The Eternal God is Adaptable

Is God adaptable?

In a sermon Stephan Joubert delivered on 10th July 2022 he said this in his introduction.

Is God adaptable? We [need to] remind one another, from Hebrews 13:8, that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” He always remains faithful to himself. But does it mean He is static? Does it mean that He, Jesus Christ, God, and the Spirit are prisoners of their plans?

Does it mean God makes plans and then He becomes the victim of them? Then He must look now, together with us, at all his plans He had made sometime in the eternities and conclude that our prayers mean nothing. Has God made all his plans in advance and can then do nothing to change them? These are the kind of questions that confront us when we fail to think of God biblically, God who is greater than his plans.

OK, let us think of God biblically, as Joubert advised us to do. If God alone is good (Mark 10:18) it logically follows that all his plans are good and for the good of mankind. If everything is good about God, including his plans, why would He want to change his plans in order not to be a victim or a prisoner of those plans?

Why would He set aside his good: – yeah, his best plans just for the sake of change and the possibility to escape being dubbed a static God who is a prisoner of his own plans? There are no degrees of comparison from good, better to best in God’s vocabulary. Everything God presents to mankind is already his best. Whatever is seen as less than his best is his reaction to man’s rebellion and waywardness, and surely not his will. (Ezekiel 33:11).

Moreover, why would God wish to change all his good plans when they are all for the benefit and the advantage of humankind? Surely, all his good plans should remain unchanged for all eternity, purely because He alone has good things in mind for all humankind. (2 Peter 3:9).

Does God have any bad plans which He contritely repents of because they are not good for humankind? The only plan that awaits bad things for rejectors of God and his free offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ is the Lake of Fire.

However, was it God’s plan to cast unrepentant sinners into hell? The Gospel according to Matthew firmly says that the Lake of Fire was prepared for the devil and his angels and not human beings (Matthew 25:41). However, God in his goodness and kindness never forces anyone to go against their own free will and allows them to choose between Him and Satan. (Joshua 24:15).

What then of these two choices, heaven or hell, does Stephan Joubert want to change with his prayers? Heaven is an unchangeable reality and so is hell. Joubert has no hope of ever changing either one of these realities with his prayers. It proves that Stephan Joubert hardly ever thinks of God biblically.

The most disturbing fact about Joubert’s introduction to his sermon is that he uses words that are applicable to creatures only and then glibly appropriates them to the Creator — words like “victim,” “static,” and “prisoner.” Yes, it is true that God oftentimes changed his mind.

However, a quick glance at biblical history shows that his “adaptability” had always been related to his compassion for and spiritual well-being of mankind, and especially his unchallengeable promises. God’s adaptability, if you like, is never an escape route to circumvent or to avoid stativity or inertness. None of these things are applicable to God.

Two examples would be enough to explain God’s adaptability.

Whilst Moses was on Mount Horeb to receive God’s commandments the Israelites convinced Aaron to make them a golden calf, “and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” This is how God responded and how Moses convinced God to change his mind.

Exo 32:7-13 
(7)  And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 

(8)  They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 

(9)  And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 

(10)  Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will  make of thee a great nation. 

(11)  And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which  thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? 

(12)  Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 

(13)  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 

God effectively told Moses to stand aside as Israel’s arbitrator, to get out of His way so that He could destroy Israel and, in their stead, make a great nation out of Moses.

Moses, the humblest man on earth, immediately beseeched God to desist from his plan (as Joubert would call it) on the ground of two very important issues.

The one relates to God’s holy Name and the other to his immutable promises to Israel. What would the Egyptians have said if they had heard that God destroyed his people whom He had mightily brought out of Egypt?

They would probably have said, “For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?” Moses contended with God for his holy Name’s sake.

His Name would have been in jeopardy if He’d proceeded to destroy Israel from the face of the earth.

Secondly, Moses reminded God of his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob “thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.” 

May I remind our friend, Stephan Joubert, that the word “‛ôlâm ‛ôlâm (eternity; without end; always) cannot possibly accommodate his assertion that “God is adaptable.”

Yes, of course, Moses managed to influence God in changing his mind, but his promises, as Moses called to his attention, could never be changed. If they had been malleable Moses could never have reminded God of his eternally irrevocable promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob regarding their land.

Nonetheless, Stephan Joubert seems to have no respect for God’s unchangeable promises for he casually outdoes the Egyptians’ accusation “For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?” and believes that God actually has destroyed Israel, as he has stated again and again that the twelve tribes of Israel no longer exist.

With such an ungodly statement, it is inevitable to suggest that God is not static, that He is not a victim or a prisoner of his plans, and that our prayers can overturn God’s plans. Indeed, our prayers can change God’s mind, but only when we pray according to his will and his immutable promises, like the one Moses prayed.

The next example relates to God’s compassionate longsuffering to withhold and postpone his righteous judgments for the sake of saving the lost. We learn from 2 Peter 3:15 that the Lord’s longsuffering (patience) is salvation. Because He loves all mankind and has no pleasure in the death (second death) of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:24; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9),

He grants them ample time to repent and be saved, not only to Israel but also to the Gentiles, as the events in the book of Jonah illustrate in the great city, of Nineveh. Jonah is well-known or should be, among Christians who study their bibles with zeal.

In stark contrast to God’s long sufferable compassion, Jonah, a Hebrew, had very little if no compassion for the Assyrians who had been Israel’s taskmasters in the past and had a sickening bent for cruelty.

Nineveh was the capital of one of the cruelest, vilest, most powerful, and most idolatrous empires in the world. King Ashurnarsirpal I (883-859) boasted,

“I stormed the mountain peaks and took them. In the midst of the mighty mountain, I slaughtered them; with their blood, I dyed the mountain red with their blood. I dyed the mountain red like wool. . . . The heads of their warriors I cut off, and I formed them into a pillar over against their city; their young men and their maidens I burned in the fire.[1]

Now, why would a Hebrew whose own people were slaughtered in these horrible ways have any compassion or desire for the Assyrians in Nineveh to be saved?

It was this, his reluctance to be an instrument of God’s graciousness, his mercy and lovingkindness, his lingering wrath and anger, his great kindness, and his willingness to repent of his plans to destroy the wicked, that urged him to flee from God into Tarshish. It was not because he thought God could or would adapt him to the circumstances, and the whims and woes of the Ninevites.  

Before continuing, it would be good to research the meaning of the word “adaptable.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines adaptability as being able or willing to change in order to suit different conditions. Some of the synonyms thereof are “acclimatize,” “change with/keep up with/move with the times,” and “acculturate” (to acculturate to different cultures).

From this, it is clear that the conditions or situations at hand control the way you adapt. It directs your thoughts and actions. An example would be the following,

“What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don’t change, you die. It’s that simple. It’s that scary.” ― Leonard Sweet

As you may have noticed, Leonard Sweet prefers to use a secular instead of a godly definition of death. The latter definition applies to two kinds of death, a physical and the so-called second death in hell (Revelation 20:14).

Stephan Joubert probably had his emergent friend in mind when he reiterated that God is not static (unchangeable). Death would have been too strong a word for him to use and instead he used the word “static.”

“The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create.” ― Leonard I. Sweet

The final paragraph of the 1933 Humanist Manifesto I declares,

Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind. Man is at last becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams, that he has within himself the power for its achievement. He must set intelligence and will to the task.

I do not know whether Joubert agrees with his emergent buddy, Leonard Sweet, that we have the power to create the future. Nonetheless, if Joubert is in cahoots with Sweet, as he has indeed been for many years, then he would probably wholeheartedly agree with him.

Why shouldn’t he when Joubert spurns biblical propositions, and long-term prophecies, and has exchanged these vitally important biblical truths with his imagination and his dreams, assuming that Leonard Sweet and Stephan Joubert can create the future?

How does God’s adaptability fit in with their creative powers? Is He able to change their future plans or is He obliged to adapt Himself to their whims simply because He is the essence of love and would not dare to hurt their feelings about the future? This immediate future, according to God’s Word is not a kind of Disney World roller coaster ride of fun and frolics. Listen to this and tremble.

While they are saying, “Peace and safety [all is well and secure!]” then [in a moment unforeseen] destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains on a woman with child, and they will absolutely not escape [for there will be no way to escape the judgment of the Lord]. (1 Thessalonians 5:3, AMP).

The righteous judgments of the Lord are hardly or ever mentioned in all of the contemplative mystic fraternity’s vocabulary. They prefer to refer to the future as a preferable future, one that they presume would come to pass.

Could it be that Stephan Joubert’s silence on God’s righteous judgments in his sermon was the impetus that inspired him to say so much and yet so little about God’s adaptability?

I have come to know Stephan Joubert as a preacher who candidly preaches certain biblical truths but fails dismally to practice what he preaches. His abovementioned introduction to his sermon “The Eternal God is Adaptable” on 10th July 2022 is ample proof of his usual erratic emergent egg dance.

He often uses the word “biblically” to assume the position and mindfulness of a fundamentalist but ever so gently sails into a labyrinth of contradictions that only tend to breed confusion.

It comes as no surprise because he is merely following in the footsteps of his emergent brethren who have chosen to walk in the path Satan paved for them when he asked, “Hath God said?” implying that “God hath not said.” As you may have noticed Satan’s question, “Yea, hath God said?” sounds a lot like Joubert’s “Is God adaptable?”

Adapt or die

“Adapt or die” is a well-known adage in business circles. Failure to adapt to changing trends and environments, as well as consumer demands is the death knell of any business.

Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the Gospel of God, worldly solutions for the assumed “death knell” of Christianity have become the saviour of God’s gospel and a guide on how to follow Jesus. To illustrate I would like to quote something from Stephan Joubert’s theological study, “‘Flowing’ under the radar in a multifaceted liquid reality: The ekerk narrative” posted on AOSIS on 24 July 2018.

“We live in a liquid new world driven by incessant change. Our reality is constantly shaped by new forms of non-linear individualism, which is expressed in countless factions, networks, tribes and alliances. Social systems do not maintain their shape for very long, because they decompose and melt faster than the time it takes to cast them, according to the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. Religious institutions that do not come to terms with these rapid rates of change soon find themselves trapped in a so-called parallel universe, with hardly any influence on society.”

“. . . change is the only permanence, and uncertainty the only certainty. The collapse of long-term thinking, planning and acting, coupled with the weakening of the social structures where such activities took place previously, also creates new forms of non-linear individualism.”

“Globally, non-linears and others are fast giving up on formal religious institutions with their solidified structures, set dogmas and fixed rituals, as well as on other previously trusted institutions such as the state, ethnic groups, nuclear family and so on.”

In a nutshell, the ebb and flow of a world gone mad where . . . “the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. [and] There is no peace, . . . to the wicked” (Isa 57:20-21), has now become the manual for change in Christianity.

It is at best akin to eating a bad apple infested with maggots, and at worst nothing else than tickling of itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3). Yet, Stephan Joubert has the audacity to write, “Religious institutions that do not come to terms with these rapid rates of change soon find themselves trapped in a so-called parallel universe, with hardly any influence on society.”

Of which religious institutions is he speaking? Is he referring to the countless mega-churches with thousands upon thousands of members and followers? Or perhaps he is referring to the three “susterskerke” (“sister churches”), the Dutch Reformed, the Reformed, and the “Hervormde” churches.

Has he personally visited each one of these churches to determine first-hand what kind of influence they have on society? Has he measured his own influence on society and pharisaically determined who is the better of the two – Stephan Joubert, his ekerk or all the other churches?

Anyway, Stephan Joubert, seems to have no influence on society in the light of him speaking in derogatory terms of “set dogmas” as we shall see from the next section of this critique. For him, the whole truth the Holy Spirit was sent to guide believers into (John 16:13) is not a set of doctrines or dogmas, but a lifestyle of good deeds.[2]

The irony of him quoting only the first part of the verse which Joubert numbers 13a, and wilfully omitting the last part, “for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come,” is symptomatic of his aversion to long-term prophecies.

In his estimate, a prophecy must be fulfilled within the lifespan of a generation, which is about 30 years. Any prophecy taking longer than this to come to fruition, he says, is divination.

Propositions versus Prepositions

Joubert asked “Has God made all his plans in advance and then can do nothing to change them? These are the kind of questions that confront us when we fail to think of God biblically, God who is greater than his plans.”

It is impossible to think about God biblically, let alone savour a salvific relationship with Him, when you shun biblical propositions. Propositional absolutes such as right and wrong, truth and lies, and biblical doctrines as opposed to other religions’ doctrines have become taboo in the emerging New World Order.

The mantra, “Everything must change. Tolerance is the alpha and omega of a new world order”[3] has so deeply infiltrated the emergent church, not only regarding other religions such as Buddhism, Judaism, and even Atheism that allegedly also have truths (aka Stephan Joubert) but even to the extent that God Himself is changeable.

Stephan Joubert would probably disagree with the latter part of this statement by saying “God is greater than his plans which are changeable,” meaning, of course, that God remains unflinchingly the same whilst his plans do often change.

Nonetheless, God, Himself affirms that He has magnified his word (which includes his plans) above his Name. (Psalm 138:2).

Yet, for that very reason the invocation of his Name on the last day of judgment will have no pacifying effect on God when apostates call out, “have we not . . . in thy name done many wonderful works?” and His devastating answer reverberates in their ears, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Both Leonard Sweet and Stephan Joubert have a typical emergent distaste for biblical propositions and have said so on numerous occasions. Propositional revelation simply means that God has revealed Himself to humanity in a number of truth statements.

Most of these propositional revelations have to do with questions regarding “who,” “how” and “what.” Who and what is God like?” “Why and how did/does He reveal Himself to mankind?” “How can one learn to know Him?”

None of these questions could or would have been comprehensible without God’s own unique and eternally spoken and written propositional revelations, as it is penned down in his eternal Word, the Bible.

Even so, Stephan Joubert had the audacity to decry the eternal veracity of propositional biblical truths when he said that only the wise and not fools are able to see where God is and where He is going, simply because these truths are not found in propositions.

It is a way of life. (a way of life in good works). Consequently, experiential knowledge and not divine propositional revelations verify the truth.[4]

Leonard Sweet awards the notion that proportional truth “is a way of life” a brand-new emergent slant when he asserts that the “lifeblood of evangelism is not propositions, but prepositions.”[5]

In English semantics, the word “preposition” is a relational word, in the sense that it tells us where or when something stands in relation to something else. Situations such as danger lurking behind you, would have been completely inescapable without the warning “behind you” if you asked, “where?”

The “behind you” warning stands in a benevolent and caring relationship with the question “where?”  There are supposedly at least 49 prepositions that we are told we should know, among them “above,” “about,” “across,” “after,” “against,” “because of,” “before,” “behind,” “below,” “beneath,” “considering,” “close to,” “upon,” “without,” “within,” and “with,” to name but a few.

The question we need to ask is why Leonard Sweet prefers a law of semantics to describe relationships, not only between words and sentences but also between human beings of different religious persuasions instead of propositional truths in the Bible that provide the only means to live in a right relationship with one another and with God?

God never made plans. He made promises. One makes plans for things like a holiday trip or the building of a new home. Promises, and especially those of God, cannot and will never be broken, revoked, or withdrawn.

They are eternally steadfast and trustworthy as is Christ Himself seated at the right hand of his Father. His promises are all yeah and amen in his Son Jesus Christ and cannot be changed, altered, modified, or rescinded. (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Stephan Joubert persistently advises the followers of his ekerk sermons not to randomly read certain verses and passages in Scripture but to read entire books, chapters, and verses, right through.

At face value, this is very good advice. However, Joubert never pays attention to his own advice. He not only consistently decontextualizes verses and passages in Scripture but also misinterprets them to his heart’s content, or shall we rather say, to his Leonard Sweetly emergent frame of mind filled to the brim with new holy imaginative ideas (everything is holy, nothing is unholy).

Is God really adaptable?

Apart from the fact that the word “adaptable” never once appears in Scripture, the book of Psalms consistently describes God as compassionate, gracious, merciful, righteous in all his ways, and slow to anger. (78:38; 86:15; 11:4; 112:4; 145:8).

It is very dangerous to attribute to God characteristics that are not revealed in Scripture. Conversely, experience and not the propositional truth of the Bible has become the emergent spiritual compass and not the Holy Spirit.

Instead, they are being guided by their own imaginations — an imaginative tour de force ending in destruction (Proverbs 14:12), even to the extent that God’s decree in Genesis 2:17, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” has very subtly been adapted to accommodate Satan’s lie “Ye shall not surely die.”

Bear this in mind when we later scrutinize Joubert’s imaginative exposition of Genesis 2:17 under the white-hot light of God’s Word.

Although Joubert admits that God remains the same yesterday, today, and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8), he asserts that his essential being, which is love, determines his plans. He claims that if God had not been adaptable, He would have been a prisoner of his own plans. His effort to substantiate his rather rickety claim leads him headlong into a miry ditch of lies that ring true to the serpent’s lie in the Garden of Eden that “You certainly will not die!”

“You certainly will not die!”

John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of all lies. It obviously means that anything said or written that is not in complete sync with God’s immutable truth comes from the mouth of the father of all lies, Satan in person.

God who cannot lie said, “. . . of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” while Satan who was a liar from the beginning said, “Ye shall not surely die,” and Stephan Joubert says, “they did not die because God changed his plan.” To whom is Joubert in sync — God or Satan?

Stephan Joubert very cleverly and subtly avoided God’s real plan on how to save, not only Adam and Eve but all mankind who hitherto would be damned for all eternity unless they repent. Physical death became an inevitability when Adam and Eve sinned.

It was not, as Joubert says, a change of plan on God’s part. God never told them when they would die physically, and He never explained to them that their physical death would lead to the second death in the Lake of Fire if they failed to repent.

Obedience to God did not require an in-depth knowledge of why He commanded them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A “do not” was enough to prove and confirm their obedience to Him.

Like Joubert, Satan deliberately sidestepped the real issue of God’s command and emphasized the physical aspect of death, and deliberately left out the spiritual aspect of death.

This is not a slight and pardonable little glitch of the tongue but a premeditated effort to circumvent the inescapable truth that God is going to judge and take revenge on all those who refuse to receive Jesus as their only Saviour. The emergent mystics don’t like the slightest mention of a Day of wrath and judgment as Revelation 20 describes it.

In Matthew Fox’s book called “A New Reformation!” he writes that we are in fact confronted with two churches: one expressed by the image of the Punitive Father, personified by a rigidly hierarchical church structure, repression of the feminine, . . . and the other expressed by the feminine figure of Wisdom [Sophia, a term Joubert often uses] personified by a Mother/Father God of justice and compassion. He concludes, “It is time for Christians to choose whom it will follow: an angry exclusionary god or the loving open path of wisdom.” Joubert often expresses his loving affection for “Sophia.”

Joubert had a tremendous opportunity to present the Gospel but failed to mention God’s wonderful “plan” to save mankind when He made garments of the skins of animals He Himself slaughtered to cover Adam and Eve’s sin. (Genesis 3:21; Hebrews 9:22).

Innocent blood had to be spilled for the remission of sin.  It prefigures God’s personal slaughter of his Son (Isaiah 53) who poured out his blood for the forgiveness of sin. There is nothing of Joubert’s “adaptable God” noticeable in this.

God did not adapt Himself to the circumstances. He merely postponed his eventual righteous judgments for the sake of his longsuffering, mercy, compassion, and kindness. (2 Peter 3:9).

Jonah’s “detestable” message of doom

Joubert and his emergent and mystical compatriots, Leonard Sweet, Johan Geyser, Trevor Hudson, Melissa van Biljon, Theo Geyser, and Jan van der Watt have a strange proclivity to speak in terms that the Bible patently disregards.

A case in point is their use of words and phrases that do not pierce the heart unto salvation but tickle the ears unto damnation. (2 Timothy 4:3). Joubert often uses the expression “God’s heart leaks love.” Has he ever reflected contemplatively on the possibility that God’s heart may also leak hatred? Love cannot be expressed without hating the things opposing love. In fact, God would never have given his Son to die on a cross if He had not hated the sin all of mankind is guilty of. Here’s an example,

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, [Remember: Joubert encourages his readers to use their imagination because it is supposedly a gift of God], feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19).

King David went so far as to say that “God hates sinners” (Psalm 5:; 11:5) (Please read here to understand what God really meant).

Nonetheless, the emergent church’s overemphasis on friendship and relationships to the injury of biblical truth (rigid dogmas) has caused them to hate God’s righteous judgments.

Their strong distaste of God’s judgments has its roots in the philosophy of the New Ager and Buddhist, Ken Wilbur’s theories called “spiral dynamics” and “integral spirituality.” Jason Howlett’s research on spiral dynamics is rather interesting. He writes:

Ken Wilber, the American writer on transpersonal psychology and his own integral theory, has used and popularised Spiral Dynamics in his work.

Spiral Dynamics was developed by Don E. Beck and Cristopher Cowan, based on the pioneering work of developmental psychologist Clare W. Graves.

Spiral Dynamics is a model and language which describes the development of people, organizations, and society. It helps us understand the value systems (what they care about and what motivates them) of different people and organizations, as they move through distinct stages of development.

Importantly people’s value systems represent the way in which they adapt to thrive in their environment. The theory provides an understanding of how people and the environment change through these distinct stages.

Spiral dynamics can therefore be used to analyze the interaction between people and their work environment. We can better understand what drives or influences people’s thoughts and behavior.

Included in his blog is a graphic presentation in vivid colours of the different “Altitudes of Developments” to portray man’s evolvement throughout the ages. The first “Altitude” called “Archaic” represents the “dawning [of] self-awareness, [and] the [survival of mankind] through instinct, intuition, and banding with others.”

It develops through seven stages to the last one called “Post Integral” where oneness is realized, and wisdom (“Sophia,” a word Joubert loves to use), joy and love are rapidly in the ascendancy.

The word “intuition” clearly alludes to mystical meditative practices of which Ken Wilbur is a regular practitioner. He is well-known for his adroitness in Eastern mysticism and meditation.

“Intuition” is also a beloved word and practice in Johan Geyser’s Mosaïek Kerk in Fairland, Johannesburg, South Africa. The undergirding message is the notion that things are getting better and better and that a final judgment and ensuing destruction of the cosmos is a myth. Tony Jones states this:

“What I mean is that the folks who hang around the emergent church tend to see goodness and light in God’s future, not darkness and gnashing of teeth.”[6]

And then dismisses

“the view that we are in a downward spiral, and when things ‘down here’ become bad enough, Jesus will return in glory.”[7]

This attitude to God’s righteous judgments is also evident in Joubert’s portrayal of the prophet, Jonah.

Jonah is an interesting prophet. Oh! I do not like him at all. He is not my favourite prophet. Oh! Jonah is my favourite book about God in the Old Testament.

God wanted him in Nineveh, but he fled to Tarshish. God needed to send a storm to get Jonah on course again.

A fish swallowed him and then [after having been thrown up by the fish] he begins to preach. Surely, it was the rottenest sermon ever preached in human history. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”

And then the people said, “And what,” and Jonah answered, “and amen.” They asked, “no mercy?” He answered, “no mercy.” [That’s it.] Forty days, then Jonah sits alone in his own little place and waits for the fireworks.

The King of Nineveh heard God’s heart. Jonah made the plan of only forty days and its conclusiveness. The King breaks through the plan to the heart of God. [They began to cover them in sackcloth and called mightily on the Lord]. “Perhaps the Lord would change his plan.” The hedonistic King understood God much better than his prophet. He understood much better than many other self-appointed and formally appointed expositors of God in our day.  

There are several serious errors in Stephan Joubert’s sermon on Jonah. But, before we go into that, it is notable that Joubert has several unfavorable opinions of some of the most important core doctrines in Scripture. Even the shedding of innocent blood without which there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22) is to him “a bloody disgrace, a sacrificial joke.” In his book “Hijacked by Jesus he wrote:

“The shoulders of those poor animals that were sacrificed at the temple just weren’t strong enough to bear their sins. In the end the temple was just a bloody disgrace, a sacrificial joke. And the joke was on God’s people!”

Whoa, this is dangerous speech and infamous God-dishonoring language. The Old Testament priests “made reconciliation with [animal] blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel” (2 Chronicles 29:24).

It was decreed by God and as such could never have been a “bloody disgrace” or a joke as the prima facie (or is it prima donna) false teacher, Stephan Joubert, mockingly says.

Of course, the sacrificial animals were but types and shadows of Christ, through the shedding of whose blood alone (Hebrews 10:1-18) this reconciliation/atonement could be accomplished: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12, etc.).

The Bible is clear: “without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sins]” (Hebrews 9:22). Every Levitical animal sacrifice was holy unto the Lord despite Israel’s continual sins and idolatry. A mockery of the animal offerings in Leviticus is a blatant mockery of the shed blood of Christ on the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18).

His accusation that Jonah’s sermon was “the most rotten ever preached in human history,” is an affront to God who commanded Jonah word for word about what he had to preach to the King and inhabitants of Nineveh.

Jonah did not sit down and prepare a sermon of his own doing. Joubert should obey his own bidding to read the Bible through and not merely pick out a few verses here and there to substantiate his sermons.

Jonah 3:1-2 very clearly affirms that it was God Himself who commanded Jonah what message to preach which was “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Joubert should know that a prophet who prophesied things of his own accord and not the words God had given him, was summarily stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 18:20).

Consequently, Joubert does not vilify Jonah for preaching “the rottenest sermon in human history” but God Himself. Moreover, if Jonah’s preaching was the rottenest sermon in human history, then Joubert should learn how to preach even greater rotten sermons because they seem to be more successful than Joubert’s rotten sermons because they brought lost sinners to their knees and were saved.

The words God gave him to preach led to the salvation of more than 120 000 precious souls, including that of the King. And Joubert dares to call it “the rottenest sermon ever preached in human history?” Let us imagine (one of Joubert’s favored words) him attempting to go on a three-day journey in Nineveh and cry out,

“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. You need an imaginary world. You need imagination if you want to understand. Use it well. God gave it to you.” Or, “hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. Do you all want to become friends of Jesus Christ? Do I hear a yes? Well, I brought something I would like to give to you. If you take it you will immediately become a friend of Jesus.” You will immediately become a friend of Jesus if you receive this cup of cool clear water out of my hand.” Rotten? Rotten to the core! Does Joubert really believe that his sermons would have saved the 120 000 lost souls in Nineveh and, therefore, supersede Jonah’s “rotten” God-given sermon?

God’s decision to either destroy or save Nineveh was contingent upon one thing and one thing only — their reaction to God’s righteous judgments, to either humble themselves and repent or to remain adamant and unrepentant, and as a result bear the consequences of God’s righteous judgments.

Isaiah 29 explains how God’s judgments and warnings of judgment effectively drive people to Him for salvation; “for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”

There are several other examples in Scripture where God sets a choice before man to either repent or bear the brunt of his righteous judgments. (Deuteronomy 11:16). It had nothing to do with a plan God made to save them despite Noah’s so-called sermon he allegedly created of his own doing.

Neither did the King of Nineveh know more about God’s compassionate heart than Jonah, as Joubert dared to claim. In fact, it was Jonah’s intimate knowledge of God’s heart that incensed him for having pardoned Nineveh.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:1-2).

Jonah quoted from Psalms 78:38; 86:15; 11:4; 112:4; 145:8. He knew from these Scriptures that God would pardon Nineveh for its violent lifestyles and sins if they repented.

The King of Nineveh was not familiar with these scriptures and merely surmised. “Who knows [perhaps], God may turn [in compassion] and relent and withdraw His burning anger (judgment) so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 3:9; AMP).

The Bible is full of examples of how the Jews repented with sackcloth and ashes when they sought God for forgiveness. The King of Nineveh must have been familiar with the Jewish religious custom but probably was not sure whether God would hear when heathens did the same.

Noah stood in God’s way

Considering that God allegedly is adaptable and that He often changed his mind and his plans in accordance with his compassion, lovingkindness, and mercies, one would have thought that He would repent of his evil intents to wipe out the entire antediluvian earth’s population and only save eight souls from his righteous judgment.

In what way, may we ask, did Noah stand in God’s way to prevent such a disaster? God’s main mission was not to seek and to find a man who would stand in his way to prevent Him from meting out judgment.

God had already decided to destroy the entire world’s population after He had given them leniency of 120 years to repent, the duration it took Noah to build the Ark.

If Noah stood in God’s way, as Joubert claims, he should at least have told us how he stood in God’s way but again failed dismally to make it clear. He seems to allude to the possibility that God did not destroy the world as Peter describes it in 2 Peter 3:7, 10, and that He would have done so if Noah had not stood in his way.

From Joubert’s point of view, Noah took the initiative and virtually forced God’s hand to spare him and his seven family members together with the inanimate world.

To stand in one’s way means to prevent someone from doing something disastrous which, as we can see from the antediluvian catastrophe, never happened. A good example of someone having stood in God’s way and preventing Him from meting out his judgment on Israel is in Exodus 32:9-10 and Psalm 106:23 where Moses, God’s chosen vessel, stood in the gap and prevented God from destroying Israel after they had made a golden calf and worshiped it in the shadow of Mount Horeb where Moses received the Ten Commandments.

If Noah had stood in God’s way like Moses, he would certainly have prevented God from doing something so catastrophic, and the antediluvian populace would have survived as Israel did in Exodus 32.

It teaches us yet again that it is dangerous to read into passages things that God never intended, and rather placidly accept things as it is written which in this case is “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8). Nevertheless, Stephan Joubert is fond of adding and subtracting things which are, to say the least, very dangerous. (Revelation 22:18-19).

The essence of God’s Being determines His plans

Stephan Joubert repeatedly said that God is greater than his plans, that He is a God of love, not of mystery; He is not a secret. He has always wondered why many people say God works in mysterious ways. [DTW comment: Perhaps they have learned to say so because his Word declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.].

Joubert continues to say, “Because God is so well-known. . . . God has made known to us enough of his essence  . . . so that we may be comforted in life and in death. He is greater and more than anything I know of Him and believe, but He’s not something otherwise.” He adds,

“His plans are unfathomable but not incomprehensible. God will always act in love; He will always act salvifically; He will always act in favor of his children; He will always do things that suit his merciful and lovingkindness. He will always choose to defer his judgments so that He may set it aside and not destroy them.

One word describes Joubert’s ramblings — “confusion.” He wrongly blurs the difference between believers and unbelievers in the very same way he obliterates the difference between Israel and the Gentiles by his claim that the twelve tribes of Israel no longer exist and have been replaced by the ekklesia. The ekklesia as the Bible defines it is not the ekklesia as Joubert describes it in his “Jesus Radical, Righteous, Relevant”[8]

“Many people are currently looking for Jesus outside the church. These people find themselves comfortable with Jesus, but not with his (institutional) church and followers. They refer to these ‘followers’ as ‘judgemental, hypocritical, politically conservative and intolerant’ (Joubert 2012:36). These people can be regarded as ‘friends’ of Jesus who have started with a new form of church, which we may call ekklesia. This ‘new form’ of the church consists of ‘ordinary individuals’ who profess Jesus as their Lord: ’Jesus alone is the heartbeat of the brand-new movement of vital people known as ekklesia’6 (Joubert 2012:129). Having referred to Jesus’ friends, the fact is that there are also ‘opponents’ of Jesus.”

Joubert’s so-called “friends of Jesus” became friends of Jesus the moment Joubert gave them a cup of water, some bread, and a quid or two (known as a typical Joubertian Good Works salvation or a Mother Teresaian Good Works redemption).

“Remember, every person that you serve turns into an immediate friend of Jesus. Go one step further: see him or her as Jesus in disguise” – (Emphasis added) (Stephan Joubert, Echurch).

“Whenever I meet someone in need, it’s really Jesus in his most distressing disguise.” (Mother Teresa).

In Joubert’s formulae of God’s plans he only discusses God’s plans for his children (the believers), depicting Him as a God who will always act in love, will always act salvifically, will always act in favour of his children, will always do things that suit his merciful and lovingkindness, and will always choose to defer his judgments so that He may set it aside and not destroy them.

How can God defer judgment on his children and eventually abandon his decision in some distant future when “. . . there is NOW no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. (Romans 8:1; AMP).

Well, if you believe as Joubert and his emergent compatriot Leonard Sweet do, that Jesus lives in a disguised manner in everyone and only needs to be nudged into a fully-fledged resurrected Lord, then it is easy to assume that God has abandoned his judgemental plan of destruction. Has He though?

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18).

God is greater than his plans

Most of Joubert’s spiritual utterances sound very godly and biblical. Nevertheless, when you begin to scrutinize them under the white-hot light of God’s Word they fall fruitlessly to the ground.

God’s plans are pliable in accordance with his salvific dealings with mankind, but his promises are eternally unchangeable, in the very same way that Jesus Christ is unchangeable where He is now seated on the right hand of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20; Romans 15:8; Hebrews 13:8).

Joubert begs to differ. As I have already indicated, he is a replacement theologian who believes that the twelve tribes of Israel no longer exist. How can we trust a God who will always act in love, will always act salvifically, will always act in favour of his children, and will always do things that suit his merciful and lovingkindness, when He allegedly repossessed his promises to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and allegedly passed them on to the church (Joubert’s ekklesia)?

If God’s plans are adaptable as what He is, where are these plans? Well, of course, in his Word. Where else would God’s plans be other than in his Word?

Therefore, his Word contains his will for mankind and the world as well as his dealing with everyone who resists and rejects his will. When the rich man in hell (Hades) pleaded with Abraham to send someone to warn his five brethren “lest they also come into this place of torment,” Abraham reminded him that they already had God’s Word (Moses and the prophets) at their disposal and that nothing else would convince them, not even someone raised from the dead.

It echoes to perfection what the psalmist says in Psalm 138:2, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. (Psalm 138:2). This is obviously the reason why those who shall boast that they have done so many great deeds in his name, will summarily be told, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23).

Become as little children

Joubert often refers to Matthew 18 where Jesus explained to his disciples how to enter the Kingdom of heaven

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-3)

Joubert’s emphasis on “become as little children” together with his assertion that it does not mean “believe as little children” says a lot about his own “childlikeness.” Before we dig deeper into Joubert’s infamous statement, I would like to quote something from Wllem H. Oliver’s article “The radical, righteous and relevant Jesus in a coronavirus disease-defined world” a Festschrift in “recognition to him [Joubert] for what he has already made and for what he is currently doing with e-kerk.” Oliver states:

“Stephan believes in God and the Bible in an almost childlike manner.”

As far as I recall, Jesus never said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and ALMOST become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Had He said something to this effect it would mean that whosoever believes in God and the Bible in an ALMOST childlike manner will ALMOST make it to heaven. Be that as it may, Joubert’s conviction that Jesus did not say “believe as little children” but “become as little children” opens a whole can of worms that needs to be addressed.

Jesus, the real ONE, by the way, not the one Joubert claims to follow, never spoke, or worked in terms of “almost” regarding salvation. His well-known and much-loved phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you” appears no less than 25 times in the New Testament and has no affinity or filial piety whatsoever with any uncertainty, ambiguity, or vagueness.

“Almost” reminds one of the meanings of sin which is to miss the mark by ALMOST hitting it. However, this is not the worst part of Joubert’s semantic antics. His assertion that Jesus never said, “Believe as little children” but simply “Become as little children” is manifestly the worst.

The most atrocious thing about his statement is that it contradicts what Jesus said to his disciples. Listen again carefully to what Jesus said,

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be CONVERTED, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Surely the word “converted” (to be converted) naturally includes faith. You cannot be converted (saved) without faith (Hebrews 11:6). 

Yet, Joubert clearly implies that you can and only need to become as a little child. Faith leads to conversion (salvation) and salvation must lead to a childlike way of life unto the Lord.

It’s as simple as that, and if you do not see it this way there must be something drastically wrong with your conviction that you are living a childlike life unto the Lord. In other words, you are deceived, and you are deceiving others who believe your infamous Jesus contradictions.

Jesus unequivocally affirms that faith in Him like unto that of a little child is unreservedly necessary for verses 5 and 6 say,

“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6). 

Is Joubert teaching children that Jesus never said that you need to believe like a little child as an imperative to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Oops, do I see a millstone with the name Stephan Joubert engraved on it?

God’s heart leaks love

Nowadays we live in a Laodicean setting that overemphasizes the love of God and de-emphasizes his righteous judgments. The reality is that no one can possibly understand the love of God if they do not understand his righteous anger, wrath, and judgments.

The cross of Christ is the epitome of God’s love and at the same time of his anger and righteous judgments. God’s only begotten Son took upon Himself the anger and wrath of his Father on the cross because He loves humanity and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Christ Jesus satisfied both God’s wrath and love at the same time on the cross and could, therefore, cry out with a loud voice “TETELESTAI” (paid in full). Whosoever de-emphasizes God’s righteous judgments by presenting him in a Roman Catholicized leaking heart fashion, misses the true meaning of Calvary’s cross.

Joubert states:

God looks at people and with his heart that leaks love, He saves when He ought to punish.

Joubert persists in his erroneous contention that God frequently changed his plans. No, the only plan the godhead ever made, even from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), was that his Son would die on a cross on behalf of mankind’s sin because He knew, even before the foundation of the world, that Adam and Eve and consequently the whole of humankind would fall into sin.

All God’s dealings with mankind, since that time, were and are to delay his righteous judgments in accordance with his Son having been slain from the foundation of the world. The apostle Peter beautifully expressed this eternal truth when he wrote,

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). God’s Postponements are vehicles to God’s salvation. (2 Peter 3:15).

Unsolicited comparisons

The best and easiest way to malign things you dislike is to compare them to something or someone that is so utterly disgusting that everyone would immediately thrust it aside with disdain. For example, Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, and the holocaust have become readymade proverbs in our day to demonize anything and everything people dislike.

Stephan Joubert takes a huge step further when He compares sermons on the wrath and righteous punishments of God with Ba’al. Here, in his own words, he does precisely just that.

I often hear people say we preach too little about God’s punishment. I usually ask them: “is God’s character punishment?” Is it a characteristic trait of God to be revengeful? Is He Ba’al, the god of thunder? Then they say, “NO!” I say, “Why then do you make punishment and grace as if they are two sides of God?” (11:43). God is the God of salvation. He is the God of delays and cancellations.

Wrong again! Of course, people would agree with Joubert’s ungodly comparison between the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Ba’al. Joubert knows how to influence people psychologically with his absurd comparisons.

It is not even a tad permissible to make such an unsolicited comparison because Ba’al, who is the devil himself, cannot cast unbelievers into hell. May I remind him that only the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can do such a terrible thing? (Matthew 10:28).

Revenge and punishment are uniquely a prerogative of God and Him alone. Perhaps Joubert would argue with God, as he does with those who advise him to preach more about God’s righteous punishments when God reveals his vengeful character on unbelievers in Romans 12:19.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (AMP).

God’s vengeance is always righteous, always just, and always without bias. When he metes out his vengeance, no one can point a finger at Him and accuse Him of being unfair or Ba’al-like, as Joubert likes to do.

Jesus once asked someone who called Him “good Master,” “Why do you call Me good? No one is good, except God alone.” (Luke 18:19). If God alone is good, then his grace and his vengeance must both be good. Hence his first appearance as the Lamb of God dying for the sins of the world, and his second appearance as the Lion of Judah wreaking vengeance on his enemies.

The Bible is replete with examples of God’s vengeance, his wrath, and punishment on humankind.


Example 1: Numbers 16:1-50 is a narration in Scripture that Joubert would probably place in the annals of the God of thunder, Ba’al. However, Bible believers who love to read their Bibles through, as Joubert urges them to do, know and believe that God vengefully killed Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and the 250 princes of the assembly, together with their wives, their children, and possessions who withstood Moses as God’s chosen leader.

Wroth with their rebellion and at the behest of Moses, the humblest man on earth, God tore open the earth under them and they were flung into the pit alive.

“And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.” (verse 35). “But on following morning all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.” This was the moment God sent a plague among the people and threatened to consume them all if Moses and Aaron had not made an atonement for the people. (verse 47). 

Ba’al? Really??  No, the God of the Bible whose heart leaks love.


Example 2: Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons were devoured by fire from the Lord when they offered strange fire in their censers to the Lord which God had not commanded them. Strange fire (false doctrines that misrepresent God in strange ways, among them the lie that the twelve tribes of Israel no longer exist) is rampant in the churches, including ekerk.

Moreover, their incessant desire to find new ways to worship God through artistic creativity and cultural relevance, stillness, contemplation, apophatic and cataphatic meditation[9], and spiritual practices devised by Ignatius of Loyola are all strange fires in censers they themselves forged in their imagination.

And to counter any excuse that this only happened in the Old Testament, let us pay a visit to Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament. They were struck down dead when they thought they could lie to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:1-11).

[1] Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 1:148.


[3]Orange County Register (June 6, 1990); article begins on p. 1

[4] Mosaic Church Congress – Johannesburg 4-5 Sept. 2009, Session 3: “Being a radical pilgrim and prophet” – Stephan Joubert.

[5] Leonard Sweet: Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There- Leonard Sweet.

[6] Tony Jones, “A Hopeful Faith,” in an Emergent Manifesto of Hope; Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones editors (Grand Rapids. P. 245.

[7] Ibid, 246.


[9] “Reflective, apophatic prayer, as well as the spiritual reading of the Word (Lectio Divina) is once again the order of the day. The revival of retraites, pilgrimages and visits to places of prayer and solitude is indicative of this worldwide quest in Christian circles for an innermost becoming part of the character of the Living God.” — Stephan Joubert, “Jesus – ‘n Radikale Sprong,” pp 199-200

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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