Overview of God's Courtroom
God's Courtroom, explains salvation from a legal perspective by using the American legal system as an analogy. Bruce Kugler stated, "I thought it might be effective to take common principles in a criminal case and compare them with the trials that will take place in God's courtroom after death."
Kugler uses scripture to describe the charge, penalty, potential legal defenses, role of witnesses, burdens of proof but more importantly, God's offer of a pardon, a "plea agreement," to every person…the marvelous truth of God's infinite love and amazing grace. God's Courtroom challenges the viewer: "You will one day stand trial in God's courtroom. Are you prepared?"
Why did you write and produce God's Courtroom?
"I have been a lawyer for more than 20 years, as I sat in courtrooms and observed numerous hearings, it occurred to me that one day each person will stand trial in God's courtroom. This Heavenly Judge will know everything and His decisions can never be appealed and you had better be prepared," says Kugler.
"I noticed the Bible provides extensive information on the trials that will take place in God's courtroom after a person's death," says Kugler.
"God's Courtroom explains salvation from a legal perspective by using legal analogies. I thought it might be effective to take common principles in a criminal case and compare them with the trials that will take place in God's courtroom after death," says Kugler.
"Anyone charged with a serious crime would want to know how the legal system works and would desperately seek information regarding the judge, charge, penalty, potential legal defenses, possibility of entering a plea agreement or having a trial, and the availability of a pardon. God's Courtroom analyzes each of these issues in a biblical context," says Kugler.
Surprisingly, Kugler rejects the notion that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. According to Kugler, when people are tried in God's Courtroom the standard for "not guilty" is absolute perfection. This is a standard that no one can achieve. Kugler states, "If that is the standard I would definitely be found guilty - there are no good defenses."
Kugler suggests that the only reason a person can enter heaven after they die is on a legal principle that Jesus Christ paid the death penalty on the person's behalf. Basically, the person enters a plea agreement with God and accepts a pardon. "Only the guilty need a pardon, not the innocent," says Kugler.
"God's Courtroom often has a profound impact on the viewer. The goal of this film is not to entertain but to convey truth. The power of the film is a simple message that God is offering a pardon," says Kugler.
"Under the terms of the copyright, people are actually encouraged to make copies of the DVD," says Kugler.
Inspiration for the film
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes."
"Regarding death, many people ignore it, some pretend it will never happen, others fear it. But it looms in everyone's future. I have tried to explain the Gospel in simple terms so people can face death without fear, knowing that God loves them, and has offered a complete pardon. A person who accepts God's offer of a pardon can close their eyes in death knowing they have peace with God," says Kugler.
Beginning concepts of God's Courtroom
The concept of God's Courtroom began when Bruce Kugler was practicing law in Ogle County, Illinois, in the late 1980's. Part of Kugler's legal responsibilities included representing clients charged with crimes. Criminal arraignment hearings were often presided over by the Honorable Alan Cargerman whom Kugler greatly respected.
Judge Cargerman had a profound impact on Kugler's legal career on the need to be absolutely prepared when appearing before any judge. Kugler states,
"He was truly a scholar of the law and quite brilliant. He followed the law with exacting precision. He was a fair but no nonsense type of judge. He was deeply respected and perhaps feared by some defendants and even attorneys."
Defendants outside the courtroom may have acted arrogant and pompous, but once they stood before Judge Cargerman in a crowded courtroom, their attitudes quickly changed. Kugler commented, "As I sat in that courtroom and observed numerous hearings, it occurred to me that one day each person will stand trial in God's courtroom. This Heavenly Judge will know everything and His decisions can never be appealed and you had better be prepared."
According to Kugler, "As I began to read and study the Bible, many legal terms and concepts began to catch my attention. The Bible presents God as the Supreme Judge of the world and that everyone, one day, will appear before Him. I began to realize that the Bible provides extensive information on the trials that will take place in God's courtroom after a person's death."
What do you hope to achieve through this production?
"We are hoping to present the Gospel in a compelling manner to people who may not attend church but may have an interest in the law and courtroom proceedings. Others may find the film interesting because it describes the legal practice of Abraham Lincoln including the Almanac Trial in 1858 and attempts to showcase the unique architecture of historic courthouses," says Kugler.
"We are also encouraging pastors to obtain a copy of the film and show it during an evening service, Sunday School class, or small group Bible study," says Kugler.
The complete film can be downloaded at www.godscourtroom.org. This is a free resource to churches and individuals. The ministry also provides free copies of the DVDs.
The documentary film, God's Courtroom, has been aired both in the United States and other countries including:
NRB TV Network. NRB reports that it reaches potentially into nearly 20 million U.S. households on DirecTV ch. 378 and Sky Angel ch. 126.
Total Living Network ("TLN"). TLN reports it reaches potentially over 1.6 million homes in the Greater Chicagoland area, Central Illinois, Northwest Indiana, and Southwest Michigan through Comcast Digital Cable, ch. 138. TLN's sister station, KTLN-TV reaches potentially over 2.4 million homes in the San Francisco Bay Area on Comcast & ATT U-Verse 25, Dish & DirecTV 68.
TCT Network on DirecTV (Channel 377) and 17 affiliated stations. TCT reports that it potentially reaches into 18 million USA households.
Rophe TV located in Goa, India.
Channels 14 and 80 in Matagalpa, Nicaragua and channel 48 in Rivas and Carazo, Nicaragua.
Canal 27 of TV Guatemala, Ciudad de Mixco, Guatemala, Centro América.
Canal Luz, Santa Fe, Argentina.
WAND TV - Channel 17, Decatur, Illinois.
The English and Spanish audio versions of God's Courtroom are available for distribution to radio stations.
Bruce Kugler has spoken numerous times on the subject of God's Courtroom at churches and conferences, and internationally, including Nicaragua, India, Argentina, Southeast Asia, and Taiwan. Some of the places where Mr. Kugler has presented God's Courtroom include:
La Concepcion, Tipitapa, and Masaya in the country of Nicaragua (2010)
Mumbai, Goa, and Agra in the country of India (2011)
Lujan and General Rodriguez in the county of Argentina (2012)
Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2013)
How churches should use the film
Churches are encouraged to show the film, God's Courtroom, during an evening service, Sunday School class, or small group Bible study. The public can view or download the film at www.godscourtroom.org. Individuals and churches can also request a DVD of God's Courtroom at no cost or obligation.
God's Courtroom has received numerous endorsements from several Christian Evangelical leaders. See a list of endorsements here.
Coordination with other ministries
The film, God's Courtroom, has been reviewed by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ("BGEA") and the Evangelism Response Center ("ERC"), North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention. Both organizations have granted permission to include their toll free number at the end of the film so people can contact their counseling centers. However, BGEA is not a formal partner or sponsor of the film.
Role of Living Faith Baptist Church
Bruce Kugler attends the Living Faith Baptist Church in Sherman. God's Courtroom is one of their many ministries to impact people in the community, Illinois, and other parts of the world.
God's Courtroom is a section 501(c)(3) religious organization and is governed by a Board of Directors. It is a ministry of the Living Faith Baptist Church located in Sherman, Illinois.
The DVDs of God's Courtroom are provided to the public at no cost or obligation.
About Bruce Kugler
1. Attended Valparaiso School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana, earning a Juris Doctorate and graduating in 1988 with Senior Honors.
2. Received Honors in Scholarship and served on the Executive Board for Law Review as an articles editor.
3. He is admitted to practice law in the States of Illinois and Texas. He has represented clients on issues involving personal injury, worker's compensation, criminal matters, real estate, family matters, mechanics liens, contracts, environmental enforcement, immigration, and bankruptcy.
4. Admitted to practice law before the United States District Courts for the Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of Illinois and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
5. Member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Seventh Circuit Bar Association, State Bar Association of Texas, and Illinois State Bar Association.
6. Served as judicial extern for the late Honorable James Parsons, a federal judge with the Northern District of Illinois.
7. Former associate with the law firm of Fearer, Nye, Ahlberg & Chadwick in Oregon, Illinois.
8. Former Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice.
9. Currently in private practice with the Kugler Law Firm, P.C.
10. Ordained Southern Baptist minister and a member of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists.
The film showcases the unique architecture of historic courthouses in Central Illinois.
Macoupin Courthouse, Carlinville, Illinois
Mt. Pulaski Courthouse, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois
Menard County Courthouse, Petersburg, Illinois
Old Lincoln Courthouse, Beardstown, Illinois
Old Franklin County Jail, Benton, Illinois
Old State Capitol of Illinois, Springfield, Illinois
Information about the Macoupin Courthouse, Carlinville, Illinois
The Macoupin County Courthouse is one of the most beautiful courthouses in the State of Illinois. At the time it was completed in 1870, it was one of the largest courthouses in the nation and cost more than a million dollars to build. The main courtroom is stately and gives the impression of royalty and authority. The doors to the courtroom are iron and each weigh about a ton. The judge's bench is made out of five kinds of Italian marble and on either side are massive Corinthian columns. The judge's chair is 7 feet tall and each arm rest displays a hand carved lion.
Information about the Mt. Pulaski Courthouse, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois
The Mt. Pulaski Courthouse was used between 1848 and 1855. The courthouse is historic because it is one of the courthouses in the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Illinois where Abraham Lincoln practiced law.
Information about the Menard County Courthouse, Petersburg, Illinois
In 1839 Menard County was established. At the time, Abraham Lincoln was a state representative and chairman of the committee on counties. Lincoln actually drafted and presented the bill for the creation of Menard County. In 1844, Menard County completed construction on its first courthouse. Lincoln practiced law at this courthouse. In 1896, the present courthouse was completed and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Information about the Old Lincoln Courthouse, Beardstown, Illinois
The Old Lincoln Courthouse is the only courtroom where Abraham Lincoln practiced law that is still used as a courtroom to this day. It was here in 1858, that Lincoln successfully defended Duff Armstrong who was charged with a murder that took place at night. A witness claimed he saw the murder about 150 feet away by the bright light of the moon. However, Lincoln was able to suggest that the witness was lying by using an almanac. According to the almanac, on the night of the murder, there was not a full moon. Thus, there was not enough light for the witness to identify Mr. Armstrong as the assailant.
Information about the Old Franklin County Jail, Benton, Illinois
The Old Franklin County Jail is the site of the last public hanging that took place in the State of Illinois. Charlie Birger was charged and convicted of murdering the mayor of West City. He was hung on April 19, 1928 before a crowd of more than 5,000 people.
Information about the Old State Capitol of Illinois, Springfield, Illinois
In 1839 the Illinois Supreme Court first heard cases in Springfield at an Episcopal church. The Court later moved to what is now known as the Old State Capitol. Between 1840 and 1861, Abraham Lincoln appeared in over 300 cases before the Illinois Supreme Court. Many of these cases he argued at the Old State Capitol. The Old State Capitol was used up until 1908 when the present Illinois Supreme Court building was completed.