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Exploring the Dangers of Wokeness

In this thought-provoking episode, we delve into the rising phenomenon of “being woke” and its implications for Christians. Join us as we navigate the intricate intersection of woke culture, cancel culture, justice, and righteousness, seeking to understand the potential dangers that arise from this clash.

TRANSCRIPT

Exploring The Dangers of Wokeness

  • [01:31] – So what’s the meaning, then, of the word “woke”?
  • [05:15] – And who is the only one whom true Christians, the people of God, should turn to on questions of righteousness and justice, brothers?
  • [07:00] – But what does God want to see in us, His followers?
  • [08:22] – “Well, what’s the difference? Awake to righteousness, be woke.”
  • [09:02] – And brothers, where can we find that righteousness of God that we should be awake to and therefore, always fulfill?
  • [12:33] – What would happen if there are those among our viewers or anyone for that matter who would not want to follow God’s righteousness here in the scriptures, but instead chose their own righteousness and decided based on the influencers around us in this world, rather than on God’s words here in the Holy Scriptures?
  • [14:59] – How did the apostles prove that they had a genuine conviction and a faith in following God’s ways, God’s righteousness?
  • [17:03] – Why is it so important to do what’s contained in God’s message?
  • [20:30] – Should we be surprised that they don’t conform with the teachings of the Bible based on the beliefs and truths recorded therein?

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Today’s Topic: Is Being “Woke” Biblical?

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Bob Pellien

Minister of the Gospel

San Francisco, California

Brother Bob Pellien: In this rapidly changing world with rapidly changing values, there are words that go in and out of fashion. One such word is the term “woke.” The term “woke” is at the center of many of the fiercest political and cultural debates in the past few years. But if we’re going to be “woke,” what should we be “woke” to? That’s the topic of our discussion today right here on the Iglesia Ni Cristo International Edition. And joining us today in this important discussion is Brother Eric Waterman in Quezon City, Philippines.

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Eric Waterman

Minister of the Gospel

Quezon City, Philippines

Brother Bob: Brother Andrew Fisher in Melbourne, Australia.

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Brother Andrew Fisher

Minister of the Gospel

Melbourne, Australia

Brother Bob: And Brother Neil Omelda there in the state of New York.

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Neil Omelda

Minister of the Gospel

New York, USA

Brother Bob: Brothers, thank you for joining in this important discussion. So, today, we’re talking about being “woke,” and it’s not the same definition of what happens when you wake up in the morning. If we would turn to, for example, dictionary.com for the modern day definition, we can find the following:

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“having or marked by an active awareness of systemic injustices and prejudices, especially those related to civil and human rights” and “aware of the facts, true situation, etc.”

[Source: Dictionary.com]

Brother Bob: So, what’s the meaning, then, of the word “woke”? Brothers, beyond that dictionary definition that we just read there, Brother Andrew, let’s start with you first. Let’s go to you.

Brother Andrew Fisher: Well, Brother Bob, we can find out more about the meaning of “woke” through this video, which gives us background on the etymology of the term, as well as some history of the word “woke.”

[Video starts – Source: metro.co.uk]

Host: To understand how this change happened, and why ‘woke’ holds so much power as a concept, we have to go back and look at the etymology, where the word comes from.

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The history of ‘Woke’

Natalie Morris: The term ‘woke’ and the phrase ‘stay woke’ originated in the 1940s and was first used by Black Americans to mean waking up to social injustice. To be ‘woke’ was to be aware. The terminology remained prevalent in Black American popular culture. It appeared in the headline of a 1962 New York Times article, ‘If You’re Woke You Dig It’ by William Melvin Kelley.

[Video ends]

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Today’s Topic: Is Being “Woke” Biblical?

Brother Bob:  So by the dictionary definition and also based on what we just heard there from the etymology that was discussed in the video, being “woke,” it sounds like that’s a good thing, right? But how have others described “wokeness,” Brother Neil?

Brother Neil Omelda: Well, Brother Bob, we can watch this other video as another viewpoint to consider.

[Video starts – Source: Sky News Australia]

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Cancel Culture & The Left’s Long March

Host: We’ve talked about “woke.” It seemed to have come from nowhere, but it absolutely dominates the conversation now. Where does Australia sit in relation to the “woke” movement around the world? Are we as bad as other jurisdictions or are we an epicenter here in Victoria?

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Dr. Kevin Donnelly

ACU Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Kevin Donnelly: Well, unfortunately, we are as bad as everywhere else. I mean it’s a contagion. I wrote an article last year comparing “wokeness” or political correctness to COVID or as I call it the “woo flu.” It’s just as bad. It’s an infection, which is taking over mainly western nations – England, America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. What we used to call the anglosphere before it became politically incorrect, but Melbourne in particular…

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Donnelly’s New Book on Cancel Culture

Dr. Kevin: If you look at Australia, Melbourne is the epicenter. So it’s been there since Joan Kerner was Premier and education minister, and in fact she wrote an article when she was education minister about using education to overthrow capitalism, to overthrow the status quo. It’s this cultural lift, neo-marxist long march, so it’s been there for some years and it’s very destructive.

[Video ends]

Brother Neil: We can see, brothers, that there are those who refer to “wokeness” as equivalent to political correctness and a contagion and very destructive. It is related to the trend called “cancel culture,” trying to drown out all debate on issues and is contrary to free speech. People trying to prevent others from expressing a viewpoint different than theirs.

Brother Bob: Right, right, and brothers, let’s take a look at yet one more video on one additional danger of this “woke,” “cancel culture,” trend. Take a look.

[Video starts]

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Cancel Culture & The Left’s Long March

Dr. Kevin: Another chapter about religion, freedom of religion, you only need to look at what happened to Margaret Court, Israel Folau, to know that Christianity is being banished from the public square and that’s a great threat to Australia because it underpins so much of our political and our legal systems.

[Video ends]

Brother Eric Waterman: As we can see, Brother Bob, “cancel culture” is attempting to cancel freedom of religion and Christianity. It’s important for our viewers today to be fully aware of this trend, so that they can make informed decisions on which side to take on this issue.

Brother Bob: Absolutely! And who is the only one whom true Christians, the people of God, should turn to on questions of righteousness and justice, brothers?

Brother Andrew: If I can read the answer from the Bible, Brother Bob, here in Deuteronomy, chapter 32 and the verses are 3 up to 4, it says this:

For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

[Deuteronomy 32:3-4 New King James Version]

Brother Andrew: You know when it comes to knowing what is truly right from wrong, when it comes to knowing how to uphold true justice, we can’t just turn to any philosopher or any politician. We must turn to our Lord God.

Brother Eric: People often turn to their favorite celebrities and consider their opinion on their issues. Many, especially among the youth nowadays, turn to social media and influencers, whether they’re on Youtube or Tiktok or other social networks or the current fad. Whatever might be popular at the moment, being judged by the number of followers or subscribers they might have.

Brother Bob: That’s also true, Brother Eric, but you know, brothers, the question remains. You know, for us members of the Church Of Christ, whose side do we take? Whose side should we be on, Brother Eric?

Brother Eric: So, Brother Bob, it should be God. God is the only authority we should consult to know what is truly righteous.

Brother Bob: But what does God want to see in us, His followers? Especially now, you know, when the day of judgment is so near and things are getting quite chaotic around us in this world. Brother Neil, what’s God looking for from His true followers?

Brother Neil: We can read what our Almighty God said through His apostles, recorded here in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 34. And we’ll be reading it from two different translations. Let’s begin with the New King James Version:

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

[1 Corinthians 15:34 New King James Version]

Brother Neil: Now if we read it in another translation, the same verse, Worldwide English New Testament, please listen:

Wake Up! Do what is right. Stop doing wrong things. Some of you do not know God at all. I say these things to you to make you ashamed.

[1 Corinthians 15:34 Worldwide English New Testament]

Brother Neil: Therefore, our dear viewers, dear brothers, in the verses that we have read, the apostles thought that our Almighty God wants His people to be awake to righteousness. And we can read from the Bible the term “wake up.” However, it does not say that we should be “woke.” There’s a big difference.

Brother Bob: Yes, but Brother Neil, brothers, many of our viewers may want to ask, “Well, what’s the difference? Awake to righteousness, be woke.” Maybe they wouldn’t see a big difference between those two.

Brother Neil: Well, what is one difference between being awake to righteousness and being “woke” is that those who claim to be “woke” base their sense of righteousness or justice on their own opinion or the standard of someone, who is the current influencer.

Brother Andrew: You’re absolutely right, Brother Neil. The problem is because they’re based on human standards, those standards are constantly changing. On the other hand when it comes to our Lord God, He does not change. His righteousness is always perfect because well, God is perfect.

Brother Bob: And brothers, where can we find that righteousness of God that we should be awake to and therefore, always fulfill? Where is that?

Brother Eric: Brother Bob, we can find the righteousness of God in the gospel or the Holy Bible, as what is recorded here in Romans 1:16-17. This is recorded:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

[Romans 1:16-17 New King James Version]

Brother Eric: Why is it vital that our beliefs about right and wrong or our values in life or the actions be based on the Bible? Because according to the Apostle Paul, the gospel or God’s written word in the Bible, is God’s power to salvation for those who have faith in it and live by it.

Brother Andrew: And you know, true Christians just  like Apostle Paul, they prove that they have faith in that righteousness of God not by merely believing in it, but by not having a righteousness of their own. Just like what Apostle Paul taught here in the book of Philippians chapter 3 and the verse is 9:

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

[Philippians 3:9 New King James Version]

Brother Andrew: The Apostle Paul, he taught that he did not have his own righteousness, but rather he followed the righteousness of our Lord God that he received through his faith. You know, that should be also the standard that we live by when it comes to what is right and when it comes to what is wrong for us members of the Church Of Christ. It can’t be based on our own personal opinions, or any ideas that may be heard from other people. No matter how powerful or well-educated or popular they may be.

Brother Neil: That’s right, Brother Andrew. That’s why we would like to emphasize to our listeners, to our dear friends, that the way we teach and we study the Bible inside the Church Of Christ, is that we ask the Bible questions. And then the Bible gives us the answer. That’s how we are assured that we are not following human opinions. God’s righteousness based on His words in the Holy Bible.

Brother Bob: But you know, brothers, what would happen if there are those maybe viewing our program today, who, well, they don’t want to follow God’s righteousness contained here in the scriptures, but rather they would want to insist on being “woke” to what trends and influencers, maybe online or whatever, are putting forth? What if they would choose the trends of the time instead of what is from God? We’ll answer this and more as the Iglesia Ni Cristo International Edition continues. Stay with us.

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INC International Edition

Brother Bob: Welcome back, everyone, to the Iglesia Ni Cristo International Edition. Before we had our break, we left off with the question, well, what would happen if there are those among our viewers or anyone for that matter who would not want to follow God’s righteousness here in the scriptures, but instead chose their own righteousness and decided based on the influencers around us in this world, rather than on God’s words here in the Holy Scriptures? Brothers, what would happen to them?

Brother Eric: Well, Brother Bob, very good question. Let the Bible, once again, give us the answer as what it recorded here in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. This is what we can read:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, not revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

[1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New King James Version]

Brother Eric: So the Apostle Paul describes the unrighteous acts that disqualify people who commit them from inheriting or going into the heavenly kingdom of God. Let’s take note that sometimes there are those that have even been prosecuted for hate speech just because they read the verses that we just read to you. But those are the things that should not be done by a true Christian. True Christians do not conform to nor give our support to people who do those things. This is also one of the reasons why we as members of the Church Of Christ never stop inviting our friends and family, so that they could understand and that our viewers could join us inside the true Church Of Christ.

Brother Andrew: That’s right, Brother Eric. And there’s also something else that we should consider because, you know, these people who say that they are “woke,” you know, in their opinion they are aware and on the side of justice and righteousness. However, the beliefs that they proclaim as well as the actions that they support are what the Bible calls unrighteous, and actually disqualifies people from inheriting the kingdom of heaven.

Brother Bob: And brothers, how did the apostles prove that they had a genuine conviction and a faith in following God’s ways, God’s righteousness? Surely they didn’t just say it. What did they do?

Brother Neil: Well, we can read in the Bible how they were not afraid even of opposing government officials or laws which prohibited them from proclaiming the truth, as we can read that in Acts chapter 5, verses 40 to 42:

And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

[Acts 5:40-42 New King James Version]

Brother Neil: Therefore, dear friends and beloved brothers, the Bible records that in the temple and from house to house, the apostles did not cease, they didn’t stop, proclaiming God’s message about our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior, even though that was not the prevailing or popular belief at that time. And doing so brought them much persecution from others.

Brother Eric: Brothers, let’s take note from a regional standpoint, they were looked down on as Gallileans. They were fishermen who were also looked down upon as ordinary men, or of men of no education. When the apostles were mistreated or even punished unfairly, unjustly for their beliefs, they did not stir up any violent protest or seek to change the government, basing their grievance on their personal quality or opinion. Instead, what they continued focusing on is the greatest good to do for mankind, which was to continue to teach and preach the good news, the Gospel, to all men.

Brother Bob: Why did they do that? Why is it so important to do what’s contained in God’s message – brothers, His message about Christ or the Gospel taught by the apostles – what’s there that makes it so important that they sacrificed everything to embrace that instead of the mindset of the times?

Brother Andrew: Well, Brother Bob, Apostle Paul answers that in the book of Galatians chapter 3, in verses 27 up to verse 29, this is what he said:

You were baptized into union with Christ, and now you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are the descendants of Abraham and will receive what God has promised.

[Galatians 3:27-29 Good News Bible]

Brother Andrew: You know, dear friends, the Apostle Paul taught about the importance of being baptized into union with Christ. You know, we’ve studied in the past those who are in union with Christ, they are parts or members of His body or His Church, as is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:27, in Colossians 1:18, and then Acts 20:28, that one Church, which is the body of Christ, is indeed the Church Of Christ.

Brother Eric: That’s why, dear friends, only inside the Church Of Christ can be found the solution to the greatest problems that all people face – death and judgment that God has appointed for all mankind. That’s also the greatest good that Church Of Christ members can do for people of any race, ethnicity, economic class or social status, or even gender. The greatest good is to bring them into the true Church Of Christ.

Brother Neil: That’s very true, brother. And according to Apostle Paul, once a person becomes a member of our Lord Jesus Christ’s body or is baptized into union with Christ, he or she has a spiritual duty to be clothed with the life of Christ. As the Christians in the first century were taught that there should be no discrimination between Jews and Gentiles, in the same way there should be no racial discrimination, as well as no mistreatment based on gender, whether male or female, among the members of the Church Of Christ today. Instead, all should be one in following our Lord Jesus Christ’s example of complete obedience to all of God’s will. What is the great blessing of always following the teachings of God written in the Bible? The faithful followers will inherit the salvation that our Almighty God has promised His children.

Brother Bob: The views and opinions of those who call themselves “woke,” have slowly spread through popular culture, mass media and in some countries, even through schools and even government programs. Here’s a question though, brothers, should we be surprised? Should we find it surprising if in fact, the ideas that are popular today or the so-called intellectual trends, should we be surprised that they don’t conform with the teachings of the Bible based on the beliefs and truths recorded therein?

Brother Andrew: You know, Brother Bob, we really shouldn’t be surprised at all because our Almighty God prophesied these things through the Apostle Paul. And we can read them in the book of 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 1 up to 5:

But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce. And difficult for the people of God. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly. They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right. With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit. They will find their delight in the pleasures of this world more than the pleasures of the loving God. They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these!

[2 Timothy 3:1-5 The Passion Translation]

Brother Andrew: You know, dear friends, the Apostle Paul taught in these verses that in the final days, the culture of society will become extremely fierce. And isn’t this exactly what we can see today in many who are obsessed especially with social media? There are those who are turning to social media groups and posting anonymously as they mock all that is right, or the teachings of our Lord God written in the Bible. And what makes it even worse is they look for others to agree with them, thinking that the confirmation of other anonymous posters on social media will justify the wrong beliefs that they have.

Brother Neil: You know what’s sad, brothers, is that some have become addicted  to what Apostle Paul described as hateful and malicious slander. Now, dear friends, even if such people pretend to have respect for our Almighty God, what did Apostle Paul tell the early Christians to do about those who really want nothing to do with God’s power or His righteousness? Apostle Paul said earlier, “Stay away from people like these!” We can hear the same reminder from the Church Administration today that we stay away from such people, whether face to face or online, who promote the love of pleasure rather than the love of God. This is one way the Church Administration shows their love for us.

Brother Bob: This was the fervent desire of the apostles back then and that’s all the Church Of Christ members under their care that they wanted to make sure that they would make it into the kingdom of heaven. And that’s the same loving care that’s felt by members of the Church Of Christ today under the leadership of the current Church Administration.

Brother Eric: Brother Bob and dear friends, as this world moves swiftly toward its end on judgment day, we should always keep in mind the signs of our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles that they gave in the first century of nearing the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. That sign was not only physical dangers of war, but also poverty, disease, and calamities. These are also many deceivers who would try to convince people to follow their own human opinions or traditions that will not save them.

Brother Bob: Exactly. Dear friends, let’s meet some individuals who became awake to God’s righteousness after being introduced to the true Church Of Christ. These are their stories.

[Video starts]

Tawanda Cochrane: If I didn’t have the Church, I would probably be in a deep depression… in probably a bad relationship that I didn’t need to be in.

Isaias Lujano: I was always worried. I was stressed. I could barely sleep. I don’t know where my food was going to come from. I don’t know how I was going to feed my family. I don’t know if I was going to have a future.

Tawanda: I probably wouldn’t be as of a good mother to my son. I probably wouldn’t listen or understand how he’s feeling or what he’s going through.

Zsolti Horvath: I feel like before I joined the Church, my life was going in circles. It was like I was going one step forward, and then three steps backwards. I was never getting ahead.

Marda Debnam: I try not to think about what my life would be like outside of the Church Of Christ. I joined the Church when I was 20 years old, which is a very fragile age, especially when you’re in college and there’s so much going on.

Zsolti: Once I joined the Church, and I was baptized, and I dedicated myself to my offices and to God Himself, I feel like my life did a complete 180 [degrees].

Tawanda: It put me on the right path. I’m not so anxious. I’m not so stressed about the worldly things anymore like I used to be. I know as long as I have faith in God and pray to Him and let Him know my concerns, I can let it go. He’s going to take care of me.

Isaias: I can pray to God. He can help me with my problems and issues. I can tell Him about my worries.

Jennie Guerrero: Even living with anxiety I still know and feel that God is with me. I feel that Christ is with me, that I can pray to Them when I’m having troubles.

Charles Louinel: I was looking for a place where I felt like family, a place where I could feel God’s presence. Then I found the Church Of Christ and it’s the most important thing in my life.

Marda: The Church Of Christ has impacted my life in so many ways. But I guess the best impact, or the greatest impact, has just been knowing that I have the right to receive salvation, that I am a member of the true Church.

[Video ends]

Brother Bob: Dear friends, it’s not only for them, it’s for you too. Well, we hope today’s discussion is the first of many that we hope to have with you. We know you may have lots more questions about our discussion today or any other topics, and we would love to sit down with you in a Bible study setting. So email us at info@incmedia.org and a minister of the Gospel will reach out to you and set up a time that works best for you. Well, that does it for us here on the Iglesia Ni Cristo International Edition. We hope that you’ll join us again next time. We’d like to thank Brother Eric Waterman there in Quezon City. We’d like to thank Brother Andrew Fisher in Australia, as well as Brother Neil Omelda there in New York. Brothers, we’d like to thank you for giving to us Bible-based answers, so that as the Apostle Peter said to the members of the Church, “You will be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are.” That’s 1 Peter 3:15. I’m Bob Pellien. Thanks for watching. As we come to the end of our program for today, we invite you to join us for a short closing prayer.

Brother Eric: Our dear and almighty and merciful God in heaven, once again we thank You from the bottom of our heart that we could share Your message of good news to the people that are in our lives, so that they could come to the knowledge of the truth and to join us in Your dear and holy true Church. Please open up the eyes of their understanding, touch their heart and their minds, dear Father. So that they would not be infected or affected, dear Father, by the ways of this world and that they would follow Your truth, so as to be saved on the day of judgment. There are so many in sorrows, dear Father. So many in problems and poverty. So many in violent and terror times, dear Father. Protect and guide them, dear Father, so that they would receive Your comfort and the guidance that would lead them to You and the promise of salvation. Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, please continue to intercede our prayer unto the Father. You are the throne of grace, please guide us in the righteous way to serve You and the Father, so in Your second coming, we will enter through that narrow gate and enter into the kingdom of everlasting life. Father in heaven, bless the entirety of the Church Of Christ as she once again celebrates her anniversary, dear Father. May we all give glory and honor to Your highest name. May we ask, Father, for additional blessing upon our Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo as he continues to lead and guide us, so that we might reach perfection in our faith. Bless and guide him with wisdom and knowledge and guide us with the unity of our faith until the end of our borrowed life. Forgive us of our sin and touch all of our viewers today to strengthen them and to guide them, so that they would be saved come the day of judgment. Forgive us of our sin and increase our faith for these we pray in the name of our Lord and Redeemer, Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Exploring the Dangers of Wokeness