The First Christians
Keeping the Faith in Times of Trouble

(upcoming, July 2017, En Route Books & Media)


Summary

In this book, we speak about these first Christians mainly through the people who gave them a voice and a compass: the Church Fathers. They were their leaders and their teachers, heirs to the apostles. They were also the ones to tell us, present-day Christians, about the deep Faith of the first Christians. They told us how these Christians could keep the Faith in times of trouble—even in very tumultuous times, when they were constantly besieged from two sides: by prosecution from without and by heresies from within. The Church Fathers kept their flock together and kept them on the right path. We can only understand the Church Fathers if we understand them as fathers who deeply cared about the newborn Church as if it were their own family. They are Fathers with a “pedigree.”
I tried to let the Church Fathers speak for themselves, as much as possible. To do so I used a translation of their words that is easily accessible on the internet, so you can check its accuracy and the context in which these words were spoken and written. This translation may not always be smooth, and the way the Church Fathers expressed themselves may not always be clear to modern ears, but their words deserve serious attention, for they are the pillars on which the Church has built what Catholics believe—now and then. They are a vital part of our history and tradition, dating back to Jesus Christ himself.


Table of Contents


1.	WHO WERE THE FIRST CHRISTIANS?	
	a.	Their Bible	
	b.	Closer to Jesus, the source of it all	
	c.	Christians or Catholics?	
2.	THE 1ST GENERATION (30-80)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Ebionism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Simon Peter (1-67)	
		Paul of Tarsus (5-67)	
		Didache (c. 75)	
3.	THE 2ND GENERATION (80-130)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Docetism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Clement of Rome (?-99)	
		Ignatius of Antioch (35-108)	
4.	THE 3RD GENERATION (130-180)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Gnosticism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Polycarp of Smyrna (69-155)	
		Justin Martyr (100-165)	
		Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202)	
5.	THE 4TH GENERATION (180-230)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Montanism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Clement of Alexandria (150-215)	
		Tertullian of Carthage (160-220)
	
6.	THE 5TH GENERATION (230-280)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Adoptionism | Novatianism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Origen (184-253)	
		Cyprian of Carthage (210-258)	
7.	THE 6TH GENERATION (280-330)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Modalism | Patripassianism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Lactantius (240-320)	
		Alexander of Alexandria (c. 250-327)	
8.	THE 7TH GENERATION (330-380)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Arianism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373)	
		Basil of Caesarea (330-379)	
		Gregory of Nazianzus (330-390)	
		Gregory of Nyssa (335-394)	
		Hilary of Poitiers (300-368)	
9.	THE 8TH GENERATION (380-430)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Donatism | Pelagianism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Jerome (347-420)	
		Augustine of Hippo (354-440)	
10.	THE 9TH GENERATION (430-480)	
	a.	Backdrop	
	b.	Trouble Within: Nestorianism	
	c.	Defenders of the Faith	
		Cyril of Alexandria (378-444)	
		John Cassian (c. 360-c. 435)	


Reviews
 


"This book should be in every home, offering every family the opportunity to learn more about how our Church was born and how she developed her core beliefs. The author wrote a very informative book that gives us a deep insight into what the early Church Fathers taught us about who Jesus Christ really is.
The author has a true gift of laying out positions quickly with a few strokes of the pen. Easy to read, this book is full of insights and apt quotations - a real gift to Catholics. Buy it and read it."

Fr. C. John McCloskey, STD
Former Director of the Catholic Information Center of the Archdiocese of Washington
Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute, Washington, DC.

"Many of us wish we knew more about the early Church Fathers but we are not scholars of Church history.
Here is an excitingly readable book with great quotations from the Fathers in context of the troubles of their times. It will give you courage to read how the Church survived all those heresies, as we believe today that the Church will survive our troubles.
I recommend it as a book that will benefit college students, thoughtful adult Catholics, and all defenders of the faith."

Ronda Chervin, Ph.D.
A Jewish convert to Catholicism
Professor of Philosophy, writer, and Catholic speaker

“Verschuuren ably sets forth the often bewildering struggles of the early Catholics to understand and precisely articulate the deepest truths of our faith. He accurately and yet concisely presents an immensely helpful portrait of those times.
The book is sure to remain a great resource for all who seek to understand the early Church. An excellent book. A great summary.”

Msgr. Charles Pope
Our Sunday Visitor Columnist and blogger
Pastor at Holy Comforter - St Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC.

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