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Pagan Origins of the Nicene Creed

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May 6th, 2014 | Filed Under: Author, Mitch Kuhn, Q and A, Trinity0 Comments | Author:

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Hello,

You ask for evidence that the Nicene Creed was written by the apostate Church. The ultimate evidence is that it is not scriptural, but seeing as how we don’t agree upon that yet, I’ll offer some other evidence as well.

This is a very interesting article I just read. I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated by the author, but he does a good job of demonstrating the pagan origins of the Trinity concept.

The Origin of the Trinity: From Paganism to Constantine

The idea that Christ was created was a view commonly held at the time of the Nicene council. It was called Arianism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism

The Rise of Christianity 1985 W.H.C. Frend
“If the Father begat the son, there must be when he was not. He could not therefore be coeternal with the Father.” (said by Arius)

Man’s Religions 1968 John B. Noss
“Arius held that Christ, . . . was a created being; he was made like other creatures out of nothing, . . . The Son, he argued, had a beginning, while God was without beginning.”

The Church in History 1964 B. K. Kuiper
“The heathen believe in many gods. Arius thought that to believe that the Son is God as well as that the Father is God would mean that there are two Gods, and that therefore the Christians would be falling back into heathenism.”

In fact Arianism was the dominate belief in Christianity until around 300 AD prior to the Nicene council. There were certainly hints of it early on, but it was widespread like it was later. It was the heavy influence of the surrounding pagan culture and philosophy that lead Christians at the time to believe in a Trinitarian God.

Catholic Encyclopedia 1991
“The term ‘Trinity’ does not appear in scripture”
“(The Doctrine of the Trinity) – hammered out over the course of three centuries of doctrinal controversy against modalism and subordinationism”

Why You Should Believe In The Trinity 1989 Robert M. Bowman Jr.

“Roman Catholics . . often claim that the Trinity is not a biblical doctrine and was first revealed through the ministry of the church centuries after the Bible was written. This is in keeping with the Roman Catholic belief that Christian doctrine may be based either on the Bible or on church tradition.”

Jesus Christ is not God 1975 Victor Paul Wierwille
“Long before the founding of Christianity the idea of a triune god or a god-in-three persons was a common belief in ancient religions. Although many of these religions had many minor deities, they distinctly acknowledged that there was one supreme God who consisted of three persons or essences. The Babylonians used an equilateral triangle to represent this three-in-one god, now the symbol of the modern three-in-one believers.”

“The Hindu Trinity was made up of the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Greek triad was composed of Zeus, Athena and Apollo. These three were said by the pagans to ‘agree in one.’ One of the largest pagan temples built by the Romans was constructed at Ballbek (situated in present day Lebanon) to their Trinity of Jupiter, Mercury and Venus. In Babylon the planet Venus was revered as special and was worshipped as a Trinity consisting of Venus, the moon and the sun. This triad became the Babylonian holy Trinity in the fourteenth century before Christ.”

“Although other religions for thousands of years before Christ was born worshipped a triune god, the Trinity was not a part of Christian dogma and formal documents of the first three centuries after Christ.”

The Old Testament drives home the point that there is only one True God.

Deut 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Isa 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,

This concept is carried forward by the writers of the New Testament.

1Ti 2:5 NKJV For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

1Co 8:6 NKJV yet for us there is one God, the Father, of
whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

(Joh 17:3 NKJV) And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

This is hard for Christians today to accept because Christianity has been steeped in paganism for nearly 2000 years. The Jews were also heavily influenced and corrupted by the pagan culture, so by the time of Christ the Jews were thoroughly was corrupted.

You have to remember that Israel was constantly tempted to learn the ways of the pagan nations around them and fell into that often.

Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

Jer 11:10 They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers.

They did follow other God’s and were admonished and punished for it over and over. The Old Testament ends with Malachi, and then there are no prophets in Israel until John the Baptist, which was about 400 years. Israel had enough trouble when they had prophets constantly admonishing them, so imagine what happened with 400 years of silence. To make matters worse both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were taken captive by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Then the Jews went from being ruled by one nation after another until they are under Roman rule at the time of Christ. There was tremendous pressure to conform and integrate pagan beliefs into the Jewish faith.

Christ admonished the Pharisees for laying aside the commands of God and following the tradition of man. Judaism was corrupt and steeped in paganism.

Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, asthe washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

Paul warns the Colossians of philosophy that would lead them away from Christ, and then he explains the Godhead!

Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty
deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic
principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Col 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
Col 2:10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality
and power.

Yes, God dwells in Christ just as God sends his spirit to dwell in us!

(1Co 3:16 NKJV) Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

I explain the deceit of philosophy and paganism further in my study on Hell. Eternal torment is a pagan Egyptian doctrine passed down through the generations that eventually made its way into Christianity. The same is true for the concept of the Trinity. Pagan doctrine heavily influenced early Christians, and only a very few were given the faith to stand on the truth and not conform.

Hell is not endless punishment

In order to properly understand the scriptures we need to read them from a Jewish mindset. We have to understand what was taught in the Old Testament and then read the New Testament in light of that. The problem is that when we read the New Testament now we have a pagan Greek and Roman perspective. For example when we read the English word “HELL”, we think of the pagan concept of torture in the afterlife, while the Jews believed when you sleep when you die. The word often used for hell in Hebrew “sheol”, is “hades” in Greek. The Greek concept of “hades” is tied to their false mythology, while a proper Jewish understanding is simply “the grave”.

The same thing happens when we read verses about Jesus and God being one.

(Joh 17:21 NKJV) that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

When this verse is read with a Jewish mindset it is clear that Jesus is praying for his followers to be one with he and God, just has he is one with God.

(Joh 17:22 NKJV) And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
(Joh 17:23 NKJV) I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Clearly followers of Christ do not become God himself, but we become like God, just as Christ is like God.

(1Jn 3:2 NKJV) Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

However, if you have been influence by paganism you are looking for the Trinity when you read those verses. You will see things that are not being said, and God will answer you according to those idols of your heart.

(Eze 14:4 NKJV) “Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols,

This is the essence of thinking above what is written. We bring in outside pagan thoughts and interpret the scriptures in light of them.

(1Co 4:6 NKJV) Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

The Doctrine of the Trinity Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound 1994 Anthony F. Buzzard Charles F. Hunting
“Eberhard Griesebach, in an acedemic lecture on “Christianity and humanism” delivered in 1938, observed that in its encounter with Greek philosophy Christianity became theology. That was the fall of Christianity. The Problem thus highlighted stems from the fact that traditional orthodoxy, while it claims to find its origins in scripture, in fact contains elements drawn from a synthesis of Scripture and Neo-Platonism. The mingling of Hebrew and Greek thinking set in motion first in the second century by an influx of Hellenism through the Church Fathers, whose theology was colored by the Platonists Plotinus and Porphyry. The effects of the Greek influence are widely recognized by theologians, though they go largely unnoticed by many believers.”


“. . . the Trinity is an unintelligible proposition of platonic mysticisms that three are one and one is three” [quote from Thomas Jefferson]

No one who reads only the Old Testament would have any concept of a triune God. However, some say that Elohim being plural in the Hebrew references the Trinitarian nature of God.

As the definition indicates below, this plural form of this noun does not necessarily mean that it’s referring to something plural. It can simply indicate a superlative, meaning that is accentuates the grandeur through a plural rather than adding an additional adjective. For example in Hebrew instead of saying “Great God” you can say “Gods” and it has the same meaning.

H430

אלהים
‘ĕlôhı̂ym
el-o-heem’
Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

For example in 1 Kings Elijah is mocking the prophets of Baal and uses the plural noun Elohim to refer to Baal.

(1Ki 18:26 NKJV) So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.

(1Ki 18:27 NKJV) And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said,

“Cry aloud, for he is a god (‘ĕlôhı̂ym); either he is meditating, or he is busy,
or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”

Baal was a single god, and not a Trinity, nor any other plurality. Elijah was mockingly saying ” for he is a GREAT god “, as all their efforts to make him act are failing.

The same plural word Elohim is used to reference Dagon, who was also not a Trinity or any other plurality.

(Jdg 16:23 NKJV) Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god (‘ĕlôhı̂ym), and to rejoice. And they said: “Our god (‘ĕlôhı̂ym) has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!”

We simply are not aware how much paganism has influence our view of the bible and Christianity. We have to take great care to go back to a pure Jewish understanding of the Old Testament and view the New Testament in light of that.

Now let’s go back to the Nicene council.

There was great controversy at the time of this council, as would be expected given the heavy influence of paganism and the resulting conflict. This was not a peaceful meeting where everyone agreed and wrote down the common faith. There was a lot of politics, pressure, and coercion going on.

The Nicene was not a popular creed when it was signed. Durant affirms that the majority of Eastern bishops sided with Arius in that they believed Christ was the Son of God ‘neither consubstantial nor co-eternal’ with his Father (1). Arianism has never been truly quenched. While the West accepted the Athanasian view of the Trinity, and the East accepted the Trinity of the Cappadocian fathers, Arianism lives on in the Unitarian Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and in many smaller religions(2).

There is an unfortunate side to the whole Athanasian/Arian debate. Campbell could find no parallel in medieval nor modern times in the intensity of debate (3) Historically, this ‘doctrine of God’ has proved to be a bloody doctrine that has no relation to the true God of love, nor His Son Jesus Christ. Durant details the problems that arose from the Council at Nicea and summarizes that period with a dreadful verdict: ‘Probably more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in these two years (342-3) than by all the persecutions of Christians by pagans in the history of Rome(4). Thus they perverted the teachings of Christ: ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’,{Mt 19:19} and of his apostles: ‘If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us’.{1Jo 4:12}

(1) Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon. 1935. Vol. 1 of The Story of Civilization. 11 vols. 1935-75.
(2) http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm
(3) Campbell, James Marshall. The Greek Fathers. New York: Cooper Square Publishers. 1963.
(4) Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. New York: Simon. 1935. Vol. 1 of The Story of Civilization. 11 vols. 1935-75.

After any great disagreement there are always two sides to the story. The scholars that support the Trinity try to downplay the role of Constantine and make it sound like the truth of the Trinity doctrine prevailed despite great resistance. However, there are many others that assert Constantine presided over the meeting which he himself called for and put great pressure on those present to sign a creed supporting the foundations of the Trinity doctrine.
Encyclopedia Britannica 1968
“The Council of Nicaea met on May 20, 325. Constantine himself presiding, actively guiding the discussion, and personally proposed the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council. ‘of one substance with the father.’ Over-awed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them against their inclination. Constantine regarded the decision of Nicaea as divinely inspired. As long as he lived no one dared openly to challenge the creed of Nicaea.”
Man’s Religions 1968 John B. Noss

“This creed, adopted under pressure from the emperor, who wanted peace, did not immediately solve the doctrinal difficulties or save the peace. The phrases (not made) and (of the same substance with the Father) were bitterly denounced by many”

If we properly judge Constantine by his fruits, then we should be wary of any council that he heavily influenced. I do acknowledge that there were others that held to the doctrine of the trinity that were not as overtly evil as Constantine, so I don’t mean to hang my entire case on his shortcomings.
Babylon Mystery Religion 1981 Ralph Woodrow
“. . his [Constantine’s] conversion is to be seriously questioned. Even though he had much to do with the establishment of certain doctrines and customs within the church, the facts plainly show that he was not truly converted-not in the Biblical sense of the word.”

“Probably the most obvious indication that he was not truly converted may be seen from the fact that after his conversion he committed several murders-including the murder of his own wife and son!”
“Yet in 326-very shortly after directing the Nicean Council-he had his son put to death.”

It would be an understatement to say that Constantine was a crooked politician; yet this is the man who is mainly responsible for the Nicene Creed’s doctrine of the coequal, coeternal, one substance three in one God. One day he is setting the doctrine for the Christian church another day he is murdering people; it would seem that to anyone with any common sense that formulating church doctrine should not be done by a non-repentant murderer. How many of you would like to have a non-repentant murderer setting your Christian doctrine? Yet if you believe the Nicene Creed you have done just that.

(Mat 7:15 NKJV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
(Mat 7:16 NKJV) You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Following the Nicene Creed Constantine enforced it with the death penalty an burned the books of those that opposed it.
“In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offence, he shall be submitted for capital punishment. … ”
— Edict by Emperor Constantine against the Arians (5)

(5) “Emperor Constantine’s Edict against the Arians”. fourthcentury.com. 2010-01-23. Retrieved 2011-08-20.

The most obvious problem with the council to me was the fact that the debate was not even about biblical terminology, but Greek philosophical terms.

(Col 2:8 NKJV) Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

The council was divided into three groups. Arius was in attendance, at the command of the Emperor, along with a few supporters. Most notable of these were two Egyptian bishops, Theonas and Secundus, as well as Eusebius of Nicomedia. This group represented the viewpoint that Christ was of a different substance (Greek: heteroousios) than the Father, that is, that He is a creature.

The “orthodox” group was led primarily by Hosius of Cordova and Alexander of Alexandria (accompanied by his brilliant young deacon, and later champion of the Nicene position, Athanasius6). They represented the view that Christ was of the same substance (Greek: homo-ousios7) as the Father, that is, that He has eternally shared in the one essence that is God and in full deity.

The middle group, led by Eusebius of Caesarea (and hence often called the “Eusebian” party), distrusted the term homoousios, primarily because it had been used in the previous century by the modalistic8 heretic Sabellius and others who wished to teach the error that the Father and the Son were one person. This middle group agreed with the orthodox party that Jesus was fully God, but they were concerned that the term homoousios could be misunderstood to support the false idea that the Father and Son are one person. The middle group therefore presented the idea that the Son was of a similar substance (Greek: homoiousios) as the Father. By this means they hoped to avoid both the error of Arius as well as the perceived danger of Sabellianism found in the term homoousios (6).

(6)http://www.equip.org/articles/what-really-happened-at-nicea/3

The funny thing is that if you come at the argument from a Jewish perspective and leave out all of the pagan influences, the answer is quite simple. Jesus is the Son of God. He is the promised messiah that the Jews were waiting for, but most did not recognize. The Father and Son relationship is used throughout the bible and is simple to understand.

Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

The Trinity is confusing and convoluted pagan theology that is far from the simplify of Christ, and a complete departure from all the foundations laid in the Old Testament. These kind of pagan influences are the very things we are warned to watch out for.

(2Co 11:3 NKJV) But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Now let’s talk about what we are told to expect regarding false doctrine and corruption in the church.

(Mat 7:13 NKJV) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
(Mat 7:14 NKJV) Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
(Mat 7:15 NKJV) “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

(2Co 11:13 NKJV) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
(2Co 11:14 NKJV) And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

These false prophets will come in sheep’s clothing, meaning that they will appear to be followers of Christ! They will look like his sheep, but not be his true sheep. The majority will follow after them down the wide path and few will follow the true Christ down the narrow way.

There were many warnings of false doctrines by the apostles:

1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

(Act 20:28 NKJV) Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
(Act 20:29 NKJV) For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
(Act 20:30 NKJV) Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
(Act 20:31 NKJV) Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

These men came, and did draw away the disciples. The majority fell away in that time, and the same has happened in our time.

This if from one of Paul’s last letters:

(2Ti 1:15 NKJV) This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.

Ephesus was in Asia, which is who he was warning in Acts 20 of the false prophets to come.

(2Ti 2:17 NKJV) And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort,
(2Ti 2:18 NKJV) who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

(2Ti 4:10 NKJV) for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia.
(2Ti 4:11 NKJV) Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

Paul was constantly dealing with false prophets seeking to draw away disciples after themselves.

Gal 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who
called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
Gal 1:7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want
to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel
to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any
other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Just like the Corinthians, we are easily deceived by the craftiness of the serpent the devil and are corrupted from the simplicity of Christ.

(2Co 11:3 NKJV) But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
(2Co 11:4 NKJV) For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with

So what is the broad way that leads to destruction? It will always be more popular than the truth in this age, that is a biblical fact.

There were an estimated 2.18 billion Christians in 2010, nearly a third of the approx 7 billion people in the world. The majority of them believe in the Trinity. That sounds like the broad way for the many to me. Few is few, and 2.18 billion is not few.

History is always written by the victors, but that does not mean it’s true. The false doctrine of the pagan Trinity prevailed and now it is in nearly every Church doctrinal statement, and taught in almost every seminary in the world.

Look at what you know about modern medicine and politics. The world is under strong delusion and only a very few see the truth of what is going on in this world. God has shown you that so you can see it is the same way with spiritual matters. The majority is deceived and only a very few are given eyes to see. Many are called, but few are chosen.

Romans 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

2 Thess 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,

I can go verse by verse and explain all the verses you brought up that seem to support the Trinity, but it will do no good if the Trinity is an idol of your heart. What I mean is that if you’re trying to prove it you can contort the verses to fit into the pagan doctrine, and rationalize away very clear verses like Romans 1:20, and 1 Cor 8:6 about the godhead.

Eze 14:4 4“Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols,

I came from the same pagan perspective for years, I was taught the Trinity my entire life. It has been the hardest doctrine for me to come out of. I first saw the pagan influence on Christianity through the false doctrine of eternal torment, and then realized that the majority are deceived. This opened me up to re-considering everything I believed. Reading the scriptures with fresh eyes that were not trying to prove the Trinity allowed me to see the simplicity of the truth. Everything finally fit and made sense.

The Trinity doctrine is convoluted and philosophical, and goes against everything established in the Old Testament. However, we can’t see this because we have lived our entire lives in a pagan culture and in pagan Christianity. It’s only by a miracle of God that we are given eyes to see and can escape the strong delusion sent upon the world.

(2Ti 2:24 NKJV) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
(2Ti 2:25 NKJV) in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
(2Ti 2:26 NKJV) and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

This article addresses John 1:1, which you mentioned.

Is Jesus God?

I do appreciate your willingness to discuss these issues. I hope you receive this in the spirit of love which it is sent.

Mitch

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