A masterpiece of fresh scholarship on Jesus and the Gospels!
Tom Gilson’s new book, Too Good To Be False, is extraordinary, and probably groundbreaking with respect to the gospels! I exuberantly recommend it to everyone, whether you are a current follower of Jesus, a skeptic, or a devoted Muslim, etc. This book compellingly demonstrates that the character of Jesus is unsurpassed in all of literature. Not only unsurpassed, but also unsurpassable!
Gilson argues that no writer in history has ever created a character — fictional or true — with such unparalleled qualities of goodness, authority, leadership, brilliance, supernatural power, and self-sacrificial love all in one person. Normally the combination of great power with goodness in a person corrupts that person. But not Jesus. He alone possessed the virtue to exercise his irresistible power for the benefit of others only, and to restrain his power to save himself when his self-sacrificial death was the highest possible good for the people of the day. And not only for his contemporaries, but also for the salvation of all humanity from the dawn of the world to the present day. Any characters that seem comparable are modeled after the exemplar of Jesus, whether consciously or unconsciously.
Arranged in three parts, Too Good To Be False is superbly well-organized and footnoted. It is written with clear, engaging, and personalized prose, replete with anecdotes and analogies from the author’s own experience with the subject. Tom combines rich theological and devotional substance for the common believer with solid evidences and cogent logic for those troubled with doubts and the more ardent intellectual skeptics alike. And in chapter 9 he does not avoid the latter’s explicit challenges to the gospels’ authenticity (pp 107-123).
Indeed, one prominent strand of his argument that appears in part two of the book is that the gospels are enormously harmonious with each other. Gilson goes on to show that the only reasonable explanation for this is that from their own imaginations the gospel writers could not have created the character of Jesus that is consistent across the four gospels. He must have been real, and he must have been exactly the kind of man they reported him to be.
This is a book that I would readily give as a gift to everybody, including Muslims with whom I interface regularly. I say all this also from the lens of an adult Sunday school teacher. In my class I am currently teaching a series on the Gospels + Acts. I have introduced Too Good To Be False to my class as an exceptional resource, but it is well-worthy of being the primary text alongside the gospels themselves. Thankfully, Tom had that in mind when writing this masterpiece. In the appendix he has included a very helpful study guide for just that purpose.
Finally, I truly appreciate the Epilogue for Pastors, Teachers and Other Ministers (pp. 177-183). In it the author shines the spotlight on the New Testament book of Hebrews as a primary treatise on defending the Christian faith with reason and faith combined. Here is a quote from this epilogue:
The writer of Hebrews showed his readers “the matchless supremacy of Jesus Christ, and he did it through the use of persuasive reasoning. …He certainly didn’t think reasons were unnecessary. If he had he could have saved himself a lot of trouble, for he could have said everything that needed saying in the first four verses [text inserted here]. If reasons were unneeded, he could have [skipped right to the juicy theological parts about the new covenant and Jesus as High Priest]. He didn’t write it that way, though. Instead he presents a rational, reasoned case for believing Jesus was great enough to follow. …The writer laid out evidence and reasons to show them how they could know it was true. …This is the model, a model that today we call apologetics. …The letter took their [the Hebrew Christians’] knowledge and convictions as a starting point, then built layers of new knowledge and reasoning on top of it…that supply reasons for belief in Christ.” (underscores mine)
I heartily agree! So if you haven’t already, go to Amazon.com and get your own copy of Too Good To Be False. I think you will relish it as much as or more than I did.
– Scott Cherry
Tom Gilson’s masterpiece took everything I thought I knew about Jesus and turned it upside down! I didn’t think I could fall in love with Christ again but this book helped prove me wrong. Absolutely brilliant!
Thought-provoking! Worship Inducing!
Through highlighting the extraordinarily powerful and excellent character of Christ, and exposing the holes in skeptics’ theories about the credibility of the Jesus ‘story’, Tom Gilson takes the reader on a journey that ends in worship. Interestingly much of his case is made in what Jesus didn’t do which I found to be a rather unique approach. By the end of the book and the epilogue, one is left standing in awe of Christ and searching her heart to see how best she can devote herself wholly to His worship and spreading the good news of Kingship. An interesting and thought-provoking read for Christians and skeptics alike.
“Deftly and delightfully helps us reexamine Christ’s life and character”
Christ’s brilliance can become dulled by our familiarity with the Gospel accounts. Tom Gilson deftly and delightfully helps us reexamine Christ’s life and character by inviting us to look at what Jesus didn’t do. This fresh, invigorating approach reignited my passion to worship Christ and enabled me to understand His love in a much deeper, more profound and personal way.
“Totally shook me up — helped me to reopen my eyes to Jesus”
Jesus had become so familiar to me that I kind of forgot how amazing He really is. My mind has stopped registering how wonderful He really is. Of course I still love Him and acknowledge the gift of eternal life in heaven that He provided me. But the relationship end of knowing Jesus grows stale because I tend to think I know all there is to know. …
Too Good to Be False totally shook me up. This book helped me to reopen my eyes to how awe-inspiring and unbelievably wonderful my Savior is!
If you read nothing more of this book, read the first section of chapters under Greater Than You Ever Knew. As a Christian who has grown a little too used to Jesus and all the common phrases about Him, this section blew me away.
You will find yourself overwhelmed by how truly loving Jesus was, how His brilliance will forever go unmatched, how incredible his voice of authority changed the world, and much more.
“Gilson’s approach reminded me of … G. K. Chesterton.”
Gilson’s approach reminded me of some arguments by the literary giant G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936). … [The] book is a refreshing new view of the most influential person of history. … Gilson convincingly rebuts the claim that the Gospel accounts are simply legends.
“Gilson’s thesis is an amazing one”
Gilson’s thesis is an amazing one and I hope to see more engagement with it. It would be incredible to see what someone like Bart Ehrman would say to it. I hope it gets out in the world of academia all the more. …
This is a book to be taken seriously by Christian and skeptic alike. I look forward to seeing more that comes out concerning it.
“Brilliant… has a special quality that many great ideas do”
Great for Every Christian
This book will pull you in and help you meditate on the beauty, majesty, and goodness of Jesus Christ.