Recently, the evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for "dividing God's land" of Israel.
"The prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' God considers this land to be his."
"You read the Bible, God says, 'This is my land.' And for any prime minister of Israel who decides he's going carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No. This is mine.'"
What is wrong with this theology? Two things.
Human suffering is not always linked to individual sin. Sharon's stroke doesn't mean that God is angry at him, anymore than John the Baptist and all the martyrs were being punished for something they did against God.
Secondly, and more importantly: Israel is not specifically "God's land" anymore. Christ's great commission to make disciples of all nations extends "God's land" to the "ends of the earth." Fundamental to Robinson's theology is theological school of Dispensationalism, which teaches that the Old Covenant promises were not fully realized in Christ and the Church but that they are yet to be fulfilled in a ethnically Jewish manifestation of the political nation of Israel. This sort of thinking expressly denies that the Church is the "New Israel" of God.
According to Catholic (and I should add, magisterial Protestant) teaching, the plot of land formerly called "Israel" and the ethnic people known as "Israelites" are no longer the singular object of God's special redemptive interest. This being the second day of Epiphany it is worth noting that the Kingdom of God includes the Gentiles and the Old Covenant promises of "God's land" and "God's people" apply to wherever and whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ.
Pat Robinson's literalism of the Old Testament prevents him from seeing that all the Old Covenant promises find their fulfillment in Christ and His Body the Church. These fulfillments are often times allegorical, but true all the same.