2+2 = 5 until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t make it so.

    So if Glenn doesn’t have the whole picture of Jesus it doesn’t change the fact of who He is.

    Again I took this more as a rallying call for the, I’ll call them “frozen chosen”. Those who already know God but are sitting on their butts not doing anything while our country literally travels on the path straight to Hell.

    For these people, the call to action, the call to return to Godly values and morals, is, in my opinion, not effected by whether or not Glenn has the total picture of Jesus Christ.

    For instance, if I were backslidden in my faith, and I heard Glenn’s message, it would be a call back to my first love, a call back to the truth. Whether or not Glenn totally understands that truth would be irrelevant because I would have already known that truth for myself.

    Now, if he’s reaching out to people that know nothing about Jesus (which is not what I believe his target audience is), then that’s different.

    Thanks for the discussion. I love a good back and forth.

  12. this was missing from Glenn Beck’s speech:….
    People, who really know Jesus and have right thoughts about His kingdom and His heart. Even a lot of political leaders that claim Christianity do not have the same heart following after Jesus. Instead they use Jesus and “God” as a political soap box instead of really prayerfully seeking after a Holy God and wanting to hear His voice.
    Ask the Lord for a spirit of discernment and that He would show you what is of Him and what is not. It can be hard to decipher, but the bible says in the last days there will be false prophets and people saying they are about God when they really are about the anti-Christ (meaning against-Christ). Many Christians assume they will be able to tell the difference, but the bible says even believers will believe the anti-Christ. Because, when he first comes, he is going to look “Christian.” He is going to do good things, and bring peace to certain nations. But true believers who are living to seek the face of the Lord will know that this man is not a good guy. They will eventually be killed by the anti-Christ. All this to say, we need to start practicing discerning truth verses lies, so that if the end comes when we are still alive, we will be ready. Matthew talks about the 10 virgins being ready.…..

  13. Randy…thank you. I recently was in a presentation that had the line, “I followed a man…who wasn’t Jesus!” And so I’m quite concerned about Christians following a message or a man…that isn’t Jesus.
    That’s it.
    Nice post.

  14. Wow, and I say that sincerely! Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking so truthfully and insightfully. I pray that your letter will be received in the spirit with which it is intended. Received or not however is not the goal. The goal is truth and sharing that truth. You have hit the mark eloquently. I am blessed by your heart. You are in my prayers.

  15. Randy,
    I believe in God and Jesus, but I don’t believe in the way you present either one of them. Jared thank you your post, I don’t have the patience or time to reply to all the nonsense and hypocriacy of Randy’s letter to Glen. Just compare his letter to Barack to his letter to Glen, pretty much explains why some of us don’t bother going to church anymore. Why should we? All we see is a bunch of self serving know it all people who don’t even bother to go to work everyday, they just call themselves missionaries and take money from others, and then have the nerve to make judgment. I’m not so sure God/Jesus would be enamored with this behavior. What is sad, is you lost an opportunity to serve others Randy, because you portrayed you know better than they do. Why don’t you spend more time understanding cause and effect versus my God and their God.

  16. Randy,
    I agree that we need to stick to the Jesus Christ of the Bible, and ONLY that Jesus. It would be way to easy to start accepting Glenn Beck, (or anyone else) that says what we want to hear.

  17. Randy,
    Thanks so much for your post and standing up for the truth. Self-serving is never a word I would associate with you and your family! Thank you for your allegiance to the truth, your love for the word & prayer and your love for the orphans! Your fasted lifestyle and open arms for those who need a home speaks volumes! God Bless you and your family!!

  18. I think the point that many of the commenters are missing is that Glenn’s views on Jesus (which none of us really know, unless someone hear actually knows Glenn) don’t change who Jesus is.

    For example, I could think Randy is a 70 year old man with no children that lives in Las Vegas. That doesn’t change the reality of who Randy is. I could believe the moon is made out of cheese – that doesn’t mean it is.

    I completely understand that we need to follow Jesus as He is presented in the Bible. I get that, really I do.

    But what I’m trying to say is that if someone is offering a return to God and to Jesus Christ who was mentioned as Lord and Savior by many people, to some extent, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter if they lack the complete understanding about Jesus.

    And here’s why. Glenn isn’t saying, “follow the Mormon mis-guided idea of Jesus.” If he was, I’d be the first to say, “hey, that’s not right!”

    We, the listeners are left to discern and follow the truth. Would it be better if Glenn got up and preached Scripture and led people to the “same” Jesus we believe in? Of course it was. Except that that wasn’t the point of the day.

    I’ll offer this. The disciples (founders of the church) sometimes didn’t have a clue who Jesus was, and yet we don’t knock their ministry. They were totally clueless, but did that negate the good that they helped Jesus accomplish during his life on Earth? I hardly think so.

    Maybe we can accept the message, despite the flaws in the messenger? After all, we’re all sinners saved by grace.

  19. Jared,

    You’re right in the sense that your idea I might be a 70 year old man in Vegas doesn’t make it true or change the essence of who I am, but if that’s how you represent me it makes it a little difficult for people to find me based on that concept.

    You suggest accepting the message regardless of the messenger. My real issue isn’t with the messenger. Reread the post. I think he’s a sincere guy on a real journey. My issue IS with the message that it’s good to return to your church, synagogue or mosque for the same results. He has said it numerous times. That is the problem.

  20. Yes Glenn is wrong on that point.

    Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would say we have more in common with him than not.

    Perhaps the collective church should get off their duffs and envigorate people the way Glenn is able to. Until then, I say good for him for making an attempt.

  21. […] following are my responses to Randy’s original post. I figured I’d capture them here to further foster […]

  22. the thing, Jared, for me, that gets me on the “attempt,” is that Jesus Himself quite frequently warned of people who would come preaching His name but being just slightly off on His character… there’s that “at least he is preaching the name of Jesus,” thing, but preaching the name of Jesus alongside a lie to the point where only those who already knew the truth enough to discern which parts are lies could really be edified, and those who aren’t strong enough in the truth are left thinking “well as long as i go to a church, or a synagogue, or a mosque, that doesn’t preach hate…. then i’m doing ok”

    especially if you consider the “doesn’t preach hate” part, and the attacks made on the Bible for it’s supposed hate-mongering, and the currently commonly accepted definitions of hate, i.e, saying that abortion or homosexuality is wrong as being hateful to womens’ rights or against people who think “love” has no bounds, and also holding that definition of hate side by side with the currently commonly accepted definition of “love” that oftentimes is similarly skewed in definition… and so on…
    so all in all, it could be accomplishing the exact opposite of getting people to go to a church where Jesus is worshipped and His word is preached in truth… just my reaction.

  23. Hey Randy, thank you for holding the line on this issue. Just because a man says he is for returning a nation to God and Jesus, but openly agrees with a skewed view of tolerance; doesn’t mean he is in line with the Truth. Something a friend once told me about Jesus’ desire for tolerance might help me expound on this.

    The thought was that even Jesus desired that there could be an alternate method apart from his torture and death on a tree available to bring all people out of darkness into the family of God the Father. Jesus declared on the night of His betrayal “Father, if there be any other way, let this cup pass from me.” However, the fleeting moment of Jesus plea to His Father was overwhelmingly swallowed by his longing to obey everything the Father said.

    It was with lashings and grueling anguish His unswerving obedience to the Father and love of truth made that way possible for everyone to know the love of God and experience it tangibly.

    For Glenn Beck, Billy Graham or anyone to encourage others to go to institutions that don’t hold to the exclusive claims of who Jesus said He is, would be like a delusional man in the desert telling traveling caravans of nomads to drink out of poisoned water holes.

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