Ehrman's book is genuinely informative and provocative in places, but he gets many things wrong. Modern secular audiences—who prefer provocative sound bites from Richard Dawkins and conspiracy theories from Dan Brown—love to hear Ehrman's message. He provides solace to secularists: the whole Jesus-is-God thing is a big mistake that has negatively affected human history. In our culture, unbelief is trendy and religion is passé; people of faith are often derided as superstitious yokels from the boonies.
Some have great confidence in skeptical scholarship, and I once did, perhaps more than anyone else. If anyone thinks they are assured in their unbelief, I was more committed: born of unbelieving parents, never baptized or dedicated; on scholarly credentials, a PhD from a secular university; as to zeal, mocking the church; as to ideological righteousness, totally radicalized. But whatever intellectual superiority I thought I had over Christians, I now count it as sheer ignorance. Indeed, I count everything in my former life as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing the historical Jesus who is also the risen Lord. For his sake, I have given up trying to be a hipster atheist. I consider that old chestnut pure filth, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a CV that will gain me tenure at an Ivy League school, but knowing that I've bound myself to Jesus—and where he is, there I shall also be.
The real story of Jesus Christ is good news, and it transformed my life. That's why I'm fighting to tell it amidst a cacophony of misguided voices.
Michael F. Bird is lecturer in theology at Ridley College in Melbourne and coauthor of How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature (Zondervan).