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Chuck Bryce


The following request is not an attempt to be sarcastic.

Would you consider a post on whether there are any "Baptist Distinctives" that have changed for the broad group called "Baptists", perhaps specifically Sothern Baptists. I am more curious about positive changes rather than negative.

The following request is not sarcastic either.

When you post could you leave off the "with that I am Peter" part. For some reason it is as irritating as mosquitoes during bow season.

With Grace,

peter lumpkins

Dear Chuck,

Thanks for logging on. First, I do not quite understand the first request. So I am sorry I cannot consider it. I do understand it enough, however, to not accept it as sarcastic.

As for the second request, that's an easy one: no.

Grace always. With that, I am...


Keith Schooley

Hi, Peter,

As a guest in the house, I don't want to be guilty of rousing any rabble; however, I do have a question which this post and past ones like it raises in my mind: why is Baptist identity so particularly important to you?

It's not that I think you should shy away from arguing for the truth of what you see as Baptist distinctives. Far from it. But I hope and believe that you hold to these distinctives not because they are Baptist, but because you believe them to be Biblical and true.

I do understand, from my own Pentecostal wing of the house, the need to resist a slide into generic Evangelicalism. But I feel most distant from my own fellowship when it trumpets loudly the necessity of maintaining "the Pentecostal distinctive." I don't want to hold what I believe simply because it distinguishes me from other believers, but because I genuinely believe that it is true and Biblical.

That belief doesn't preclude me from welcoming in fellowship other brothers and sisters who sincerely hold differing views on nonessentials. Historically, that willingness to fellowship and work together, based on a bottom-line orthodoxy, is all that Evangelicalism meant, and is what the "Manifesto" to which you linked is arguing for. We don't have to become "generic evangelicals" who don't really believe anything over and above the fuzzy outlines of what all Christians believe; we can be as specific and precise as we wish, as long as we understand what's worth breaking fellowship over and what's not.

I understand your concern over people who want to break with historically Baptist positions and still retain the name of Baptist. But really, is there any name, other than the One Name, that we need to be very concerned about identifying with?

Camel Rider

You quoted "in the present state of the world, the distinguishing of individual differences may be less important than the definition of orthodox essentials."
And you disagree with it. Why?

I live in a country where less than 1% know who Christ is. Out of over 30 million people there are a few hundred believers. Tell me why Baptist identity is important to them? I believe in systematic thinking and theology and I believe if something doesn't apply universal, it's probably neither super important nor biblical.

I see the five, and maybe a few others as vitally important and worth my life but I wouldn't risk my life for most Baptist distinctives that I know of. Unless I'm missing something I don't understand your disagreement with his statement.

:::Camel Rider

Byron Smith

Keith Schooley:

Very well put.

It seems to me that Baptists equate being Baptist with being Biblical. Anything that is Baptist is automatically Biblical. Anything that is not is sub-Biblical. In truth, I do not believe this to always be the case.

For example, someone like myself would naturally have a problem with some Baptist churches (perhaps most?) who emphasize premillenial eschatology as a requirement for doctrinal soundness. That's great, but don't make it a requirement. Not all of us are premillenial. And even if we were, this is not a primary doctrinal issue.


Keith and Camel Rider, you have brought a breath of fresh air into this Baptist Identity conversation that I really appreciate. Thank you.
I am a Southern Baptist because the beliefs traditionally associated with the SBC are most closely alligned with what I believe. Also, I find that the practice of worship is very comfortable for me. I do not believe we have it all together, nor do I believe that in every case, we are correct. I think we have the five things listed on today's post right, but then, so do a lot of other denominations.
Are there any Baptist distinctives that I would die for? Not that I know of. If someone put a gun to my head and said, "from now on, you have to live in Detroit and go to church with Keith," I would not have a problem with it, even though it might not be the most comfortable thing for me to be a Pentecostal.
I like being a Bapist most of the time. But I will not let the things I hold to as a Baptist prevent me from working together with other believers to help build the Kingdom.
Thanks again Keith and CR.

peter lumpkins


Greetings, old friend. I trust things are well with you. It's been so long since last we chatted. Not that you have moved on me; rather, it is I that has moved on you. Seems like most of my posts for the last year or so have dwelt on "denominational discussions."

We were a good team, partnering together to balance out our overly-jealous Calvinist brothers, some of whom think--and still do, I hold no doubt--that the full five minus none is the only position worthy of being christened as the faith given once for all to God's saints. I promise I shall throw out a biscuit for them to chew on real soon...

As far as the Baptist badge goes, Keith, it really is not the hunk of metal that's so important, anymore, I suppose, than Pentecostal is to you; or even "Arminian" for that matter. I do think, at the risk of sounding horribly prideful, that Baptist ecclesiology is, from my view, biblical ecclesiology and it is for that reason that I feel myself backed into a box canyon with no where to go. I must cut a path right down the center to get myself out.

This particular discussion over 'Baptist Identity' I found myself in has to be the most frustrating engagement I think I've ever had. I have never--and I repeat never!--found myself throughout the 25+ years as believer, most of which has been a Pastor, defending so vociferously the Baptist way. Nor have I ever had the least obstacle to my recollection in relating to those of other persuasions.

What is happening, Keith, in Southern Baptist circles, is unprecedented in my spiritual journey. A new breed of Baptists have arisen that know not Joseph. I almost feel our property is being auctioned off to the lowest theological bidder. I am sharing a bit of my heart now. Be tender...

I care about half a string bean for "Baptist" per se--only the biblical principles behind the label. But we've got guys who not only are cozying up to paedobaptism, but a choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus as backup. I am willing to cooperate with evangelicals of all stripes in certain projects. The certain projects definitively does not include church planting for the singular reason that Baptist ecclesiology does not permit such.

Though I am not 100% sure about this, but I would be very surprised if AG would partner in planting churches either.

Grace, Keith. I count you a brother in Christ, my friend. I long for this discussion to pass. With that, I am...


peter lumpkins

Camel Rider,

Two things: first, I answered your first question already in the main post.

Second, Camel--and I do not want to be rude--but I have to say, I do not think I've ever heard a more appalling, despicable disrespect for the very Churches that support your serving on foreign soil.

CP dollars which come from 40,000+ SBC churches--most of which fit the buffoon caricature leveled against them by many internet dissenters--pays your support--and a darn good living at that--to be on that foreign field.

For my money, brother, you epitomize the classic "dog that bites the hand that feeds it."

Indeed, the cocky, in your face projection of ingratitude toward the CP and those 40,000+ churches stand precisely the example I brought up to Keith about a new breed of Baptists have arisen who know not Joesph:

I see the five, and maybe a few others as vitally important and worth my life but I wouldn't risk my life for most Baptist distinctives that I know of.

Thank you for making my case better than ever I could in a thousand attempts.

With that, I am...


J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Greetings Peter:

Thank you for sharing your heart regarding Southern Baptists and their current "identity crisis." Some might think you crazy for dealing with these issues, but SB's have been dealing with these questions of identity for approaching a decade now. That's evident by the use of that phrase "identity crisis" ad nauseum in Baptist news and commentary sources (including blogs) all over the place.

I suppose I have a unique take on Southern Baptists. I was raised in an SB Church, saved in an SB Church, Baptized in an SB Church. God called me to serve first in the SBC, then for 17 long years among another "Baptist" fellowship. I found myself back among SB's since 2003, and in many ways it was like coming home. Then again, it seems like somebody has remodeled the house and moved around all the furniture!

These days, the men who were the champions of the "Conservative Resurgence" are often maligned and mocked by the "young turks" of the SBC. The principles that these leaders treasured and trumpeted are likewise dismissed as "myopic," and they are characterized as "what passes for orthodox Christianity." My goodness, I would have to say that things have chaged a bit in the SB house.

I can see why you have written as you have. I can understand your concern. As a Preacher of the Gospel -- and a member of an SBC church, I share your concerns.

With regard to "Baptist Principles," I take it you are speaking specifically of Southern Baptists. Not to complicate matters, but Baptists have widely varied on those things they held to be "distinguishing characteristics" of Baptist identity. For instance, I would hold that Baptists, certainly since their earliest origins, practice "Open Communion." Yet, Southern Baptists have largely and by consensus practiced "Closed Communion." I would hold that Baptists began as Arminians, yet the SBC had been largely Calvinist until at least the first quarter of the 20th century.

I suppose the point I am making -- or the question I am asking -- is, how much of this identity crisis is attributible to natural change vs. a perceived compromise of principle? Most SB theologians of, say, the 1870's would say the majority of SB's today are "Arminians," or worse! Is this merely the "ebb and flow" of a great denomination over time, or is this identity crisis something more pernicious, more sinister?

Just curious on your take Peter. I am currently working on a paper (I might publish it on my blog, or just send it to certain folks I think it would interest) regarding this "identity crisis" as it effects SB Theology and its direction. It will be interesting to see how the Convention weathers this crisis and what it will look like on the other side. And your observations are welcomed and appreciated!

In Christ Jesus,

J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.



As one whose former ecclesiastical associations and understandings were all SBC for the first 24 years of my redeemed life, I am interested in how you personally define, or describe, your ecclesiology.

If you've answered this elsewhere, you could just point me in that direction rather than repeat it here.

Grace and peace.

Camel Rider

Wow, you sure do get defensive quickly. I wasn't trying to "bite the hand that feeds me" I was simply asking a question. I seriously don't understand why this is sooooo important to you. I am SB because I believe in the doctrine. I am a SB missionary because I value the way they do ministry and believe in the CP. SO please don't assume that I'm ungrateful person. I'm very grateful for the support of the 40000 SB churches and I do not take it for granted. But their support is not a theological distinctive, it's a distinctive of our programs....our methods.

Peter, I always appreciate a good conversation but if you're going to attack those who dissent or ask questions then either turn of the comment option or just tell me. If so, I will cease to visit your blog. I don't understand why you can't just answer my question and let us have a healthy dialogue. I'm not the enemy nor am I some "cocky" ingrate. I'm trying to understand your perspective and why this is so important to you.
::: Camel Rider

peter lumpkins


My brother, as with Keith, it has been far too long. I value your insight.

We differ little in our take on the SBC as I can tell from the short note you left. It is, as you say, an 'identity crisis' but only one in a 'string' of crisis, the latest of which, I would argue, goes back to coming to terms with who we were or were going to be in 1979.

It is refreshing to hear one sober as yourself, Dale, to see at least some of what I see, in the new breed of young Baptists who trash their daddy's farm when they inherit it. This grieves me much.

As for my arguing for a specific 'Baptist Identity' reflective of Southern as in Southern Baptist, I plead guilty as charged.

I have not at all thought this completely through, Dale; however, it seems the way one may see this discussion is to view "being Baptist" in various dimensions.

At the core exists, it seems to me, believer's baptism by immersion only and a few other key elements.

I agree the first Baptists were no doubt "General" in contrast to "Particular" but neither would negate either from "being Baptist."

I fully concede the majority of my defense pertains to the minority of Baptist history--since 1845--how we've developed both doctrinally and ecclesiologically.

I submit to your insight that "Most SB theologians of, say, the 1870's would say the majority of SB's today are "Arminians," or worse!" but with a caveat or two.

First, you are correct about the writing theologians: they were definitively Calvinist. Though their Calvinism continued to so lose its grip beginning the last quarter of the 19th century--so much so, in fact--that one theologian could say at the turn of the century that some of the five points of Calvinism were "repulsive to our people."

I would also add that what writing theologues embraced never seemed to quite jell with scores of grassroot Baptists. The entire 19th century was one gigantic debate, largely over Calvinism.

Grace, Dale. And please: by all means, I'd love to receive your paper.

With that, I am...


peter lumpkins

Camel Rider,

Whether or not I "get defensive quickly", my brother, I'll leave for you and others to decide.

Also, the same exists for my alleged attack: "if you're going to attack those who dissent or ask questions..." Stating what I perceive to be ingratitude is not attack, Camel Rider.

And, you will have to make up your own mind about logging on. If you are neither edified spiritually nor sharpened intellectually by being here, then I suggest you seriously consider it. Life is much too short and too many more positive things to do than grind away at something so nonbeneficial.

I would be sad to see you leave but overjoyed you chose something that graced your life.

As for the questions you asked, I saw one. I referred you to my post which answered it. Looking back I see two. For overlooking the second, you have my deepest apologies.

You ask: "Tell me why Baptist identity is important to them [the few hundred out of 30m+]?"

The first thing I would wonder, Camel Rider, is what makes you think I hold that "Baptist Identity" is important to them? Why would it be? Do you honestly think those of us who have raised the "Baptist Identity" questions are so gospel bankrupt that we expect missionaries to go around unevangelized areas proclaiming "Repent! For the Kingdom of Baptists is at hand!"? In large part, "Baptist Identity" is about ecclesiology, not soteriology. It's about doing church.

In addition, I will say this once again--at the risk of being criticized for "obsession" with "being Baptist"--when those who've been characterized as 'Baptist Identity' adherents speak of Baptist ecclesiology, they always--and I do mean *always*--work from the presupposition that the Baptist ecclesiology to which they refer is precisely the ecclesiology the New Testament teaches. Hence, it is the classic red herring to accuse us of arguing "Baptist over Bible." Absurd.

Finally, Camel Rider, I'd like now to ask you a question or two. You write: "I wouldn't risk my life for most Baptist distinctives that I know of." Tell me, Camel Rider, just what are the Baptist distinctives about which you know and about which you would not "risk your life"?

Secondly, you seem to think the CP of Southern Baptists has no relation to the theology of Southern Baptists. If I am correct, could you please tease that out a bit for me?

Thanks. I trust your day well. With that, I am...


peter lumpkins


Former? Is your church not affiliated with the SBC? Just asking. No offense intended.

As for my "ecclesiology" Timotheos, I must say I don't know quite how to answer. I have no online post that outlines it. I guess I could feel a bit guilty but I have no online post that outlines my soteriology either...or my understanding of God...or my understanding of the Parousia...

The BF&M is a good place to start. I can't think of a thing in that document about the Church I'd contest. Grace.

With that, I am...




My fellowship has been for its six year existence denominationally non-affiliated, but that is not so much a militant "non-denominational" stance as a considered lesser priority. A good part of our people would probably think of themselves as Baptist/Southern Baptist (with a smattering of Presbyterian, Brethren and who knows what else), or some permutation thereof.

One of the reasons I have not been more deliberate and insistent with regard to our denominational identity is because I have come to believe certain important aspects of baptist ecclesiology/polity are inconsistent with biblical revelation - and I say this with 24 years in SBC life, and with perhaps some humility.

So, for example, (because I know you will not let me pass with such an unsubstantiated claim, Peter), the way SB's typically view themselves organizationally (pyramidally from a "CEO" model on down) and politically (how decisions are made and how authority is exercised) now appear to me as mitigating forces which, more often than would be admitted, undermine the very real headship of the Groom over His Bride. This is becoming an increasing cause for personal lament. The reason I think these issues are critically important is that they touch on the concrete expression of Christ's glory as displayed among His people...and I am not trying to play the role of ecclesiastical rapscallion to say such a thing.

I might be considered by some to be one of those young, ungrateful punks trashing Dad's farm - except for the fact that I'm 53, and therefore a card-carrying member of "Geezerdom." I am just not willing - at this stage in my life and ministry - to expend any more energy maintaining what in my view is a very SB ecclesiastical tradition, or identity, if you will.

As to my question over your ecclesiology, I wondered if it was in agreement with the BF&M, or if you had particulars not dealt with there. I just assumed you would have a finely tuned ecclesiology, what with your brouhaha here in these posts on Baptist Identity :^).

Grace and peace,


Camel Rider

Thanks for your response. First things first. I have re-read my original post and I don't see that I said anything that expressed my ingratitude to the CP. You don't know me and I take offense to your portrayal of me as a cocky ungrateful person. I'm very thankful for the CP and more specifically the LM offering. They enable me to do my life's dream without the monthly worry of wondering where my income is going to come from. They (the IMB) also do an incredible job of supporting me with administrative support, member care, leadership development and other resources. I know people with other agencies and there is a substantial difference between my life and theirs....thanks to the SBC and their giving. I am the opposite of what you perceive.

I come from an autonomous SB church. I went through the rigorous process of going through the board. I gladly affirmed the BFM and still do. The BFM is a great tool and shows the heart of the SBC. It is occassionally changed and updated because our convention is still in discussion....we haven't figured it all out.

The IMB isn't a filtering tool to make sure that everyone thinks or believes the same way. It is a great tool that allows churches to do more collectively than they could as individual churches. They have practices in place to make sure that m's sent out believe in the core values laid out by the BFM. But they also allow for varying beliefs and views on life and ministry. This is the beauty of this organization. For this I am truly grateful.

You said "I have to say, I do not think I've ever heard a more appalling, despicable disrespect for the very Churches that support your serving on foreign soil. "
With this statement I take great offense. I said nothing similar to this. I don't believe this nor am I this person.

I believe in the same distinctives that you do but I don't value them over orthodoxy. I don't believe in the baptism of imfants. I believe in immersion. I believe in the inerrant word of God. I believe in the original sin in all of mankind. I believe in the virgin birth and the sinless life of Jesus Christ. I believe He was crucified, buried and rose again on the third day.

I value the way that we do collective ministry, such as CP, the IMB and our seminaries. We can do much more as a collective than we ever could as solo churches. But these aren't theological distinctives, these are distinctives in practice. Paul didn't do CP and John wasn't a trustee. These are aspects of our denominational life that I am truly grateful for but thats all they are, they're not theological distinctives.

My fear is that in our pursuit of of maintaining BI we're becoming more Catholic in our structure. We're quick to label those who dissent or question as liberal or not true SB's. Because we claim that our beliefs are the truest to the NT church we don't allow for questions or other views because we've aligned ourselves with scripture so to attack BI is to attack the Scriptures. This is what I don't understand and I don't like about our identity. If we take awy the ability of SB's to think for themselves and interpret scripture for themselves than we will follow in the footsteps of our Catholic friends who are dictated policy and beliefs by a pope-like person.

I would gladly lay down my life for Christ and the Gospel....I live in a country where this could one day be asked of me. But I don't see our distinctives in practice as worthy of my life. Beliefs yes...practices no.

A truly grateful, slightly offended, SB....

Quinn Hooks

You keep signing your posts and comments the way you want!

With that,

Quinn am I :)

peter lumpkins

Camel Rider,

That's fair. I did not possess high hopes you would see what I see. I can only say, my brother, the next time you're in the states, take a grand tour of some of the little Baptist churches splattered all over the south. Be sure and speak to them about the CP and "not dying for anything Baptist"--especially to the thousands of widows who faithfully give to their church expecting them them to give their 10%to CP, not to mention when the little widow sacrifices at Christmas and gives an extra $10 to LM.

I will stand corrected if they are inspired by the humble gratitude on display in the first comment here.

Now, may I remind you, if you would, to answer the couple of questions I asked. I do not need an anecdote, Camel Rider; just a very short answer will do. I'd like to know the "distinctives" for which you said you would not die and secondly, just to give me a bit of clarity on the CP having no relation to the theology of SBs. If you answered either, I did not quite see it. Sorry.

With that, I am...


peter lumpkins


My brother, thank you for the permission ;^). However, you sound a bit like Yoda, there, not do you?

Grace. With that, I am...


Quinn Hooks

*In Yoda voice*
Hmmmm, Help you I can, yes.

Quinn am I

:) LOL

Camel Rider

Apparently your screen is very dusty because no matter what I write you see nothing.

First of all if you read my posts you will see nothing saying I'm not grateful for SBC or the CP...where is it? Where did I say this?

Enough rhetoric....what is the scriptural basis for CP? For the convention? For the various BOT? You keep saying that I should die for these things. Would you? If someone put a gun to your head and said stop giving to the CP....would you die? Come on Peter, these are effective practices but how do they relate to theology?

You said "I will stand corrected if they are inspired by the humble gratitude on display in the first comment here."
What comment was that? If you're going to continue to portray me as ungrateful then you need to show me where I said it.

I said "I wouldn't risk my life for most Baptist distinctives that I know of. Unless I'm missing something I don't understand your disagreement with his statement."
First, what Baptist distinctives should I risk my life for?

I've seen you've been asked about what you consider to be Baptist Distinctives but I've yet to see you respond beyond....the BFM.

Finally, I visit your blog because I don't understand those who have your view. Not because I'm looking for a fight...I don't have time for a fight. I am a committed SB, if not I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. You and I may not have the same views on certain issues but I honestly want to understand. I proved to you last week that if I'm wrong...I admit it. But if I'm going to continue to dialogue with you I need to be treated with the same standard of respect and lack of slander that you have held me to.

::: Camel Rider

peter lumpkins


No slander here, Camel. I am following up on a part of I think the very first comment you made: "I wouldn't risk my life for most Baptist distinctives that I know of."

I asked a simple question, Camel: Please, could you inform me of those Baptist distinctives of which you wouldn't risk you life? That's the question, Camel. I have asked it three times and I do not get an answer.

Thus it is not I who brought up risking anything, Camel Rider; rather you did. I just want to know what those distinctives are. Simple.

Grace. With that, I am...


Camel Rider

Here is a response from a previous post :::
what is the scriptural basis for CP? For the convention? For the various BOT? You keep saying that I should die for these things. Would you? If someone put a gun to your head and said stop giving to the CP....would you die? Come on Peter, these are effective practices but how do they relate to theology?

Peter, you keep asking and not responding to my questions either. What are the baptist distinctives that are worth a life?

peter lumpkins


I think, this conversation, if there ever was one, is about shot. The convolution here is incredible. I have definitively not suggested you should die for anything, Camel Rider. If I have, where?

To the contrary, you are the one who brought up the the "risking of life": "I wouldn't risk my life for most Baptist distinctives that I know of." My simple question has been the content of the category you mentioned, "Baptist distinctives." All I am asking is, what constitutes those "Baptist distinctives"? That's it. That's all. Period. Nothing else.

In addition--I'm laughing as I type this, you need to know :^)--where did I remotely imply that the CP constitutes something to take a bullet in the head for?

Now, if we can become a bit more sober, here Camel Rider, have you ever considered Article IV Cooperation in the BF&M? I'm sure you have, you signed off on it and you stated earlier you adhered to it.

In that Article, Camel Rider, there are at least 25 passages of Scripture to justify our CP--the same CP you insist is a "program" apparently without "Scriptural basis". I am wondering if we put scripture there as spiritual eye candy or because there is a thoroughly biblical basis for cooperative giving. I'd be glad to tease all that out for you in a separate post when I can find the time.

Better still, and for your enjoyment, a nifty little volume to scan is "Our Cooperative Program" by W.E. Grindstaff (1965) wherein he gives a systematic biblio-theological justification for the CP. Very enlightening.

Grace. With that, I am...


Camel Rider

Good enough....I'm not even sure how we got to where we did. See you another day.


I think one of the Baptist distinctives I would die for is the Lordship of Jesus Christ.. yeah I'd die for that..(why I would even encourage believers to witness to this in baptism, even if it cost them their lives too!) I'd die for the opportunity to preach Christ from the scriptures... yeah I'd die for that liberty... mm I guess that is soul liberty.. I'd die for the right for our our people to gather together as God's people and hear and read God's Word.. yeah I'd die for that... (I guess that is the issue of regenerate church membership, the Bible as our supreme authority and freedom of religion).
I guess I' am glad that each of our congregations have the right to select their own pastors and elders and deacons... so they can choose who will preach God's Word to them and whether they have a godly lifestyle to enable them.. (WOW, I guess I'd even die for congregational church government! and the autonomy of the local church).
You know.. I guess I am a Baptist!

peter lumpkins

My Grosey,

I think you are a Bapitst indeed! I trust things well downunder. Lord bless. With that, I am...


Byron Smith

I agree with Steve. Only those are not Baptist distinctives, but Christian ones. And strictly speaking, Steve did not qualify the mode of Baptism, or necessarily rule out church eldership.

Camel Rider

I would also die for these things. But I agree with Byron, these are not unique to Baptists. So what are the Baptist Distinctives worth dying for?


I read the Voice of the Martyrs e-mail newsletter this morning. And I cannot help but think that persecution changes the Christian perspective on things. Is Baptist identity important? By all means, yes. But loyalty in truth to Christ is far greater. I do believe the more Biblical you are, the more Baptistic you will become. Above even this, however, is the teaching of Scripture.

2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV)
But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."


mmmm not sure of the last comment's intent Byron, but...
baptist distinctives are not the individual items enumerated, but the sum of all the items together.
Many thanks for the discussion,

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