To the Editor:
I WAS INTRIGUED by Meir Soloveichik’s description of growing Christian interest in Jewish love of the law (“Love and the Law,” June). However, I noticed an oddity in Mr. Soloveichik’s article: Every Christian he cited as favorably disposed toward the law is Catholic. The two Christians cited as expressing negative views of the law, C.S. Lewis and Paul himself, are Protestant and merely Christian, respectively.
It’s not incidental that Catholics are more likely to enjoy the constraining discipline of the law. In fact, one of the sharpest points of difference between Protestant and Catholic theology is the question of whether Christians are saved by faith alone, or by works and faith. Paul repeatedly emphasizes, throughout his letters, that the law is not redemptive, because we are all sinful and cannot hope to obey the law. It immediately condemns us for our sin.
When Paul called the law a “curse,” he spoke of the curse that comes from relying on the “works of the law.” In Galatians 3:11, he writes, “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’” In the previous verse, he cites Deuteronomy 27:26: “Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Freedom from this curse comes, in this understanding, not from embracing the law’s confinement, but from embracing Christ, the one man who actually kept the law.