‘Les Misérables’ and the Law of God
Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is again a topic of conversation, and for good reason.
Christians, in particular, have rightly celebrated the portrayal of the beauty of mercy and grace in this moving 150-year-old tale. Most of the theological analyses have contrasted Javert, the law-obsessed Inspector, with Valjean, the grace-transformed thief.
And while much of this analysis has been spot-on, it’s important that a central biblical and theological reality not get lost. Let me put it this way: Many people regard Javert as the consummate legalist, the embodiment of a single-minded preoccupation with perfect obedience to God’s righteous Law. The problem is this: he’s not.
Make no mistake, Javert is a legalist, from his back teeth to his little toe. But the law that forms his fixation is not the Law of God, the Law of Moses, or the Law of Christ. It is law, for sure, but it…