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Question and Answer

God's Judgment and Hurricane Katrina


Does God send judgment now or is there only judgment in heaven? And can hurricane Katrina be considered a judgment? What is the OPC position on judgment and disasters, if any?


The OPC does not have an official position on such things. But I can give you what I believe is the view of the majority of ministers in the OPC, as we understand the Bible and what it says concerning such disasters.

Of course, the judgment does await the end. The day of judgment will come, and those who are outside of Christ will be eternally condemned and those in Christ will be saved forever.

Now, before that time, things happen in this life which are terrible disasters (like earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, etc.). These things occur because of the fall. The sin of Adam in the garden not only brought a curse upon him and his descendants, but upon all of creation itself (Gen. 3). Things are not the way they ought to be after the fall. Thus, things like hurricanes and other natural disasters occur in this life (although such will not always be the case; see Romans 8:19-21).

Of course, in all this God is sovereign. So God did ordain and even providentially superintended hurricane Katrina. He did not ordain it to "judge" a particular people (America in general or the people of Louisiana in particular). Or, at least, if he did, we do not know that. Why not? Consider the words of Jesus in the incident described in Luke 13:1-3 (English Standard Version):

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

In addition, there were many faithful Christians who were affected by the hurricane as well as evildoers. So, we can't just give a blanket explanation and say "it was God's judgment."

Now, to be sure, the hurricane was ordained by God for his purposes and for his glory. And that manifests itself in different ways in different people. The hurricane may be used by God in the life of the Christian to strengthen his faith in him. (For example, it may be to encourage the Christian by showing him how God cares for his people in the middle of crises.) Or, perhaps that Christian was becoming too comfortable with his material possessions and God did this to draw his child closer to himself and away from the transient things of this life. Or it may be to give the Christian an opportunity to show the love of Christ in a practical way by helping the victims of the hurricane.

For the unbeliever, God may have used the hurricane in his life to place him on a path of seeking God. Or, he may use the hurricane to harden the heart of the unbeliever. God's ways are multifaceted; who can comprehend them?

But whatever the case, it was for the good of his people (Rom. 8:28) and for his glory. And that is where we must rest.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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