One of the key problems in Ken Wilson’s dissertation that strikes the reader immediately is the ease with which assertions are made that are not substantiated by any meaningful argumentation or documentation. And central to the application being made of his work is the phrase, used dozens of times, is his admitted self-created phrase, “Divine Unilateral Predetermination of Individuals’s Eternal Destinies,” or DUPIED. This concept is central to the central argument being made in his popularized book, and in his speaking on this subject. So one would expect that DUPIED is well documented, defined, and defended. It is not.

One of the first appearances of the phrase is on page 13 in the discussion of Gnosticism. Here is the context:

Gnostic cosmic dualism constituted spirit as divine with matter being evil; thus, every human at birth stood corrupted and damned. Valentinus taught the message of salvation was offered to all, but only the elect (πνευματικοί possessing Light particles) were empowered by God to accept the invitation and receive salvation (Ev. Ver.11, 30–31; Corp. Herm.1.26).20 The ψυχικοί could possibly be saved due to retained free choice, while the ὑλικοί were hopelessly damned from birth.21 Irenaeus refutes this predetermined salvific spiritual nature (φύσεισώζεσθαι; Exc. Theod. 56 and 61), comparing Valentinian Divine Unilateral Predetermination of Individuals’s Eternal Destinies to Stoic determinism (Adv. haer.1.6.2; 2.29.1–31; 2.14.4).

Wilson, 2018, 13.

Irenaeus, of course, is one of our most important sources of knowledge concerning the Gnostic myth, and if he actually made reference to DUPIED, or anything remotely similar, and if he connected it to Stoicism, this would be very important. So let’s look at what Irenaeus actually said. From the references given by Wilson, we find exactly one reference to Stoicism, and that is in Adv. haer. 2.14.4:

This opinion, too, that they hold the Creator formed the world out of previously existing matter, both Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and Plato expressed before them; as, forsooth, we learn they also do under the inspiration of their Mother. Then again, as to the opinion that everything of necessity passes away to those things out of which they maintain it was also formed, and that God is the slave of this necessity, so that He cannot impart immortality to what is mortal, or bestow incorruption on what is corruptible, but every one passes into a substance similar in nature to itself, both those who are named Stoics from the portico (στοὰ ), and indeed all that are ignorant of God, poets and historians alike, make the same affirmation. Those [heretics] who hold the same [system of] infidelity have ascribed, no doubt, their own proper region to spiritual beings, — that, namely, which is within the Pleroma, but to animal beings the intermediate space, while to corporeal they assign that which is material. And they assert that God Himself can do no otherwise, but that every one of the [different kinds of substance] mentioned passes away to those things which are of the same nature. [with itself].

With the discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices we have been able to verify that Irenaeus was good at doing his research! This is indeed what the Gnostic myth taught. But notice what Irenaeus actually says about the Stoics. He is referring to the Gnostic division of mankind into different groups (and even these groups were defined differently depending on the Gnostic group under consideration). The “determinism” to which the Gnostics were referring, and to which Irenaeus is responding, has, of course, nothing to do with a divine decree, as in Reformed theology, or in Augustine. Instead, as the very reference makes clear, he is referring to “the opinion that everything of necessity passes away to those things out of which they maintain it was also formed,” so, the spiritual return to the spiritual, the soulish to the material, etc. This is materialistic determinism, not divine determinism. Indeed, “God is the slave of this necessity, so that He cannot impart immortality to what is mortal, or bestow incorruption on what is corruptible, but every one passes into a substance similar in nature to itself.” This is a determinism that even determines God, whatever that term means in this context.

So if Wilson is correct, and what is under discussion by Irenaeus is DUPIED, then, it follows inevitably, that DUPIED has nothing to do with TULIP or anything related to the sovereign decree of God in Christianity. But this does not fit with his own use, for by the end of his work we read these words as central to his own conclusion:

Early Christian authors ‘unanimously’ taught relational eternal predetermination wherein God elected persons according to foreknowledge of their faith(predestination), in opposition to Stoic Providence and Gnostic/Manichaean unilateral determinism. While teaching predestination, Christians refuted Divine Unilateral Predetermination of Individuals’s Eternal Destinies, identified in ancient Iranian religion, then chronologically in the Qumranites, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, and Manichaeism. Heretics such as Basilides who taught God’s unilateral gift of faith were condemned. Of the eighty-four pre-Augustinian authors studied from 95–430 CE, fifty addressed the topic. All fifty of these early Christian authors championed traditional free choice against pagan and heretical Divine Unilateral Predetermination of Individuals’s Eternal Destinies

Wilson, 2018, 273

Notice the inclusion of the phrase “Gnostic/Manichaean unilateral determinism.” There is no such thing, of course—the diversity of viewpoints amongst the Gnostics, let alone amongst the Manichaeans, makes the conjunction of the two terms absurdly misleading. But in the citation above from Irenaeus we see that what was refuted was a naturalistic/materialistic determinism that constrained even God, so clearly there is no meaningful connection to Augustine’s concept, let alone that found in Reformed theology. Wilson is found again to be hammering his own pet theory (DUPIED) into the historical context and in the process horrifically misrepresenting the reality.


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