Quote of the Day: Is That A Trick Question? Edition

James E. Atwood (courtesy kansascity.com)

“So are we supposed to love our neighbors or are we supposed to constantly defend ourselves from our neighbors?” James E. Atwood, author of America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, quoted in Guns seen as the real American idol [via kansascity.com]

Want to start a different discussion or ask a question on another topic? Click here to go to TTAG’s Free Fire Zone.


  1. avatar Rebecca says:

    Irrelevant. This country is a secular one, not a religously-based one.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      From a legal standpoint we are basically a secular nation. That said, keep in mind that culture and values shape our secular laws. For example laws basically reflect “morals”, which comes from the root word “mores”, which basically means common and acceptable practices in society if I remember correctly. Keep in mind also that we have a very strong Christian history and lots of people are active Christians today.

      Since both our history and current culture/values affect laws, it is good to promote values that support self defense. When people express reservations about self defense based on Christian values, it is an opportunity to educate those people on solid natural and Biblical expressions of self defense. Given that most people who profess to be Christian have a desire to learn about the Bible, I for one will take advantage of every opportunity to expand anyone’s Biblical knowledge on the righteousness of self defense. I hope others will do the same.

      1. avatar jkp says:

        If your religion questions the right to bear arms in defense of yourself and your family, it is your religion that should be questioned — not the right.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          I concur.

    2. avatar Pat says:

      Rebecca, while the government may be secular (though God inspired), the country is most certainly religiously based ( still over 85% Judeo-Christian as of 2013). Don’t be a libtard (democrat).

      1. avatar Rich Grise says:

        Yes, and thank Goddess that the founding fathers forbade any government involvement in any religion.

        1. avatar Pat says:

          It must indeed work both ways.

  2. avatar cwp says:

    What do you mean, “or”?

  3. avatar joe says:

    1) if someone comes to kill you rise up and kill him first
    2) God helps those who help themselves
    3) Ezekiel… 25:17

    1. avatar Chris Mallory says:

      Need a Book, chapter and verse for that “God helps those who helps themselves” rubbish. God helps those who admit they are helpless and need him.

      1. avatar Tanner McClure says:

        Or, God is simply an outside observer and allows his creation to continue without interference. If God chooses winners, then he is necessarily choosing losers, and that doesn’t sound like a loving God to me.

        1. avatar Hal J. says:

          Or we could just leave God out of the debate on Constitutional rights in the first place….

        2. avatar Mistereveready says:

          Or gods are fictional (which I have every reason to believe). Whatever the case may be, one thing that is for sure relying on anything but yourself is impractical.

          A god or goddess, spirit, spookable might some how save you (doubt it), but good cover, protective clothing, and a trust worthy side arm or two are far better assurances to survival. If he didn’t help those terrified children at Newtown, I’m sure as hell off the “gonna rescue” list, so Senior CZ-75 P-07 and Mademoiselle Glock 20 are my guardian angels.

          But at the main post, I can love someone and take up defense against them. I don’t have to have hatred towards someone to stop them from committing a crime.Anyone who does have malicious intents when pulling the trigger probably should not have firearms in the first place.

          Survival isn’t about what I like, but what I need.If that means dropping the hammer, then I must.

        3. avatar Chip says:

          The Universe is Large enough for All the Gods.

          And the question posed by Mr Atwood is an interesting one….. But I have a counter question: How do Fences fall into that Love They Neighbor concept? Aren’t Fences supposed to make for good neighbors?

        4. avatar Ross says:

          Folks, there is only on God and he’s not a bystander and he makes it very clear that there are only two types of people:

          The proud and the righteous and the righteous live by faith.

        5. avatar Jake says:

          Klingon gods are dead. Ancient Klingon warriors slew them, they were more trouble than they were worth.

        6. avatar Rich Grise says:

          The God of Love doesn’t pick winners and losers; the God of power (aka Ahriman) does.

  4. avatar KMAG says:

    Why must it be either love or defend? Lets look to the source of the love thy neighbor rule; Jesus. Jesus traveled with his apostles – armed (on at least 1 ocassion). How do we know? Peter used his sword to cut off the temple guard’s ear at the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested. I suggest that Jesus accepted that weapons should be used to defend – just not to attack. See Luke 22:36-37. Furthermore, thou shall not murder, rather than shall not kill, is the true meaning of the commandment. If Mr. Atwood is competnent and doing scholarly work, then he should have addressed these points in his work, which admittedly, I have not read.

    1. avatar Pulatso says:


  5. avatar boardsnbikes says:

    IIRC, the God of the Old Testament was not entirely peaceful. Evil was wrought upon evil people.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Love your neighbor. But have a backup plan to kill him just in case.

    1. avatar Pulatso says:

      AKA Batman Diplomacy.

  7. avatar imrambi says:

    First thing is to define who a neighbor is. Since Mr. Atwood talks about the Bible, lets use it.

    Lets look at the Good Samaritan: (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2010:29-37;&version=KJV)

    If we look back at verse 25, we find the person asking the question to Jesus is a lawyer. This person should know the law, both the law of Moses and the law of the land. This person should know the definition of neighbor.

    In verse 30, we find that a man was attacked, robbed, and left “half dead.” Verses 33-35 describe the Samaritan actions. (Samaritans were hated by the Jews at that time.) In verse 36, Jesus ask “Which one of the three was a neighbor to the person that fell among thieves?”

    Notice that Jesus did not include the thieves in his question. The thieves were automatically disqualified from being neighbors.

    Its not the three that as gun owners that we are protecting ourselves against. Its the thieves.

    Jesus is not the “meek and mild” that is implied. Jesus is also described in Revelation (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2019:11-16&version=KJV) as:

    1. A judge
    2. Makes war
    3. Has “weapons” (this is figurative speech describing Jesus)

    Jesus also says that he has come to make division (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2010:32-36&version=KJV) with those that believe in Him. He states a sword (the weapon of the time).

    There are also accounts were Jesus was not “meek and mild” (Throwing out commercial activities in the temple, calling the Pharisees “You are of your father the Devil”, etc).

    Guns are not the issue, but sin is. Its the matters of the heart that matter.

    Guns are amoral.

    The premise of Mr. Atwoods question is wrong. We are to love our neighbors, but those we have to defend ourselves against are not our neighbors.

  8. avatar John Cook says:

    Does your neighbor love you?

    Constantly defend? I’ll just need to defend from my neighbor once. Odds are the next neighbor won’t be as bad.

  9. avatar Zach says:

    This guy is a false prophet. Just another way many leaders in the evangelical community are destroying this country.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    “So are we supposed to love our neighbors or are we supposed to constantly defend ourselves from our neighbors?” James E. Atwood

    Answer: both.

    Mr. Atwood creates a false dichotomy.

  11. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    In biblical times, many neighbors wanted to kill, rape, pillage and enslave you. Minus the enslave part we still have people who want to do the same. This guy must live in a gated religious retirement community.

    1. avatar vioshi says:

      Ever heard of Human Trafficking? Slavery may not be as out in the open as it once was, but it still exists in the bowels of the earth.

  12. avatar DaveL says:

    A theological expose on guns is like an agricultural expose on plasma dynamics.

  13. avatar Hal J. says:

    Atwood is a gun owner and a hunter — he goes deer hunting every fall — but says he is like many who grew up with guns but still advocate for balanced gun laws

    Another Fudd speaks out, but this time bases his desire to control others on his religion. I’ll simply reply with a quote of my own:

    One man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh. —Robert A. Heinlein

    1. avatar Jon says:

      Yep, these sportsman who advocate for the anti’s think that their shotguns and bolt action hunting rifles will never be on the list. As long as it doesn’t effect their hobby, they don’t care.

      1. avatar Hal J. says:

        I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a Fudd say something to the effect of: “I have hunting rifles, but I’ve never needed one of those damned ARs, so I don’t see why anyone else should have one either”.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          I have ARs, but I’ve never needed one of those damned hunting rifles, so I don’t see why anyone else should have one either.

        2. avatar Mistereveready says:


          “…so I don’t see why anyone else should have one either”.

          should be

          “… so I don’t see why anyone else CAN have one either”.

          If people were just trying to convince us, that’d be one thing but too many people are trying to force us to not own/buy an AR 15.

  14. I struggled with this…until I became a father. At that time, I realized that my life as a parent/role model for my son and his life were just as valuable as the life of an attacker and that we had not made the decision to try and take the life of that person for no reason. So, Mr. Atwood, the answer is yes, we should love our neighbors by protecting them from those who would victimize them.

  15. avatar Jon says:

    Love? Maybe like. Most likely, tolerate. His statement is just plain moronic. Our world is not one of black and white but shades of gray. Sometimes some red is necessary.

  16. avatar New Chris says:

    I think it’s lovely that this insightful spiritual leader has chosen to focus his limited time and world changing resources on the grave and pressing issue of disarming his peaceful neighbors, instead of concerning himself with minor morally insignificant subjects such as his governments use of unmanned drones to murder children in foreign lands…

    We should all be inspired by his great moral courage.


  17. avatar Roll says:

    Wow, if it were that simple: one or the other.

  18. avatar ThomasR says:

    Jesus was a peaceful man, not a pacifist. BIG difference.

    It is very strange; a couple of times when an acquaintance found out I was carrying a concealed weapon they would burst out with an exclamation “what, are you planning on shooting me? “( two different times with two different people; like I said, strange the way the helpless, powerless and the defenseless look at weapons and those that carry them).

    I would respond with “as long as you aren’t a robber, rapist or murderer, you safe with me” ; they wouldn’t say anything after that.

  19. avatar Hal J. says:

    My first thought to that question is “Why, do you anticipate doing something that will require me to shoot you?”.

  20. avatar Shire-man says:

    One has nothing to do with the other.
    I can love my partner all day long and still have to shoot to defend myself.
    Like no spouse, family member or best friend has ever been beaten or stabbed to death?

    If I had to guess I’d say Mr. Atwood is more a man of control than a man of God.

  21. avatar Charles5 says:

    For those of you that don’t spend a lot of time in Church, you would be surprised how many Church goers are anti-gun, despite the perception of the Church being a bastion for conservative ideals. The Bible talks a lot about personal responsibility and taking action in the face of adversity. However, many so called “Christians” don’t even crack their Bible all year long. They show up on Sunday, nod and shout amen to the Pastor’s half-baked, poorly conceived sermon and then they go home and do nothing. Many of them are lazy bums that use God as an excuse for not taking responsibility for their lives. “Oh, God will make a way.” Yes, God can make a way, but He demonstrates repeatedly in the Bible that He does not reward laziness.

    For a supposed man of God, I am surprised that Mr. Atwood is focusing his ire on the tools of violence, rather than the inherent, sinful nature of man, which is the root cause of violent crime. Actually, I am not surprised. I see this attitude all the time from people that think that government is the key to utopia, a position that has a lot of followers in the religious community. “If we can just make this or that illegal, then our fairytale society of moral perfection will be a reality.” You can’t legislate morality, dipstick. It has never worked and it never will. I think Mr. Atwood’s biggest hang up is that he is confusing defense with hatred and mistaking passivity for love. The right to self-defense and love for your neighbor are not mutually exclusive. I can care for the spiritual well-being of an aggressor, but my first and foremost responsibility, given to me by God, is to see to the physical and spiritual needs of my family; which includes, but is not limited to, their physical security and protection from harm. Don’t get me wrong. I want to see people turn from their evil ways, but if they insist upon remaining steadfast in their criminal pursuits, I will not begrudge them their due. Two to the heart, one to the head.

    Despite his pontification, I seriously doubt that even Mr. Atwood would stand idly by and watch is family be raped and murdered in front of him. He may find himself inadequately prepared, and he will have to live with that guilt should he ever come up short in a time of need. There is a big difference between a man of peace and a man of passivity. Men of peace show restraint, even when they are quite cable of handling their business. They only use force when it is necessary. Passive men are cowards, men that lack the courage to stand up for what is right for fear of conflict and negative reactions. In my experience, passive men throw the most outrageous temper tantrums when they can’t get their way.

    1. avatar Aharon says:


      You’d make a good neighbor.

      1. avatar Hal J. says:

        Speaking of neighbors…

        “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

        —Robert A. Heinlein

  22. avatar Aharon says:

    I love a good hamburger yet I will happily chew it up and swallow it.

    “So are we supposed to love our neighbors or are we supposed to constantly defend ourselves from our neighbors?”
    — That is a really dumb and poorly worded rhetorical question with a lack of logic connecting the first and second part of the sentence.

  23. avatar DB says:

    The question makes a presumption about only one party having a duty. What if our “neighbor” (who is probably from some other neighborhood) chooses not to love us and endeavors to gain access to our homes with ill intent? What about that person’s response to the call to love one’s neighbor? It’s out the door, apparently. What then?

  24. avatar TacticalDad says:

    It all depends on what part of town you’re stuck living in. Neighbornood, or just Hood. Class Matters.

  25. avatar mediocrates says:

    reading the reviews, it just never ceases to amaze me how stupid people really are….

  26. avatar Mike Crognale says:

    First off, I cannot believe how the discussion thread got off topic so fast! The issue is guns people, not religion. The Rev. Mr Atwood wrote a book that was reviewed by Mr. Eveld. That is what we should be discussing here. With that in mind: Mr Eveld’s article fails on many points but let’s start with the most egregious. The 90% poll figure supposedly of people who wanted more gun control laws, was a lie from the beginning. The poll that was taken had too small a sample and phrased the question in such a way as to practically force a positive reply. The premise that we can all disarm and then peace, love and happiness will prevail is stupid. There are too many countries, cultures and false religions waiting for the Obama regime to disarm us so they can conquer our country. THAT’S WHY the 2nd Amendment exists. The failure of the gun control advocates is that they can’t ever acknowledge that the Bill of Rights, in its entirety was 1) a profound statement of pre-existing rights. Those rights that are God given and supersede the rest of the Constitution; and 2) were written into the Constitution to ensure its adoption by the original colonies. The colonies demanded them before they would vote to adopt. I am sorry that Rev. Atwood’s friend was killed but if I could, I would ask him a simple question. Would he have felt better if the murderer had used a knife or thrown his friend out of a 2nd story window? The murder weapon happened to be a gun. It could have just as easily been something else.

    1. avatar Hal J. says:

      Given that the author of the book in question is defending gun control on (at least in part) theological grounds, it shouldn’t be surprising that such matters are being discussed in this thread.

      As for rights being “God-given”, I couldn’t disagree more. Rights are an invention of the mind of man; they’re not inherent to the structure of the universe in the way that (for instance) the Strong Nuclear Force is. I will grant that are assumed to be pre-existing in the Constitution.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        This is the core of the moral relativism that underpins modern Progressive, i.e., modern neo-Fascist, legal, cultural and moral doctrine. If this is what you believe then you cannot object if the body politic chooses to abrogate the bill of rights.

        The alternative to natural rights is the General Will as expressed by their choice of leader. This is what was called the Fuehrer Princep in Nazi Germany. “The leader represents the will of the Volk.” The equivalent Leninist concept is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat where the vanguard party represents the will of the working class. This concept of leadership began with the French Revolution.
        If you believe that all moral systems are human creations then you have no standard to evaluate any other regime as its actions can only be evaluated in self-referential terms. For example, if the Holocaust was carried in a properly legal manner in the context of Nazi Germany’s laws than no crime was committed. I challenge you to find fault with Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia without reference to something outside the system.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          +1 tdiinva … you beat me to it. See my post below.

        2. avatar Hal J. says:

          If this is what you believe then you cannot object if the body politic chooses to abrogate the bill of rights.

          What an odd comment. Certainly I can object and try to persuade others should such an event occur.

          For example, if the Holocaust was carried in a properly legal manner in the context of Nazi Germany’s laws than no crime was committed

          Under German law, no crime was committed. After the Allies won the war, they were able to convict Germans of breaking the law under the post-war set of laws imposed by Allies.

          I challenge you to find fault with Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia without reference to something outside the system.

          In practical terms, Nazi Germany was wrong because we won the war and we said so. Had Hitler and Tojo conquered the world (not bloody likely outside alternate history SF), they would have decided what was right and wrong.

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Hal J,

        Who or what created the fabric of space and time (our universe) within which we observe such things as the Strong Force and Weak force?

        Either the universe sprung into existence all by itself or a transcendent God created the universe. If the universe created itself, then anything goes and “might makes right”. If a transcendent God created the universe, then that God has revealed timeless standards — such as the value of human life — that no one will ever be able to argue away. People may war against God’s timeless values, but those people will never have moral authority for their actions.

        Consider this. Without a transcendent God and timeless standards, we have human contradictions such as slavery: it was “right” in the U.S. before 1861 and wrong since 1865. I personally do not like a world where slavery was ever “right”, regardless of who supported it or how many people supported it.

        1. avatar Ropingdown says:

          We did indeed “have” a transcendent god and timeless standards throughout the period of the first and second temple and the lifetime of Jesus. We also had slavery. Neither source of god thoughts I’ve referenced forbade slave-owning among their adherents. Slavery was a near-universal concept until very very recent times. Korea, China, Japan, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America all had slavery in some form until the late 19th century. Some still do (Africa, Middle East). Religion did nothing to stop it. It was the evolution of modern political theory and beliefs which ended slavery, wherever it did end. Organized Religion was late to that party.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          Not logical, uncommon. If there is no transcendent god, then there are no standards, and therefore no contradictions–standards are that which the society at any given point in time defines them to be. The ten commandments are not timeless standards descended from some Godhead, but instead the basic rules that generally allow humans to live with each other in social groups without constant bloodshed. If the rules were indeed “timeless standards,” then they should apply to all life forms, not just humans. As Galileo proved years ago, the earth is not the center of the universe; Man is not first and foremost in God’s eyes. And yes, might does make right pretty much everywhere you look. That we have refined those rules speaks more to our intellect and desire for self-preservation than to anything else.

        3. avatar Hal J. says:

          Who or what created the fabric of space and time (our universe) within which we observe such things as the Strong Force and Weak force?

          I haven’t the faintest idea. For that matter, I don’t know that it was “created” in the first place. The science of what happened during the Planck epoch (10 to the minus 43rd seconds after the Big Bang) and earlier is highly speculative.

          If the universe created itself, then anything goes and “might makes right”.

          “Might makes right” has certainly been the historic pattern, has it not?

          If a transcendent God created the universe, then that God has revealed timeless standards — such as the value of human life — that no one will ever be able to argue away. People may war against God’s timeless values, but those people will never have moral authority for their actions.

          2 questions:

          a) Which God of we speaking of? Vishnu? Odin? Jehovah? Cthulhu?

          b) Even assuming there is such a God, what if It doesn’t have timeless values? What if God doesn’t care? The God of the Bible certainly seems to care about such things (if you believe that sort of thing), but who’s to say that the Bible…or any other “holy” book…is the authority on such matters?

          Consider this. Without a transcendent God and timeless standards, we have human contradictions such as slavery: it was “right” in the U.S. before 1861 and wrong since 1865.

          As far as I can tell, “right” and “wrong” are human constructs. An amusing illustration of this that I came across was a cartoon speculating on why Homo Sapiens came out on top of all the other hominids in the last 100,000 years. It showed a number of H. Sapiens chanting (with other hominids such as H. neanderthalensis hiding from them), “We’re smart! We’re handsome! And we haven’t invented morality yet!”.

          I personally do not like a world where slavery was ever “right”, regardless of who supported it or how many people supported it.

          Is your basis for discerning the basis of reality how much the various models appeal to you on a personal level? I’m reminded of someone who, when asked why he believed in God, replied “Because it comforts me to do so”. Not much I could say to that, really…

  27. avatar tdiinva says:

    Martin Luther contemplated this issue and framed question: “Must a Christian leave the use of the sword to maintain public order to the Turk?” He answered that in the negative. He said that it while you are to turn the other cheek you are also required to defend your neighbor. When neighbors defend each other both are secure. That is a good definition of a civil society. Societies where each persom is capable and willing to defend his neighbor are usually peaceful socieites.

  28. avatar "lee n. field" says:

    James E. Atwood. The first google hit is me to sojo.net, which tells me all I need to know. Unless he really, really surprises me, he going to be a lefty, communitarian sort of person.

    Wipf & Stock is a small publish on demand outfit, specializing in Christian theological material.

    I’m not worried about this guy.

  29. avatar In Memphis says:

    Defend ourselves from our neighbors? My neighbors on both sides of me are armed, they know Im armed. We arent about to hit tue streets and fued either.

  30. avatar jwm says:

    If he tries to do harm to me or mine he’s not a neighber.

  31. avatar Eric says:

    How much love could he muster for a psychopath who breaks in and rapes his wife……or worse?

  32. avatar Ropingdown says:

    I am compelled to follow the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If I have a neighbor that is starving, I will give him food and help him find a job. I would wish him to do the same for me. If I have a neighbor who is in a psychotic drug-fueled rage running at me full speed with a 12 inch knife, I will shoot him. I would hope he did the same for me if I was behaving as he was, and he were peaceably going about his business.

  33. avatar Texas Colt carry says:

    I am not a church going individual, but I consider myself a good person with Christian values, and run my life accordingly. The question of either/or should be “and” instead. I look at this way,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Love thy neighbor as you would love your brother. Defend him as you would defend yourself. But you and you alone know what is in your heart and can never be sure of the heart of your neighbor, so be prepared to defend yourself against him if the need arises.

    Trust but verify.


  34. avatar William says:

    “The proud and the righteous and the righteous live by faith.”

    Except those who don’t. Really, there is no way to know either way. Life life and be good to others, in hope they’ll do the same.

  35. avatar Jumbie says:

    Somewhere in the muslim teachings is the proverb: “Trust in God, but tie your camel.”

    I can’t see how anyone doesn’t understand the principle here. God didn’t send you to Candyland. This is the Earth. Take precautions accordingly.

  36. avatar Anonemoose says:

    Love thy neighbor.

    Commit acts of compassion and charity for thy neighbor.

    Protect thy neighbor from danger.

    Perforate thy neighbor if he should become a danger to thine self.

  37. avatar PTD2013 says:

    I don’t believe I saw the simplest answer to the question that I can think of: The question posed assumes One follows the belief that “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” and secondly that anyone other than the subject of argument is considered a neighbor. This is a what if question based on a lot of assumption that personally doesn’t apply to me. Do your research, define the parameters personally, and make a decision then train accordingly rather than debate assumptions. Just my .02

    As for Christians and firearms. Luke 22:36
    “And if he has no sword, he should sell his cloak and buy one.”
    Being that a mans cloak kept him shielded from the elements (much more common than assailents) and swords were common weapon of armed engagement, (which I would say firearms now hold that position) you get the idea of the severity for ones utilization of proper defenses. Just saying…..

  38. avatar Pat says:

    The author (Atwood) wants us to huff Anthrax spores and Zyclon-B.
    Crazy effing libtard.

  39. avatar Bob says:

    The Bible teaches us to love our neighbors, and to fight against evil wherever it may appear. If the majority of the population were full of love for one another, but a few evil people were allowed to do as they pleased, the world would be a very bad place. To put it another way: Loving your neighbor also includes protecting him/her from harm and evil things.

    Yes, Mr. Atwood’s statement is a trick question. A false dichotomy. The word “constantly” is also misleading (over-generalization), because we do not need to constantly defend against our evil neighbors, only when they try to harm us. Being a religious scholar, he should know that.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email