January 19, 2011
Joel Osteen, Israel and the Jews: an exclusive Q&A
Saying they want to “show solidarity with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people,” mega-pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen will bring their musical, charismatic brand of Christianity to Israel. The Osteens announced they will hold to hold “A Historic Night of Hope” at the Jerusalem Theater on Thursday, February 3 at 7:00 pm. The event will be broadcast around the world by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). While in Israel, the Osteens will meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as a tour of the Holy Land.
“As Christians, Victoria and I feel that it is important to stand in support of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Pastor Joel Osteen in a press release. “As always, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”
In April 2010, The Jewish Journal sat down with the Osteens for an exclusive interview, their first ever to appear in the Jewish media. Rabbi Naomi Levy conducted the interview which appears below.
Rabbi Naomi Levy: I watched an interview you did with Larry King. I was so amazed when you said Jews can indeed go to heaven, and then I saw that you later took heat for it, and you rephrased yourself. Is it wrong to believe that people who don’t believe in Jesus have a place with God and have a place in heaven?
Pastor Joel Osteen: Sure. You know, to me it’s up to every person. I mean, what the Scripture teaches is that Jesus came so that we could have salvation through him.
NL: Your Scripture.
JO: Yeah, that’s true. So that’s why I don’t judge anybody else. ... You know, I don’t believe in telling one group who can and can’t go to heaven. I believe that’s up to God.
NL: So do you think it’s possible that our God, the God of the universe, might have an equal plan for all good people?
JO: I believe that any of that is possible.
NL: I saw another video where you spoke about how you’ve stopped eating pork, and I’m curious if you’ve taken on other aspects of being kosher.
JO: I just see that in the Scripture as well. I don’t always follow it 100 percent. But I appreciate the Jewish tradition and what’s in the Scripture, what it says about it.
NL: How do you respond to the person who says, ‘I’ve prayed, and it’s done me no good. I hear what you’re saying about what God can do for a person, and if you pray, look how this person was healed. But my child died, and I prayed with all my heart.’?
JO: You know, I try to encourage people to believe for the best, but that God will always give you the strength to make it through and faith is all about trust. ... Yesterday I prayed for a family. They had a little girl that had cancer and she’s in a wheelchair. You know, our prayer is that she’s going to live every day that God’s planned out for her. I hope it’s until she’s 90 years old. I don’t know if it will be, but I also pray that God gives these parents strength, and they get to that place of trust to say, ‘OK, God, I believe you’re in control of my life, that you have a plan for my little girl and a plan for my life.’ I think when you come back to that place of trust to believe that there’s something bigger than yourself, that’s what gives you the faith and strength to move on.