Ruckman: “The destruction of a child in the fetal or embryonic stage is NOT counted as murder”

Considering that Peter Ruckman is a Baptist preacher who is not known for holding liberal views in the theological nor political arena, he has shocking and disturbing views on abortion. We will allow him to express his views in his own words:

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child…he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow…” (vss. 22, 23). Advocates of birth control will notice that the destruction of a child in the fetal or embryonic stage is NOT counted as Murder in spite of the literature published between 1960 and 1970 by overzealous Kingdom builders who habitually ignore the authority of scriptures when dealing with personal and emotional issues. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Exodus. 1976, p. 398)

We have quoted everything Ruckman said about the above passage (Ex. 21:22-23), so we are not quoting him out of context. Notice how he left off vital parts of the verses he was commenting on, including: “then thou shalt give life for life.”

"I don't teach that abortion is murder, like the brethren do"

Ruckman's statement in the above heading can be verified by a transcript and a recording at

A statement similar to the above appeared in one of his Bulletin articles in 1990:

I do not teach that abortion is murder, although I grant that a Fundamentalist can teach that if he wants. I don’t teach it for two reasons. In the first place, the clear scriptures in Genesis 2, as well as Job 30, 31, and Ezekiel 37, teach that there is no life in the human sense until there is breath. (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. October 1990, p. 9)

Ruckman sometimes resorts to Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 37:5-14, Job 27:3 and 33:4 to pretend he has a biblical basis for his unusual view that life begins when you take your first breath, instead of conception. However, none of those passages refer to a birth!

An unusual view

The note at Psalm 139:15 in the Ruckman Reference Bible reveals an unusual view for someone who passes himself off as a Baptist. We will quote the entire note for this verse, so it cannot be said that we took Ruckman out of context:

Verses 13-16 are used by "pro-life Christians" (anti-abortionists) to prove that abortion is murder. The only way they can get that interpretation, though, is to ignore or alter this verse. Many expositors will make the expression "the lowest parts of the earth" a figurative reference to the "womb" (vs. 13). But the phrase has nothing to do with any woman's womb in Psalm 63:9; Isaiah 44:23; or Ephesians 4:9. Typical Laodicean, apostate scholarship–changing what God said to prove what you want the Scriptures to say. The reference is obviously to the creation of Adam (see note on Gen. 2:12).

Psa 139:13-15 contains a clear reference to a mother’s womb:

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Ruckman took a clear passage that speaks of the Lord’s wonderful works, including covering us (or “fencing in” in Hebrew) in our mother’s womb and tried to distract attention to unrelated passages that make reference to the lowest parts of the earth. In the context in which “the lowest parts of the earth” is found in Ps. 139:15, the phrase is obviously non-literal. The context makes it clear that it is an analogy. The Geneva Bible translation notes has a relevant comment regarding this phrase in Ps. 139:15: “That is, in my mother's womb: which he compares to the inward parts of the earth.” Ruckman’s diversionary tactic to draw attention to how this phrase (as found in a poetic fashion in Ps. 139:15) is used differently in other passages is a clear case of obfuscation.

Your baby or your wife?

In the following quote Ruckman makes a questionable claim followed by a statement that misrepresents the pro-life movement:

The first one is this: when the doctor tells you it is going to be the life of the baby, or the life of your wife, what do you tell him? I know of at least eight men, personally, who have had this put to them. They told the doctor to take the baby, and he did. I guess our "pro-life" boys would call that "murder." They would rather murder a grown woman. (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Feb. 1992, p. 13)

First, Ruckman's statement that he personally knew at least eight men that had to choose their baby or their wife sounds highly questionable. Reliable statistics on how rare this is seem hard to find (because it is such a highly charged moral/political issue). Theoretically, any pregnancy has the potential of putting the mother's health in danger, so this can affect a doctor's recommendation, especially if he viewed abortion as a mere medical procedure. But the following quote by a former Surgeon General, who was a pediatric surgeon for 38 years, is very revealing:

While he was United States Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop stated publicly that in his thirty-eight years as a pediatric surgeon, he was never aware of a single situation in which a freeborn child's life had to be taken in order to save the life of the mother. He said the use of this argument to justify abortion in general was a “smoke screen.” (

Secondly, Ruckman makes the unthinkable claim that in such a rare scenario of having to choose an unborn baby or the mother, the "pro-life boys" … "would rather murder a grown woman." That Ruckman would go to such lengths to grossly misrepresent the pro-life movement when he claims to be a Christian and a Bible believer is very troubling. No Christian who takes the Bible seriously should be defending Peter Ruckman and his controversial and unbiblical views.

Portraying the "abortion is murder movement" as dishonest and unbiblical

Punishment for murder, notice especially under the law in Numbers 35, is capital punishment. You are to kill the killer. In all the material put out by the prolife people for the last ten years, I haven't seen that recommendation. Why haven't I? Are these people honest? Do they believe the Bible? I doubt it. (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Feb. 1992, p. 13)

An unprincipled reason for abortion not being murder

My position on the abortion issue is not quite like the Pro-Lifers, although I have never recommended abortion and do not believe in it, but the reason I am not strong on calling it "murder" is because the Pro-Lifers themselves do not recommend capital punishment for the "killer." (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin May 1991, p. 3)

I do not teach that abortion is murder, although I grant that a Fundamentalist can teach that if he wants. I don't teach it for two reasons. In the first place, the clear scriptures in Genesis 2, as well as Job 30, 31, and Ezekiel 37, teach that there is no life in the human sense until there is breath. … However, I have noticed something about them that puts them in a very bad light. Not one of them recommends capital punishment for the murderer. This shows me they don't believe the Bible even when they profess to believe it. (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. October 1990, p. 9)

Regarding his position that he cannot accept that abortion is murder, Ruckman keeps falling back on his excuse that those whom he has mockingly called “the pro-life boys” are not calling for capital punishment for those who perform abortions or mothers who allow it. Is Ruckman being reasonable and logical with this premise? First, whether abortion is murder or not should be based on moral and Biblical principles, not on the opinions of a segment of population regarding capital punishment of abortionists while abortion is legal. Second, whether life begins at conception is also not dependent on the views of others regarding capital punishment of abortionists. Third, it does not make sense to push for capital punishment of abortionists or mothers who allow it while abortion remains legal. The logical first step would be to outlaw abortion. Many pro-life activists seem to recognize that a proposed law prohibiting abortion that included a provision for capital punishment would not have a chance of becoming law in the current political climate, so they do not push for capital punishment. A scenario in which abortion would be outlawed with a maximum penalty of several years imprisonment for those responsible would be a vast improvement compared to what our country allows today. Most who are pro-life, especially believers, are likely to consider abortion to be murder in the moral sense or in God’s eyes, but it is recognized that what society will accept as law and punishment through the legislative process will not often match God’s perspective.

More unusual views

Ruckman implies that "a fetus" is not a person:

At this point, He's an embryo beginning to turn into a fetus. In the womb, He was not referred to as a person. He is merely the "seed" of God. … As long as Christ's body was being formed in the womb, He was not referred to as a person. It was not until He was born that He was "called the Son of God"; hence, the future tense: "shall be." (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Luke. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 2013, p. 48)

Although Ruckman teaches that abortion is not murder, in the following quote he slips up and refers to "killing" babies (not merely fetuses) through abortion: 

… killing a million babies a year through abortion… (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Luke. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 2013, p. 443)

For Jeremiah 1:5 in the Ruckman Reference Bible we find the following note, which we reproduce in its entirety: "This verse is used by 'pro lifers' to prove that abortion is murder. However, it is addressed to a grown man who was not aborted (see note on Psa. 139:15)." Jeremiah 1:5 says:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The fact that Jeremiah was not aborted does not change the truth of the verse in the slightest. Ruckman is obfuscating.

Ruckman making exceptions to get around what the Bible says

The following comes from the note for Luke 1:44 in the Ruckman Reference Bible. We will list the verse first, followed by Ruckman's entire note for that verse:

For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Verses 41 and 44 are used by “pro-life” advocates, who believe that abortion is murder, to prove that Jeremiah (see note on Jer. 1:5), David (see note on Psa. 139:15), and John the Baptist were all “living souls” (see note on Gen. 2:12). Their reasoning is obviously fallacious. First, John the Baptist and Jeremiah were special cases: they were the exception to the rule. Second, the Scriptures are dealing with children who were never aborted. They were all born, breathed (see Ezek. 37:9-14), and grew up into men. Third, none of the “Pro-lifers” believe that abortion, if it is murder, should be punished with capital punishment, although that is what is commanded in both Testaments (Num. 35:31-33; Rom. 13:1-4).

In other writings Ruckman claims to be against abortion, but the way he denies that certain passages could be applied to abortion in his reference Bible as we have documented, you would never know it. If Ruckman is against abortion as he claims, he is not basing it on the Bible, because he rejects what the Bible says about the life of the unborn.   

This entry was posted in Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ruckman: “The destruction of a child in the fetal or embryonic stage is NOT counted as murder”

  1. I_drake says:

    So you said all that to say what? That you wouldn’t know what he believed without the reference bible? I guess it’s a good thing they finally published one. Of cource any “sincere student of the word” would come to the same conclusion if he truly practiced “sola scriptura.” By the way, you never gave “the conclusion of the matter.” What do you believe the bible says about the topic?


  2. Ann says:

    Job 10:10 Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese?
    Job 10:11 Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.
    Job 10:12 Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

    How did job known his embryonic development?

    It kind of scares me his not being anti-abortion. As if he may have encouraged such a thing in his own life.

  3. charles stanton says:

    Did Dr. Ruckman forget that Genesis 9:4 is in the Bible? But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.this text teaches that the life is in the blood. Any medical doctor will tell you that when a woman becomes pregnant, a thing called a PLACENTA is formed and attached to the mother's womb. The fetus is attached to this placenta via the umbilical cord. This PLACENTA provides the fetus with nutrients and OXYGEN INSIDE THE MOTHER;S WOMB. Without oxygen the living fetus would die. medical science tells us the fetus is taking in oxygen inside the mother's womb. that is how the fetus breathes. when my wife was in the hospital, they constantly monitored her blood-oxygen levels. it looks like Dr.Ruckman doesnt understand Leviticus 17:11-14. i suggest everyone read that passage. it clearly teaches that the life is in the blood . that is where the oxygen is. therefore the fetus is definitly a life and you can bet that whoever destroys that life God will require it of that person. i would hate to be an unsaved abortion doctor at the great white throne judgement.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great article in exposing Ruckman’s inconsistent views regarding this important subject.

    I might also add a note from his reference bible (first edition) on the passage in Exodus 21:22. Ruckman tries to pass off the phrase “mischief follows” as something that involves an issue other than the woman or her child.

    “Notice the destruction of the unborn is not murder, in spite of all the pro-lifers…The “mischief” that follows (vs. 23) certainly has nothing to do with the woman, for the payment among other things is “tooth for tooth” (vs. 24). A newborn baby, fetus, embryo, or “still birth,” has no teeth. According to Ezekiel 37:8; Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4, 32:8, no baby has a “soul” until it breathes air. (Page 137 RRB)

    This note really does not make any sense to me at all. First he says “the destruction of the unborn is not murder”. Then he disconnects the “mischief” in v. 22 & 23 from both the mother or the unborn child. So why is he alluding in the note that the unborn child dies & says it’s not murder & then a few words later say it has nothing to do with the mother or child? And his defense that it has nothing to do with a newborn is that newborns do not have teeth.

    Of all the references he listed regarding a baby not having a soul, there is not one of them that has anything even remotely connected to do with a baby or a child.

    I would advise anyone caught up in Ruckmanism to run away as fast as you can & as far as you can. He does not handle the scriptures honestly, carefully, or accurately. And for someone who claims to stand for the words of the KJV without changing them & continually pointed out modern scholarship for their inconsistent stance on the scriptures: he certainly has no problem changing them around to attempt to prove others wrong.

  5. Charles Stanton says:

    thank you John Hill

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *