Ruckman and the Gap Theory

The Gap Theory is one of the unusual teachings Ruckman emphasizes, therefore it merits at least a brief review at Ruckmanism.org.

What is the Gap Theory? In his excellent book Unformed and Unfilled, Weston Fields provides a brief definition worth noting:

Not all gap theorists agree on the details of the theory, but the one unifying principle of all gap theorists is that Genesis 1:2 (1:1 in the case of the dependent clause view) records the ruin of a once-perfect earth, and a lengthy time-gap between the original creation and the restoration recorded in Genesis 1:3 to the end of the creation narrative. Other details of the theory are mere embellishments and are neither essential to the theory, nor universally held by all gap theorists. (p. 7)

The booklet The Gap Theory by Kent Hovind and Stephen Lawwell describes the origin of the Gap Theory as follows on p. 5:

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a notable Scottish theologian and first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, is credited with being the first proponent of the gap theory. His proposal of the theory was first recorded in 1814 in one of his lectures at Edinburgh University. Prior to 1814, few theologians considered Genesis 1 as describing anything other than a normal 24-hour, six-day week.

In the Foreword to Weston Fields' book Unformed and Unfilled, John Whitcomb, Jr. has a similar account of the origin of the Gap Theory, and also ascribes the apparent motives:

It was in 1814 that Dr. Thomas Chalmers of Edinburg University first proposed what has since become known as the Gap Theory of Genesis 1:2. By this interpretation of the Bible, Dr. Chalmers felt that he could make room for the vast expanse of time which the geologists of his day were demanding, and at the same time maintain a literal interpretation of the creation account. His views were further elaborated by George H. Pember (Earth's Earliest Ages) in 1876, and enormously popularized by a footnote in the Scofield Reference Bible (first edition, 1917). (p. ix)

Ruckman's views on the Gap Theory are summarized as follows in his own words:

However, Genesis 1:1 refers to a date much earlier, maybe millions of years. Nobody knows the exact time of the original creation of the world in verse 1. Genesis 1:2 is not the original creation, because 2 Peter 3:5-6 tells us something happened to the original creation. Genesis 1:2 says something terrible happened, a great calamity of some kind: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." This is undoubtedly connected with the events of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, but the event is described even more clearly in 2 Peter 3, and the modern body of apostate fundamentalists who write apologetic literature about the flood have all rejected 2 Peter 3 as referring to Genesis 1:2., which, of course, it does. So, the modern apostate fundamentalist is just as heretical as the modern evolutionist, at least where rejection of the King James text is concerned. This earth was immersed in water in Genesis 1:2, according to 2 Peter 3. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies, Book 16. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 6)

Ruckman's interpretation of 2 Peter chapter 3 here ignores the context of the previous chapter, especially 2 Peter 2:5: "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;" Ruckman's interpretation seems further unlikely when it is considered that 2 Peter 3:6 (which he lists as telling us what happened with the "original creation") gives the overflowing of water as the cause of the world perishing, which is more naturally interpreted as Noah's flood: "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:"

If it could be said that Genesis 1:2 raises a question, Exodus 20:11 is typical of a passage in the Bible that answers it: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ruckman takes a novel approach in brushing off the truths revealed in Ex. 20:11 by declaring it non-doctrinal! Observe:

Note (!!) that Exodus 20:11 is not a doctrinal statement on the history of creation. If it was, it would be false. There are three heavens after Genesis 1:2. (Bible Believers' Bulletin. August 2002, p. 6)

It is not uncommon for many Ruckmanites to enthusiastically follow Ruckman in his views on the Gap Theory. They quite frequently refer to their view as the "Gap Fact."

Ruckman has used some questionable tactics when attempting to deny what many gap theorists believe. In an article by the title The Mythological “Gap Theory” (Bible Believers' Bulletin. August, 2002) Ruckman makes the following argument:

Page 2: The writer assumes that every Christian who believes in the first chapter of Genesis, AS IT STANDS (see below), thinks that “billions of years passed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.”
They believe nothing of the kind. If you want the time it would be about 2,000 years, making an even 7,000 years between the first creation (2 Pet. 3) and the second creation (Rev. 21)… (p. 1)

First of all, it seems like a straw man argument. Ruckman does not quote much of the context. However, our copy of the booklet he is refuting is unfortunately dated 2006–four years after Ruckman's article–so it could have been revised. Secondly, when Ruckman makes the allegation about how the authors supposedly portray "every Christian," Ruckman does not quote directly. Our copy of the booklet gives a much different impression on that very page:

Those curious will also find that there is a tremendous variation in the accepted duration of the gap. Some proponents of the gap theory feel it only lasted a few hundred years but most believe it lasted millions, if not billions, of years. (Hovind, Kent & Lawwell, Stephen. The Gap Theory. Pensacola, FL: Creation Science Evangelism. 2006, p. 2)

That Ruckman would give only "about 2,000" as the number of years of the supposed gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:3 in defending the Gap Theory is rather interesting, in light of the other estimates he has given in years past. Notice:

In the Bible account, it could have been here 1,994,000 years (in Gen 1:1) before God recreated it in 6 evening [sic] and mornings, but re-create it He did… (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Genesis. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1980, p. 54)

The earth could have been here a good 4,000,000 years before God “recreated it,” in seven evenings and mornings. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Genesis. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1980, p. 4)

However, Genesis 1:1 refers to a date much earlier, maybe millions of years. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies, Book 16. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 6)

It should be no surprise that Ruckman has a sensational view of the mysterious "sons of God" of Genesis 6, and based purely on speculation places them first in the original earth that was supposed to have existed before Genesis 1:3:

Although men were not present before the creation of Adam and Eve, something like men must have been present, for beings called the “sons of God” are mentioned in connection with the Pre-Adamic earth (Job 38:1-8). (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Genesis. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1980, p. 5)

A careful student will see that the commission given to Adam is quite similar to the one given to Noah (Gen. 9:1-4). “Replenish” indicates some kind of a previous population… (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Genesis. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1980, p. 44)

It is also not a surprise that Ruckman would resort to his crudeness and dogmatism regarding imposing his belief in the Gap Theory on others. Below are a few examples:

Only an apostate Biblical illiterate could fail to see it. [The Gap Theory] We have the “winners,” don’t we, baby?! (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. August, 2002, p. 4)

[Those who disagree with the Gap Theory] ..slobbering fanaticism and cultic mentality. (Ruckman, Peter. 22 Years of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin Vol. 1 “The AV Holy Bible” p. 132)

…the modern body of apostate fundamentalists who write apologetic literature about the flood have all rejected 2 Peter 3 as referring to Genesis 1:2., which, of course, it does. So, the modern apostate fundamentalist is just as heretical as the modern evolutionist, at least where rejection of the King James text is concerned. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies, Book 16. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 6)

Considering how vocal Ruckman is in treating those who disagree with him on the Gap Theory, notice what he admits in an apparent unguarded moment about the shaky biblical foundation for the theory (underlining is our emphasis):

The "gap theory" is the teaching that something took place between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 that is not explained there but can be inferred from other places in the Scriptures such as Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28.
(Ruckman, Peter. The Books of the General Epistles, Vol. 1. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 2005, p. 461)

Our view is that there is simply too much speculation imposed on the few verses used to support the Gap Theory, to the point that it basically becomes an argument from silence, with a lot of reading between the lines.

This article was not meant to be a comprehensive refutation of the Gap Theory. There is an abundance of good material available on the topic, some of which we recommend below:

Hovind, Kent & Lawwell, Stephen. The Gap Theory. Pensacola, FL: Creation Science Evangelism

Lawwell, Stephen. The Gap Theory: Lucifer's Flood or Church Compromise? Chapel Hill, TN: Echoes of Eden

Fields, Weston. Unformed and Unfilled: A Critique of the Gap Theory. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.

Thompson, Bert. Popular Compromises of Creation—The Gap Theory http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=575

Morris, Henry M. Why the Gap Theory Won't Work. http://www.icr.org/article/why-gap-theory-wont-work/

14 Responses to “Ruckman and the Gap Theory”

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  1. William Price says:

    I do believe  that God told Adam to replenish the earth the same word he used for Noah. In Gensis 1:2 And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters' this is the earths condition in 2 Peter 3:5 standing out of thewater and in the water, like a cork, I do believe that this proves that there  was a gap.  Thank you.

  2. Scott Weaver says:

    I first heard of the "gap theory" from the writings of Finis Jennings Dake. At first glance, I thought, whoah, what is this? But I found his reasonings to make sense especially in the light of the following questions…

    Why is Satan (Lucifer) so concerned with this world?

    It is obvious that this cherub, (Lucifer) who, before he fell, ruled this world as can be seen from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28…so who exactly did he rule? This period of time was before Adam & Eve since he was already a fallen creature in Adam's Eden, so then who did he rule over? Other angels? Or other beings in addition to angels?

    How long was his rule prior to his fall? Hundreds of years? Thousands of years? Millions?

    Once he started to rebel in his heart, how long did it take for him to deceive many others into joining him in a futile attempt to overthrow heaven and his subsequent defeat and casting down back to the earth? Who knows how long this would've taken.

    Also, once the failed revolt was over, how long was the earth in turmoil prior to full judgement and overthrow of that society that was in existence prior to Adam?

    These are all questions that we may need to consider especially since it is obvious that Satan has a strong interest in this world since he was once its physical ruler and even now it's seudo ruler after Adam's forfeit. 

    So the "gap theory" may not be a theory after all.

  3. I think it is noteworthy that Ruckman takes the Reformed hermenutic when he defends his heresies, but when he teaches insists on a supremely literal hermenutic described thus:

    The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly. ( 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16)​ 1742 Philadelphia Confession I.9.

    What a pile of contradictions, as the earstohear YouTube channel might say!

  4. Alan Manson says:

    As a firm believer in the Gap Theory (or should I say Gap Fact) over many years, I am saddened that Christians who speak against it – or refuse to study it seriously, fail to take into account ALL the relevant scripture verses that relate to it.

    For instance, the passage of KJV scripture below reveals a huge amount of information if analysed carefully:

    (2 Pet 3:4-7)  "And saying, Where is the promise of his [Christ's Second] coming? for since the fathers [i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation [Gen 1:1]. {5} For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of OLD, and THE EARTH STANDING OUT OF THE WATER and IN THE WATER: {6} Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, PERISHED: {7} But the HEAVENS and the EARTH, WHICH ARE NOW, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."

    The points to note from the above are these:

    1.  At the "beginning of creation" the scripture says, "the heavens were of OLD".

    2.  In v7 it says, "But the heavens and the earth, which are NOW" – which indicates a different "heavens" and a different "earth" exist NOW – or at the time Peter wrote the scripture.

    3.  If we read the Book of Revelation, it speaks about a New Heaven and a New Earth:

    (Rev 21:1)  "And I saw a NEW HEAVEN and a NEW EARTH: for the FIRST HEAVEN and the FIRST EARTH were passed away; and there was no more sea."

    The point here is that it appears "the original heaven" was put into a state of judgment a very long time ago and is waiting to be recreated into the form God desires for it to be again as the New Heaven.  Somewhat differently, the original earth was put into judgment at the same time as the original heavens as depicted in Gen 1:2; but the earth was restored into its current form as recorded from Genesis 1;3 onwards – which means we are living under "the original heaven" that is still in a state of judgment and on "a restored earth". 

    After Christ has returned to earth and reigned for 1,000-years, He will restore the original heaven and the restored earth to become the New Heaven and the New Earth "wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).  In other words, 'the heaven' that was created originally was put into a state of judgment; and will then be recreated to become the New Heaven.  Similarly, the original earth (Gen 1:1) was put into a state of judgment (Gen 1:2); and then recreated as described in Gen 1:3 onwards.  The current earth will eventually be burned up with fire (a cleansing or purifying agent – 2 Peter 3:7) and then be recreated into the New Earth.

    The 'disaster' mentioned in Gen 1:2 came about after Lucifer was cast out of heaven to the earth (Luke 10:18), and after he had corrupted the then heavens, the earth and its habitants which forced God's judgments to follow.  This then produced total darkness in the heavens – which "had no light" and if the earth was viewed from space, it would have had no spherical shape – in other words, "the earth was void" of being recognised as a 'ball' as we would expect to see it today.  All that could be seen of the earth from space was light from vocanoes and lava and earthquakes impacting its surface continually as God continued His terrible judgment upon the earth and thereby cleansing it for future restoration commencing at Genesis 1:3.  See this for yourself more clearly in the verses below:

    (Jer 4:23-26)  "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was WITHOUT FORM [as a sphere], and VOID [of any life]; and THE HEAVENS, and THEY HAD NO LIGHT [meaning, God had turned out light from the Sun, the Moon and the stars.  Everything was in pitch darkness!]. {24} I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled [from massive earthquakes], and all the hills moved lightly [from volcanic lava flowing downwards]. {25} I beheld, and, lo, there was NO MAN, and all THE BIRDS of the heavens were fled. {26} I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all THE CITIES thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger."

    The above description is illustrated on my website here.

    In the above verses in Jeremiah 4:23-36, I have found many Christians I share this understanding with prefer to believe Jeremiah's words describe Noah's Flood – while refusing to discuss the issue further.  In this, it is clear that the sun rose every day during Noah's Flood, but during this watery flood, there was total darkness – as stated in scripture below:

    (Gen 1:2-3)  "And the earth was WITHOUT FORM, and VOID; and DARKNESS was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. {3} And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

    So for those Christians who refuse to study and discuss this very critical understanding of Creation, the scripture says they are "willingly ignorant" – because they prefer to believe the modern narrative this relates to Noah's Flood rather than what the scriptures plainly say to the contrary:

    (2 Pet 3:5-6)  "For this they WILLINGLY are IGNORANT of, that by the word of God the heavens were of OLD, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: {6} Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:"

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my understanding of this on your website.

     

    Alan Manson

    https://christianspiritwalk.com

     

     

    • Webmaster says:

      2 Peter chapter 3 was already dealt with here, and like Ruckman, you ignored the context starting in the previous chapter. "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" is more naturally interpreted as Noah's flood, already part of the context (especially 2 Peter 2:5).

      Your use of Rev. 21:1 which mentions a new heaven and a new earth in prophecy as proof of the gap theory is mind-boggling. You are simply reading too much into these passages.

    • Sir, I study the Bible nine times a year. In my archive are some extremely rare writings. Bunyan's Genesis commentary knows NOTHING of a gap, just as Beebe, Knollys, Gadsby, Manton, Dr Gill, Kiffin, Keach, Bakkus, Watson, Ash, Atkinson, Mclean, Tertullian, Montanus, Wycliffe, Coke, Wesley, Trapp, Benson,  Poole,  Ryle, Edwards, Huss as well as most any other in history because there is no gap, not in English or the original languages. The same thing I say to the continuationist soothsaying heretics I say to you: the verses you are throwing out in the midst of your heresy do not make it so, no matter what appeals to pretexts you make. No Baptist, Puritan, Reformer or fundamentalist has ever taught the gap heresy. You need to repent. 

  5. Alan Manson says:

    To my critics, I say this.

    I mentioned above that in Jeremiah 4:23 it clearly says, "…and THE HEAVENS, and THEY HAD NO LIGHT [meaning, God had turned out light emitted from the Sun, the Moon and the stars.  Everything was in pitch darkness!]."

    In opposition to this event in the days of Noah's ark floating upon the waters, Noah was able to count the number of days while on board by the periods of daylight and darkness caused by the sun's rotation around the earth, as proven in the verses below. 

    (Gen 8:6)  "And it came to pass at the end of forty DAYS, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:"

    (Gen 1:5)  "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening [darkness] and the morning [light] were the first day."

    If the statements made about "…THE HEAVENS, and THEY HAD NO LIGHT" related to Noah's time in the ark as the critics of the Gap Theory claim, it would have been impossible for Noah to count the number of days that he was in the ark; and despite this issue of 'darkness' being discussed on its own, another issue of the ark being in such an environment meant it would have frozen over and become incased in ice due to a lack of heat reaching earth from the Sun.  This means that there was another period on earth where there was a massive flood similar to Noah's Flood but was far more devasting.

    The scripture verse below illustrates what 'life' was like on the Original Earth prior to this flood occuring:

    QUOTE: Jeremiah 4:26 "I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all THE CITIES thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger." UNQUOTE

    From the arguments presented so far against the Gap Theory, I find its critics ALWAYS avoid making any reference to (or are unwilling to explain their views) on the Jeremiah 4:23-26 verses that prove there was an original flood (known as Lucifer's Flood) that occurred prior to Noah's Flood, which provides a reason why "God created the heavens and the earth" in Gen 1:1, and why it was found to be "without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep" in the Gen 1:2.

    Maybe someone might like to respond to these comments?

    • Nate Beck says:

      Hi Bro Manson,

      Might I suggest that those who hold to the "Gap Theory" VERY rarely take Jeremiah 4:23-26 in its context in the whole chapter of Jeremiah chapter 4??

      The whole chapter is about God's judgment of the land of Israel with Gentile invaders from the north, ie. Babylonians. Those verses have NOTHING to do with the events of Genesis chapter 1 brother. I urge you to find me one single verse in Jeremiah chapter 4 that makes any reference to the first chapters of Genesis. It just isn't there brother!

      • Elias Keach says:

        No commentator sees any such thing as well. I've checked John Darby, Cyrus Scofield, Robert Hawker, John Gill, Matthew Henry, John Bunyan whose only commentary is the first ten chapters of Genesis, Dr John Gill, JC Ryle, AW Pink, Johnathan Edwards, Matthew Poole, John Trapp, Thomas Coke, Albert Barnes, Joseph Benson, John Wesley, Hansard Knollys ad infinitum. If there is one, he is not in my archive of over 40 gigabits of the rarest Baptist and Protestant writings extant, a damning witness! I also know of no historian supporting that view; it is a Ruckmanite heresy, yet Ruckman was not the first to proport it. What use is there admonishing an unrepentant man who will not hear? 

      • Alan Manson says:

        Hello Nate,

        The verses in Jer 4:23-26 speak about:

        "…the earth, and, lo, IT WAS WITHOUT FORM, and void; and THE HEAVENS, and THEY HAD NO LIGHT."

        On this statement alone, it means that darkness not only existed across the earth, but also across the entire universe and galaxies and not a star to be seen.  TOTAL DARKNESS EVERYWHERE!!

        In that context, day and night and hence the 24-hour day as we know it no longer existed.  When day/night ceases, then time stops (Gen 1:5).

        The Bible indicates that such an event has never occurred since the days of Adam and Eve. Even the Jewish calendar acknowledges this claim, as we are in the year 5777. 

        You can choose to believe this claim or not.  If you choose not to, then the following verse may well relate to you:

        (2 Pet 3:5-7)  "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth [as in Jer 4:23-25] standing out of the water and in the water [in Lucifer's Flood whereas Noah's Flood – "the waters covered the earth" – Gen 7:19-20]: {6} Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: {7} But the heavens and the earth, which are now [sine Gen 1:3], by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."

        Alternatively, I challenge you to show me in scripture WHEN the event occurred where "…the earth, and, lo, IT WAS WITHOUT FORM, and void; and THE HEAVENS, and THEY HAD NO LIGHT" apart from Genesis 1:2.

        Blessings!

        • Nate Beck says:

          Hmmm Bro Manson,

          Did you ever stop to consider that perhaps these verses from Jeremiah 4 were relating to Revelation 6:12-14??

          The burden of proof is on you to give scripture verses PROVING that when the Bible says "the earth WAS without form and void" it really means it "BECAME without form and void". But it doesn't say that, does it? Furthermore, the burden of proof is on you to produce a verse that proves that any gap of time or any events whatsoever occured between verses 1 and 2. There is no such proof, so the Gap Theory is a theory resting on suppositions regarding Genesis 1:2 and Jeremiah 4:23-26, and suppositions alone. There is no PROOF that anything occured between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Even the Lord Jesus places Adam and Eve's creation at the BEGINNING in Mark 10:6. Jesus our Lord knew nothing of any time gap in Genesis. Jesus our Lord does NOT subscribe to the Gap Theory. So, with that, I bid you farewell brother!

           

  6. Dear brother Webmaster,

    If I were to write a treatise on the historic Baptist understanding of the scripture based off of the creeds in my archive, would you consider posting a link to it? It will go up on primitivebaptist.net. The purpose is to show Ruckmanism is a newfangled curiosity, as not even the early fundamentalist creeds believe in the Ruckmanite heresies.

    • Webmaster says:

      Possibly. I can’t commit before reading it first. I approve most of your comments, but some are off topic (in relation to topic of article) or are provocative.

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