Too Good to Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality


Tom Gilson

Stories always involve a main character, and Jesus’ character is unlike any other. No other hero-whether of history, myth, imagination, or legend-has loved as he loved, led the way he led, been a friend the way he was a friend, or understood himself as Jesus understood himself.


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.

Includes study guide for small group discussion.

Too Good to be False is almost too good to be true! This book takes a fresh look at the uniquely great character of Jesus, and finds in his greatness a new and compelling case for the truth of his story as presented in the Gospels. If you think there are no surprises left to be found in his life, prepare to be surprised yourself by this remarkable new book.

Josh McDowell
Best-selling author of Evidence that Demands a Verdict and speaker


In this engaging and exhilarating book, Tom Gilson breathes new life into an old premise: that Jesus was more than just an ordinary rabbi with special effects, but his awe-inspiring character and teachings point persuasively toward his divine nature. In a breezy style, Tom makes the compelling case that Jesus couldn’t possibly be the product of mere legends because he is quite literally too good not to be true. This might be the most surprising and refreshing book you’ll read this year!

Lee Strobel
New York Times best-selling author, director of The Strobel Center at Colorado Christian University


Too Good to be False takes a fascinating look at the human character of Jesus, uncovering fresh insights for believers and skeptics to see that Jesus’ story is not simply a story—it’s truly, truly too good to be false.

Eric Metaxas
#1 New York Times bestselling author and host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Radio Show


This book is an absolute delight to read and it wonderfully fills a big hole in contemporary apologetics. While it revives an older argument that has dropped out of the contemporary scene, it updates and exposes that argument in a fresh way. Its brilliance lies in the approach of arguing for Jesus’ uniqueness and Deity based on what Jesus did not do. I have never approached the gospels in this way and, with Gilson’s guidance, I have come to love, respect, and worship Jesus with renewed vigor and insight. Honestly, this book must be in your library. I am grateful that it is available to a new generation who will be strengthened and equipped by its argumentation.

JP Moreland
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University and author of Scientism and Secularism


Tom Gilson has written a splendid book that takes us on a wonderful journey to see Jesus with fresh eyes! Gilson distills for us a riveting picture of Christ’s virtuous character, his commanding authority, his rigorous intellect, and his beautiful selflessness. This book reveals just why this Man from Nazareth is both the compelling and incomparable historical figure that he is.

Paul Copan
Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and author of A Little Book for New Philosophers


I may never before have made this comment in a recommendation, but this volume was a “fun read.” I enjoyed it! Don’t get me wrong—Gilson’s responses hit the skeptical objections at which he aimed time-and-again, including many of the major complaints lodged against Jesus’ story. Tom didn’t avoid head-on evaluations. But he did so in disarming ways that create a flowing narrative, revealing what made Jesus truly unique—doubtless the most influential life ever lived. Kudos!

Gary Habermas
Distinguished Research Professor, Liberty University


With so many books on Jesus, how do you say something fresh? My friend Tom Gilson has figured it out. Too Good to be False is an enjoyable read, well researched, and will challenge you to rethink some of your assumptions about Jesus.

Sean McDowell
Author, Speaker, Professor


In Too Good to be False, Tom Gilson examines the nature of Jesus and argues that the gospel descriptions of the Savior were too glorious, consistent, and unique to be the product of legendary embellishment. Too Good to be False describes the incredible character and appeal of Jesus of Nazareth, even as it makes a refreshing case for Christianity.

J. Warner Wallace
Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) and author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith


Tom Gilson is always a careful and patient apologist, taking the time to explore objections to the faith that others might dismiss. In this book, he argues persuasively that Jesus is a unique character in history. If you’re open-minded skeptic, Gilson makes a strong case you probably haven’t seen elsewhere. If you’re already a believer, he reveals truths that have been right there in the gospels all along, but you probably haven’t noticed. Do you want to know the truth about Jesus? Then this is the book for you.

Jay Richards
Best-selling Author, Speaker, Research Assistant Professor, Catholic University of America


Tom Gilson takes a fresh, innovative approach in his stimulating Too Good to be False. Although oriented for the general reader—including skeptics—the “professionals” will get a lot out of it, too.

Craig A. Evans
John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University


Are you skeptical that anyone could present fresh insights about Jesus after two thousand years? Tom Gilson has done just that by highlighting what Jesus didn’t say and do, which is almost as shocking as what Jesus did say and do. Too Good to be False not only gets you to say “wow!” about the most influential life in human history, but also helps you realize how feeble the arguments against the biblical Jesus are. I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy this easy-to-read and hard-to-refute case. Extremely insightful!

Frank Turek
President,, speaker and co-author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

About the Author

Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ and Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens. He was chief editor of the anthology True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism, and he’s the author/host of the Thinking Christian blog.