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September 12, 2005

Was Katrina God's Judgement?

It's a question I have been mulling over for the last several days. Was Hurricane Katirna God's way of judging a thoroughly decadent New Orleans? A friend of mine had posed this question to me shortly after the hurricane had made landfall. Since I had visited New Orleans last fall on a business trip and had observed some of the city's infamous culture firsthand the question seemed to be a sensible one. But the more I reflect on the issue I have to wonder whether it was or not. This post by Michael Russell at Theologica (a new World Magazine blog) leads me to believe that it wasn't based on the pattern of God's judgements revealed in the Bible. What do you think?

Posted by Tom at September 12, 2005 12:32 PM

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» Was Katrina God-sent judgment? 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 October 2, 2005 12:14 AM


I'll believe it if someone can convince me that only pagans in New Orleans were affected by Katrina.

I hope Christians don't get into this sort of theology that precludes the reality that we live in a fallen world. And if it's fallen, everything in it and everything it touches -- including the weather -- is fallen. Just as our psychology, biology, physiology, sociology and everything else about us is fallen. We live in a fallen world.

So maybe that's why pilots make booboos and planes crash and innocent people die. Maybe that's why little children in Bankok are sold into sexual slavery by age of two and get AIDS and die by the time they're 10. This is all very clearly spelled out in scripture and there's really not much of a mystery to it.

We live in a fallen world. It rains on the just and the unjust alike. I hope people -- especially Christians -- don't make this something it isn't.

Posted by: greg at September 12, 2005 01:20 PM

Matthew 5:44-45 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 12, 2005 01:42 PM

If it is God's judgement, a better question than "Why New Orleans?" would be "Why not my house?"

My 2 cents.

Posted by: eLarson at September 12, 2005 02:33 PM

Is God sovereign? Is God omnipresent and omniscient? Does God know the end before the beginning?

If the answers to all the above questions are "yes", then the only possible conclusion is that Hurricane Katrina is a judgment of God.

Posted by: Larry at September 12, 2005 05:48 PM

Larry: Sovereign intent does not imply malicious intent.

Posted by: Matt at September 12, 2005 06:10 PM

Larry, that makes about as much sense as pronouncing with utter certainty that hurricate Katrina was God's gift to contruction workers, giving them job security.

Posted by: Doug Payton at September 12, 2005 08:27 PM

Matt: If I understand the meaning of your snappy retort, I agree with you. But it does not negate that it is a judgment of God - not just to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast - but to the whole United States.

And furthermore, to underline the message of Hurricane Katrina, what does God do? He takes home the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States during the aftermath of the storm.

But maybe, you think these two events are just cosmic coincidences governed by algebraic probabilities!

Posted by: Larry at September 12, 2005 08:53 PM

Larry: I'm willing to believe that God caused it. I'm even willing to believe specifically sent it to clean up a hedonistic stretch of coastline, but that doesn't mean he did. He can, but I'm not about to sit in judgement and tell a homeless family in NOLA or Biloxi that they're homeless and poor because God is judging America. It's not our place. We don't know the mind of God and we are foolish and arrogant to presume otherwise.

Posted by: Matt at September 12, 2005 09:02 PM

I think one of your fellow co-authors posted on this a few days ago as well.

Posted by: Mark Sides at September 12, 2005 11:42 PM

I think that our proper response to this is to get on our knees and thank God that it didn't happen to "our house" (as mentioned before). God certainly has the power to destroy cities or the world for that matter. But don't you find it interesting that a huge earthquake hit a few years back in the heart of the porn industry of California? I'll even step out on a limb (no offense intended here) but in NYC on September 11th, there was I'm sure much greed, envy and finacial sin as well present.

Our response? Realize that God is holy and all powerful and we are on this earth because of his grace. We don't deserve to take another breath without his help. Our response is to help those in need, pray for the people who have undergone those terrible things, but realize that we are sinners who have fallen away from God and need to do something about it immediately.

Posted by: Brian at September 14, 2005 02:57 PM

Was Katrina God's judgement on New Orleans or on America as a whole? Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know for sure. HOWEVER, God DOES give us warnings signs. Some people say that the sin that went on in New Orleans went on everywhere. To answer that, take the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. I'm sure they weren't the ONLY two cities practicing perversions and sin in their time. But the Bible says they were EXCEEDINGLY perverse. So there WAS a reason God PERSONALLY intervened and destroyed them and left the others standing (temporarily). Yes - even the "so called good and hard working people" that tolerated their extreme perversions were taken out. This included fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, adults, and children. Maybe I would do it differently, but I'm not God. He is 100% Holy and NO evil exists in Him. We are sinful beings, and its only by the grace of Jesus Christ we are still breathing today.

I'm sure if there were survivors in those cities they'd probably be saying what many folks are saying today, that it WASN'T God against them, just an act of nature. A SAFER ANSWER WOULD BE -- WE DON'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS, BUT JUST IN CASE LETS EXAMINE OUR WAYS AND MAKE SURE WE'RE RIGHT WITH GOD.

Folks, don't get the idea that God all of a sudden STOPPED judging sinful cities and countries as of lets say 39AD. Whether you want to believe it or not He hasn't changed since Biblical times. We just call ALL of them Natural Disasters now and NONE of them warnings. "The rain falls on the just and unjust" scripture a cop out in my opinion to comfort everyone that EVERYTHING is just a coincidence.

9-11, Katrina, what next? Only God knows. He LOVES AMERICA but AMERICA no longer loves God. The changes in our laws are showing it. We don't want his commandments in our court rooms, we don't want prayer at schools, don't even mention God- someone might get offended.

Posted by: Tony at September 16, 2005 02:40 AM

Your friend has raised a profound and timely question. I've written a blog about this called Why Katrina? at


Posted by: Gordon at September 18, 2005 09:29 PM

God's rain falling on the just and unjust alike is a reference to how He blesses...

Posted by: herb at September 20, 2005 02:53 AM

Furthermore, we could also look at what a merciful God He is, most of the U.S. (and the rest of the world- dysfunctional though it may be) is still intact.
The "Southern Decadence" will go ahead, as planned, if not a little behind schedule. We still have time to minister the healing power of the gospel. Towers fall on people, Pilate mingles the blood of worshippers with their offerings. Our work goes on.

Posted by: herb at September 20, 2005 03:01 AM

Over the years I have come to suspect that the religious right's worldview is, essentially, the anti-Christian notion that whatever hardship has befallen a people is always the fault of someone other than itself.

Contrariwise, a consistent theme throughout the Bible is that nations are condemned not by the sins of the unredeemed but by the hypocrisy of stiff-necked believers. Case in point: Twenty-five years ago, Bishop John Gimenez of Virginia Beach launched the re-entry of fundamentalist Christians to organized political activity by calling a million believers to rally in Washington, D.C.. to "take America back for Jesus."

Ironically, the passage of scripture that Gimenez claims God spoke to him as justification for his march on D.C. suggests self-reflection, quiet prayer, and repentance: "If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (II Chronicles 7:14).

To this day it seems as though neither the bishop nor the conservative evangelical movement as a whole has taken this scripture literally. Rather than private prayers of the pious as Jesus commanded, we are subjected to the loud and vulgar exhibitionism of their protests.

Jesus commanded believers to face persecution with joy, and yet these folks seem eager to take offense so that they can whine -- in Christ's name and in the absence of any persecution -- of being under attack by "liberals," "secularists," or whoever.

Posted by: mark at September 23, 2005 09:46 AM

Christians are Christianity's own worst enemy. Katrina is God's judgement on America? First, there are a lot more immoral places in the U.S. than N.O. Second, show me one time in Scripture where God judged anyone in this manner since Jesus walked, talked, died, and arose. He's storing up His wrath remember? Third, since we know N.O. is no more immoral than any other city, according to Scripture, than why hasn't the whole country got nailed with a class 4 hurricane? Maybe because the rest of the country didn't built its home on a shoreline below sea level noted for hurricane activity. They've been predicting this for years. If you want to believe that your death seconds away due to your immorality, then by all means, continue to walk around in a white robe with your thumb on your spiritual pulse while you renounce the rest of the world. Me, I'm saved and don't have to worry one way or another.

Posted by: Tim High at September 30, 2005 03:39 PM

I believe that when we ask if Katrina was judgment, we also have to ask judgment on WHO ? I truly believe that God's intention with Katrina was to purify the church and prepare the church were it became lazy and complacent. So yes, Katrina was judgment, but as much on the wicked as it was a purifying judgment on the (not so) righteous church.

One of the hallmarks of God acting and intervening miraculously is that he announces things prophetically beforehand.

With Katrina, this was clearly the case:


Posted by: Dominik Reinmund at October 2, 2005 12:17 AM

Was Katrina God’s judgement upon a depraved city? Was New Orleans a modern-day Sodom? If so, then why is it that those who really suffered most were not the gambling magnates and porn merchants but rather the poor?

Most of us think the Bible teaches that Sodom was destroyed because its inhabitants were sinful. But this is not quite true! Had there been only ten righteous men in the city, it would not have been destroyed. Indeed, Sodom was not destroyed because of the wickedness of the sinful majority, but rather because of the failings of the righteous minority.

Again and again in the Bible, nations are saved by the action of a single righteous individual (e.g. Joseph, Moses, Esther, David, Elijah, etc.). Consider in particular Joseph saving Egypt from famine. Joseph did not prevent the seven years of catastrophic harvests. However, through his spiritual foresight he saved millions from starvation.

So why was there no Joseph for New Orleans? As the Holy Spirit said through the prophet Ezekiel: “I sought for a man among them who should wall up a wall for the land, and stand in the break before me, that I should not destroy it. But I did not find one” (Ezekiel 22:30). New Orleans was a catastrophe because no one stepped up to the plate. But who could have done so? Politicians point their fingers at each other, but they were only puppets in the grand scheme of things. Nay -- the “one man” who failed was not an individual human being, but rather the Church.

“But the Church is not one man,” one might protest. Indeed, that is the crux of the problem! Long before Katrina, downtown New Orleans was a disaster area with blocks upon blocks of run-down, booze-, drug- and urine-soaked slums. In the midst of this squalor where was the Church, which is God’s instrument for spiritual and social renewal? In fact, New Orleans was full of churches -- so many churches, and so focused on their own separate agendas, that they were not even beginning to address the flood tide of social ills which engulfed their communities. The Church indeed was not doing its job. Not that churches weren’t trying -- but they were disunited, uncoordinated, and hence ultimately ineffective.

Long before Katrina, the poor of New Orleans were living in a perpetual state of quiet desperation. Which is worse – a flood of water which suddenly obliterates possessions, homes, and lives -- or an insidiously invisible tide of unending poverty, which submerges its victims in hopeless futility? Churches were doing virtually nothing to alleviate the latter; neither were they ready when the former came upon them .

It is wonderful that many churches across the country are now stepping up to help the afflicted. It’s too bad that it took such a horrible disaster to prod us to actions we should have taken long ago.

“Do you think that they were sinners above all other men? I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5). Here is Jesus’ warning for the Church in our communities. Are we really doing our job? Or is our message and influence as fragmented and incoherent as that of the Church of New Orleans?

Posted by: Chris Thron at October 6, 2005 09:43 AM

I found this sermon very helpful and believe that you will too.
It's by a pastor in Florida, USA.
Copy and paste the link above into your browser.

Posted by: Justin at November 1, 2005 09:14 AM

Was Katrina God's judgement?

The prophet Amos in chapter 3 vs 6 says:

"......When disaster comes to a city has not the Lord caused it?"

On the basis of this scripture Katrina was God's judgement. Were the people of N.O. worse sinners than others in the USA, or the country where I live?

No, but (in the words of Jesus) unless we repent, we shall all likewise perish.

God is attempting to get our attention in order that we may turn from our covertousness and be restored to relationship with him. I'm talking about the Church here, not those who don't know Christ.


Posted by: brendan at December 28, 2005 10:43 PM

New Orleans should have been prepared,,,,,at one time ,,and before greedy builders decimated the all natural,,,,scenery,,,,the barrier islands, the swamps,, the forests,,,,that naturally protected the area,,,,,and the bloody hands of politicains who gave them power,,money,,,,influence,,(the builders,,contracters,),,,,,,and bulding the wall against future hurricanes,,and which was inadequate and in desperate need of repair,,and now led to death,,,,of people,, animals,,property,,,,and MAYOR Nagins,,,,,cowardice of fleeing to baton rouge,,,at the time the people he represented,,needed his life saving intervention.So even so,,if in fact it was Gods judgement on the city,,,,he(God) had provided,,,,necessary natural protections in the first place in nature.

Posted by: concerned at June 29, 2006 07:21 PM

if you believe in a god who goes around destroying things to make a point, then i don't want to be Christian. God is sovereign, period. He doesn't have some insecurity that makes him go around trying to prove Himself. He is God, and that is where it ends. Not whether or not he put a hurricane in the path of people. If you read scripture correctly, God is against this kind of life. Jesus even says that Satan is the one who destroys and that He offers life (John 10:10). God did not send Hurricane Katrina and some people were talking about how we should thank God it didn't happen to us...that reminds me of a story in the bible about a pharisee who said the same exact thing...guys, we help them. we don't sit around hypothesizing whether or not God did this. There 7 different ways to tithe that the Jews knew of when Jesus spoke of tithing and all had to do with helping the, let's do that."

Posted by: george elerick at November 6, 2006 09:29 PM