Herbert W. Armstrong Athens Greece ’83 Speech
Mr. Armstrong’s unheeded warning to Athens’s political, business and finance leaders

The whole world is waiting for the outcome of the Greek referendum.

Leaders in business, finance, the media and religion, as well as politicians, have voiced their opinions on the course ahead for deeply indebted Greece. In this climate of confusion, it is fitting that we recall a message of clarity delivered to the country’s elite in 1983 by the unofficial ambassador for world peace, Herbert W. Armstrong.

“The whole world soon will be stunned by the announcement, or of the news, of a new amalgamated nation appearing suddenly in Europe, possibly more powerful than either the Soviet Union or the United States.”

Mr. Armstrong made this bold pronouncement in his introduction to a January 1983 World Tomorrow program featuring his address to the prestigious Rotary Club of Athens. He specifically spoke about Greece and the appearing of the European Union.

Yet before showing the message, he wanted his viewers to gain the valued historic panorama of Greece’s capital city and its surroundings.

The city was the ancient cultural center of the globe and is considered the birthplace of modern civilization. At its apex, it was considered the most wealthy and powerful of its time. Athens’s contribution to philosophy, poetry and drama remain a dominant influence of today’s academia. Ruins of Athenian architectural prowess still stand the test of time as memories of a bygone era.

Tourists have made Greece a must-see destination, along with the noted Acropolis crowned by the architectural splendor of the Parthenon. Visitors are also reminded of Mars Hill, where the Apostle Paul revealed to citizens the identity of the unknown God to whom they constructed an altar.

Ruins of buildings, roadways, markets, theaters and fountains are reminders of Paul’s travels to Corinth and the establishment of a congregation of the New Testament Church of God.

The majority of the population belong to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Despite its financial exploitation by Germany and Europe, Athens has remained both the cultural and financial center of Greece, with its strategic waterways to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the prospective withdrawal from the euro, its ongoing geographic value to the EU is unquestioned.

The landmark World Tomorrow program set the scene: “Into this great city, rich in culture, religion and history, came Herbert W. Armstrong, bearing a message that had not been heard in Athens since the days of the Apostle Paul.”

With its membership of businessmen and financiers, the Athens Rotary Club invited Mr. Armstrong to speak as its guest of honor. Also in attendance were the heads of Olympia Airlines, Hellenic Mediterranean Shipping Lines and a leading member of Parliament.

Club president Constantine Ringas opened the meeting by saying, “Dear Mr. Armstrong. It’s a great pleasure for me, I could even say an honor for me, to welcome you to our city and to our club, which is a Senior Rotary Club of Greece.”

Mr. Ringas then switched to his native Greek, saying, “Our gathering today is devoted to world understanding and peace. A very highly respected and distinguished citizen of the United States of America is to honor tonight the rostrum of our club, Mr. Herbert Armstrong.

“For the Greek Rotarians, his presence as an ambassador of world peace at this rostrum is indeed a joy and a satisfaction. Because your efforts coincide with this year’s theme of the International Rotary Club, humanity as a whole, building bridges of friendship around the world.”

Next, the former cabinet minister and sitting member of Parliament, George Voyadzis, introduced Mr. Armstrong.

“Because this man, who [I] had the opportunity to meet personally on a trip to America when I visited the college he has founded in Pasadena, is one of the very few people in the world who both proclaims and applies the theme and the idea of peace, without any personal incentives whatsoever.

“The mere fact that a magazine is being published at Ambassador College by Mr. Armstrong, which is titled the Plain Truth, and which is distributed throughout the world with a circulation of 5½ million copies. A magazine that declares, proclaims, and supports the ideals of world peace and the love of fellowman. This mere fact makes Mr. Armstrong a man unique in the world, a pioneer in his field. I will say no more as I am sure we are waiting to hear Mr. Armstrong and the message he has to bring to us.”

The honored guest speaker then rose and said:

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. It certainly is a great honor to be able to speak to the Rotary Club in Athens, Greece. One of the most ancient cities in the world and the home of education, scholarship and culture.

I come to you as an unofficial ambassador for peace. Millions of men have given their lives, in the interest of peace, in wars. World War i was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but it didn’t end war. World War ii didn’t end war. There have been dozens and scores of wars since that time. Wars and threats of wars are continuing to go on.

The reason we do not have peace is because people do not know the way to peace. We live in a world today of awesome progress especially in this 20th century. The progress has been totally awesome. At the same time, we are living in a world of appalling evils. Troubles, heartaches, suffering, starvation, one half of this world is in absolute ignorance and uneducated. One half of this world is in abject poverty, living in filth and squalor, and such a condition ought not to be.

Right now, we are in escalating troubles. Crime and violence, disagreement between nations, and never has the world been as unrighteous as it is now in its living and in its dealings with people back and forth between one another or with nations.

Armies do not bring peace to a country. We have not learned the way to peace. In November of 1919, I was a member of the Association of Commerce in Chicago. And at a noon day luncheon with members and businessmen of that association, Roger Babson, the great statistician, was our main speaker.

Roger Babson said, “In one year, we are going to be in the throws of one of the greatest depressions this generation has ever known.” Present were many officials of great banks, presidents and board chairmen of great industrial corporations, and they shook their heads and didn’t agree with him.

One year later, November 1920, Roger Babson was the speaker before the Chicago Commerce Association again. He said, “The year has gone by, I am back because the depression I foretold is here with me.”

Mr. Babson said, “There has to be a cause for everything that happens. I want to tell you how I knew this depression was going to come and what you didn’t know. I was looking at the cause of conditions, you were not. If I want to know what the temperature is in this room in the winter, I look at the thermometer on the wall.”

Mr. Babson said, “You bankers, and you business executives were looking at the thermometers on the wall. You only recorded what was happening up to that time, not what was going to happen. You were looking at clearings, stock car loadings, whole sale prices and consumer price indexes. But I was looking at the cause of conditions. I found that when 51 percent of the whole population is unrighteous in its dealings with one another, we are going to have an economic depression.”

There are two basic principles I would like to bring to your attention in life, in our dealings with one another—how we live. One is: Two people cannot walk together and get along together unless they agree. The other is: One of the two must lead. There must be leadership if you’re going to agree and have peace.

Now, regarding European unification, yesterday I was having a meeting with some of the officials of your country and there was considerable discussion about the plans for the unification of Europe. As one of your officials said, “World peace depends upon European unification.”

We not only have language barriers between the nations and nationalism, different aspirations and differences, which have to be overcome, but many of the political leaders feel that they do not want to be church dominated. And yet, they are not going to be able to get together without the cohesiveness of church domination and the church bringing them all together.

You see, even the church is divided between east and west. I can tell you, however, that I fully believe that rift is going to be healed. And I fully believe that unification will be unexpectedly and suddenly achieved, and the world is going to be stunned and astounded when it is announced that there is in the Continent of Europe a new political unification. A nation as great or greater than the Soviet Union or the United States of America.

Up to now, the principle of two walking together in agreement has not occurred. The churches have not been brought together. The nations have not walked together. Different nations have their different aspirations, and they will war over their ideas to settle their disputes.

Now, how did this spirit of antagonisms between individuals, between families, between nations, how did it all arise; how did it start? We look back to the origins, and it had to be one of two origins. It had to be evolution, or it had to be special creation by the great Creator God!

The theory of evolution has become the very basis of all education today, especially in the latter half of the 19th century and through this 20th century, as the accepted idea of origins. It has not produced any peace, it does not give us any idea of why we are in the troubles we are, it gives us no solution, and it gives us no hope for the future

The Christian religion actually started—you might say almost started—here in this country. All of the New Testament is written in the Greek language. Much of the early fathers of the Christian religion were living and working here in Greece.

Now, in the religion of your country, here you will read in the New Testament in John the first chapter and the first five verses, that in the beginning, before anything else, there was a great personage called the Word. And the Word was with another great personage named God. And yet they were both God because it says, “And the Word was God.” In verse 14 of that same chapter, you will read that the Word later was born as Jesus Christ. Christ always loved the Father, and said, I have obeyed the Father and kept His commandments [John 15:10].

In other words, two can’t walk together except they be agreed [Amos 3:3]. God and the Word were completely in agreement, they agreed completely. Also, one had to be leader. God has always been the leader. Christ had said, I have obeyed my Father; He is the leader. So they have perfect peace!

Now, the way they lived together and cooperated together was love, Agape you call it in Greek, and that became a law. A law is merely the directions or how you’re going to live. Like the rules in a sports game of some kind that regulates how you perform the sport or how you live. And God’s way of life is outflowing love, or concern for the good and welfare of others.

In due time, God created man. Now, God had explained to the first man, Adam, that His way, His law of love, of cooperation, of getting along together, of agreeing, but He gave him his choice and man took, as you read in the incident of the forbidden fruit, he took of the knowledge of good and evil to decide for himself what is right or what is wrong. In other words, he took to himself the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. It’s the way of get instead of the way of cooperation and give, and man has been living that way ever since.

This first man, Adam, taught his children that way. His oldest son, Cain, killed his brother, Abel, and then he lied to God about it. And people have not been getting along ever since. Even today, we are all antagonistic one against another, and selfishness seems to rule mankind and has ever since. Now, we call it human nature, the result is the world has become all divided, and we do lack leadership.

Now, I said a while ago that the unification of Europe is going to occur and the whole world will be stunned when it does. Also, now we have the weapons of mass destruction for the first time, 29 to 30 years ago when the hydrogen bomb was finally perfected. They can annihilate every human being, every human life on the face of the Earth. And now it is recorded in the book of Matthew that a time of trouble is going to follow the unification of Europe [Matthew 24:21-22].

And that the trouble will be so great, and the Bible says that nuclear World War iii is going to come definitely! Now that should shock you, but it is true; it is going to happen and in our lifetime! That same passage, talking about this terrible time of World War iii, also says that except God supernaturally intervene to stop it, there would not be a human life left alive on the face of this Earth. But God will intervene, the world will be spared, Christ will come. He is going to rule all nations on the Earth. He is going to rule Greece, He is going to rule Germany, He is going rule Russia, the United States, Japan and China, every nation!

And He is going to bring peace. And they are going to beat weapons of war into weapons of production, and people are going to learn to get along with one another. People are going to learn to cooperate instead of trying to fight one another. We’re going to learn that two can’t walk together accept they be agreed, but we’re going to have to have leadership, and that leadership will be Jesus Christ, now coming as the great supernatural God in the full power of God!

Now, in a sense, the unification of Europe may trigger this whole thing that will result in final world peace. So perhaps the official who said yesterday morning that “world peace depends upon it,” perhaps he was right after all.

But just before this passage in Matthew 24 that I told you about, verse 14 says that when this gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed all over the world to all nations then will these things will shortly come. I am proclaiming that message, and it’s the first time in over 1,900 years that that message has been proclaimed around the world. It’s the same message that Jesus Christ proclaimed! But people have been teaching a gospel of men about Christ, about the person of Christ, and His gospel is what I have just told you. And that has not been preached! You have heard that fulfillment in your ears here this evening. I ask you, if you have ears to hear, please heed! Thank you very much.

Time has revealed just how few of those listeners had ears to hear and heed. The German-led EU, guided by the great false church, has and is doing just what Mr. Armstrong prophesied—hastening World War iii.

Are their any ears left in Greece with ears to hear? I know of one who I spoke to recently, who has both United States and Greek investments. He recalled that not so long ago, with the Acropolis and Parthenon in the background, Gerald Flurry reminded Key of David viewers of the divine identity of the unknown God. Today, that gospel continues to be declared as one final warning prophesied again to those who have ears to hear and heed (Revelation 10:11).

The absolute assurance of the prophesied return of Jesus Christ to bring the divine leadership necessary for lasting world peace renders a ceaseless smile to the faces, fire in the bones, and spring in the steps of His loyal Philadelphians.