Quibbles that Backfired

This section tagged “Quibbles that Backfired” deals with interesting statements and arguments that have been made by people during discussions by way of defense in attempts to justify and sustain their position regarding the subject involved. Some of these quibbles backfired in that the termination of it showed the complete incongruity of the statement made. Others backfired because they reverted upon the person who made them and put him in the very same predicament in which he intended to put the other fellow.

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 4, Number 1, January -March, 2024

During one of our Bible classes, a brother commented that the reason God required that the elders have children (plural) is because the Jews normally have multiple children and that the law would not be applicable today since some countries of the world today regulate the number of children a family may have, hence, a man with one child may be appointed to serve as an elder. He then challenges me to show him an example of a person in the Bible with just one child. I simply asked that Judges 11:34 and Luke 9:38 be read to the hearing of the whole congregation: “When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.” (Judges 11:34). Luke 9:38 reads: “Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child.” God’s Word is ever true and powerful!

Curtis Porter met W. C. Wright of the Christian church in a debate in Monett, Arkansas in 1921. While he was a preacher for the Christian church, Wright had gone beyond their ordinary doctrine, and had embraced the doctrine of the Christadelphians. He had become a materialist in concept. He held to the idea of no endless punishment for the wicked, and no resurrection for the unbeliever. Their position is, and his position was, as he had expressed it, that when an unbeliever dies, he is just as we sometimes say a long time dead. There will be no resurrection for him. He affirmed during that debate that only regenerated people will share in the resurrection of the dead. He defined regenerated people as those who had believed in the Lord, repented of their sins, confessed their faith in Christ and had been baptized into Him. Nobody else is regenerated today, they are God’s people and they have no part, anybody but them, in the resurrection. And in the discussion of it, Wright introduced a statement by Paul in I Cor. 15. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive”, and he defined as “in Christ” those who had been baptized into Christ. He preached that in Christ all shall be made alive. Nobody shall be made alive except those that are in Christ. Therefore, nobody raised from the dead except God’s people; nobody but Christians. Only those “in Christ” will be made alive. Porter said in responding to it, “I know that the term in Christ sometimes refers to those who are Christians, but not always. In this place, I am certain that it does not. For not only did Paul say that “in Christ shall all be made alive,” but he said that “as in Adam, all die.” As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. And if “in Christ” means only Christians, “in Adam” means only sinners. They are used in contrast. If in Christ means nobody will be raised except Christians, then those who die in Adam means nobody will die except alien sinners. And upon that basis then, we would have to reach the conclusion that those who are raised will be those who never died, and not one of those who died will ever be raised.”

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 3, Number 4, October – December 2023)

At Hulbert, Oklahoma, in 1940, in his first debate with Mr. Ben M. Bogard, concerning the matter of apostasy, W. Curtis Porter introduced the statement upon Revelation 22:19, regarding people having names taken out of the book of life. Porter showed that in Philippians 4:3, the people of God had their names in the book of life, that the Lord told His disciple to rejoice because their names were written in heaven. And in the Hebrew letter, reference is spoken of about those of the church of the firstborn who are written in heaven. And thus, we have revealed to us a book which is known as the Book of Life in which God has enrolled the names of His people. That God declared that any man that would take away from the book of this prophecy, God would take away his part out of the Book of Life. But his part in the book of life is his NAME. And when that name is taken from the Book of Life, the name is not in the book; if a child of God turns to sin and continues in sin and has his name erased, he comes to the judgement bar of God Almighty, and the book does not contain his name, what is the result? Everyone not found in the book of life is cast into the lake of fire, so we are told in Rev. 12. And the child of God will go down to hell, therefore, because his name is not written in the book of life. In response, Mr. Bogard said that everyone has a right to the book of life. Porter showed that no one has that right except the people of God, except those who are His, who get their names enrolled, and you cannot blot out a name that was never written. When it has been blotted out it is not there, and so he stands condemned. Mr. Bogard illustrated by the Indians and the land reserved for them. He said they were given certain portions of land, and all of them had a right to it. He had a part there, but some Indians fail to show up at the appointed time and they lost their part. All people have a right, all people have a part to the Book of Life, and it is not limited merely to Christians, God’s people, but to the whole world. Porter replied and said, “Why, your very illustration cuts you loose from that. Because I had no part in that reservation, I wasn’t an Indian. And nobody had any part except INDIANS. And the very illustration that you made proves my point. That only Christians have their names in the Book of Life and they are the only ones that have any part there.”

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 3, Number 3, July – September 2023)

In a debate with Julian Hunt of the Christian church, one of the very conservatives of the Christian church group, in a discussion was held in Lexington, Kentucky, back in 1956, W. Curtis Porter and Julian Hunt were discussing the matter of instrumental music. Hunt introduced a number of scriptures, and he had an argument that goes this way: Things mentioned in the New Testament are for three purposes—either to approve, to condemn, or to neutralize. Those were the three points of his argument. Things were introduced either to condemn, approve or to neutralize. And he gave a few instances in which the term music is mentioned in the New Testament, in which it was condemned, and all the others, he gave as examples of approval. And among those by which he had the matter of approval stamped to it was found in Revelation 18, where he found the harpers and trumpets, and those making music on the trumpets and harps, and so on. Hunt argued that here is something that God approved. Here is instrumental music. Porter said, “Julian, did you not know that in Revelation 18 there are harps, trumpets, and all that he saw were in Babylon? And that in the very beginning of that chapter, Babylon is described as the hold of every unclean beast and defiled thing, foul spirit and things of that kind? And yet you say there is the authority for music in the church.” Hunt came back and said, “Yes, I knew that. Certainly, Babylon represents the apostate church and Catholicism. I know that. But, the statement says that the sound of the trumpet shall be heard no more at all in her, and God took instruments out of Babylon where they did not belong and placed them in the church where they did belong. ” Porter responded, “Well, in that very same chapter, the statement is made that the light of the candle shall be seen no more in all of thee. Of course, I guess the candles, the Catholics have that in the wrong place, and we can take that from the Catholic church and put it in the church of the Lord, because the candlelight is not to be seen anymore there. And furthermore, the voice of the bride and bridegroom shall be heard no more at all in thee. Be no more marrying in the Catholic church, not only the priests, but all of it is to be taken away from that point.” Hunt came back in his next speech and said, “Brother Porter, I am astonished that you did not know that the Bridegroom was the Lord. The Lord is the Bridegroom.” Porter said, “The very idea, the Lord, the bridegroom, and the Lord in Babylon, the Lord in the Catholic church?” Hunt replied, “Yes, the church went into apostasy and the Lord went with it. But He came out in the days of the Reformation Movement when Luther began to prevail in his opposition to Catholicism. He came out with Martin Luther.” The Lord stayed in apostasy a long, long time.

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 3, Number 2, April – June 2023)

In his debate with Mr. F. S. Gipson, in Mangram, Arkansas, in 1934, and in other debates with other Baptist preachers on other occasions, this quibble was made to W. Curtis Porter: If a man gets killed on his way to be baptized, will he go to heaven or hell? What is to be the condition of that man? Porter’s reply was, “I suppose he is in the same condition as that man who is penitent at the mourner’s bench and trying to pray through to salvation. Before he gets through, he smothers to death.

W. Curtis Porter met with W. H. Little, at Troup, Texas in a debate. During the debate, W.H. Little constantly referred to W. Curtis Porter as “Brother” Porter. And Porter called him “Elder” Little, or “Mr.” Little. Little made some objection to it. He thought if he called Porter “brother,” Porter ought to call him “brother,” not simply “Mr.” or “Elder. ” Porter told him that he did not intend any discourtesy about the matter, but that he remembers the Lord said one time about some matters, “That whosoever does the will of my Father, the same is my mother, brother, and sister. ” Porter said further: “I don’t consider that you have done it. And therefore, I do not address you as brother, but I want to be fair about it. I tell you what I will do. I will call you cousin if you want me to. We have two characters of the New Testament, Jesus and John the Baptist, who were cousins. I am following Jesus, you are following John. So I will call you cousin.”

Mr. W. A. Ida, in Washburn, Missouri, in referring to John 3:5 in which the Lord stated that a man must be born of the water and the Spirit or he could not enter into the kingdom of God, declared that the Lord referred to the natural birth. That this was the thing involved and that we had no passage here to indicate anything about the importance of baptism. That the Lord simply meant the natural birth. In response, Porter told him that according to the science of obstetrics, there was a such thing known as a dry birth, and in that case, he wonders where the child would go, not having been born of water. Hoyt Chastain said, in a debate at Malvern, Arkansas in 1953, on the question of the possibility of apostasy, that in order to prove that any child of God could ever go to hell, W. Curtis Porter must find an example of it. He insists that Porter must turn to the Bible and find where some man became a child of God, that he died in some kind of sin, and then went to hell. And that Porter must find an example to prove it; he couldn’t prove it otherwise. If God said that if people do such things, they go to hell, that was not enough for him. It would have to be proven by an EXAMPLE. And upon that basis, Porter said to Mr. Chastain, “Will you please prove to me an unbeliever will go to hell? WHERE IS YOUR EXAMPLE? Can you take the book of God and find some man who was an unbeliever who died in unbelief, and find where that man went to hell?” And so the matter of example returned upon Chastain with the same force with which he tried to place it upon Porter.

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 3, Number 1, January – March 2023)

During a discussion with a friend in Nigeria on whether Jesus was created or not, the argument was made from Colossians 1:15 that Jesus was the first creature. Then I asked, “Do you know that it is a sin to worship a creature?” She replied, “Well, I do not worship Jesus. Maybe you do, but I don’t. Because even Jesus the firstborn of every Creature himself worships God, the Creator.” Then I asked, “So it is a sin to worship Jesus?” And she said “It is a sin. That is what the Bible said.” I immediately pointed to passages where Jesus was worshipped in the Bible and asked if those who worshipped Him committed sin in those instances such as Hebrews 1:6; Matt 2:2; 8:2,9:18,14:33,15:25,28:9,17. Hebrews 1:6 states that all the angels worshipped Jesus and other passages show that other people worshipped Him and He accepted the worship. He did not refuse nor rebuke them like Peter refused to accept worship when Cornelius bow down to worship Him in Acts 10:25-26. The question was left unanswered!

G. E. Cobb, a Baptist preacher, met W. Curtis Porter in Wooster, Arkansas, in 1948. In discussing the building of the church, or the time of the church’s establishment, Cobb started out on his affirmation on Isaiah 28:16, in which the Lord said, “I will lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. ” He went then to Mark the first chapter, verses 14 through 18, where the Lord at the sea of Galilee called Peter, Andrew, James and John to become his followers, and said that is where the Lord’s church began and that is where it was set up.” Porter said, “Mr. Cobb, upon the basis of your argument you have the foundation laid in Zion, and the church built in Galilee. The church was not even built where the foundation was laid. The foundation laid in one place, and the church built in another.” Cobb came back to try to fix that thing up and he said, “the word Zion does not mean Jerusalem there. The word Zion means the church,” trying to get out of the idea that one was in Jerusalem and the other in Galilee, to try to get them together. So he said the word Zion does not refer to Jerusalem there, it refers to the church. Porter replied, God said through Isaiah, “I will lay the foundation in the CHURCH.” And so the church was not built on the foundation, the foundation was laid in the CHURCH.

Jacob Ditzler and J. S. Sweeney were having a debate on the scriptural action of baptism. Ditzler showed that a secondary meaning of the word “baptize” was “to wash or sprinkle” (according to the dictionary definition). In reply, Sweeney showed that a secondary meaning of “believe” was “to have an opinion” and a secondary meaning of “saved” was to be “pickled.” He gave the resulting translation of Mark 16:16: “He that hath an opinion and is sprinkled shall be pickled.” Sweeney then raised the question, “Is it our aim to see what we can make of the Scripture, or is it our aim to find out what God has said?” We must be careful lest we fall under such an indictment.

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 2, Number 4, October – December 2022)

During an exchange concerning whether or not Jesus was created, someone argued from Hebrews 1:5 that since Jesus is called the begotten son of the Father, then that means Jesus was created. He said the word “begotten” means “created” and that would prove Jesus was not in existence until He was begotten. Lesley responded by saying that the same passage states that none of the angels were ever said to be begotten. And if “begotten” means “created,” then angels were never created! This conclusion would be contradictory to Psams 148:5 which clearly teaches angels were created.

Someone argued from Colossians 1:15 that since Jesus is called the “the firstborn of every creature”, then that proves He was the first to be created. Lesley showed from Jeremiah 31:9 that God called Ephraim His “firstborn” even when he was actually the younger son (Genesis 48:14). Hence, “the firstborn of every creature” would not prove that Jesus was created. It refers to first in rank (not time) just like the term “firstlady” would imply.

Someone argued on Lesley’s YouTube channel that“Before man was made, Jesus did NOT EXIST.” Lesley replied that such a statement is very strange because the Bible tells us that Jesus existed and was “in the beginning with God” and that ALL THINGS were made by Jesus (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17). If Jesus did not exist BEFORE man was made, how could Jesus have made ALL THINGS? How can all things be made by Jesus if He did not exist BEFORE man was created?

Someone argued from Hebrews 1:2 and 2:9 that since Jesus was MADE better and lower (as per 2:9) than the angels, that would prove Jesus was created. He said the Greek word translated “made” means to assemble or create and that would prove Jesus was created. Lesley showed that the word “made” does not always suggest that one was created. For example, if someone made me the director of his company, he didn’t create me. I was existing before he made me his director. Whatever God made Jesus to be, that would NOT prove Jesus was created or that He wasn’t existing before He was made such.

In a debate with a Oneness Pentecostal on the baptismal formula, the argument is made that the word “name” in Matthew 28:19 is singular and since we are expected to baptize “in the NAME of” and not “in the NAMES of” the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, then there must be only one name. A counter argument was given that Isaiah 9:6 has the singular word “NAME” in there, yet, there is more than one name mentioned. Isaiah 9:6 – “And His NAME shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God…” Having the singular word “name” does not prove there must be only one name.

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 2, Number 3, July – September 2022

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 2, Number 2, April – June 2022

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 2, Number 1, January – March 2022

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 1, Number 3, October – December 2021)

W. C. Porter met Mr. F. S. Gipson in 1934 in a discussion on the establishment of the kingdom, or the church. Gipson contended that the kingdom, or church, was established during the personal ministry of Christ on earth while Porter contended that it was established on the first Pentecost after Christ arose; that it came with power, according to Mark 9:1 and in Luke 19 the Lord gave a parable in which He sent a nobleman into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return. Porter showed this nobleman went into a far country. He left one place and went into another place which is a far country and then returned (Luke 19:12). Porter asked, “Please tell us, what was the far countr y to which the nobleman went, who represented Jesus Christ?” Porter contended that He went to heaven, and did not receive the kingdom until He went to heaven, and He is coming back again. Jesus got the kingdom after He went away, and He got it before He is coming back. They are wrong in saying He established it before He left, and others are wrong in saying it will be established when He returns. The Lord said it was between the two. What was the far country? In response, Mr. Gipson said the far country was the earth. When the Lord left heaven and came to the earth, He came to the far country, got His kingdom and went back to heaven. Porter replied, “Now the record says that when he left the place to go to the far country, that he left citizens behind him. And those citizens hated him. People in heaven He left behind, hated Him after He left. When He received His kingdom and went back to heaven, the Lord said, ‘bring hither my enemies, and slay them before me.’ The Lord had enemies in heaven, and had them put to death when He got back from the earth, because the earth was the far country to which He went.” And that was how Mr. Gipson’s quibble backfired!

Paul K. Williams of the church of Christ met Ahmed Deedat, the Islamic orator in a public debate in 1983 at Cecil Payne Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa. Williams was affirming that “Jesus Christ Was Raised From the Dead” while Deedat was denying the proposition. Without paying any attention to the affirmative arguments of Williams but rather came up with something else, Deedat’s main argument was based on Matthew 12:40; the sign of Jonah. He said that just as Jonah was alive when he went into the whale, and was alive when he came out, so Jesus was alive when He went into the tomb and alive when He came out. In response, Williams said that when there is a comparison, it is wrong to use it in any way except as it was intended and told how Jesus said in John 3:14, “As Moses lied up the serpent in the wilderness, so shall the Son of Man be lied up.” Williams asked, “Was the serpent alive or dead when it was lifted up?” The point of comparison was very clearly that Jesus was going to be lied up. Nothing was said about “alive” or “dead.” Similarly, when He said that as Jonah was in the great fish three days and three nights, the point of comparison was the time Jesus would be in the tomb, not whether He would be alive or dead. Video of this debate is available here

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 1, Number 2, July – September 2021)

In 1961, Forrest D. Moyer (evangelist of the church of Christ in Sunnyvale, California) met R. Lawrence Crawford (a Missionary Baptist Preacher) in Napa, California in a debate. Concerning the establishment of the church, Crawford maintained that the church was established before Pentecost and that it consisted of “a called out body of believers” and that these believers had been cleansed – saved by the blood of Christ. Moyer showed that this would be a little difficult – for them to have been saved – cleansed by the blood of Christ – inasmuch as Christ had not died yet. Crawford would have people who are saved by the blood of Christ before Jesus ever died on the cross.

In the same debate, Crawford argued that the Lord had a “company” of scripturally baptized believers before Pentecost per Acts 1:21-22 — that this “company” comprised the church beginning from the baptism of John (John 1:35-38). He said these were the first members of the Lord’s congregation. Moyer showed that to this SAME “COMPANY” Jesus said: “I will build my church” (Matt. 16: 18) SIX MONTHS AFTER JOHN DIED.

In 1936, Curtis Porter met H. A. Thompson in Weatherford, Texas and they were discussing Rom. 6:3-4 about burying the man. Thompson claimed a man is raised in newness of life before he is buried in baptism. Porter claimed that we buried a dead, then he is raised to walk in newness of life. On the last night of the discussion, Thompson said, “Mr. Porter, if you bury a dead man, is it not true that you become a religious undertaker instead of a gospel preacher?” Porter said, “Maybe so. But if I bury a live man, then I would be a religious murderer. I think I had rather be a religious undertaker.”

Concerning Mark 13:34; “For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.” Crawford argued from this passage that (1) The Lord left his house when He went to heaven (2) What is his house? — church-1 Tim. 3:15 (3) Therefore the Lord had a house (church) to leave before Pentecost. Moyer asked the question: “Do you teach that Christ is now separated from the Baptist Church and will be until He comes again?” (Passage refers to the second coming). This put Crawford in an embarrassing position inasmuch as he had used Matt. 28:19-20 to refer to the church and there Jesus said he would never leave the church. Moyer thus showed that he could not use Matt. 28:19-20 to refer to the church because in Matt. 28 Jesus said he would never leave the church (per Crawford’s use of the passage), and yet he had Mark 13:34 referring to the church stating that Jesus left it and would not come to it (her) again until the second coming. Moyer showed that Mark 13:34 is teaching on watching and not on the church. Click here for the full review of the debate by K. A. Sterling.

Quibbles that Backfired (Volume 1, Number 1, April – June 2021)

Alexander Campbell was debating N.L. Rice in Lexington, Kentucky in 1843. During the Campbell–Rice debate, two women were talking. One said, “We can plainly see that Mr. Rice is the most learned of the two, look at the books he has on his table.” The other lady said, “They were all written by Alexander Campbell.” ¹

In 1916, a 19 year old boy, Curtis Porter debated a notable Baptist preacher, D.N. Jackson near Monette Arkansas. Concerning John 3:5, Mr. Jackson said, “There are only three things born of water: a frog, a mosquito and a Campbellite.” Porter said in response, “Mr. Jackson, it happens to be that I know that the very act which makes one a Baptist is immersion in water. That is the final thing that puts a man into a Baptist church. The Baptists therefore are born of water. You say there are only three things born of water: a frog, a mosquito and a Campbellite. I know you are not a Campbellite. I want to know which are you? A frog, or a mosquito?” ²

Robert Ingersol was debating a denominational preacher on the existence of God. Ingersol, an atheist, got up and read Acts 2:38, and said to the preacher, “Do you believe that baptism is for the remission of sins?” “No,” said the preacher! Ingersol said, “Why you don’t believe in the Bible anymore than I do! Why are we even debating the existence of God?”³

In the year 1919, W. Curtis Porter met Jim Cobbin, a member of the Baptist church near Formosa, Arkansas. It was a brief debate concerning the subject of baptism as a condition of salvation. During the course of this discussion, Cobbin mentioned that there are three church ordinances which he called baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and foot washing. He said, “Now, Porter would cut off one of the dog’s ears. He wants to do away with the foot washing.” Porter said in reply, “Well, all normal dogs I ever saw had just two ears. And I suppose if you had a dog with three ears one of them ought to be cut off, because he would be an abnormal dog.” ⁴

Brother J.M. Powell tells the story of John Gerrand who attended a Billy Graham crusade in Hamilton, New Zealand. Graham announced one night that his sermon topic would be on Repentance. Billy graham used as his proof text Acts 2:38. He repeated the first word, repent. John Gerrand who was within only a few feet of the speaker stood up and said, “Why don’t you read all the text Mr. Graham?” Graham apparently irritated said, “Why don’t you get out of here you old church of Christ man?” The man had never heard of the church of Christ but found a local congregation in the city and was taught all of Acts 2:38 and was baptized. Here was a man rebuked because he wanted all of the verse read and taught. If believing the Bible and wanting to hear all of the Bible taught makes one a member of the church of Christ, then all men need to become a part of Christ’s church!⁵

In his debate with W. Curtis Porter in 1934, F. S. Gibson (trying to downplay the necessity of water baptism), brought a bottle, took a dirty handkerchief and placed it in the bottle and he sealed it. He took a pan of water, and he dipped the bottle in the water, brought it up out, and the handkerchief was still dirty. He said, “You wash the outer man to cleanse the inner man, but it cannot be done. Dip it a hundred times if you want to, take it up, and the old handkerchief in the bottle is still dirty; the inner man is still unclean. You cannot do it by water.” In response, Porter said to Gibson, “Will you please put that bottle on the bench and pray for it?” ⁶

W. Curtis Porter met Ben M. Bogard in a debate in Hubbard, Oklahoma in 1940 (Bogard is one of the greatest Baptist debaters that ever lived). During the course of their debate Bogard made this quibble regarding baptism. In comparing it with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, he said, “Christ was the son of God before his burial. The Lord was not buried to make him a son of God. He was already a son of God before he was buried. Therefore we are sons of God before we are buried in baptism.” Porter responded, “Yes, Mr. Bogard, Christ was the Son of God before he was buried. But He was also the Son of God before he was crucified. Were you?” ⁷

Concerning the subject of apostasy, Baptist preachers hold the view that it is impossible for a child of God to fall from grace. They teach that once saved is always saved. In his debate with Ben Bogard and other Baptist preachers, Curtis Porter asked; “Is it possible for a child of God to get drunk and commit murder?” The response was that “God would not allow a child of God to die while he is drunk.” In reply, Porter said; “If you want to live forever, become a child of God, get drunk and stay drunk. If you will do that, even an atomic bomb could not kill you.”⁸


¹John Stacy (1986). Exhort Brother. Houston: Firm Foundation Publishing House. Pg.88
²W. Curtis Porter. Quibbles that Backfired. A Series of Three Sermons Delivered at the Florida College Lectures. Pg.2
³John Stacy (1986). Exhort Brother. Houston: Firm Foundation Publishing House. Pg.90
⁴W. Curtis Porter. Quibbles that Backfired. A Series of Three Sermons Delivered at the Florida College Lectures. Pg.18-19
⁵Gospel Advocate – Aug. 14, 1975
⁶W. Curtis Porter. Quibbles that Backfired. A Series of Three Sermons Delivered at the Florida College
Lectures. Pg.21
⁷W. Curtis Porter. Quibbles that Backfired. A Series of Three Sermons Delivered at the Florida College Lectures. Pg.5-6

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