What is up with Pat Robertson? Yesterday he apparently claimed that Ariel Sharon’s stroke was punishment from God, for “dividing God’s land.” Robertson seems to have this idea that he has “inside information” about God’s wrath; however, I suspect that if God were to reveal that info to anyone, it probably wouldn’t be him.
Actually, I think Robertson is a victim of bad theology combined with old age. This whole Israel superstition thing that so many American Christians have is pretty wacky, and it’s based on a theological system that makes almost as much sense as The daVinci Code.
Without going into the whole history of dispensationalism and pre-millennialism (which, by the way, is very fascinating), it’s a theory that was developed by John Darby in the early 1800’s, and only became popular because of the unfortunate inclusion of Darby’s footnotes in the Scofield Reference Bible, which became popular with the Fundamentalists (who apparently couldn’t tell the difference between the actual text of the Bible and what was written in the margins). There’s some evidence that the original concept of dispensationalism came from a vision by a young girl in Scotland in about 1830. Regardless, this theological system has no real historical basis. In spite of its apparent following among the pop-Christian culture, it really is not a widely accepted theory.
The Pentecostal movement, with fundmentalist roots, also adopted this theology, although dispensationalism also teaches that Pentecostal gifts stopped in the first century. This inconsistency is characteristic of dispensationalism as well as its pre-millennialist view of the “end times.” In order to follow this line of thinking, you really have to chop up the Bible in pieces and ignore things like context and other basic rules of Biblical exegesis.
A part of this defective eschatalogy is the belief that God now has two chosen peoples. One is the adopted Christian church, the other is the historical Israel. The post-WW2 creation of the current nation of Israel really set the dispensationalists off, resulting in various superstitious and sometimes radical beliefs about this current secular nation of Israel.
Which brings us to Pat Robertson, apparently a product of this Fundamentalist/ Pentecostal theological mish-mash, complicated by a lack of common sense and the power of cable TV. We should all be thankful that no one really took him seriously when he tried to run for President.