I kept hearing about this book on all my favorite podcasts about Jesus. It took a different look at him, at what he didn’t say. It looked at his character and how Jesus wasn’t too good to be true, but too good to even be false.
No one could make up anyone like him.
Naturally, I bought it.
Too Good to be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality
by Tom Gilson
“What if we take the story of Jesus seriously—as a story? Skeptics urge us to do that—it’s “only a story,” they say, a legend just like many other god-stories from ancient days. Why do we treat it as anything more than that? Too Good To Be False takes up that question with an approach no author has taken in close to a century.
This book shows that although the skeptics’ question may be a fine one, the answer they give is as far from truth as it could be. Jesus’ character is unlike any other. No other hero—whether of history, myth, imagination, or legend—has loved as he loved, led as he led, cared as he cared, or understood himself as Jesus understood himself.
Christians reading this book will encounter Jesus in fresh, worshipful new ways, and skeptics may discover his character is too unique, too consistent, and entirely too good to be false.”
Since I got the hard copy, I had to type the few quotes I took into Goodreads.
“Here’s the short version for now: It’s a process of looking at what great leaders and teachers typically say and do, and discovering how different Jesus was-and considering the difference that makes. His methods and teachings were indeed very different.Pg 2
More than what he did, though, there is the astonishing distinctiveness of who he was.“
Then Tom goes into some of the ways Jesus is so different that I never noticed myself.
“He never said he had faith in the Father, and nothing else in the Gospels said he did, either.“Pg 3
This makes sense. I don’t have faith in the sun rising. It’s always there.
Now, imagine you can do anything. What would you do?
Here’s what Jesus didn’t do.
“Did he misuse that power? Never. Did it drive him mad? The furthest thing from it. Jesus did the right thing every time. And here we come very quickly to one of the most surprising facts of Jesus’ life, the first great point in our study of what Jesus didn’t do: he never let his extraordinary powers control him.“Pg 17
What about never making the wrong decision?
“What kind of man was Jesus? Brilliant. Here’s one more thing he never did: He never walked away saying, “You know, I could have said that better.” He got it right every single time.“
That’s a taste of just Part One: Greater Than You Knew. It has two additional sections, Too Good To Be False–for the more skeptical–and Jesus, No Matter What for believers.
In the last section, the opening chapter is How Jesus Became So Easy To Take For Granted. This is for the western world, Christianity became cultural. Most people, I believe, are cultural Christians.
By that, I mean church is something they always did, but if something they prefer is happening that Sunday, it’s also optional. Jesus doesn’t lead their life. He’s barely a side character.
“It was safe being a Christian. It still is, for the most part, although considerably less so than it was in my youth. Such safety is one great ingredient in a formula for making Christianity seem normal, nothing special, easy to take for granted. But safety isn’t the only explanation for it. Several streams have converged across the past few hundred years to make Jesus seem not so much perfect as perfectly irrelevant.“Pg 158
Then he makes his case. To sum it up, I’ll tell you the chapter title for his answerJesus–No Matter What.
The book’s end has a section for pastors, ministry leaders, and teachers, followed by a study guide.
What caught my attention was so many Christian Case makers were saying the book gave them a more worshipful heart towards Jesus. That’s an issue with those of us who are more cerebral; we neglect the heart and make theology clinical.
Heavyweights like Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, JP Moreland, Paul Copan, Gary Habermas, J. Warner Wallace, and Craig Evans endorsed it. How could I not read it?
You’ll enjoy this 230-page book too. If you need a new fire lit for Jesus, or are curious about the man, I recommend this book. 5 stars.