The essence of Christianity is this: we hold fast to what we were given by those who came before us. From Jesus and the apostles to believers throughout history, God’s saving revelation has been proclaimed, preserved, and passed on, each generation staying true to the tradition it received.
In Handed Down: The Catholic Faith of the Early Christians, James L. Papandrea examines that most crucial era in the transmission of Christian truth: the time of the early Church, when the brilliant and holy teachers known as the Church Fathers took the apostolic faith they received and from it shaped the Christian religion.
And that religion of the Fathers continues today—faithfully kept, vibrant and alive—in the Catholic Church.
Most Protestants believe that there’s a big difference between modern Catholicism and first-centuries Christianity. But in this exploration of history and early theological writings, Papandrea (a former Protestant minister) shows that there’s actually a stunning similarity. He demonstrates that the early Christians were decisively Catholic in how they acted and what they believed in, including:
- The authority of the Church and Sacred Tradition in addition to Scripture
- The sacraments, especially the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist
- An ecclesial hierarchy with priests, bishops, and a pope
- Prayers and devotions to the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Handed Down offers a fascinating window into the life of the early Church and the lessons it holds for us today. It’s perfect for history-conscious Protestants looking for a friendly defense of Catholic belief, as well as for Catholics who want to deepen their connection with our forefathers in the Faith.
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