THE NEED OF A BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLICAL TRUTHS
I also strongly indicated that we should charge our young people to learn the biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. If possible, they should also learn the theological language of Latin. I did this because I fully realize that for the long run the Lord’s recovery needs the basic knowledge of the biblical truths. To acquire such a basic knowledge in a full and complete way, our young people need to learn Hebrew to study the Old Testament, Greek to study the New Testament, and Latin to study the earlier theological writings. My encouragement to study these languages was somewhat misunderstood. Also, some others thought that I wanted them to go back to the old books, so they began to collect them.
Two young people came to me who were quite stirred up to study these old books. They asked me to give them a list of all the reference books and expositions for them to study. I immediately told them that I would not give them such a list. I advised them to do their best firstly to learn Greek and if possible Hebrew. I did not include Latin because Latin is not that important. I also told them that if they mean business with the Lord and His truth they must spend five years to study all the publications the Lord’s recovery has ever put out. I told them that they had to spend two hours every day to finish this course of the Life-study Messages with the Recovery Version, including the footnotes and the cross references. Finally, I advised them to come to me after they had finished their course and then I would give them a good list of reference books. I said this because at that time they will have been educated and built up with a strong footing of the truth. Then they will have the best discernment. They will be able to look into books and immediately discern whether they are a help or a hindrance.
Actually, we must realize that in the older theological writings, we may be able to find different terminologies and expressions, but there is no new item there concerning the truth. In the past sixty years, by His mercy, we have picked up all the basic items of the divine and spiritual matters. After you have received a good foundation in the basic truths of the divine revelation, you will be fully established. You can then go back to see the things in the older books. The positive items in these books would strengthen and confirm what you have already seen and will enrich your speaking so that you can show people what is right. Then you would never be misled.
THE RISK OF GOING BACK TO THE OLD THINGS
If we go back to the old things without proper consideration, we run the risk of opening the door for all the saints to go back to the old things. If we are not the Lord’s recovery, we need to get into the old things. Otherwise, we have nothing. Today’s seminaries train their people to study all the old publications. They study church history, the historical study of theology, and the writings of the church fathers. They have degrees in theology, Hebrew, Greek, church history, and other items. The seminaries give people doctor’s degrees, but these degrees are in the old things. What they are actually doing is holding the Lord back. Today’s theological teachings hold the Lord back from going on in His recovery. I am not saying that all the books in the past are not good. Some of them may be good, but they are old. Some of you who graduated from a seminary can testify that you did not receive anything advanced or improved there. All you received were the old things.
(Elders' Training, Book 04: Other Crucial Matters Concerning the Practice of the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)