restraint

Linked Glossary of Terms
(references to De Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee, unless indicated. See concordance for correlation with pages in the New Critique. The concordance is in pdf format.)

Restraint NC II, 33 (unrestrained)
Hemmung Baader’s term for the restraint of the law

Dooyeweerd says that the law limits and determines [begrenst en bepaalt] our selfhood (WdW I, 14). Without law we would sink into chaos or nothingness. The law holds back by God’s common grace what would otherwise be the total demonization of our world. He says:

Door deze “algemene genade” wordt de doorwerking van de zonde in de wereld gestuit en de algehele verdemonsiering van de afgevallen mensheid tegengehouden, zodat nog overall lichtvonken van Gods macht, goedheid, waarheid, gerechtigheid en schoonheid kun schitteren ook in afgodisch gerichte culturen. (Vernieuwing en Bezinning, 36).

[By this “common grace” the continued working of sin in the world is checked, and the complete demonization of the fallen humanity is held back, so that everywhere sparks of God’s power, goodness, truth, justice and beauty can still glitter, even in cultures that are idolatrously directed.]

He also says,

Without the law commanding good there could be no evil. but the same law makes it possible for the creature to exist. Without the law man would sink into nothingness; the law determines his humanity. (Roots 37)

The law therefore restrains the full working of sin in temporal reality. In this earthly cosmos the unhampered influence of sin does not exist. Dooyeweerd says he does not know what the effect of unrestrained sin on reality would be like. It would be “absolute subjective apostasy under the curse of God’s wrath.” but it would still not be meaningless. (NC II, 33).

Baader speaks of the restraining effect of the law. It is felt as a restraint when we are not directed towards the center, but acting only in the periphery. Baader says that if we do not fulfil our task in relation to fallen creation, our ability to do so disappears, and the law becomes heavy and burdensome. The very nature of the fall was a turning away from the law in autonomy. But this turning away also resulted in the law being felt as curse or burden. This is the “gesetzt sein” of creation after the fall (or, in Dooyeweerd’s terminology, “gevoegd zijn“).

But even when we turn away from the center, there cannot be a nothingness. In the movement against God, there is a denial of the center. But there can be no absolute distancing from the center, because that would be a Vernichtung, a nothingness (Zeit, 26).

Revised Dec 27/04