Archive for the ‘Short Essays, Notes, and Comments’ Category

Here are the essential lines from Cameron:

Accordingly, ther are two kinds of decrees, one of them requires a condition, the other not. Those may be termed conditional, and the last absolut. Upon the first sort depends justification, and so that requires necessarily faith and repentance. On the last sort hangs effectuall calling, and that requires no conditions and dispositions. . . . The first decree, then, is to restore the divine image upon the creature, in a way wherein the rights of justice may be safe. The second is to send God’s Son into the world to save every one who believes in him, that is, are his members. The third is to render men fit and able to believe. The fourth is to save those who believe. The first two are generall, the last two speciall and particular. In our method of considering things, the principall are before the less principall. . . . But all this is to be understood as spoken of God, in a way accomodated to the infirmity of the human mind.

Essentially there are two kinds of decrees. The first two are conditional general decrees, and the second two are absolute particularist decrees. For Cameron, Amyraut, and Davenant, et al, conditional decrees were always subsumed under the revealed will of God. Conditional decrees never refer to ineffectual absolute or secret will decrees. For example, see Davenant on the meaning of conditional decrees here or here for more examples and explanations.

This now helps us to understand Amyraut:

21. And whereas they have made distinct Decrees in this Counsel of God, the first of which is to save all men through Jesus Christ, if they shall believe in him; the second to give Faith unto some particular Persons: they declared, that they did this upon none other account, than of accommodating it unto that Manner and Order, which the Spirit of Man observeth in his Reasonings for the Succour of his own Infirmity; they otherwise believing, that though they considered this Decree as diverse, yet it was formed in God in one and the self-same Moment, without any Succession of Thought, or Order of Priority and Posteriority.

The first decree there corresponds to Cameron’s conditional decree, and the second to his absolute decree.

So where does that lead us? It leads us to the fact that this “ordering” is in no way comparable to the standard infrar- or supralapsarian ordering.  In both of those the standard orderings there is a string of absolute decrees; eg to create, permit the fall, election, to send the Son (for the elect), etc.

When folk like Warfield juxtapose the standard infra or supra ordering over and against Cameron’s or Amyraut’s, they are engaging in a simple category fallacy, comparing apples with oranges, or chalk with cheese as we say in Australia.

The two types of orderings should not be set side by side as if they are univocal orderings with the same univocal concept of decree.

And further, the Cameron-Amyraut order is purely set out as perceived from the human point of view, the ordo historia. We “see” creation, fall, and the public work of Christ (including “incarnation”), but we see” election and salvation as effectually enacted and applied to believers, after the fact. But such “after the fact” seeing is “secondary” to our starting point, which is creation, fall, and redemption, ie the public work of Christ.

This confirms my thought all along, that Amyraut’s detractors so framed his language to suggest that there were absolute decrees, what we today call the decretive will, being conditioned by the actions of men.  In effect, ineffectual decretal volitions. But this is not what Cameron and Amyraut were saying at all.

Further, Warfield in his chart on the plan of salvation is just plain wrong in his wording of the second decree as being, “Gift of Christ to render salvation of all men possible.”1 That smacks of an absolute decree and does not mirror Cameron or Amyraut’s version at all.

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The assertion that all died-for are all prayed-for relies upon the conflation of some fallacious and unsound arguments. Such as:

1) All prayed-for1 are died-for.
Therefore, all died-for are prayed-for.

The conclusion commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent.2


2) All in-covenant are died-for.
Therefore all died-for are(/will be) in covenant

Same fallacy of affirming the consequent.


3) All died-for will be prayed-for.
Therefore, if a man is not prayed-for, he was not died-for.

A Modus Tollens argument, formally valid but not sound. There is no evidence that all died-for will infallibly be prayed-for. This just begs the question at this point.3


4) All died-for will be in-covenant
Therefore, if a man will not be in-covenant, he was not died-for.

Another Modus Tollens argument, formally valid but not sound. There is no evidence that all died-for will infallibly be brought into the covenant. This just once again begs the question at this point.

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Romans 8:32 and the Argument for Limited Atonement (Revisited)

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Part 1. Introduction

In Romans 8:32, Paul says,

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?”

Paul uses a basic a fortiori argument to demonstrate that if the Father delivered up Christ for us, how much more, then, will he not give us all things. If he did that much for us, how then will he not also do the lesser thing of bringing us to final salvation?

The argument for limited satisfaction:

Paul bases the certainty of our inheritance on the death of Christ. He says, “God will most certainly give you all things because he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you.” If Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive “all things” but who are, instead, finally unsaved, Paul’s argument is voided. If God gave his own Son for unbelievers who in the end are lost, then he cannot say that the giving of the Son guarantees “all things” for the those for whom he died. But this is exactly what he does say. If God gave his Son for you, then he most certainly will give you all things. The structure of Paul’s thought here is simply destroyed by introducing the idea that Christ died for all men in the same way.[1]

Here is the simplest way I can think of to respond to this argument in order to show why its invalid.

1) The hasty term generalization: “us” (from the text) is converted into a general term, “all,” which is “all” irrespective of faith, when all along, in Romans 8, the “us” explicitly presupposes believers.

E.g., at its simplest:

We for whom Christ died will be given all things


All for whom Christ died will be given all things

The first sentence is true to the text, the second is not. It is a non sequitur.

2) If the term conversion is invalid, then the subsequent modus ponens and modus tollens arguments based upon it are invalid.

E.g., at its simplest:

Modus ponens: If A, therefore B.

Modus tollens: Not B, therefore not A.

That is, on the assertion that “All for whom Christ died will be given all things,” the following arguments are normally constructed:

a) If Christ died for a man, that man must be saved [If A, then B]
b) If that man is not saved, Christ did not die for that man [not B, therefore not A]

From which the general conclusion becomes: “Christ has not died for any man not (actually) saved

So the three flaws in this argument, are:

1) The invalid term conversion
2) The unsound claim that if Christ dies for a man, that man cannot fail to be saved.
3) The invalid inference to a universal category negation (discussed below).

The first assumption, being invalid on its face shows that the conclusion to limited satisfaction is flawed as it engages in unjustified term conversation (equivocation). The second false assumption needs to be proved on grounds other than Romans 8:32 etc., as the text, itself, does not imply it. At this point it just begs the question, formally.

Part 2. Rebuttal in Detail

The is argument is, if it is possible that Christ could die for a person and that person fail to be saved, Paul could not assure believers that if Christ died for them, it cannot fail that they will be given all things, namely final and complete salvation.

Paul’s point is being missed here. Paul’s assurance is to the “we” who have been given Christ, should not doubt, but be very assured that “we” will be given all things. This is exactly the same sentiment behind or entailed in 8:28, 31, and, 34, for example. The faithful can and do have this assurance.

At most all that can be inferred is perseverance of the saints or the effectual intention to apply the death of Christ to believers bringing about their complete salvation, and not limited satisfaction for the sins of the elect alone. The logic of the text will just not give one grounds for inferring a limited satisfaction. The textual data does not sustain any generalization outside of its own stated limitation (namely the “us” of 32b). Here now is the explanation for my counter.

Paul also uses the same form of the a fortiori argument in Romans 5:8-10:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

The same structure is present. There is a bi-conditional argument here. For example: having been died-for, and having now been justified, much more then shall we be saved from the coming wrath.

Verse 10, Paul again sets out two conditions, “while we were died for, as enemies, AND now that we have been reconciled . . .” both need to be present for the conclusion to hold: “much more then shall be saved from the coming wrath!”

Paul is saying, because Christ died for us, AND because we have now been justified and reconciled, much more then, can we be assured of complete salvation. The result is the same, perseverance yes–limited satisfaction for limited sins, no.

There are no grounds to infer a limited satisfaction in Romans 5:8-10, any more than there are in Rom 8:32.

Looked at from another angle, this point becomes even more apparent. If we go back to Romans 8:32. Paul’s actual structure is very interesting.

Romans 8:32:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Given the structure of Rom 8:32 we have, an “us all” and an “us,” so there are only so many possible relevant interpretations here. For explanation, in the following, let “all mankind” refer to all who have lived, live, and shall live. And “all the elect” refer to all elect who have lived, live, and shall live, irrespective of whether any given elect person is a believer.

1) us all refers to all the elect, and us refers to all the elect.

2) us all refers all mankind and us refers all mankind

3) us all refers to all believers, us refers to all believers

4) us all refers to all the elect, us refers to believing elect

5) us all refers to all mankind, us refers to believers.

6) us all refers to all mankind, us refers to all the elect

7) us all refers to all mankind, us refers to all believing elect

Only 2) is unacceptable, as all mankind will not be given all things.

5) and 7) are in practical terms the same, but I will include them separately so the point is clear.

Exegetically, I can say 1) and 6) are not exegetically probable.

4) may be possible, but only given one’s wider systematic assumptions.

3) is possible.

7) is probable.

Either way, it’s a “in the eye of the beholder” sort of thing. My take is probably 5) aka 7).

That means 1, 3-7 are all logically and biblically acceptable (broadly speaking).

Whichever one of the acceptable outcomes we plug in, universalism is not the outcome, as the conclusion is always regulated by the second “us.”

Like a simple bi-conditional statement: If A and B, then C. C only holds if both conditions are present.

Paul’s structure is actually not a simple if A, then C (as is often suggested in popular literature on limited satisfaction).

Ironically, however, all this analysis is rather unnecessary.

If, us all, stands for all mankind, and us, stands for believers or the elect or the believing elect, the argument for limited satisfaction (even by way of the reductio entailment of universalism) is invalid, because in each case, the us regulates the conclusion and it delimits it.

Defining the us all, is actually irrelevant to defeating the argument for limited satisfaction based on Romans 8:32.

To recap the argument.

The (invalid) term conversion must convert the us all and/or the us, into “all for whom Christ died” (irrespective of election or belief). However, there is no textual warrant to do so, which is exactly what is being done here, as it is alleged that: “All for whom Christ died will infallibly be given complete salvation.” What is happening is the attempt to force the invalid term conversion upon others to support the claim that text data necessitates this premise:

All for whom Christ died will be given all things

All that needs to be pointed out is that the term conversion is, itself, invalid. End of discussion.

We, for our part, do not need to establish who exactly who the us all are. That can remain a completely open question. In short, whoever the us is, the conclusion of any modus ponens argument is defined by it.

For example,

Let X stand for “us” (8:32b) according to any of the acceptable permutations above.

All that could be constructed is this:

All X for whom Christ died will be given all things.

That is:

All the elect for whom Christ died will be given all things
All the believers for whom Christ died will be given all things
All the believing elect for whom Christ died will be given all things

In each case, universalism is not entailed.

And this also leads us to the very important fact that one cannot infer category exclusion from a simple positive statement. That is, nothing is being said about any non-X. Paul is not saying that Christ did not die for any non-X at all. Such and inference would be invalid on its head. He is saying, we (i.e., X) for whom Christ has died, we will be given all things. Nothing is entailed or implied, negatively or positively, about any other class, such as the class of unbeliever, or the class non-elect, for whom Christ did or did not die for.

The alleged conclusion that: “Since it is assumed that both sides of the argument for limited versus unlimited satisfaction deny universalism, this text therefore teaches limited atonement” is just false, and categorically so.

The possibility that Christ could have died for the non-elect, or non-believers, or non-believing elect cannot be categorically excluded. Such a category exclusion formally begs the question (petitio principii).

Part 3. Follow-up

The approach here has to be exegetical first and foremost. The question is, who are the us in 8:32b?

The are two principal candidates,

1) Elect as a class, including elect who are not yet converted, that is, all the elect who have lived, live and shall live.

2) Believers. Even if the believers are believers who are elect, it is still believers.

The question is, then, which one best fits the context. I would say that the contexts fits better with 2) because the whole chapter references believers. That is, the predications in the chapter can only apply to believers.

8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Clearly these verses reference believers. Does the Spirit intercede for unbelievers even unbelieving elect? I think not.

8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Again the called are believers, as those who love God are believers. These are believers who have been elected, foreknown and predestined. These are not the class “elect” simply considered, apart from belief. Paul speaks of the “called” in this manner: the elect are considered as they are “called” elect (elect qua their calling), not simply elect as they are elect (elect qua elect).

8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

God will give us all things, namely give us who believe. Exegetically, the context and text clearly indicates believers are the subject of the discourse. That being so, the modus ponens conclusion has to be limited by the scope of the premise.

So now we come back to my earlier taxonomy:

All the believing elect for whom Christ died will be given all things.

Or stated slightly differently again for emphasis: To all X for whom Christ died, all things will be given. X is now defined as believers who are elect.

That is the most one can get out of this verse.

Part 4. Enthymematic Premises in Everyday Language

A preacher says to his Church, “God loves us, and will certainly save us.” He can say that because there is an unstated premise, called in logic an enthymematic premise, which in this case is the supposition that he and his audience are “believers,” or the unstated conditional assumption, “if we believe.” On the supposition that we believe, it is absolutely true that as God loves us, and as Christ has died for us, he will certainly save us. That, in essence, is what is going on in Paul discourse in Romans 8.

The preacher says: “If the Father delivered up his own Son for us, how much more will he not give us all things?”

Again, the enthymematic premise is assumed exactly because such a statement could not be true when expressed before the local atheists association. Why is that?

The same statement said in different contexts can be true in one but become false in the other.

To the Church:

If the Father delivered up us his own Son for us, how much more will he not give us all things?

Or more simply:

If Christ died for us, he will give us all things.

Both would be true.

To a crowd of Atheists:

If the Father delivered up us his own Son for us, how much more will he not give us all things?

Or more simply:

If Christ died for us, he will give us all things.

Both would be false. Why? Because of the unstated assumption or condition is missing in the second situation; that is, the second bi-conditional is absent. The conditional or supposition “if” we believe” is absent in the lives and personal commitment of the atheists present. And without personal faith in Christ, no man can be saved. Salvation, and “all things” are not given apart from or irrespective to faith in Christ.

Furthermore, in the example of the preacher speaking to his congregation, no one would imagine the preacher was attempting to imply a category exclusion or negation, namely, Christ died only for the preacher and his singular congregation. Or that he did not die for the Baptists down the road. All his hearers would naturally not make such a conclusion or imagine that it was ever intended.

Now if we apply this to Paul’s argument in Romans 8:32 the problem should now be clearer, as Paul is not saying “all for whom Christ died, irrespective of faith, will infallibly be saved.” Like the preacher before his congregation, he says “We for whom Christ has died, we will be given all things, and that infallibly so.” Nor is it the case that Paul is attempting to communicate a category exclusion or negation. Paul’s readers would never had made such an inference. The only natural inference would have been to apply Paul’s argument to all other believers by the principle of “all things being equal.”[2]

And just to be sure, my point is, Paul’s predications and assertions speak to his readers who are believers “who have been elected,” not to the “elect” as a total class irrespective of faith and repentance, which is what most strict TULIP advocates tend do with this text in my experience.

Thus, in conversational language, one can assume a condition, which is not stated, but which the context of the proposition (to whom it is addressed) sustains the true assumption of an enthymematic premise.


For all the above reasons, Romans 8:32 cannot be used to prove a limited satisfaction for sins on the basis of either the original Pauline a fortiori argument or on the basis of any extra textually constructed modus ponenss or modus tollens arguments. Paul here is actually silent on the “extent” question. All he can be taken to speak to is the intent to effectually apply the benefits of Christ’s death to the believer or believing elect.

[1] John Piper, For Whom Did Christ Die?

[2] A predication made to one believer holds good for another and so on indefinitely for all believers based on the principle of representation, for this reason the present day believers can read their Bible and predicate its promises and blessings to themselves.

Limited Atonement and the Falsification of the Sincere Offer of the Gospel1

Table of Contents

I. The original argument
II. The counter-arguments
III. Assumptions
IV. The Issue and the Problem
V. What it means to make an offer
VI. The falsity of the conditional
VII. The “conditional” considered as a proposal of means
VIII. What is Harry to believe?
IX. The Objections
X. The truth of the conditional proves unlimited satisfaction
XI. Conclusion

I. The Original Argument2


a) Let forgivable mean something like “able to have forgiveness conferred,” which I think is basic and sound.
b) Without a legal basis, no sin can be forgiven.

The following syllogism can be constructed:

1) Only those sins imputed to Christ are forgivable.
2) Only the sins of the elect are imputed to Christ.
3) Therefore only the sins of the elect are forgivable.

1) has to follow unless one wants to deny substitutionary atonement and claim that God can forgive sins for which Christ did not bear and suffer.

2) has to follow for the limited expiation/imputation of sin proponent.3 And so 3) is undeniable.

However, God offers forgiveness of sins to all mankind, or at least, to all whom the Gospel comes.4


c) To offer forgiveness of sins, necessarily implies or presupposes that sins of the offeree are forgivable.
d) For a sincere offer to be sincere,5 one must be able to confer and have available what one offers.

The following basic syllogism can be constructed:

4) All sincere divine offers of forgiveness of sins, entails that sins of the offerees are forgivable.
5) God sincerely offers forgiveness of sins to all.6
6) Therefore the sins of all are forgivable.

4) has to be true because, one must have the ability to confer what one sincerely offers. God cannot make a pretense of sincerely offering what one does not have the ability to confer.

5) has to be true for any free-offer Calvinist.

6) therefore has to follow as High and Moderate Calvinists rightly maintain.


1) Therefore only the sins of the elect are forgivable.

directly contradicts,

6) Therefore the sins of all are forgivable,

in the same sense and meaning.

II. The Counter-Arguments

I have proposed an argument that God cannot sincerely offer to forgive the non-died-for (NDF) because he is not able to confer forgiveness upon them, therefore, limited expiation and imputation of sin falsifies the sincere and free offer of forgiveness to all men.7 My argument is that given the proper and true definition of ‘offer,’8 God cannot sincerely, well-meaningly, genuinely, and legitimately offer to forgive a person for whom there is no basis of forgiveness available for that person. Thus, if God should offer forgiveness to someone for whom no forgiveness has been obtained or made possible by the death of Christ, such a divine offer would be insincere, disingenuous, illegitimate and ill-meant.9

The first serious response to our argument is that if the particularism of limited expiation and sin-bearing falsifies the free and sincere offer of the Gospel to all men, then so does the particularism of election and preterition. And so the argument unfolds: If the classic-moderate Calvinist can affirm that the particularism entailed in election (and preterition) does not falsify the free and sincere offer of the gospel to all men, then, likewise, he should not object that the particularism entailed in a limited satisfaction for sin falsifies the free and sincere offer of the gospel to all men. Our response to this is that the particularism in both election and limited satisfaction for sin do not bear a univocal relationship to the gospel offer. I argue that the particularism in election and preterition entails a divine willingness to save some and not to save others, and this particularism is located in the secret will. On the other hand, the particularism of limited satisfaction entails an inability to impart salvation, an inability to impart the very thing offered with regard to the NDF.10 The problem should be clear when one realizes that the legitimacy and genuineness the divine offer is directly indexed to the availability of the thing offered.11 God cannot sincerely and genuinely offer what he knows he is not able to impart or which is not available for him to impart. Under the terms of limited satisfaction, forgiveness of sins with respect to the NDF is impossible, and so for God to make a pretense of sincerely offering forgiveness of sins to the NDF is insincere and a mockery.

This then leads to the second counter to our original argument. This second reply has two steps. The second objection first challenges the standard definition of the word "offer" by asserting that a simple statement of fact expressed in conditional form properly and rightly constitutes a legitimate and sincere offer.12 Thus, the argument goes, even on the supposition that a specific hearer is NDF, the conditional statement, "if you believe, you will be saved" made to that hearer, itself, constitutes a legitimate offer of salvation.13

Then the argument further attempts to validate the sincerity of that statement to that specific hearer on the basis of the following counter-factual supposition that, ‘An offer that is made to a given NDF person is sincere in that had that person believed, he would have obtained the offered salvation, because it would have turned out that he was died-for14 all along.’

The background assumptions in this line of rebuttal is that an offer is only insincere in that were a person to embrace the thing offered only to find that the thing being offered does not exist or is not available to be imparted: then, and only then, would the offer be insincere. To further shore up this line of thought, with regard to the offer and the NDF, possible worlds logic is tacitly invoked, such that, upon embracing the thing offered, it would turn out that the offeree was died-for all along.15

The following is a response primarily to these counter-arguments.

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Romans 8:32 and the Argument for Limited Atonement

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Part 1:

The following is an outline of a response to the common form of modus tollens argument for limited atonement. This form of the argument is a standard argument in limited atonement literature, from John Owen’s Death of Death, to John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied, even to the recent work Pierced for our Transgressions.

This outline takes up one set of responses to the modus tollens argument. It does not attempt to address every relevant issue, permutation or form of possible rebuttal or possible counter. What it does is assume the standard form of the argument, unpack its inner logic and assumptions, and then critiques it.

For the purposes of this outline, I will use the terms and phrases, “delivered up” and “died for” as functionally equivalent.  By “limited atonement” I define and use in this sense, that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.

The name for Paul’s argument is called an a fortiori argument. To establish a case for limited atonement, this argument is first converted into a modus ponens syllogism and then into a modus tollens syllogism.

Firstly, Logical syllogisms, seeking to obtain necessary conclusions, only work by using universal descriptors, all or none, etc, in the major premise. No necessary conclusion can be obtained by use of terms like, we, some, us, our, you, them, etc.1

The problem is that the major premise as alleged from Romans 8:32, only says, by way of paraphrase: ‘Us… for whom Christ was delivered (ie., died), will be given all things…’

Who are the us? If the us refers to believers as I would argue it does, then no negation or argument can be formed regarding all those outside of the class “us.” Even if the us is the elect as a total class, the same holds good. This is the first exegetical hurdle the limited atonement proponent has to get over.

Proponents of the modus tollens argument for limited atonement, want to insert an assumption into Paul’s meaning in order to get to the needed “universal” referent into the major premise. In Logic, this is called smuggling in a premise or assumption. Here they have hastily converted the “us” into “all” or “anyone.”

This form of their argument then comes to this:

Anyone (ie., all) for whom Christ dies, will infallibly be given salvation…”

An initial response would be: How do they know that? The text only speaks to believers or the elect (whoever the us are). Like this: ‘We believers/elect, who have been given Christ, how much more will we believers/elect be given all things…’

Limited atonement advocates have inserted a logical parameter which is not in the original text, and for which there is no exegetical justification.

Furthermore, “for,” can mean, “to die in the place of, to bear the sins of,” or it can mean, “to die for some benefit of.” And as the phrase “to die for” also speaks to intention. In terms of what we can be know from the text, there are two possible options.  Paul may be addressing Christ’s dying for the elect, with an elective intention, which is one possible reading. Or, Paul may be referring to Christ’s dying for believers, specifically, in order to assure them that their salvation is infallibly secure.  However, Romans 8:32, alone, does not preclude Christ dying for others with a non-elective (though salvific in some sense) intention, exactly because the actual referent is restricted to “us.” It says nothing about what Christ may or not have done for others. If these facts are allowed, Paul cannot be read as denying any other sense or divine intention behind Christ’s death. Thus standard modos tollens argument for limited atonement is completely inadequate to deal with these nuances.

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