Peter Ruckman

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King James Onlyists

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Peter Sturges Ruckman "Doc" (born November 19, 1921), is an Independent Baptist minister, teacher, writer, and founder of Pensacola Bible Institute, an unaccredited school in Pensacola, Florida (not to be confused with Pensacola Christian College). Ruckman is best known for his assertion that the King James Version constitutes "advanced revelation" and is the preserved word of God for English speakers.[1]

Contents

Biography

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Peter Ruckman is a son of Colonel John Hamilton Ruckman (1888-1966) and a grandson of General John Wilson Ruckman (1858-1921). Ruckman was reared in Topeka, Kansas, attended Kansas State University, and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama. Ruckman married Janie Bess May of Sawyerville, Alabama, and they had five children together.[2]

Ruckman entered the U.S. Army in 1944 and became second lieutenant, although he never saw action. At the end of World War II, he volunteered to serve with the occupation forces in Japan and while there studied Zen Buddhism. Ruckman claimed to have had paranormal experiences during this period, including (in his words) "the experience of nirvana, which the Zen call samadhi, the dislocation of the spirit from the body....Looking at my moral life following that experience, and my desire at times to commit suicide, I realize I had produced a passive state that was an entrance for spirits." Ruckman returned to the United States "uneasy, unsettled, full of demons." Drinking heavily, he became a disc jockey during the day and a drummer in various dance bands at night. Sometimes verging on suicide, he began to hear voices, and he met with a Jesuit priest to explore the possibility of joining the Roman Catholic Church.

On March 14, 1949, he was converted to Christianity after talking to evangelist Hugh Pyle in the studios of WEAR radio in Pensacola. Ruckman then attended Bob Jones University (BJU), where he received a master's degree and Ph.D. in religion.[3] In 1959, after several separations, Ruckman's first marriage was dissolved. Ruckman has since been divorced again and married a third time.[4]

Ruckman is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Pensacola, and his writings and recorded sermons are published by his Bible Baptist Bookstore.[5] Like his father, Peter Ruckman demonstrated artistic talent early in life, and he often illustrates his sermons in chalk and pastels while preaching.[6]

King James Version-Only Proponent

Ruckman insists that the King James Version of the Bible, the "Authorized Version" ("KJV" or "A.V."), provides "advanced revelation" in English beyond that discernible in the underlying Textus Receptus Greek text. Arguing that the KJV is more authoritative for English speakers than the Greek and Hebrew texts, he believes the KJV represents the final authority for modern disputes about the content and meaning of the original manuscripts. For instance, in his Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, Ruckman says, "Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation!" Likewise, he advises where "the perverse Greek reads one way and the A.V. reads the other, rest assured that God will judge you at the Judgment on what you know. Since you don't know the Greek (and those who knew it, altered it to suit themselves), you better go by the A.V. 1611 text."[]

Ruckman distinguishes between the Textus Receptus of the KJV, and the numerically fewer manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type underlying most modern New Testament versions. Ruckman characterizes those who endorse the latter as members of the "Alexandrian Cult" who believe that while the autographs were God-inspired, they have been lost, and that therefore his opponents believe there to be "no final, absolute written authority of God anywhere on this earth." [] Ruckman also believes that the Septuagint was a hoax created by the Alexandrian cult in the 3rd century A.D. in order to subvert belief in the integrity of the Bible.[]

Not surprisingly, Ruckman's position on the authority of the KJV is strongly opposed by many supporters of biblical inerrancy, including signers of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy who specifically "deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs [and] further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant." KJV-Only supporters are sometimes called "Ruckmanites," and those who take more moderate KJV-Only positions frequently criticize Ruckman because "his writings are so acerbic, so offensive and mean-spirited that the entire movement has become identified with his kind of confrontational attitude."[] Many supporters of the King James Only movement reject Ruckman's position that the English KJV is superior to existing Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.[]

The KJV is Superior to the Original Language Texts

Some quotations by Peter Ruckman concerning the belief that the King James Version is superior to the original Greek and Hebrew.

“The King James Bible was ‘given by inspiration of God.’” [n](The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, pp. 271-272)
“The A.V. 1611 reading, here, is superior to any Greek text” [n](Peter Ruckman, The Christian’s Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, Pensacola Bible Press, 1970, p. 118).
“Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation!” [n](Ruckman, Manuscript Evidence, p. 126).
“A short handbook, such as this, will not permit an exhaustive account of the marvelous undesigned ‘coincidences’ which have slipped through the A.V. 1611 committees, unawares to them, and which give advanced light, and advanced revelation beyond the investigation of the greatest Bible students 300 year later” [n](Ruckman, Manuscript Evidence, p. 127).
“A little English will clear up the obscurities in any Greek text” [n](Ruckman, Manuscript Evidence, p. 147).
“If all you have is the ‘original Greek,’ you lose light” [n](Ruckman, Manuscript Evidence, p. 336).
“We shall deal with the English Text of the Protestant Reformation, and our references to Greek or Hebrew will only be made to enforce the authority of that text or to demonstrate the superiority of that text to Greek and Hebrew.” [n](Peter Ruckman, Problem Texts, Preface, Pensacola Bible Institute Press, 1980, p. vii).
“We candidly and publicly confess that the King James text of the Old Testament (Authorized Version) is far superior to Kittel’s Hebrew text, Derossi’s Hebrew text, Kennicott’s Hebrew text or any Hebrew text that any of you are reading. We do not hesitate to state bluntly and openly that the King James text for the New Testament (Authorized Version) is superior to Erasmus’ Greek text, Aland’s Greek text, Metzger’s Greek text and any other that you are reading (or will read in the future)” [n](Ruckman, Problem Texts, page xii).
“If you had the original manuscripts, you couldn’t find what a soul was, no matter how educated you were, because the key for ‘finding out’ had nothing to do with the Hebrew or Greek” [n](Ruckman, Problem Texts, p. 145).
“Observe how accurately and beautifully the infallible English text straightens out Erasmus, Griesbach, Beza, Nestle, Aland, Metzger, Trench, Vincent, Davis, Wuest, Zodhiates, Elzevir, and Stephanus with the poise and grace of a swan as it smoothly and effectively breaks your arm with one flap of its wings. Beautiful, isn’t it? If the mood or tense isn’t right in any Greek text, the King James Bible will straighten it out in a hurry” [n](Ruckman, Problem Texts, pp. 348, 349).
“The original Hebrew had nothing to do with Genesis 1:1-3 at all [referring to Ruckman’s unique idea that the flood of 2 Peter 3:5-6 speaks of a flood that took place in Genesis 1:2]. It only muddied the issue. Hebrew is of no help at all in understanding the passage” [n](Peter Ruckman, The Unknown Bible, Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1984, p. 67).
“The King James test is the last and final statement that God has given to the world, and He has given it in the universal language of the 20th century ... The truth is that GOD SLAMMED THE DOOR OF REVELATION SHUT IN 389 BC AND SLAMMED IT SHUT AGAIN IN 1611” [n](Peter Ruckman, The Monarch of Books, Pensacola, 1973, p. 9).

View on Abortion

"I don't teach that abortion is murder, like the brethren do"
"You don't want to get hung up on those things. Some of the brethren get so hung up on this thing, 'abortion is murder, abortion is murder', they show you pictures. Well they're trying to prove, they're trying to prove the thing looks like a person that is a person. That's what Darwin taught. You gotta watch that business. You can take an embryo of an animal and prove it looks like an embryo of a person. That doesn't make it a person. You gotta watch that business. You go around start prove that thing is a person before that thing is born, then you got that matter of salvation. And the first thing you know you'll be up there at the Catholic hospital dumpin' water on them so they don't go to limbo. You gotta watch that kind of stuff. Now I'll grant you the child is an organism, I'll grant you that. But they're a lot of organisms. I'll grant you the child may be alive in the sense of animal life, I'll grant you that. I'll grant you it's an embryo, I'll grant you that. But if you talking about a living soul see, I read my bible there's no living soul till the Lord breathed in his nostrils the breath of life."
"Now if you ever start teaching the other, and maybe some of you fellows subscribe that way, you gonna have some real problems. When all those Indians and Hindus came into Bangladesh and Pakistan and raped about 2000 women and left them with about 800 illegitimate children, the good Catholic nuns, in order to increase the membership to the local church, decided it'd be a terrible sin to have any abortion. So the will of God for 800 women who were abused against their will to bear children for the Roman Catholic Church. I don't believe it!"

Taken from one of Ruckman's sermons.

Controversialist

Ruckman is known for his confrontational approach. James R. White states in his book, The King James Only Controversy, that to call Ruckman "outspoken is to engage in an exercise in understatement. Caustic is too mild a term; bombastic is a little more accurate.…There is no doubt that Peter S. Ruckman is brilliant, in a strange sort of way. His mental powers are plainly demonstrated in his books, though most people do not bother to read far enough to recognize this due to the constant stream of invective that is to be found on nearly every page. And yet his cocky confidence attracts many people to his viewpoint."[] One Ruckman letter to an opponent begins, "Dear Scumbucket."[] The website of Ruckman's press notes that although some have called his writings "mean spirited," "we refer to them as 'Truth With An Attitude.'"[] He once described the New American Standard Bible as "more of the same old godless, depraved crap"[]and a rival KJV-Only supporter, a "puffed up conceited ass."[] Although Ruckman graduated from Bob Jones University, he has referred to it as "the World's Most Unusual Hell Hole"[]

Ruckman has many ideas that differ from those of typical Baptist fundamentalists. For instance, he does not believe that a fetus becomes a living soul until it is born and takes its first breath.[] His unusual ideas extend beyond the Bible as well. Ruckman believes in UFOs and blue aliens with blue blood, black aliens with green blood, and gray aliens with clear blood.[] Further, he believes that the CIA has implanted brain transmitters in children, old people, and African-Americans and that the agency operates underground alien breeding facilities.[] In 1997, Ruckman claimed that Attorney General Janet Reno had drawn up a list with his name on it and prophesied that the "Government Mafia" would make a hit on him during "the next two or three years."[]

Pensacola Bible Institute

In 1965 Ruckman founded Pensacola Bible Institute (PBI), in part, because of his disagreements with other institutions in regard to Biblical translations. Pensacola Bible Institute—unrelated to Pensacola Christian College—is not accredited by any agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the United States Department of Education.[] It does not accept government funding nor participate in the student loan program. The school has no website other than the Bible Baptist Bookstore site.

Works

Books

Notes

  • 1. Peter Ruckman, The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Press, 1990), 126; the website of David Cloud, another KJV-Only proponent, says that "For good or for bad, Peter Ruckman’s name is intertwined with the defense of the King James Bible. Personally, I think it is bad," because to some of his followers, "if a man does not believe about the KJV exactly what Ruckman believes and does not accept the KJV as 'advanced revelation' that can correct even the Greek and Hebrew from which it was translated and as the apex of Bible infallibility," he is “not a true Bible believer.” Furthermore, Cloud regards Ruckman a hindrance to the KJV-only position because of his "strange ideas, his multiple divorces, his angry spirit, his arrogance, his Alexandrian cult mentality, his extremism regarding the KJV being advanced revelation, and his bizarre private doctrines" that tend "to cause men to reject the entire issue."
  • 2. Website of P. S. Ruckman, Jr. Ruckman, Jr., a political scientist, provides biographies of his grandfather and great-grandfather but comparatively little information about his father except for a photograph of the rakish young man.
  • 3. Peter Ruckman, Dr. Ruckman's Testimony (audiotape), Bible Baptist Bookstore, n.d., quoted in R. L. Hymers, Jr., The Ruckman Conspiracy (Collingswood, N. J.: The Bible for Today, 1989), 3-4, 19.
  • 4. By his own admission, Ruckman's earlier family life was turbulent: "I have had two wives desert me after fifteen years of marriage....I have been in court custody cases where seven children's futures were held in the balance; in situations where Gospel articles were being torn out of typewriters, Biblical artwork torn off the easels, women trying to throw themselves out of cars at fifty m.p.h., mailing wedding rings back in the middle of revival services, cutting their wrists, threatening to leave if I did not give my church to their kinfolk; deacons threatening to burn down my house and beat me up; children in split custody between two domiciles two hundred miles apart, and knock-down, drag-out arguments in the home sometimes running as long as three days." Peter Ruckman, The Last Grenade (Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1990), 339.
  • 5. The bookstore also sells coffee mugs featuring Ruckman's photograph and artwork. Bible Baptist Bookstore
  • 6. "John Hamilton Ruckman," at P. S. Ruckman, Jr. website
  • 7. David G. Burke, ed., Translation That Openeth the Window: Reflections on the History and Legacy of the King James Bible (Society of Biblical Literature, 2009), 201.
  • 8. Roy E. Beacham and Kevin T. Bauder, One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001), 47.
  • 9. Peter Ruckman, The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Press, 1990), 126, 138.

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