The Only and True Doctrine


core-gospel

In my previous posts, I discussed the definition of the gospel according to the scriptures; a definition that stands at odds with the prevailing opinion expressed from the pulpit. Another area that bears consideration is the ‘doctrine of Christ.’ As with the gospel, there are three specific scriptural references that are of interest in understanding the doctrine expressed by our Lord and Savior in the scriptures.

The title of this post comes from the first of these three found in the Book of Mormon, the second book of Nephi, chapter 31. In verse 2, we read:

“Wherefore, the things which I have written sufficeth me, save it be a few words which I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ; wherefore, I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying.”

 

Beginning with this verse, and continuing through chapter 32, verse 4, Nephi expounds on the doctrine of Christ. Given that the complete reference is fairly brief, I would strongly encourage you to read it for yourself.  I will attempt to summarize the key points of the doctrine as follows:

  • Christ showed us how we are to be obedient to the Father
  • Demonstrate unshaken faith relying on the merits of Christ
  • Follow Christ by keeping the commandments of the Father
  • Repent
  • Be baptized with water
  • Be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins
  • Endure to the end
  • The above items represent the commandments given to us to obey
  • Repentance, baptism by water and baptism by fire and by the Holy Ghost represent the gate to the strait and narrow path to eternal life.

There are few places in the scriptures which contain as much beauty, wisdom and knowledge as is found in this chapter. The promise is given to us that if we follow the commandments given us here by the Father and then ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men… feasting upon the words of Christ (personal revelation) and endure to the end, we shall have eternal life.’ There is, in my opinion, no better place in the scriptures that provide a guide to how to conduct ourselves into His kingdom.

“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.  And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.  Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21)

This last verse of chapter 31 carries the message, clearly and distinctly, that there is no other way to be saved in the kingdom of God; these are the commandments which we are to follow; we are, as Christ demonstrated, to be baptized by water, fire and the Holy Ghost. It also defines the previous words as the ‘only and true doctrine’ of God. From this verse I took my title for this post. How important is it that we understand and apply the only doctrine of God? What are the implications of allowing many other items to crowd in on our doctrine? God has given us here clear direction on what should be our focus and objective in our lives. This is the only and true doctrine of God.

“Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh.  And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” (2 Nephi 32:6)

As Nephi concludes his pronouncement on the doctrine of Christ, he alerts us to the future word of doctrine that will be made available. We find the second treatment of the doctrine of Christ in his first appearance among the Nephites documented in 3 Nephi, chapter 11.

Following His selection of the twelve disciples, Christ instructs them on the baptism of water and warns them that there is to be ‘no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been (3 Nephi 11:28). To end the disputation, Christ then states:

32  And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

33  And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

34  And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

35  Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

36  And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.”

In this passage, Christ again refers to the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The doctrine of Christ, as portrayed here, is simple; repent and be baptized. Christ then calls on us to repent and ‘become as a little child’ (verse 38). What does it mean to become as a little child? I believe it refers to the innocence and faith that children exhibit.

The Savior again presents the importance of holding to His doctrine:

39  Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.

40  And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates” (3 Nephi 11:39-40)

We are not to add or take away from the doctrine of Christ. I will have more to say on this.

 

Let’s move on to the third treatment of the doctrine of Christ. This is found in section 10 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

67  Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

68  Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

69  And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”

The message here, again, is that the doctrine of Christ connotes: His church is made up of those who repent and come unto Him. No more, no less. I would suggest that we come unto Christ through baptism, ‘…first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us…’ (Mormon 7:10)

Here again, Christ warns us not to put more or less into His doctrine. How easy is it for us to lose focus on the only and true doctrine by supplanting it with our own ‘pet’ doctrines? For some, it may be doctrine of plural marriage, for others, the doctrine of genealogy. Do you have a pet doctrine?

Adding more to the doctrine of Christ is, in my opinion, indicative of the many doctrinal books that we have on our shelves; an example of which is the 800+ page Mormon Doctrine. While this is a masterful work treating the topics of the kingdom of God, should it be touted as the doctrine of the church of Christ? Taking away from the doctrine of Christ is, again in my opinion, the rhetoric that suggests the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost can be accomplished through a Christ-like life, an imperceptible change over time.

The ‘doctrine of Christ’ is, as scripture, clearly defined and concise:

Repent, be baptized with water followed by the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Seek revelation, humble yourselves as a little child. Endure to the end.

We may build a structure around it, we may even stipulate who may teach and preach. This does not change the core of the message contained in the doctrine of Christ.

The baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is not consummate victory. It is the gate after which we must continue to seek personal revelation and endure to the end.  We are warned that this is the ‘only and true doctrine’ of Christ. We are not to add or take away from it. Doing so results in building on an unstable and shifting foundation and puts us at odds with his church as defined in scripture.

What think ye?

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11 Comments

  1. Spek

    As always, you have provided an interesting supposition for people to ponder.

    I have tried to resist commenting on several recent posts including yours because I feel that I take up to much space on this site and I know people are sick of hearing from me.. and the reoccurring controversial themes that I bring up.

    Nevertheless, I simply can’t resist any longer on this one.

    I agree that the definition of the “doctrine of Christ” is as simple and profound as the scriptures you quoted imply… and I really appreciate the gift you have for drilling down and articulating the beauty and majesty and simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    However you lost me on your supposition that all other teachings other than faith, repentance, baptism of water and baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost do not constitute the true “doctrine” of God and therefore should be categorized as mysteries.

    I think your deduction is oversimplified.

    I guess we could quote the scripture where Joseph Smith was commanded to preach nothing but repentance to his generation and use a very limited interpretation of that to restrict the preaching about the baptism of water and the spirit as well..

    I would suggest putting the following scripture that you quoted in context by looking at it in light of the rest of the scriptures contained in the four standard works.

    I think that doing so would indicate that in fact the intent of those verses is to emphasize that there is no other true doctrine pertaining to how we become saved through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

    But that does not mean that there are no other true doctrines that pertain to other gospel topics.

    “And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, [in which man may become saved] without end. Amen.” (2 Nephi 31:21)

    The reason I interpret the above scripture the way I do is because other scriptures in the holy word of God make it clear that there are numerous other doctrines outside of the Doctrine of Christ that pertain to other very important gospel topics

    For instance, in section 88 the Lord commands his first elders to teach one another the “doctrine of the kingdom”. He then goes on to itemize a myriad of things that are included therein… clearly the doctrine of the kingdom is not limited to nor is it synonymous with the definition of the doctrine of Christ:

    “And I give unto you a commandment that you shall ateach one another the DOCTRINE of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my agrace shall attend you, that you may be binstructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;”
    D&C 88: 77-78

    Another example of doctrine that pertains to other important things outside of the doctrine of Christ would be what section 121 refers to as the doctrine of the priesthood:
    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/dc/121/45#45

    A third example of doctrine that covers other issues besides the doctrine of Christ is contained in Matt 7 wherein we are told that the information contained in the sermon on the mount as well as the admonition to beware of false prophets are also classified as doctrine:

    “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended athese sayings, the people were bastonished at his DOCTRINE: Matt. 7: 28

    The last example I would present in an epistle to the Saints from Joseph Smith contained in section 128, The prophet refers to the power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven as a “doctrine”.

    “It may seem to some to be a very bold DOCTRINE that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a adispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in bauthority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great cJehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?” D&C 128: 9

    All of the examples and associated topics listed above have to do with true doctrines that are not mysteries. We have had a previous post on what constitutes mysteries and lots of great observations were made on that topic which I will not take the time to review right now.

    Even though it could be said that there are different levels of mysteries, I really don’t think the information contained in the sermon on the mount, or the admonition to beware of false prophets or most of the other doctrines mentioned in the above examples could be classified as the mysteries because they have been openly taught and they are as plain and understandable as the teachings contained in the doctrine of Christ.

    For the above stated reasons, it does not seem accurate to me to state that the doctrine of Christ (that itemizes faith, repentance, water baptism and the baptism of the fire and of the Holy Ghost) is the only true doctrine of God although it is the only true doctrine of God pertaining to the process by which men are saved through the atonement of Christ.

    The last observation that I would share has to do with the PRIESTHOOD AUTHORITY that is required to actuate the doctrine of Christ.

    There is also a doctrine pertaining to Priesthood Authority which states that there is a very real and specific authority that is REQUIRED to administer the saving ordinances mentioned in the doctrine of Christ. ( I will not review all of these scriptures at this time as I don’t think you would disagree with this proposition)

    It is so critically important to be able to identify this priesthood authority so that we are not deceived and deluded into thinking we have entered the kingdom when in fact we have not. That is the very reason that I harp on the importance of understanding the doctrine of the 3rd watch.

    The fact that you always speak about the basics of the gospel and baptism and getting through the gate without ever addressing the importance of priesthood authority leads me to believe that you believe that the keys of the kingdom are on the earth and are held by the very people that you have acknowledged as being teachers of false doctrine.

    If in fact the marvelous work and a wonder and the ushering in of the dispensation of the fullness of times are yet in the future instead of in the past as I have documented, then there is a question as to whether the proper full authority to actuate the ordinances of salvation need to be restored to the earth again.

    I am suggesting that some of the “doctrines” in the Holy Word of God teach that the servants of God will be returning to the vineyard very shortly in the 3rd watch and they will be inviting EVERYONE to repent and be baptized of water and of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

    Those who arrogantly reject the fullness of the gospel when the “acceptable day of the Lord” is proclaimed by Gods servant, stating that they have already received baptism of water and the baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost, will be damned.

    I realize that what I am suggesting is a terrifying concept and is offensive to many.

    I would ask all of those who think they have entered into the gate to research what the signs are that follow those who have entered in.

    Have you spoken with the tongue of angels? Are you able to drink poison and receive the venomous bite of a serpent without being adversely affected?

    Do you have the spiritual gifts that follow the true believers who have entered into the gate and been baptized by water, fire and the Holy Ghost?

    Why are the doctrines of the kingdom so important? Because, speaking of the Latter Day Saints the Lord observed that “My people perish for lack of knowledge”.

    It is a lack of knowledge that enables people to become deluded and deceived into thinking they have entered into the kingdom when they have not.

    I am not judging the spirituality or integrity of any one person specifically. I have no right nor do I have any desire to do so. I am simply sharing what I believe the scriptures reveal about a global state that we are all part of…. And I am trying to warn of an incredible calamity and controversy that is coming up.

    It is my love for my fellow sojourners that causes me to bring up this uncomfortable and unpopular topic.

    Forgive me if I have offended. I know that lots of people that visit this blog and that submit posts on it are very spiritual and good people and I believe they have had spiritual experiences of varying proportions… I don’t doubt that… I just want to suggest that a sobering review of the signs that follow those that are truly baptized by the proper authority and have followed with the baptism of Fire that only comes from God might be in order.

    Have you spoken with a new tongue? Have you taken up a serpent? Have you drunk any deadly thing and not been hurt? Have you laid hands on the truly extremely sick and had a miraculous immediate healing? (all of these things in the literal context of what the word of God is speaking of, not in the context of the typical latter day miracles that we so often here of….)

    If you have… wonderful! That would prove that I am deceived in the research that I have done and I ask that you pray for me.

    I am not hear to debate the spiritual phenomena that anyone claims to have had, I know that there are spiritual outpourings to be enjoyed during this time of darkness, I have had my own experiences, but I am not convinced that they indicated that we have entered into the gate…

    I am just reminding everyone that God has given us very specific things as a blessing and a sign to verify our current state.

  2. OWIW,
    I agree there are many things that are somewhat troubling with this approach. While you may want to add words to the quote regarding the ‘only and true doctrine’ to help explain it, those words as found in 2 Nephi don’t have any qualifiers associated with it. The statement as it is in the scriptures leaves little room for expansion of the topic. Nor do the limiting phrases as found associated with the doctrine of Christ.

    I do agree that there is likely a difference between the ‘doctrine of Christ’ and the doctrine of the kingdom. Which would you consider the higher law?

    As it pertains to the priesthood, I would suggest two aspects of the priesthood; administration and spiritual. From an administrative perspective, we read in the D&C regarding the structure of the priesthood from an organizational perspective. I have no concerns when we talk of an organization to help manage the ordinances as ‘delegated’ to man. As we read in 3 Nephi 12, Christ specifically gave the power to baptize to the 12 disciples. Later, in chapter 18, it is recorded that He also bestowed upon the disciples the power to give the Holy Ghost. Beyond that, the 12 disciples were to minister and serve the people. I do have concerns when this discipleship is transformed into a ‘general authority.’

    You referred to D&C 121 regarding the doctrine of the priesthood. As I read this section, I am struck with just how delicate and rare the true administration of the priesthood is. It is the ‘nature and disposition of almost all men’ to exercise unrighteous dominion. That, as I read it, leaves very few that can carry on to the verse where the doctrine of the priesthood is delivered to them.

    You present a strong need to have priesthood authority. At this point in my study, I have little need to show how my priesthood ordinances trace back to Joseph Smith. I do have a strong need to see ‘authority’ linked to God. When King Noah took power, he threw out the priests that were consecrated by King Limhi and substituted men after his own ‘heart.’ We have to assume that Alma was ‘ lifted up in the pride of his heart.’ (Mos. 11:5). When the message of Abinadi found place in him, Alma fled and began teaching in the wilderness. In the scriptures, we read that Alma received his authority from God (Mos. 18:18). I take this literally. He did not get his right to administer the ordinances from his priesthood ordination; he got it from God directly. I assume this would be pertinent to any future dispensation but is a perfunctory item to the process of salvation and sanctification.

    Can a mystery become a doctrine of the kingdom? An example may be found pertaining to resurrection. In Alma 40:3, we read of resurrection as a mystery of God. Later, Joseph F. Smith speaks in the recording of his vision in D&C 138 of the doctrine of the resurrection. First a mystery and now a doctrine, I am OK with that.

    The second aspect of the priesthood, I believe, is related to the spiritual gifts. You brought up speaking with the tongues of angels; I believe this speaks of prophecy and revelation. We read in the scriptures that gifts of the spirit and miracles of healing follow them that believe. In 3 Nephi 27:10-11, we read that that church of Christ should demonstrate these extraordinary events. I do believe that we should have them regularly in our midst, if we are truly the church of Christ. As I look around the church, I find these in short supply.

    Where are the healings that were present at the time of Joseph Smith? If I were to look around, I don’t see this happening in the LDS Church. The most prolific healer I have found in my generation was a Sioux holy man by the name of Frank Fools Crow who has been documented as healing hundreds of people until his death in 1989. If you believe that his power came from God, and I do, where did he get his authority? I believe it is the same as Alma’s situation. I also believe that it is a means to the process of sanctification, not an end.

    In Moses 1:30, God said ‘…this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ I believe this literally supports the only and true doctrine as being only and true. It is through the process outlined the doctrine of Christ that God achieves this lofty goal.

    Did I miss anything?

  3. I was also part of the yahoo group hosted by Tony Larson. I assume this was the group also run by Kip Farr? I remember many of the posters, and would like to know your identity. I posted as redshift–you might remember me.

    Among the active posters were also Carlton, Mo, and Paul.

  4. Speck

    Thank you for the response.

    Is it fair to say that you believe God gave Joseph Smith the mandate to translate the Book of Mormon but you reject the belief that God gave him a mandate to restore the Church?

    Is the following website somewhat representative of your views concerning Joseph Smith?

    http://www.jsfellowship.com/

    If so, are you affiliated with the website or the folks behind it in anyway?

  5. OWIW,

    I believe that Joseph Smith was called to restore the gospel and translate the Book of Mormon. I believe that God gave him the mandate to organize a church but also give him some license as to how that organization was to be put together. I don’t hold to the idea that it had to mirror exactly what was set up at the meridian of time. If I consider what is said in the Book of Mormon regarding the church, it is a much less structured organization than what we have today.

    As for the fellowship website, I had never heard of the group before. In my first pass, I don’t agree with the basis of their argument that Joseph Smith changed the revelations to fit his desire to establish a church. I think that Joseph learned more over time and, sometimes, edited his writings to reflect his understanding. As such, picking apart the revelations in the manner of the Joseph Smith Fellowship is not attractive to my thinking.

    Was Joseph Smith perfect? No, I don’t think so, but he had a conduit to the heavens that gave him more insight than most mortal souls are exposed to.

  6. Spek,

    As I have watched you and OWIW discuss things I am wondering about this comment you made.
    “You present a strong need to have priesthood authority. At this point in my study, I have little need to show how my priesthood ordinances trace back to Joseph Smith. I do have a strong need to see ‘authority’ linked to God.”
    I understand God gave Alma the priesthood in some way and you feel God gave it directly. When you say you don’t feel a need to trace your priesthood to Joseph Smith but from God are you suggesting that God has given you the priesthood directly? If not do you know someone that has received the priesthood from God and given it to you? I understand God can give the priesthood but it appears he usually does it through a Prophet like Alma or Joseph and they pass it on so to speak. I am simply curious where you have traced your priesthood too?
    I have read and enjoyed your fulness site and the simplicity of the gospel that you describe, but I have to wonder why we have the D&C which describes the details and many other commandments that are necessary to attain the highest kingdom such as consecration.
    Do you believe the D&C is an inspired book from the lord? If so do you believe much of the D&C falls under mysteries or something other than gospel?

  7. cagie, yes, Kip Farr was there, too. I was not registered on the forum, I was just lurking and reading the messages. redshift sounds familiar. Did you know that Tony now has his own blog?

  8. Truthseeker,
    I appreciate your comments. Let me try to clarify a few items.
    In regards to priesthood lineage, I was trying to make the point that it takes more than an ordination to magnify the priesthood. I have known many men who have been ordained but had the kinds of problems found the D&C 121 that extinguished their rights to the priesthood. A righteous priesthood holder, in my mind, must receive his authority and serve according to God’s will.

    I received the priesthood through the same format as other LDS members. I was ordained to the MP by a stake president, who was ordained by,,, etc. However, I am open to the possibility that priesthood can come through another channel, not necessarily through the current church conduit. In fact, I expect to see, as does OWIW (I believe), a leader emerge out of obscurity and outside the chain of command who will bring with him power and authority. I have come across several people who claimed to have received a priesthood dispensation. I have not received a witness that it is legitimate for me.

    I wouldn’t consider Alma a ‘prophet’ from the time he began his ministry. He was selected by King Noah because he was worldly. When Abinadi touched his heart, he went into the wilderness and began to teach. At that point, he petitioned God and was granted the authority to baptize. The story goes on from there. I believe both Alma and Joseph Smith received their authority from God. It has to start somewhere in a restoration.

    Thanks for the comments on the website. The information there came together in a matter of a few days about a year ago. I am still learning and hope that others can appreciate the spiritual journey that is represented in that jumble of words.
    The Doctrine and Covenants, in my opinion, contains a number of different components. I have taken sections and parts of sections to the Lord to understand where they fit into the scheme of things. I believe the D&C contains spiritual knowledge the Lord wants us to find. It also contains administrative aspects that Joseph Smith defined for the church. I believe that he was given some freedom in how to organize and structure the church as found in some sections. There are a number of sections that I have not yet come to grips on where they belong in the spectrum of knowledge.

    I really enjoy the perspectives that OWIW and LDSA bring to this quest. Kudos on your scholarship and spirit.

    Hope that helps.

  9. Joseph Smith had much freedom to operate, he told Paul that he would take him one step further and that he with out them could not be made perfect! It I use to say that if Joseph Smith was not inspired by God then he was God and now I know he is God (Holy Ghost) the third member of the God head. This will come as news to probably most of you, and yet it is every where, read T.P.J. regarding the Gods respective dispensation on the earth, This helps explain Birham Young’s statements pause before you make light of these doctrines for they shall prove your salvation or damnation in regards to the Adam God Doctrine. To know thee the only true God is to have life eternal. Joseph said that a man never was condemned for believeing to much and now I just gave you a whole lot more to believe in. No man knows my history I can not tell it you would not believe it if I told you. and as Christ said the Holy Ghost shall not speak of Himself his special witness! This should generate some good debate and open some much needed doors that all things should be revealed.

  10. My computer crashed and I lost my bookmarks to Kips Farr’s research help!! Can you please send me some links so I can get back in?

    Thanks,

    Ellen

  11. spektator,

    you presented your topic very clearly at least to me, i have no much problem reading your treatise on the doctrine of christ, i can only agree in the meantime as you explain it.
    i believe that the baptism of fire and the holy ghost is not a consumate objective of a believer in christ, though i cannot claim to be one.
    also the other doctrines will not pose so much formidability i guess, once a saint has entered in by the gate because also the savior “is the keeper of the gate”, and also verse 19 nephi asked if all is done, he replied “nay…he has not come thus far save it were by the word of christ with unshaken faith in him…”
    but when one attain to the true and only doctrine, he heeds the admonition “to seek ye first the kingdom of god and his righteousness…” then the higher doctrine, mysteries or whatever pet doctrine will only just be added…
    when i read ldsa’s related topic on the gifts of the spirit i realized some of the reason why do i have to “strive so hard” to this and to that ordinance or why do i feel unworthy of the promises of christ, until we are reminded that “it is not by might nor by power but by his spirit”
    i believe that attaining to this true doctrine- faith, repentance, baptism, baptism of fire and of the holy ghost, one can increase his faith in god and by that time …”he can move mountains”, until “all things are possible”.


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