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Hey there, I'm Sunny Shell, a wretch saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. I'm married to the most incredible man on earth, who loves Jesus more than he loves me, and we have two precious adult sons.

The compassionately endures me through my metabolic disease (since 2004) that enables me to be more prayerful and careful about commitments I make and helps me to make the best use of my short time here on earth.

If you want to know more about me, click HERE.

'God's Not Dead': The Only Christian Film In Theaters Worth Seeing



There are a barrage of "Christian" films that are currently in theaters and some soon to be released. The peculiar thing about all these movies are that none of them...until now, have been written or produced by actual Christians. One movie was written and produced by New Agers, another by an atheist and then this one: "God's Not Dead" produced by Pure Flix Entertainment in association with Check the Gate Productions.

Though "God's Not Dead" opened in a mere 780 theaters, it earned $9.2 million and ranked number four its first weekend. Other movies in the top five opened in nearly 4,000 theaters and took a 20 to 50 percent revenue dive in their second week. But the revenue for "God's Not Dead" only went down by 4.5 percent, remained in the top five (taking the fifth position), added 398 more theaters and earned $8.8 million its second weekend with a total gross of $21.8 million thus far.

After having the joy of watching this film, the first thing I thought was, "Finally! A good Christian movie that was actually produced by Christians; therefore it didn't blaspheme God, His character, or His Word."

"God's Not Dead" was well written, well acted and was true to the joys and hardships Christians who stand up for their faith endure from both unbelievers and sadly, even believers. Were there moments of cheesiness, yes, but honestly, I think many movies have that...not just "Christian" movies. No actor or script is perfect and not every line comes off as best as it could. Overall, I thought the acting and writing was spot on to real persecutions and pressures Christians endure...me included.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory of God rests upon you.

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."
~1 Peter 4:12-14, 19 (ESV)
The story for the movie was inspired by 43 court cases that were filed from 1995 to present. In all cases, both Christians students and staff members were discriminated against by their universities for being faithful to Christ and God's holy precepts for their lives. There were students that were expelled and threatened to have their academic careers ruined. And some students even had teachers refuse to grade their work because: they stood for the biblical definition of marriage (between one man and one woman, Genesis 2:23-25), they advocated pro-life (Prov 31:8-9), refused to counsel gay couples (Is 5:20; Rom 1:18, 24-27), required members of Christian campus organizations to live by biblical standards (1 Cor 5:11-12, 1 Pet 1:14-16), etc.

“We developed the script then commissioned a book by the same title with the arguments presented in the movie to debut a year ahead of the film. We felt the Newsboys’ popular song ‘God’s Not Dead’ was the perfect title and incorporated them as well as Willie and Korie Robertson of Duck Commander and fan favorite Kevin Sorbo (HERCULES, SOUL SURFER) into the script,” said Russell Wolfe, Managing Partner of Pure Flix.

Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper)
A college freshman, and a biblical Christian young man who's not a push over for his unsubmissive, self-centered and unsupportive, Christian girlfriend. When Josh enters his philosophy class he's publicly challenged and ridiculed by his professor for believing that God exists. No one except Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) encourages Josh to remain obedient to God, reminding him that he may be "the best exposure to Christ" anyone in that class has ever had. And Pastor Dave was right.

I thought the writers did a fabulous job of depicting what a true college freshman could do with only three class lectures to defend his view of the existence of God. Josh didn't come off as a studied theologian or a learned scientist. Rather, Josh provided evidence and presented ideas and arguments that someone his age, with limited time, and in his circumstance, might have access to. It would've been completely unrealistic to have a college freshman present evidence of God's existence like well-studied and well-degreed men and women of theology or science.

It's likely I'm not as smart as many, therefore I learned a lot from this movie and thought the arguments were good and spot on. I'm actually going to use what I've learned from the movie to share with others should I ever be in the same position as Josh.

Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu)
Works in the university cafeteria as well as attends school there. She lives with her Muslim family and wears a hijab ( Muslim head covering) to honor her father, but has secretly been a Christian for about a year. Her faith in Christ is violently tested. This particular story resonated with me the most, as it brought back personal memories of similar events and persecutions in my life.

Martin (Paul Kwo)
Is a Chinese citizen, studying in the United States. China is an atheistic country and talk of any religion is generally forbidden, so when Martin has phone conversations with his father about what's happening in his philosophy class, he encounters unexpected opposition and disinterest. Martin is very curious as to why Josh would put himself in a humiliating and seemingly futile predicament of proving an invisible God exists.

Pastor Dave (David A.R. White)
An associate pastor of a local church who privately feels he's not doing as much for Christ as he should in his comfy suburban, American town. He envies his visiting missionary friend, Reverend Jude (Benjamin Onyango) because he gets to work in the trenches without the same worldly comforts Dave has. Pastor Dave is a sincere and loving person who is genuinely concerned for the eternal welfare of all those around him and doesn't realize the comfort, encouragement and support the Lord provides others through him.

Amy (Trisha LaFache)
A young, vivacious journalist thinks she's going to conquer the world and assumes she's too important for the world to spin on without her. But in just one day, her narcissism is shattered by sobering, life-changing news. As happens with many (including me), it takes news like this to snap us out of the little fantasy worlds we make for ourselves where we're our own gods and we think we alone determine our destiny.

Mark (Dean Caine)
A very successful, megalomaniacal businessman who always considers "what's in it for me" before he makes or keeps a deal. Mark is dating Amy because they have the same life aspirations and being beautiful, she also makes for a very nice ornament to tote around town; satisfying his callous and overweening ego. When Amy shares her news with Mark, the only thought that crosses his mind is how inconvenient her news is to his life.

Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo)
Was raised by a Christian mother, who lost her battle with cancer when he was only 12 years old. Because Jeffrey himself had never repented and trusted in Jesus, rather than pray for his mother in accordance with God's will, he does what we're commanded by God never to do―test Him (Matt 4:5-7, 1 Cor 10:9-12). After trying to make an unsuccessful "deal" with God, Jeffrey feels slighted by the Almighty and decides He must not exist since He didn't see things the way Jeffrey did and didn't give him what he wanted (Job 41:11).

Mina (Cory Oliver)
A former student and now girlfriend of Professor Radisson. She's not very strong in her faith...yet, and like many women, looks for her value and identity from a man rather than the Son of Man, Jesus Christ the Lord. Due to this, she falls into the painful and deceptive world of missionary dating, that is, knowingly dating an unbeliever hoping to convert him (2 Cor 6:14-15). Thankfully, because she's truly saved, this relationship begins to gnaw at her and she seeks wise counsel.

Response to Naysayers
I must say that I've been very surprised and perturbed by illegitimate and contradictory complaints about "God's Not Dead". Some reviewers have said that this film puts "God on trial" and we're commanded not to test God. I agree we're not, and this movie doesn't do that. The term is used only to set up the dynamics of the debate between Josh and Professor Radisson much like Christ Himself spoke in farming terms to farmers, shepherding terms to shepherds, etc. in order to help the hearers understand the things of God by comparing them to the things people of this world understood...things of this world.

There are other reviewers who complain Josh didn't present a good enough argument because he forgot to mention many scientific facts about creation. While at the same time, saying it was unreasonable that a college freshman could ever win an argument with a near genius college professor.

The last two complaints I'll address are the ones that have purported that Josh supported the Big Bang Theory; he did not. The second complaint was that the script for the characters and situations they were involved in were unrealistic and stereotyped. Case in point, one reviewer said the atheist character Amy and business tycoon Mark were over-exaggerated because atheist aren't that mean or callous. I agree that not all atheist are, but some are...and honestly, so are many professing Christians.

I knew a Christian gal many years ago who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her professing Christian husband of 20 years left her and their three children and moved into a hotel or apartment saying, "I'm sorry this is happening to you. This doesn't fit into my life, so why don't you call your girlfriends from church and ask them to help you. Then call me when you're done with all this cancer stuff and I'll come back so we can resume life as usual." Her husband, like Mark was also a very successful business man and just felt this "cancer business" didn't fit into his business and life aspirations.

None of these stories were unrealistic, they were just some of the worst case scenarios Christians (though there are far worse) might face in order to encourage them to press on...no matter the cost. After all, why waste time on telling Christians how to handle situations where everyone likes you? We already know how to handle that.

What happened to all the characters in the movie have either happened to me personally, or others I know; all here in America. That's not hype or stereotype, it's real life.

Conclusion
This is by far the best Christian film I've seen in a while and I highly recommend everyone to support it by going to see it and sharing the message of hope found only in Christ that this movie accurately and realistically portrays.

The only thing I disagree with in this movie was their definition of why evil is in this world...freewill. As one who adheres to Reformed Theology, I don't believe God grants any human being freewill until after conversion rather than before (Rom 9:16). We don't choose God, He chooses us (Jn 6:37, 44; Rom 9:11, 19-24). I believe what is written in Scripture, that we are all inherently sinful (Ps 51:5, Rom 5:12, Eph 2:3) and destined for Hell (Rom 6:23); therefore slaves to our sin nature (Jn 8:34, Rom 6:16) until we repent and trust Jesus, who alone has the power to free us from the penalty and bondage of our sins―making us new creations (Rom 6:17, 2 Cor 5:17).

Be sure to visit the "God's Not Dead" blog page where they provide interesting resources to help you prove to others that God's not dead and neither is anyone who has left this world and is now Home with Christ (1 Thess 4:13-14).

They are surely more alive now than you or I.

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17 comments:

  1. Interesting review. You've got a small typo here "God's holy precepts for the lives." - should be their lives. I have seen trailers for this movie and read a few reviews, and my take is that it's a mixed bag. The biggest problem I have with it is that it puts God on trial which is in direct contradiction to the command to not put God to the test. God isn't on trial and Christians should not put unbelievers in the position of being judge over God. God is the judge and we should start from the presupposition that everyone knows that God exists but many suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1). The problem unbelievers have is not a lack of evidence, but a sinful heart that foolishly denies the existence of the God with their lips that in their hearts they do know exists. Have you seen any videos by Sye Ten Bruggencate? If not then I encourage you to watch the trailer for his video 'How to answer the fool' as a starting point.

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  2. Hi Brendan, once again, thanks so much for proofreading my article. :o) I appreciate you and just now fixed that typo. Thanks again.


    As far as putting God on trial, this movie doesn't actually do that. The term "putting God on trial" is just a term to help set up the dynamics of the debate. "Testing God" as it says in Scripture we ought not, means we challenge Him to prove Himself (like Satan did with Jesus), but this NEVER happens in the film. Rather Josh does a great job at doing something similar to what Jesus did (spoke in farming terms to farmers, shepherding terms to shepherds, etc.) and what the Apostle Paul did at Areopagus speaking to the philosophers with their terms and interests, told them God Almighty is the "unknown god" they CAN know and then he introduced to them that God is the Creator of all, etc.


    The movie never puts God on trial, but does do what we've seen in Scripture done over and over again...reason with those who don't know Christ.


    And no, I haven't seen Sye's vidoes. I usually go to Ray Comfort's ministry Living Waters Publications, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul or Alistair Begg's ministries to help me grow in my walk and learn how to be a better witness for Christ. But thanks for the suggestion.

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  3. Hi Sunny. I'm not sure what you think of Answers in Genesis but they are the one of the largest apologetics ministries in the world and they refused to endorse this movie because of the many unbiblical elements in it. Here is a review from them on this movie highlighting these issues http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2014/02/25/review-gods-not-dead-movie You said that God is presented as the God that they CAN know. This is not biblical. God is the God that everyone DOES know. Romans chapter 1 makes it clear that everyone knows God but that many suppress the truth in unrighteousness. People don't reject God because of a lack of evidence but because they prefer their sin and are in rebellion against God. It's only been in the last 6 months that God has opened my eyes to this, and now I see clearly what verses like Romans 1 are talking about.

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  4. P.s. Here's a video from Living Waters that explains what I'm trying to say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4XKyYDUTCM

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  5. Hi Brendan, I completely agree with you. Everyone knows God exists just as it is written in Romans 1, but not everyone knows they CAN know, that is, intimately and personally know God such as Christ states in Matt 7:23 as He says He will say to many He never KNEW that person. The Greek word used there is γινώσκω (transliterated ginōskō) which means to perceive, ascertain. This is the same term used for Joseph knowing Mary and she conceived. Jesus, being God isn't saying He's unaware of these people's existence, rather He is saying they have not been intimately acquainted with Him in a personal relationship through repentance and faith. When I said in my previous comment that people can know God, you were stuck on the symantics rather than understand that I was actually quoting Scriptures Acts 17:23 and John 4:22 where both the Apostle Paul and Christ Himself are not speaking about people having a knowledge of God, but rather people having the ability to actually KNOW Him through faith in Christ.

    The writers of the movie are not using evidential apologetics but use presuppositions apologetics by stating that without God, we have no claim to moral absolutes. The movie also shows the proof of creation (like Ray Comfort often does). The movie uses the Bible throughout and then shows how God's Word is evident in the world around us.

    And I read the review from AiG and I disagree with it all. Many things they mention we're not even in the movie, and others they took out of context as they got stuck on a hot button word and didn't view the context in which these words or terms were used. I believe AiG is a good resource for things in regards to creation, but their reviews have not been consistent with the Bible or with their own reviews as they commended AND recommended the blasphemous and heretical "The Bible" miniseries last year, then this year disdained the "Son of God" movie which were merely clips used from the miniseries. The reasons they gave for commending the miniseries is that they got the creation story right. When I wrote to them asking them to recant due to the blasphemy and heresy and especially the fact that they presented a false gospel, AiG said they wouldn't recant because the creation story was correct, but hoped that I would be appeased by knowing they won't sell the DVDs on their site. Needless to say, I was not appeased.

    Their movie review of "God's Not Dead" was based on a pre-screening and not a final cut of the movie. The actual movie I saw was the best Christian film there is in theaters today where God's name, Word and character are exalted, the Gospel is clearly preached and the name if Christ is glorified.

    I hope this is helpful to you Brandon as you seek to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of Christ our Lord by His grace and through His Spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Sunny, thank you for this review. After being so disappointed with all of the hype and support for 'Son of God' and 'Noah' by churches, pastors, individual Christians, etc., I'm excited to hear about a real Christian movie hitting the movie theaters. I'll definitely be checking it out now.
    What are your thoughts on the upcoming 'Heaven is for Real' movie? Based on some excerpts I read from its book, I was dismayed to see that this little boy's visit to Heaven was anything but Biblical, particularly when I compare his claims to John's description of Heaven in Revelation. Yet again, this movie is getting TONS of support. Just curious at what your thoughts are.
    Thanks in advance, Sunny!
    -Emily

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi there precious sister Emily, you're most welcome. I'm delighted to serve my King and my brothers and sisters in Christ whom I love.

    My thoughts on "Heaven Is For Real" is that it's another anathema...just like the "Son of God" and "Noah" movies. As you rightly discerned, this little boy's description of Heaven, though heartwarming and cute, is not biblically accurate AT ALL. I try not to repeat what's already been done well, so I won't be doing a reviewing this movie sine Pastor John MacArthur has already written a fantastic and biblically sound article on this. You can read it here: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v9/n2/visits-to-heaven.



    I love this article from Pastor MacArthur because he not only covers the errors of this movie, but also every book or movie that talks about Heaven in a way that's never described by God Himself through His revealed Word...the holy Bible.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Sunny. When you say that the movie uses presuppositional apologetics, and not evidential apologetics, you are in direct contradiction to another review I just read here - http://gospelspam.com/gods-not-dead-film-review/ Note especially the latter part of the review which looks at the bad side of the movie. It says that the movie uses an evidential approach, and it also points out that the movie has the 'hero' endorsing the big bang and evolution. How much study have you done of presuppositional apologetics? I'm concerned that you don't fully understand the differences between evidential apologetics and presuppositional apologetics. Have you read any presuppostional books or watched any presuppositional teaching videos? If so which ones?

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  9. Hi Brendan, from your repeated questions on the same topic, it's unclear if you're even considering what has already been said, both in the original review and in Sunny's previous responses to your questions. Continuously posting reviews that discuss points Sunny has already said she is aware of and disagrees with is a waste of time, and pretty draining. Hopefully you will learn that there are things Christians can and will disagree on that are not central to the gospel, many things, and this is one. To continually argue for your personal theological view on a topic, particularly with a woman, reveals your immaturity.


    I'm thankful for the truths that God has shown you recently from his word, praise God that he does that for all of us. But don't make the mistake of thinking that new truth to you means it or your other thoughts are new to everyone else. Strive for humility, and focus your time on your own learning and understanding of God. May the peace of Christ be with you always.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're most incorrect in your assertions about my husbands right and biblical stance and protection, which by God he is called to do; therefore is not sexist, it is what ALL godly men are called to protect and honor women.

    In considering me as the weaker vessel, which I am by God's grace, my darling and wise husband rightly assessed that it isn't that I am not understanding what Brendan is saying, but rather (if you would read the review) that Brendan continues to argue (which in accordance with God is so displeasing to Him, 2 Tim 2:14, 24) about aspects of the movie where I have ALREADY stated I not disagree with other reviewers BUT where some things mentioned by other reviewers simply did NOT HAPPEN in the movie.

    If you and Brendan choose to continue this fruitless and ungodly quarreling over words I will delete and block your comments as they do not conform to my commenting rules for this blog which is established on Ephesians 4:29-32, 5:4 and 2 Tim 2:14, 24-26.

    ReplyDelete
  11. First, I did not know that he was your husband. Second, I still believe his comment was sexist and insulting to your ability to do this. Now I have to add that it's not "ungodly quarreling over words", but pointing out that too many Christians reject the Bible that they claim to believe. If you can not or will not attempt to see or respect my point of view (I am not speaking for Brendan, he's presumably asleep right now on his side of the planet) about being respectful of and believing the Word of God, then by all means, block my dissenting point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for sharing your opinions Question. If you still believe my comments are sexist, I would encourage you to spend more time in scripture learning how a man should treat a woman because your opinions are not currently aligned with scripture. Therefore, by definition and not my opinion, you are wrong. If you need some help with the passages that cover this topic, I'm more than happy to assist, just let me know.


    Yours and Brendans' opinions have certainly been respected, and responded to repeatedly.


    As we've taught our children, at some point, which we've already past, it's time to move on. This is not a place for ranting and arguing, so it's probably not a place you'll be comfortable with.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's a poor excuse for your ungodly behavior Question, because if you had used any wisdom from Heaven (James 3:17-18), you would've been led by the Spirit of God to at the very minimum, read the "About Me" section of my blog to clearly see that Jim is my husband. And if you had read any of my other writings, "Faith Statement", "Mission" or even this article you are commenting on, then you would've not answered so foolishly as it is written, "Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." (Proverbs 18:12-13)


    How DARE YOU speak ill of my husband to me! What audacity! What foolishness before the sight of God and men, for it is written, "So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matt 19:6).


    If it were not by God's grace and His teachings of biblical marriage, you could've easily wooed my Eve-like senses to usurp my husband's authority. You have been used by Satan to entice me to sin against God and my husband by speaking evil of him. I will pray and ask our Father to forgive you for you certainly know not what you are doing. Repent and be healed of your arrogance that has led you to such wickedness that your presumed to incite a woman against her husband.

    ReplyDelete
  14. How to Answer the Fool - American Vision: http://youtu.be/MM1AWO92Crc

    I pray that this will show what true Christian presupposition apologetics looks like.

    Terms like "we are going to put God on trial" is far from being presuppositional.
    No man will put the Lord I adore on trial.

    Romans 1. All know God through His creation, yet they suppress the truth with unrighteousness. They deny the God they KNOW exists.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sunny, I will read this later (bookmarked). But I quickly skimmed and am on the same page as you concerning the general theme. I saw a lot of good in the movie, even if some of what the authors tried to display I probably disagree with.


    The freewill thing didn't totally bother me because there is a sense that Adam was actually free to choose righteousness and (along with us in him), he did not. So in a deeper philosophical sense the movie may be right (although I doubt that was their thinking).


    I found it to be a wonderful story of God redeeming sinners' lives and cried through most of the end. I also like the Newsboys singing...there's liberty in Christ, right?

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  16. I would love to hear your views on my thoughts. As I left the movie I wondered how unbelievers felt about all of them being portrayed as mean and negative. Would they feel that Christians are vindictive? Would they feel insulted? Would they think this is how Christians view all unbelievers? I was sad that 'loving unbelievers' did not show as I would have liked. Really would like to hear your perspective.

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  17. The views of modern society regarding
    religion, and specifically Christianity, are in a state of great flux.
    Beliefs that were once sacrosanct are now being called into question. Is
    the day soon coming when the majority of people in society will view "the
    Holy Bible" as immoral and evil?

    Imagine if your grade schooler brings home a few books from the
    school library with these titles:

    1. Giving the Death
    Sentence to People who eat Forbidden Fruit

    2. Drowning
    Millions of Children for the Crimes of their Parents

    3. How to
    Murder First Born Children in their Beds

    4. The Genocidal
    Annihilation of Evil Foreign Peoples is Justifiable

    You would be horrified that your local school would allow such books in a
    library for children, wouldn't you? But yet fundamentalist Christians
    would love to have the Holy Bible in the same library and would not bat an eye
    at the bloody, barbaric violence and twisted justifications for that violence
    and immoral behavior contained therein.

    "Oh but that was in another Era of time. It is a mystery why it was
    necessary for God to do these shocking acts, but we must simply accept by
    faith that God had good, moral reasons for his actions in the
    Old Testament."

    Ok...so we will sweep all that barbaric behavior under the rug because Jesus has changed
    everything. All that bloody violence is no longer necessary because Jesus
    has ushered in the Era of Grace. We now are to love our neighbor as
    ourselves...not slaughter him in righteous anger.

    But there is one little problem: Slavery.

    I don't see how putting shackles around the neck, ankles, and wrists of your
    neighbor and calling him your property is in any way, shape, or form "loving your neighbor as yourself".
    And I also don't see why a loving, just, Jesus would not have condemned this
    evil institution, which he did not, nor why the Apostle Paul would condone it,
    which he very much did.

    Any book that condones slavery is evil
    and should not be in any school library...nor on your child's nightstand.



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i3mX0YRrjM

    ReplyDelete

"If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him." ~ C.T. Studd
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