Mr Bryan Fischer made quite a conjecture on Focal Point (4 & 5 Sept. 2019): His contention is that the lack of the death penalty is the thread running through the entirety of Genesis 4-9, that this is the key to understanding all the events that take place in those chapters, from the murder of Abel to the Flood. In short, he holds that God did not allow Cain to be executed for the murder of his brother, but gave him a lesser sentence, that mankind might know by experience that a society without the death penalty leads to all kinds of chaos and turmoil.
This is wrong on a number of levels.
First, the punishment God gave Cain was worse than the curse laid upon Adam and Eve: ‘Thou art cursed from the earth’ rather than ‘Cursed is the earth in thy labors’ (St John Chrysostom, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation, and Early Man, 2nd edn., 2011, p. 301). But Mr Fischer, apparently knowing better than the Holy Fathers and God Himself, dares to pronounce this curse as a trifling matter. What dangerous pridefulness!
Mr Fischer goes on to say that the wickedness mentioned in Gen. 6 is the result of a society unrestrained by capital punishment. But the Holy Fathers say nothing of this theory of his. What they do mention as the root of this corruption is sexual lust (Fr Seraphim, pgs. 319, 324), not the lack of an execution of Cain or anyone else for murder.
The Holy Fathers liken the after-Flood world given by God to Noah and his kinfolk to that to which God gave Adam and Eve in the beginning: God tells both families to increase and multiply. He gives both food to eat. And He gives both one commandment to follow: For Adam, it was abstaining from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; for Noah it was not to eat blood - it was to be drained out of the animal. The blood, symbolizing life, is God’s; the meat is man’s. The Fathers do at this point (Gen. 9) say that allowing capital punishment is meant to curb men from murdering one another, but they tie this in with the new conditions of the world after the Flood (Fr Seraphim, pgs. 349-50), and not as Mr Fischer would have it, as the concluding statement for some kind of sick, divinely sanctioned, social engineering experiment God was conducting upon mankind to prove an hypothesis (i.e., that the death penalty is a powerful remedy for societal troubles). If all this were supposed to show the efficacy of the death penalty in curbing man’s sinfulness, then it failed pretty miserably, for not too long in the future, mankind was once again rebelling mightily against God at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11) despite the death penalty being part of the laws.
Added to this, Mr Fischer is also of the opinion that the 120 years mentioned near the beginning of Gen. 6 is a reduced lifespan God allotted to man at this time. But again he is at odds with the Holy Fathers, who say that the 120 years refers to the amount of time mankind was given to repent before the Flood came (Fr Seraphim, p. 319).
We are not trying to be ugly and nit-pick. We are only concerned that Mr Fischer, departing from the sure path of salvation laid out by the Holy Fathers and inclining to his own understanding, is going to fall into a pit and harm himself, and cause a large number of others who follow him to do the same. After all, Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and all the other heretics no doubt felt a strong sense of ‘inner assurance’ that their teachings, based on their private understanding of the Holy Scriptures, about the Holy Trinity, the Lord Jesus, His Most Pure Mother, and other matters of doctrine were correct, when they had actually wandered far from the Truth. We are all very good at deceiving ourselves that the darkness we see is light. It is imperative for us to check our opinions against the teachings of the Fathers that we may live in the Light of God and not the darkness of the devil.
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!