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September 05, 2005

Was Katrina a Judgment from God?

The following has been kicking around in my head for a few days. During Jim Munson's sermon at Christ Church today, Pastor Munson spoke on several of the topics below. So, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I want to give Jim credit for this post as well, although this is not an attempt at paraphrasing or re-stating his thoughts, which were quite eloquent. If you click on the Christ Church link above in a few days, you should be able to get a download of his sermon. It's worth the click.]

In checking the referring sites for this blog the past few days, I have noticed that a substantial number of referrals are from Google and other search engines with some variant of "Katrina God Judgment" as the search text. I suspect there three different types of people entering this request: First, those who may not be sympathetic to conservative Christians and want to see if conservative Christians are saying this--presumably to attack the insensitivity of such a statement. Second, Christians who are wondering about what other Christians are saying on this topic. Third, the questions of genuine seekers.

To all of you, I will provide my answer/opinion, which is "no," Katrina's devastation is not the result of God punishing those who were hurt, killed, or lost property. It is not God judging whatever sin may have been present in New Orleans. It is not God's judgment on the casinos of Mississippi. It was a natural catastrophe that sometimes occurs in God's world and God weeps along with us. In my opinion, He is also there comforting the survivors, but God was not judging them by the disaster visited on them.

My basis for saying this comes from a review of the models for Biblical punishment that come from the Bible. If you look at cases in which the Bible reports on a specific punishment from God, it was preceded by a very specific prophesy of the impending judgment. The doom of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) was foretold by the three visitors in Genesis 18. The eventual destruction of the Davidic kingdom and the banishment of the Jews from Israel were foretold by a number of different, and specific, prophecies. A number of prophets also foretold specific prophecies against cities like Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh. Some argue that Jesus specifically foretold the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD--allowing the Christians of the city to escape before the carnage.

The point is that the Biblical model of God's judgment on a town or nation is one in which the destruction is foretold by a specific prophecy, often allowing those in danger a second chance (think Nineveh and Jonah), so, if you are looking for a Biblical warrant for the destruction of not only New Orleans, but also Mississippi, other parts of Louisiana and Alabama, then you need to point to a specific prophecy and show how this wide-spread destruction specifically fulfilled that prophecy. Allow me to suggest that you likely will not find such prophecy. Barring that, I do not believe that the destruction from Katrina fits within the model from the Bible of how God judges and punishes a people or town.

Do Katrina and the subsequent events fit within God's overall plan for the earth? Of course they do. But, then again, so will the death of a poor starving child in Africa tomorrow. Shall we suggest that God is punishing that child as well?

For Christians, I think, rather than wondering about whether God is punishing New Orleans, or anybody else for that matter, we should, instead, focus on what we should be doing now, which is helping the least of our brothers and sisters in their time of need. Now is not the time for us to put words into God's mouth. It is time to offer a cup of water to someone less fortunate than us. Perhaps if we Christians did that more often, and judged less often, we might just point more people to Christ who are in danger if missing Him at the moment.

Posted by Mark at September 5, 2005 01:08 AM

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» Did God cause Katrina? from Peace Like A River
What is the Christian response to horrific events like this hurricane? Is it fair to blame God? Is it fair even to ask if God causes such events? [Read More]

Tracked on September 6, 2005 12:39 PM

» Was Katrina God-sent ? from Dominik's Journey ;-)
In midst of all the devastation and tragedy, the question came up pretty quick if Katrina was sent by God. Is Katrina part of the end-times catastrophes sent to judge the earth dwellers for all their wickedness. Quickly, two main positions formed amon... [Read More]

Tracked on September 6, 2005 05:20 PM

» More on the Katrina Judgment Question from BlogWatch
The debate on whether or not Hurricane Katrina was a judgment from God continues. Mark Sides has posted a response to this question, which draws from a sermon given by Pastor Jim Munson. Mark's post, in which he takes the... [Read More]

Tracked on September 13, 2005 01:43 PM


There indeed were VERY clear and specific prophesies of the impending judgment, whether we like it or not.

Chuck Pierce's "Words Over Louisiana".

Without a doubt a truly prophetic word, given in advance, with specific details. Read my take on it here.

Posted by: Dominik Reinmund at September 6, 2005 05:24 PM

can i quote you for an article for our school newspaper" i just think what you had to say, in a nut shell is what we as young college students need to here, about God and about Katrina. I just want to use what you said for part of our article at the Blinn Log for Blinn College in Brenham TX, i can send you a copy after the 21st of september.

Posted by: Jessica at September 9, 2005 11:42 AM


If you are asking me (Mark) the author of the post, then you may feel free to quote from the post. If you are asking Dominik, then you should email him directly.

Mark Sides

Posted by: Mark Sides at September 10, 2005 05:08 PM

Why would there need to be a message foretelling the event? Why wouldn't there simply need to be a message of repentance? If anyone is preaching the gospel, we've got that.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at September 13, 2005 09:59 PM

Jeremy, First, I'm a bit leery of pretending to instruct you on the Bible because you are very strong in your knowledge. However, my point is that there's a difference between the continuing need for all mankind to repent and believe and a Soddm and Gomorrah-type punishment in which God made clear beforehand that he was going to punish certain people in a certain way. My contention is that New Orleans does not fit the latter model. Thus, there is no "special," direct message about Katrina versus the message that all must live with--the time is short and you need to be saved. I think it's counter-productive to say that New Orleans was a specific punishment of the Sodom and Gomorrah type.

Posted by: Mark Sides at September 14, 2005 11:14 PM

Unless America repents, catastrophic ‘natural occurrences’ will intensify as God releases his wrath upon the earth.
America has prospered as a Christian nation until recently when she opened the door for all kinds of immorality, even in the 'church'. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. True, he is longsuffering, wishing all should come to repentance. He loved us enough to send Jesus.
If you really want to know God's nature, read the Old Testament. He did wondrous miracles for his people. At the same time, when they turned to other Gods, lusted, or murmured, he sent enemies to capture them, or pestilences, and other 'natural phenomenon' to kill many. This pattern of example occurred repeatedly.
I am sure many of the people in the wilderness with Moses did not believe God sent the plagues that wiped out the ones who lusted (Numbers 11). They probably thought it was just a natural occurrence; God would never do that. After all, they were God’s chosen people. He loved them. He delivered them from Egypt and provided for all their needs.
What has the Old Testament to do with now, many ask. We are living under a new covenant. We have Jesus. Yes, Praise God, we have Jesus. Otherwise, we would all be dead and doomed forever.
The Old Testament is a pattern, a schoolmaster. Praise God we do not live under the bondage of the old covenant, but we might want to read it in order to understand the nature of God.

Posted by: Maribeth at September 22, 2005 12:06 PM

Jesus taught you that; “As you sow, so shall you reap. As you do, so shall it be done unto you.”
As you destroy infrastructure and innocent lives, So shall your infrastructure and innocent lives be destroyed. This is not a punishment or a judgement; it is a fulfillment of a Principle.
Principles are spiritual laws that follow order. They are not punishment; God set them in place to govern and guide us. They are as firmly established as Physical laws, for instance Gravity, which states that; “ if you step off of the Empire State building, you will die.” This is not a punishment, it is a fulfillment.
Not one letter of the spiritual law can be removed. God, who gave you free would never step in and suspend the law of Gravity, should you be foolish enough to step off of a building’s ledge. Why should we expect God to suspend this spiritual law of Karma? Regardless of how noble we think our intentions are by bombing people to make them better off somewhere down the line, the law will not be changed.
I am surprised as I look around the web and see so few, if any Christians understanding the Great Teacher’s lessons. It’s been 2000 years, it’s time to graduate from lamb to sheep. This is not a criticism, it is meant to get you into understanding, lest you pull more foolishness down on our heads.
Daniel Springhill

Posted by: Daniel Springhill at October 1, 2005 05:25 AM