I’m freaking out. I’m reading parts of Revelation & some verses say that God has written down peoples names in the Book of Life from Creation (13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 20:15). Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but, I’m really freaking out. Compare this to Rev 3:5, which states something about NOT being blotted out/erased, MEANING EITHER, God doesn’t do this or he does (see Psalm 69:28). Because, if God BLOTS people’s names, then, they USED to be saved, then lost salvation. BUT, that seems to conflict with those Revelation passages about which I am inquiring.
Thank you all so so so so so so so so much. I’m really uneasy about this.
In terms of traditional Catholic theology, the answer is fairly simple. The gift of grace and the gift of perseverance are two separate things. God has chosen from all eternity to give certain people (the elect) not only the gift of initial grace (leading them to repent and believe) but also the gift of perseverance. These are the people whose names are written in the book of life. But people whose names are not written in the book of life (they do not persevere to final salvation) can experience grace and still fall away. So I’m not sure what you see as the contradiction here. You seem to have accepted the Calvinist premise that anyone who once experiences grace must be written in the book of life. But that’s the very point at issue.
The question of course remains–on what basis does God choose to give people the gift of final perseverance, counting them among the elect? The majority view today among Catholics seems to be that this is based on God’s foreknowledge of the human response to grace. Historically, though, most of the great theologians of the West (Augustine and Aquinas, for instance) have believed the opposite–that God chooses to save certain people without regard to His foreknowledge of their actions (ante praevisa merita). Rather, the human response to grace is the result of God’s gracious action in us, moving us toward Him. Most Catholics today think of this as “Calvinism,” but in fact this is not the part of Calvinism that the Catholic Church condemns. (Catholics, unlike Calvinists, must find a way to reconcile this doctrine of predestination with human free will–some Calvinists do this also but others see no need to. And similarly, while some Calvinists believe in “single predestination”–that God chooses to save some without positively and unconditionally reprobating others–many believe in “double predestination,” which is heresy for Catholics. The difference is rather academic, since the Thomist/Augustinian doctrine teaches that all those whom God has not chosen to save are damned. But it’s still important, since it draws back from saying that God desires something evil, which is blasphemy. The issue where all Calvinists differ from Catholics is the doctrine of perseverance, to which I referred earlier.) There are plenty of problems with this Catholic Augustinianism, which is why it has fallen out of favor (also it doesn’t fit the growing humanitarianism of our day). But it remains a legitimate option for Catholics.
It would also seem to be just barely legimate to suggest that everyone may be elect. Clearly we can’t know this–Scripture teaches unequivocally that damnation is a real possibility. But some Catholic theologians (Hans Urs von Balthasar, Richard John Neuhaus) have suggested that we can legitimately hope that ultimately no one will reject grace. This would eliminate the problem of God’s goodness with regard to election, leaving only the difficulty (for Thomists/Augustinians) of reconciling election ante praevisa merita with free will. In my view, this is the less serious of the two problems, although it is a puzzler. But everything having to do with free will is a puzzler.