OUR TIME TO SERVE
by

Dr. William B. Allen
for the Southern California Council of Pastors and Leaders

March 1, 1991

Costa Mesa, California

© W. B. Allen 1991

 

Thank you for the warm welcome. I told Alan it was so impressive an introduction that he almost persuaded me.Iím very happy to be here with you tonight and to talk about these issues. I think myself blessed of God. I donít know why. I canít explain it and I donít think I deserve it, but to be able to speak with you and to share our hopes in the way that we have occasion to do from time to time, I do experience as a blessing. I canít help but think that out of these discussionsóand I donít just mean this eveningó≠there is going to come some kind of awakening. There is a day coming in which all of our efforts will be rewarded as they deserve.

Politics is a difficult business. Itís hard to talk about political problems and issues, particularly at a time like thisóa time when people are rejoicing because we have concluded, or practically concluded war with precious, but still few, lives lost. Itís harder in that context to ask people to think of problems yet to come and to entertain the prospect of solutions. And yet we have no choice. We have to do this; we do it because our duties propel us far beyond the momentary distractions. And we know there are dangers that lie immediately before us as well as down the road. Perhaps none, by the way, more serious than that to which Leonard Smith introduced us this evening in the form of a ďnew world order.Ē

I, at least, am terribly concerned about this and what it indicates for the future of this country. I am terribly concerned about our Presidentís success in building an international coalition in the United Nations, which gained a certain priority over our own Congress in the course of the last fall. I think itís an enormous danger for us. I remember when Mikhail Gorbachev used the expression ďnew world orderĒ in 1988, and Iíve been troubled ever since I saw George Bush take it over from him.

Now, I thought perhaps it was a very clever move by Mr. Bush to take this Stalinist language, steal it from Gorbachev and convert it into good, healthy, American purposes. And I would celebrate that, if thatís what our President were doing with a kind of statesmanlike deception. But Iím not sure it isnít we who are being deceived. So Iím concerned, concerned that we raise clearly a standard that declares that we will not find our salvation in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. That way lies no salvation.

I will never forget how Jimmy Carter, in December 1977, spoke at the United Nations about that universal declaration of human rights. He celebrated it by saying that the promises of our own institutions, our own Bill of Rights, and our own Declaration of Independence, were incomplete and could never be quite fulfilled until we could realize the implications of the universal declaration of human rights.

At that moment I said, ďThis is a president we have elected, whoís taken us off of the noble ground on which weíve stood, to prostrate us before the world, before mere human principles, rather than the inspired principles that gave birth to this nation.Ē I saw that as a great risk and I still see it so today. I think it calls us, therefore, to make it clear to our fellows that we cannot accept this risk.

We know itís a dangerous world, and we donít want to multiply differences with other countries, other peoples, unnecessarily. We donít want to seem prideful as we insist upon the dignity and worth of our own principles and institutions, but, I ask you to think of whatís happened in just the last two years as we have seen socialism crumble in the east, as we have begun, not just in this country, but throughout the world, to celebrate so-called ďmarket principles.Ē Have you ever thought what this means? To celebrate our triumph over totalitarianism as the triumph, not of faith, but of market principles? I mean, really, what are market principles after all? I grant you, a robust economy is a wonderful thing to enjoy, but do you really believe that American success is nothing more than the material principles involved in the expression ďmarket principlesĒ? Thatís not why socialism fails. Socialism fails because it wounds the human spirit and closes the human heart to heaven. Weíre not being told that. Weíre not seeing that voice raised, whether in our capital, or any other. Yes, there are heroes that we have, you and I. But we have not yet made our heroes the heroes of this nation, and thatís the task that we now confront.

Now, Iím not going to talk for long, Jerry. I did not laugh because I thought Iíd go a lot longer than 25 minutes. You know Iím a preacherís kid and I know that no man should ever lock himself in a room full of preachers unless heís got a large bucket of fried chicken. Otherwise he does not get time to talk for long. But there are a few things I want to say.

I want to take the time to think about problems looming, although this is a season of rejoicing, and I take as my precedent in this what George Washington did in 1783, just as the United States was concluding its Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War. In June of Ď83, Washington issued to the country what he called his political legacy. He sent a circular address to the governors of the 13 states, and all the people, and in it he did two things. First, of course, he pleaded for justice for the troops, which was certainly well done on the part of a commander. They deserved that justice, for they hadnít been paid and there was no way anyone knew how to pay them immediately. But he reminded his countrymen that good faith required paying the troops, dealing with them honestly, and saying ďthank youĒ for this ultimate sacrifice. In much the same way that we today shall have to greet our troops returning from the Middle East with fulsome gratitude. But Washington went on also to say to his countrymen that, not only must the troops receive justice but, the country must be built so that the prospect of justice will be saved for all. He said, ďThis is the time of our political probation,Ē weíre being tested. And whether we pass this test or not, it stands only to us to demonstrate. And I happen to believe that we, in the late 20th century, face no less a trial of political probation than did the Americans in 1783. We differ from them, though, in one very important respect.

Prophecy was still a gift in the late 18th century. There were people like Nathaniel Ames, physician and almanac writer, but also a prophet who in 1758 foresaw the ultimate continental expansion of the United States in this great industrial base. People like Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale, who wrote in 1783, an election sermon called ďThe United States Elevated to Power and Glory,Ē in which he projected the New Zion in all its meaning. We heard mention already of Jonathan Edwards. Prophets were numerous in those days. Theyíre fewer now, or at least we pay less attention to them. And one of things weíre required to do is to raise up among us again the voice of prophecy.

Thereís no reason prophecy canít inform public discourse. There may be in some peopleís minds a separation of church and state, but, until you separate ear from brain, prophecy can still prevail. Itís time for us to remember that, and to seek out the voice of prophecy as we try to find our way in this troubling world.

When I look at this race, about which you and I, and all, will have very difficult decisions to make, I think this is doubtless one of the occasions in which we would pay well to open our ears to prayer and prophecy, to seek a guidance beyond a mere human understanding as to what we will do.

The race against Senator Seymour is not a race against the man, John Seymour. I grant, there are problems enough with the man. We know heís said to be a flip-flopper. He changed his stand on abortion out of mere pragmatic opportunism. Well, I will defend him against that. I donít believe he was a newcomer to flip-flopping and, therefore, when he did it on abortion it was a sign of consistency. He had already flip-flopped back in 1978 with Proposition 13. Just like Jerry Brown, he opposed it until it passed and then he got religion after it passed and, sure enough, by 1985 he was already back on the path again, trying to undermine it, introducing legislation in the state Senate to undermine Proposition 13. Thatís the character of the man.

He does, indeed, speak for an agenda which can not recover for us the essence of self-government, which is so important for us today. But beyond the man, beyond his character, and beyond the policies heís likely to pursue, there is precisely that question of the slap in the face, the slap in the face that that appointment was to all of our deeply expressed concerns of a year ago. Itís deliberate; it is not that Gov. Wilson spent his time searching the whole state and found the best person he could for senator. Not even Pete Wilson believes John Seymour was the best person he could find, except for the purpose of insulting those of us who hold strongly to principles. Therefore, we can accept nothing less than to turn him out of office. Nothing less. For that reason, I think thereís nothing more important than for us now to resolve, well in advance, that we will not come to the end of this campaign season without having constructed a solid campaign calculated to achieve precisely that result.

Now, if you were to ask me how I would decide if I were faced with the decision that you are faced with, and if I were to consult my own feelings in the matter, my reflexes, I would probably say something like, ďWell, you know, you probably ought to go out and work really hard for Bill Dannemeyer. You ought to start as early as possible and give him one hundred percent of your effort and your energy in this race, for certain obvious reasons. Bill Dannemeyer has served us well; heís spoken with principle, with confidence, with honesty, where few others ever have. He distinguished himself not merely as a politician, but as a man of character, sufficient to bear the weight of office and that, my friends, is a rare quality.

I would say you should take into account what it is he has yet to contribute, having already contributed so very much, beginning back in the mid-sixties when he saw the light and switched from that old, other Party to the Republican Party. He did so when it took some foresight, perhaps some vision, some gift, to see where we were headed under the policies of that other Party. And, therefore, he has consistently fought against it ever since.

I remember when I first met Bill, back in 1985 in Los Angeles; he was sitting in hearings with the House Committee on the Judiciary, the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitu≠tional Rights. They were hearing testimony on the Grove City Bill, as it was then called. It ultimately came to be called The Civil Rights Restoration Act. I was one of the people who went to present testimony. In that year we succeeded in derailing that billóone of the things I pointed out, you might remember, Bill, was that this legislation forced church-related institutions to provide counseling on abortion to their students, against their very own principles. And thatís one of the things, among others, that helped Bill and other people to derail that legislation that first year it was brought forth. And, when it was subsequently passed in 1988, finally, it at least carried express exceptions for those institutions, though the legislation itself was still quite harmful for our country, as far as Iím concerned. But Bill was there and the point is, heís always been there. And I expect we can always count on Bill to work for us. We know that heís a man of principle, a man of conscience. If you ask me to tell you what, consulting my reflexes, I would do, Iím telling you, thatís what I would say to you.

If you ask me why I am a candidate in the race, thatís a little more complicated. But, it goes back to what I said before. We can not fail this time. When we were faced, one year ago, with the fait accompli of Pete Wilson as our nominee for governor, and it dawned upon us that no matter how we looked across the field of leadership, there was no one found to stand up and say that this was wrong, then you must agreeóas I now believeóthat it was our own fault. We didnít start early enough, and we didnít draw the line in the sand clearly enough. And what I say to you now is that this time we must stand up early, we must draw the line in the sand clearly. We can take no chance, whatever, that we will come to this time next year and look at a Republican Party that will say to us, ďYou have to take Mr. Seymour because you havenít really put together an opportunity to do anything differently and, after all, he is a Republican, and, Party unity is at risk, so let us just go ahead and support the Party standard bearer.Ē

Well, Iím no longer going to just support the Party standard bearer. Iím going to insist that we have a bearer of Party principles to support.

And, so, I think we canít leave it to chance, and we canít even leave it, really, to the complete satisfaction that I, for one, am perfectly willing to find in Bill Dannemeyer. Until weíve reached the end of the road and we know exactly what is there, I think we have to be more calculating and I think we have to assure, to guarantee our opportunities. Weíre not going to place all our eggs in one basket, until we know that the basket is ready for shipping. And, when that time comes, weíre going to wage an all-out campaign.

Thatís what this is about, as far as Iím concerned, and I beg you, therefore, to do what Iím going to do as we go through this campaign season, as you try to make this very difficult decision; seek the answer in prayer. It wonít be easy for any of us, but weíll all be the better for it.

As we contemplate the kinds of problems that we now must face at the end of the 20th century, and as we insist that we have to have the changes that will place the fate of this country back in the hands of its citizens, as we once again make moral principle the basis of public service as well as private conduct, letís remember that this is a greater campaign than any of us, individually, or even all of us together. We serve for the time that weíre here. We serve well, we hope, but we serve at least. And thatís really all I have to offer.

 

Back to Top