Pastor James Atwood, who passed away in 2020, called gun violence the most important theological issue for the American church. His conviction is rooted in Mark 12:28-34 where Jesus says the most important commandment is to love God and love your neighbor. Atwood says you cannot love God and not love your neighbor, they are fundamentally connected. Collateral Damage is a prophetic call for the church to get involved and not remain silent when 40,000 fellow image bearers are being killed each year while hundreds of thousands more are psychologically and emotionally damaged from the effects of gun violence.
In a moving sermon pastor James Atwood draws a straight line between how many Christians viewed slavery before the Civil War to how many Christians currently view and react to gun violence. He says many Christians say gun violence has nothing to do with ethics, it has nothing to do with morality, and nothing to do with spirituality. That gun violence is a political issue and we should just stay out of it. Atwood forcefully calls out those statements as a failure to love our neighbors and treat everyone in the Image of God. Additionally he points out that in Mark 12 Jesus points out that to love God is to love our neighbor. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor. Atwood ends the sermon with six spiritual, moral, and ethical reasons why Christians need to speak up and act to stop gun violence.