ON GUARD: A Defense of the Faith (Scripture, Confession, Papal Authority from the Catholic Perspective)
I’m sure most of you have all seen the majorly trending Youtube Video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” by Jefferson Bethke. It has sparked much debate, which is seen in the numerous video and written responses to it. Recently, Chris recorded and posted his own youtube video and written response, which can also be found here on the blog.
His video, also posted to his facebook profile has received many comments and has also sparked more debate from within the protestant circles. The person debating has come forward with many of the typical protestant claims against the Catholic Church, which we have both responded to in full. I have included below my response to her protestant claims that were presented. I have the protestant arguments in the red text and my responses in the black text.
Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 “15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” We as Catholics always need to be on guard and ready to defend the True Faith. Unfortunately this applies to being ready and on guard to defend the faith among other Christians. God desires that we be one. Let us pray that everyone may become one in the Church that Jesus Christ Himself instituted, the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
John 17:21 “that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in the, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Sola Scripture – Scripture Alone – was the single truth that prompted the protestant reformation. Martin Luther lived by this statement – it was the slogan for all the reformers (and is in every protestant doctrinal statement today). This truth is a big deal, because once you reject it, you can believe whatever you like. Muslims, Mormans, and Catholics all believe in Jesus, they just do not believe in Scripture alone. They add the Quran, or the Book of Mormon, or in the case of Catholics, the Catechism and traditions. The Scripture declared itself to be the Word of God (2 Tim 3:15-17, Rev 22:18-19 – this verse is about Revelation, but I think the principle applies to scripture). There is no reason to expect new revelation, especially not revelation that contradicts biblical authority.
The Scriptures are the source of my beliefs. This belief is founded by what Bible says about itself (2 Tim 3:15-17).
Catholicism recognizes the Bible as well as church tradition and papal authority, whereas the Bible teaches that it is the authority for matters of faith and practice (the reformation was born because the Catholic Church teachings were different than the teachings of Scripture).
Because Catholicism teaches that it is the true church, I understand why you would assert that it was the Catholic Church that compiled the scriptures; however, I believe you are being mistaken on three accounts, all of which are a result of understanding church history as Catholic Church history (the Catholic Church cannot be the authority of church history).
“You and I interpret church history very differently. I would say that the Catholic Church slowly gained power and authority and that the first real pope (hierarchal head over most of the other churches) was not crowned until at least the fifth century (Innocent), but probably not until the 6th century (Gregory). Therefore, it was not the Catholic Church but the Christian church (future Catholics included) that officially canonized the Scripture.”
“The official canonization of scripture in 397 was not the time they decided what should be a part of the New Testament, it is the time that they officially recognized the authority of the letters and gospels that were already being used by churches (the didache along with numerous other non-canonical books had been recognized as non-authoritative because their authorship was either falsified or at best dubious).This council met because of attacks on the faith to ensure that future generations would not lose what they already had. The point: Scripture is not authoritative because man decided that it is; it is authoritative because God decided it; the church simply recognized its authority. If this is the case, its authority has not changed and there is nothing else that should take its place (apostolic tradition is the foundation the apostles laid in the gospels and epistles…hence, word and epistles 2 Th. 2:15)”
First, we need to look back first at where the scriptures came from and what happened before they were compiled. Jesus did not give his Apostles a Bible to take with them for the road- not before he died, and not when he appeared to them after the Resurrection. He never gave them one at all. So then the question remains – what was done to transmit the faith? There had to be a way that this was done. The faith was passed down through 1. word and tradition, and 2. through the laying on of hands (in the case of Priests – more on this later). Eventually what was recorded was compiled into the canon of Bible.
The next question then to address is who approved and compiled the Bible, and when was it approved?
The Canon was approved in 393 AD by the Synod of Hippo, and the third Synod of Carthage in 397 AD read what was approved at the Synod of Hippo and also accepted it. The below quote from http://www.ntcanon.org/Carthage.canon.shtml gives a summary of this fact:
The first council that accepted the present New Testament canon was the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa (393 CE); however, the acts of the council are lost. A brief summary of the acts was read at and accepted by the third Synod of Carthage.
Canon 24. Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: [then follows a list of Old Testament books]. The [books of the] New Testament: the Gospels, four books; the Acts of the Apostles, one book; the Epistles of Paul, thirteen; of the same to the Hebrews; one Epistle; of Peter, two; of John, apostle, three; of James, one; of Jude, one; the Revelation of John. Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the transmarine Church shall be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.
Note that Hebrews is listed separately from the other 13 epistles.
According to Zahn, in 419 another Synod held at Carthage gave the concluding words in the following form:
… Fourteen Epistles of Paul ….. the Revelation of John, one book. Let this be sent to our brother and fellow-bishop, Boniface [of Rome], and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these are the things that we have received from our fathers to be read in church.
It is vital to note that the Christian Church which you speak of that approved the canon of Scripture is the Catholic Church. They are one and the same. St. Ignatius of Antioch speaks of this fact in the first century when he says that, “Where the bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church.” The Catholic Church held the first Synod in 393 AD and she still holds Synods today, among other councils. As a side note, the next Synod, on Evangelization, is being held in October this year.
Dave Armstrong, in his book “The One Minute Apologist” says:
“Perhaps the clearest biblical proof of the infallible authority of the Church is the Jerusalem Council, and its authoritative, binding pronouncement:
Acts 15:29-30: ”For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.”
In the next chapter, we learn that Paul, Timothy, and Silas travelled around “through the cities” and “delivered to them for observance the decisions which has been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem – This is binding Church authority – with the sanction of the Holy Spirit Himself – and an explicit proof of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when assembled in a council.”
To further support this history on Scripture, I have included below some information from http://www.catholicevangelism.org/h-canon1.shtml.
It was the bishops of the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that sorted out and decided the canon of Sacred Scripture. The bishops were preserved from falling into error, as our Lord promised, on this important matter concerning the Holy Catholic Church. (Matt. 16:18; 28:18-20) (John 14,15, and 16) (1 Tim. 3:14-15) (Acts 15:28) They included Tobit, Baruch, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. Roman Catholics call these books deuterocanonical. Protestants call them Apocrypha. There are some additional passages in Daniel and Esther not found in Protestant Bibles.
Relatively recent archeological findings and analysis of the Dead Sea scrolls (Qumran) of 1947 revealed that several deuterocanonical books were originally composed in Hebrew (Sirach, Judith, 1 Maccabees,) or Aramaic (Tobit). The Protestant reformers of the 16th century were not aware of the Hebrew and Aramic Versions of the deuterocanonical books in the Alexandrian canon. These are significant and noteworthy because it proves that some of these books were in circulation in Palestine and were accepted by Jewish groups there. Many of the Christian evangelists and apologists used the Alexandrian canon ( Septuagint LXX ) preserved (not composed or originally written) in Greek. Hellenists Jews from outside Palestine had their own synagogue where the Bible was read in Greek.
The Hebrews were native Palestinian Jews with their own synagogue. Their language was Aramaic and their Bible was read in Hebrew. There were complaints and disputations amongst these two Jewish groups ( Hellenists and Hebrews), who used different languages, as is noted in ( Acts 6:1-2 ).
The Protestant Reformers (not preserved from falling into error) thought that all the deuterocanonical books in the Alexandrian canon had been composed in Greek. The Protestant reformers accept 39 books found in the Hebrew Canon. They do not accept 46 books as they thought their to be seven (7) additional books to the canon of the Holy Bible only composed in Greek (LXX). Actually, many of the books were preserved in Greek (not composed or originally written in Greek). Here, the reformers of the 16th century had taken, or been guided into, a historical and spiritual, wrong way turn. The archeological evidence available to the reformers of the 16th century led them to believe that the deuterocanonical books were later Greek language compositions and additions to the Holy Bible. Relatively recent archeological findings and analysis of the Dead Sea scrolls (Qumran) of 1947 revealed that several deuterocanonical books were originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic.
[In their own presumptuous way, and promoting individual authority, the reformers of the 16th century adopted a shorter 66 book canon of the Holy Bible. Today’s Catholic Bibles usually count a 73-book canon of Scripture not 72. This is simply because they number the book of Lamentations separate from Jeremiah. However, once dogmatically defined, there can be no dispute as to the canonicity of the sacred books on the part of Catholics. The Reformers accept the 27 books of the New Testament.
(Martin Luther dishonored and nearly eliminated some of the New Testament books like James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation. The insistence of his friends stopped him from eliminating some of the New Testament canon. Luther was suffering from scrupulosity.) The 16th century Protestant Reformers were wrong about the canon – as are some modern day “Bible Christians” – such as Erwin W. Lutzer. Note the contradiction(s) in historical facts as exemplified by footnote’s 4 and 5 below. As always, read both books in context.]
The Bible came out of the Catholic Church around the end of the 4th century. (No small feat! ) The Synods of Hippo, 393 A.D., and Carthage, 397 A.D.,and later, Carthage 419 A.D., ( along with the Traditional Bible or Latin Vulgate ( LV ), 406 A.D., by Saint Jerome ),gave us the canon of Sacred Scripture as Catholics know it today. Relatively recent archeological findings and analysis of the Dead Sea scrolls (Qumran) of 1947 revealed that several deuterocanonical books were originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic. This is very relevant and significant because earlier Protestant reformers of the 16th century, were very suspicious of, and rejected books, only available to them in the Greek Language. In part therefore, the Protestant canon of 66 books of Sacred Scripture is deficient – short seven (7) books.
The regional or local Catholic Church Councils of Hippo, 393 A.D., and Carthage, 397 A.D., and later, Carthage 419 A.D. gave us the canon of Sacred Scripture as we know it today. Although these were just local councils, Saint Augustine did insist that the list given by these councils be sent to Rome for approval. Pope Saint Siricius (384-399 A.D.) approved the canon just as his papal predecessor Pope Damasus had done in a Synod in 382 A.D. with a formal writing “Decretal of Gelasius”, de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris. (The archeological findings and analysis pertaining to the Council of Rome 382 A.D. and some of the Popes may not be a settled fact.)
“As to your point about the Catholic church being the interpreters – that sounds cult-like and is certainly extra biblical. The Bible actually teaches that scripture is not open to private interpretation, meaning one man should not interpret it for everyone (2 Pet 1:19). It is meant to be read, studied, and loved by all who love Christ, and then interpreted the way that God intended (as authoritative).
“We have a different understanding of apostolic authority. I believe that the apostles were the men of God who met Christ and later composed letters that became the foundation of the church.
The church is built on this doctrinal foundation (Eph 2:20). The Catholic Church teaches apostolic succession, which means that we should be expecting modern day apostles that can alter and add to the doctrines of the church (ie. popes).
This practice has led to much doctrinal error that is contrary to Scripture. Your post cites many of these sources as proof for your beliefs – but again this is extra-biblical. The early church fathers did a lot of good, but they did not speak on behalf of God as the apostles as they wrote out the “God breathed” Scriptures.”
Now that the above has been addressed, we need take a look at the question of interpretation of Scripture. We both can agree that if every individual person and group were given the authority to interpret Scripture, everyone would have differing interpretations, and this is a danger. This is what has resulted in the protestant reformation and other subsequent creations of new Christian denominations (The following website gives some numbers, showing at least about 33,000 Christian denominations existing http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/a120.htm). Clearly, seeing these outrageous numbers, if these were meant to be Sola Scriptura, then one would think that everyone would be on the same page. Unfortunately this is not the case, except in the case of the Catholic Church, where she has held the same beliefs since the Church began. Because the Catholic Church compiled the Bible, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she is the sole interpreter. The teachings of the Catholic Church have been passed down and more clearly defined through the ages through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Christ has given the Church the authority to interpret the scriptures. The below quotes are from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is important to note that the Catechism is not another Bible, but is simply a book containing a summary of the beliefs of the Church.
I. The Apostolic Tradition
75 “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.”32
In the apostolic preaching. . .
76 In keeping with the Lord’s command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways: - orally “by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received – whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit”;33 - in writing “by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing”.34
. . . continued in apostolic succession
77 “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.”35 Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”36
78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, “the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.”37 “The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.”38
79 The Father’s self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: “God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church – and through her in the world – leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.”39
So, as seen above, both scripture and tradition are necessary, and it is the Catholic Church that is the interpreter of the Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is not found in the scriptures. Below are some actual scriptures to back this up as well.
2 Tim 3:15-17 supports and described the virtues of the use of scripture, but not of the use of scripture alone (2 Tim 3:16-17 – 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.) .
Jesus does, at times, condemn tradition, but when he does this, he usually clarifies by referring to corruptions or “traditions of men”: (Mark 7:1-9 – 1 Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.” 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition!”.
St. Paul also tells us to follow the traditions that the Apostles have handed down, and commends us for doing so:
1 Corinthians 11:2 – 2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 – 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.
With the knowledge that the Church has teaching authority and the authority to interpret the Scriptures, we can now move on to why the Church practices the Sacrament of Confession. For this, it is necessary to understand the Ministerial Priesthood.
Lets start with “the sacrament of confession”-the practice of confession is not grounded in Scripture. It is a tradition that was not made “canon law” until the 13th century. Therefore, at best it is extra-biblical. Now, what does the Bible say? 1 Tim 2:5 plainly declares that “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. God speaks about confession of sins in 1 John 1:9, but there is no mention of a priest or any other mediator other than God (1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.) The entire book of Hebrews presents Christ as the ultimate high priest and sacrifice for sins (Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.) Search priest or priesthood in Hebrews and you will see that every verse describes how Jesus is better than any human priesthood. In fact, Peter called believers a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 1:9). Finally, what is the point of a priest if Hebrews 4:15-16 are true?
We absolutely agree on the fact that Peter calls believers a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:5). Now, to answer your second question: We both can agree on the fact that Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. (Matt 5: 17-19: 17 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.). We know that this law referred to is the law of Moses, practiced in Judaism– therefore Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. Judaism had priests. This is seen in the Old Testament in 3 different types of Priesthoods:
The High Priest (Lev 21:10 – 10 “The priest who is chief among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil is poured, and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose, nor rend his clothes)
Ministerial Priests (Exod 19:21-22 – 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze and many of them perish. 22 And also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out upon them.”)
The Priesthood of all the faithful (Exod 19:5-6 – 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”).
Since Jesus came to fulfill and not abolish the law, this applies also to the Priesthood in the Church, instituted by Jesus himself, as Jesus also came to fulfill/complete the Priesthood, not abolish it. The priesthood that he fulfilled/completed is also 3-fold, to fulfill the old.
The High Priest (Heb 7:1-3 – 1 For this Melchiz’edek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever.)
I will note here that the scripture verse you gave in Hebrews 4:15-16 does also support the fact that Jesus is the High Priest (Hebrews 4:15-16 – 15 For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.)
Ministerial Priests (Rom 15:15-16 – 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.)
1 Tim 3:1 – 1 The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task.
1 Tim 4:14 – 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.
The Priesthood of all the faithful (1 Pet 2:5 – 5 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.)
So, we can see above, that just as Jesus came to fulfill the law and not abolish it, the Priesthood, too was fulfilled and not abolished. This includes the High Priest, Ministerial Preisthood, and the Priesthood of all the faithful.
In your responses, you state: “The practice of confession is not grounded in Scripture. It is a tradition that was not made “canon law” until the 13th century. Therefore, at best it is extra-biblical.”
I could point out that the verses you gave regarding confession are taken way out of context and based on eisegesis rather than exegesis
1 Tim 2:5 plainly declares that “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.
Confession of sins in 1 John 1:9, but there is no mention of a priest or any other mediator other than God (1 Jo 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This Ministerial Preisthood is the Priesthood that Jesus instituted and to whom he commanded and gave the authority to bind and loose sins. This includes the Pope (the Bishop of Rome), the Bishops of each Diocese, and the other Priests under the Bishops.
Before continuing, you made mention in your response about eisegesis vs. exegesis – reading interpretation into the text vs. drawing out the meaning of the text. The Church has always used exegesis, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Before providing some scripture quotes supporting the Sacrament of Confession, it is necessary to note that it is not the Priest who forgives sins per se, it is Christ, however since the Priest is in Persona Christi (in the Person of Christ) they have the power, given to them by Jesus Christ, to bind and loose sins. Jesus forgives us through the Priest. So, this being said, we do agree in that 1 Tim 2:5 says that Jesus was the only one who could and has reconciled us to God, but the it is through the Priest that our sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession. It is also necessary to note that Jesus’ death on the Cross has opened up the gates of Heaven to us, however having faith in Jesus is not enough. We still sin, therefore we still need to repent, come to the Sacrament of Confession with a contrite heart, and ask for forgiveness. This forgiveness is given to us from Jesus through the Priest. Below are a number of scripture passages that support the Sacrament:
Matt 16:18-19: 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (This scripture also gives proof to the fact that Jesus built his Church with Peter as the head – the first Pope).
John 20:21-23: 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
Matt 9:1-8: 1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” –he then said to the Paralytic–“rise, take up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Jesus makes it clear here that men on earth have the authority to forgive sins)
Matt 3:6: 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
2 Cor 5:17-20: 17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Cor 2:10-11: 10 Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
2 Cor 5:17: 17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Acts 19:18: 18 Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices.
James 5:14-16: 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
Luke 10:16: 16 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
So, in conclusion, from the above, we can see that the faith was kept alive and is still carried on through sacred tradition (including oral tradition). We can see that from this oral tradition, the Catholic Church put together the Canon of the Bible around 400 AD. Jesus Christ instituted the Church on Peter, the rock (the first leader of the Church, the Pope) and instituted the Priesthood upon Peter and the other 11 Apostles, to be passed down through the laying on of hands. Through this as well, we can see from the above that Jesus also instituted the Sacrament of Confession, by commanding the 12 to bind and loose sins. All of this is supported in Sacred Scripture and not simply man-made. It is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit who descended upon those same Apostles at Pentecost.