In other articles we show how Peter Ruckman's teachings have grown stranger over the years. In this article we demonstrate how his spirit and attitude towards those with whom he disagrees has also progressively worsened over the years to an unthinkable level.
If Ruckman had an inclination to vilify others in a vicious manner in his earlier days he did not show it as often; as his earlier writings demonstrate that he was more disciplined in his disagreements with others. Over the years Ruckman has become more brutal in his denunciations, and we will attempt to demonstrate this with his changing treatment of John R. Rice. Dr. Rice is not by any means the only victim of his wrath, but we have selected him because of his stature in the history of Fundamentalism and the abundance of documentation available which allows us to trace Ruckman's change in attitude towards Rice from 1970 to recent years.
John R. Rice's views
We will begin by pointing out that Dr. John R. Rice's views on Bible versions have always been at odds with Ruckman's writings. A summary of Rice's view can be noted in the following paragraph:
The scholar and the preacher would do well to have the American Standard Version at hand and to consult it when necessary, but generally would do well, we think, to use the King James Version in the pulpit, in memory work, and in class teaching, since it is actually the translation of the mass of people. And the beauty of its language is not equaled in other translations, we think. (Rice, John R. Our God-Breathed Book–The Bible. Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969, p. 383)
We do not agree with Dr. Rice's high regard for a translation he occasionally quoted from based on a critical text, but we respect him and his views nonetheless. To our knowledge, from reading back issues of The Sword of the Lord and assorted literature authored by him over various stages of his life, Rice is consistent in preferring the KJV for preaching and teaching, but not holding to it exclusively. If anyone changed in their writing between Rice and Ruckman, it is Ruckman. Ruckman claims to have not changed his views regarding the KJV since his conversion, but his writings over the years has grown progressively worse in their contention and odd doctrinal claims.
Rice promoting Ruckman
Ruckman and Rice started off on good terms which can be seen in Rice's promotion of Ruckman's evangelistic ministry in the November 19, 1954, issue of The Sword of the Lord. At this time Ruckman had not published any books, and it is likely that his views that are at odds with fundamentalism were relatively unknown, if they had been revealed at all. The last time that a positive mention is made of Ruckman in The Sword of the Lord is in an issue from 1970. That same year Ruckman's controversial book The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence was published, and no doubt it led to the falling out with John R. Rice that occurred in 1972.
Rice and Ruckman together
Did Ruckman and Rice ever meet each other? Apparently they did, and they even preached together, as the following newspaper clipping announcing the 1971 Southwide Baptist Fellowship meeting reveals:
It is likely that Rice was not yet familiar with Ruckman's controversial book published the previous year or the latest views in his writings when he agreed to preach with Ruckman. Sometime within the year, the two men had a falling out.
Ruckman's first public mentions of Rice
Ruckman's 1970 book The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence only mentions Rice (by last name only, but it is presumed to be a reference to John R.) in passing, but he refers to him among others as men "who believed the Bible." (p. 148) Ruckman takes a swipe at Rice in the midst of the following compliment from his Revelation commentary first published in 1970, but overall he is gentle compared to what is to come:
John R. Rice, editor of the “Sword of the Lord,” has published hundreds of tracts and booklets. He has led many souls to Christ, and helped many Christians grow in grace. He has not spent very much time correcting the word of God. Where he’s spent his time preaching the King James Bible, God has tremendously blessed his work. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Revelation. 1970, 1982 printing, p. 97)
Another positive mention of Rice in the 1970's comes from the Greek Manuscript Evidence CD sold by Bible Baptist Bookstore of Pensacola. It does not provide a date, but the slipcover points out that the recordings of Ruckman were made in the 1970's. The context is that Ruckman was objecting to an ad in The Sword of the Lord that mentions "the original Greek." Rice is mentioned as follows:
The Sword of the Lord, published by one of the finest most godly premillenial men in the country, Dr. John R. Rice.
Ruckman's deterioration in attitude begins in full
Something happened between the 1971 Southwide Baptist Fellowship meeting where they apparently preached together and 1972, when Ruckman published Satan's Masterpiece! The New ASV. On p. 69 Ruckman writes the following: "…Dr. Rice, and any other Bible-rejecting 'Fundamentalist.'" Had Rice attacked him in the Sword? Not at all. Rice did not even mention Ruckman in the Sword until mid-December of that year.
Rice's first negative mention of Ruckman
The first negative mention of Ruckman that could be located in Rice's literature is a passing reference in the December 15, 1972, issue of The Sword of the Lord. The mild remark is as follows in a letter he published that is directed to an unnamed individual:
I have read the books by Dr. Peter Ruckman and by Dr. David Otis Fuller. I do not believe the matter has the importance which they give it.
Rice's second negative mention of Ruckman
The second negative mention of Ruckman that could be located in Rice's literature was a passing reference in the February 2, 1973, issue of The Sword of the Lord (p. 15). The paragraph reads as follows:
When a Peter Ruckman set out to say that only he and a few others in the world are right on the matter of manuscript evidence for the Bible and says that in the King James Version the translation itself was inspired of God and is without error and that all other translations, even like the American Standard Version, are perversions; when he says that Origen and Westcott and Hort and others all united to pervert the Scriptures and go against the Bible and God and that all are modernists or hypocrites or ignorant who do not agree that the King James Version–even the translation–is inspired perfectly, then we know that that arrogant attitude, that calling of good men by bad names, shows the man cannot be trusted in doctrine.
Rice brings up Ruckman a few more times in his subsequent writings, but he ignores most of Ruckman's rants.
Ruckman had once invited Rice to preach for him
The August, 1978, issue of Ruckman's Bible Believers' Bulletin on p. 5 reveals that at an unmentioned point in time Ruckman had invited Rice to preach for him. The article quoted from a letter John R. Rice had written, dated June 1, 1978:
When I was prayerfully considering an invitation to hold a revival for Dr. Ruckman years ago, this Scripture [Prov. 22:24-25] made it so I must refuse; I did not go.
Also Ruckman has admitted attending about five Sword conferences in the past (Ruckman, Peter. The Books of First and Second Corinthians. 2002, p. 220).
Ruckman going "all the way" against Rice
Even though Rice had not changed since Ruckman referred to him as one who believed the Bible, and Ruckman had actually invited him to preach, over the years Ruckman began to increasingly portray Rice as a heretic and an evil man. The following is a collection of various quotes to that effect:
…the deep, dark-stained, murderous, hatred that these Fundamentalists have for the Authority of the Authorized Text. From Origen to John R. Rice they have the same set of horns; (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Acts. 1974, 1984 reprint, p. 84)
…leading fundamentalists in this century …John R. Rice… were used of Satan to help set up the One World “New Order.” (Ruckman, Peter. 22 Years of the Bible Believer’s Bulletin Vol. 1 “The AV Holy Bible” 1999, p. 454)
I certainly don’t believe the KJB is the word of God because I—and to quote Brother Rice—“prefer it.” [Ruckman laughs] You Know. “We prefer the King James.” [more laughter] You do kid! Well some folks prefer marijuana. What does that prove? Some folks prefer to assassinate a president in downtown Dallas. Now what do want to have us do? [more laughter] Stand on our head or something? Why the very idea of these idiotic a**es, standing up and saying, I prefer the KJB. Who gives a flip what you prefer, son! What's right? What’s true? What are the facts? Who gives a blankety blank about your preference kid! Shut your mouth and act like a Christian gentleman! (Ruckman, Peter. How God opened my eyes to the KJV. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, no date. CD audio recording, about 14 minutes into track 3)
…the Lord showed Rice that he did not have the brains or the intellect to be a teacher… (Ruckman, Peter. History of the New Testament Church Vol. 2. 1984, p. 187)
…Bible blockheads like John R. Rice and Curtis Hutson to presume that OT salvation was the same as NT salvation. It is if you are deaf, dumb, and blind. (Ruckman, Peter. Ruckman’s Bible References: Personal Notes on Salient Verses in the Bible. 1997, p. 89)
…Abraham is a type of the Christian’s salvation by “faith” apart from “the works of the law.” This led naïve and shallow Bible students like John R. Rice and Curtis Hutson to assume that salvation under the law was identical to salvation under grace. Where this mad type of irresponsible nonsense came from no one knows… (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Psalms Vol. 1. 1997 reprint, p. 247)
When poor, old, “godly,” kindly, stupid John R. Rice hit Revelation 22:14, he came apart at the seams just like Curtis Hutson, Westcott, and Hort. He couldn’t understand WORKS in connection with eternal life. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Psalms. Vol. 2. 2002 reprint, p. 1479)
…heretics like Curtis Hutson and John R. Rice… (Ruckman, Peter. Ruckman’s Bible References: Personal Notes on Salient Verses in the Bible. 1997, p. 28)
John Rice was stripping you of your spiritual billfold, your spiritual checkbook, your spiritual bank account, your spiritual savings and loan deposits, and your spiritual INTEGRITY. He was converting you into an unsaved German philosopher, and some of you bought the “gaffed act.” You were the “sucker.”…When Rice got to the WORDS (see the small “w” on “word”? By God, you had better see it!), he threw “THE BIBLE” (OUR PERFECT BIBLE) out the window because he was about to say “verbal inspiration” (p. 23). Did you catch the ole’ liar when he switched the TENSE on you? C’mon, did you? Why not? (Bible Believers' Bulletin. Dec. 2003, p. 11)
Other denunciations against Rice requiring explanations
Ruckman's commentary The Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. (2004, p. 441) makes mention of his objection to a collection of Rice's revival sermons because of the promotional statement, "These sermons saved 10,000 souls." On the technicality that sermons never saved a soul, but rather the Spirit of God moving in the congregation, Ruckman denounced Rice as follows: "Shut your blasphemous mouth, you lying hypocrite!"
Merely because of an advertisement in Rice's paper that refers to “the original Greek text,” Ruckman blasted Rice as being a bigger liar than the Communists:
Hollywood never put it on any better or did Joseph Goebbels, and when it comes to OUT AND OUT LYING, there isn’t a Communist in the party from 1850 to 1980 that ever outlied Rice’s Sword of the Lord on that one. (Ruckman, Peter. Twenty-Two Years of the Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Vol. 3, Doctrinal Studies. 2000, p. 6)
In the January, 2007 issue of the Bible Believers' Bulletin, Ruckman has an article in which he is trying to prove that Ruckmanism already existed around the time he was born. After misusing a pro-KJV statement by a liberal professor at Yale University (read about Phelps in our article No evidence of Ruckmanism before 1950), Ruckman continues in what is supposed to be humor about how he was using this to pull a "dirty trick" on a set of individuals. What follows is a long list of people he despises (some with good reason). With no clarification or explanation, Ruckman lists Rice and other Fundamentalists in the middle of the list along with such wicked people as Jim Jones, Jack the Ripper, John Gotti, and Bloody Mary.
Dozens of more cases of Ruckman blasting Rice could have been included in our article, but we are merely presenting a sampling.
Pretending to be balanced
Sometimes amidst denouncing Rice, Ruckman says something complimentary about Rice. This is often used by Ruckman defenders in attempts to portray Ruckman as balanced since he has some good to say about those with whom he disagrees. The following is an example of Ruckman saying a few positive remarks about Rice amid some barbs:
I’m not gonna waste a lot of time knocking down Brother Rice. I think Brother Rice is a good man, done a good work; I recommend The Sword of the Lord to young preachers, it has good sermons in it. I’m sure Brother Rice would not have enough grace to recommend my literature to anybody. That’s because he doesn’t have any grace. Not very mature. (Ruckman, Peter. The Historical Relationship of the King James Bible to the Church. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1980. CD audio recording, about 4 minutes before the end of track 4)
The above really does not demonstrate that Ruckman is balanced, because if he really believed Rice was "a good man," he would not accuse him of being a heretic, or not believing the Bible, among other disgraceful things.
Ruckman in denial
In Ruckman's mind, he has not misrepresented Rice and other Fundamentalists a single time in his life. Just two paragraphs after claiming for one of his typical reasons that Rice among others are "Bible-perverting hypocrites looking for a way to make a fast buck," Ruckman continues: "I never misrepresented Custer, Jones, Hutson, or Rice a day in my life, and am not misrepresenting them now." (Bible Believers' Bulletin. Oct. 2003, p. 16)
Rice was not perfect
As any human Christian leader, Rice was not perfect. His unusual views on storehouse tithing are still brought up today among examples of where Rice went astray in minor areas. He was not as strong on the KJV as many fundamentalists of today and this writer would have liked him to have been, but he was unworthy of the invectives launched against him by Ruckman. When Rice was called home, Fundamentalism lost a great leader.
Ruckmanites are likely to point out that Rice is the one who changed because Rice went from promoting Ruckman to warning others about him. However, the loss of Rice's endorsement of Ruckman can easily be traced to increasingly extreme doctrinal views and attitudes in Ruckman's writings and teachings at the time. Ruckman has a reputation for resenting ministries and leaders who do not go along with his teachings, and as documented Rice was no exception. Let us heed the following Biblical admonition:
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (2 Tim. 2:24-25)