In attempts to legitimize their views, Peter Ruckman and his followers have tried to demonstrate that certain views which help make up certain elements of the foundation of Ruckmanism existed before Ruckman’s time. They do not try to prove some of their most controversial views such as “The English corrects the Greek” existed, so they mainly resort to attempting to prove that the inspiration and infallibility of the KJV was taught before 1950.
What is so unique about 1950? As 1949 drew to a close, Peter Ruckman had made his profession of faith and had just enrolled in Bible college. This means he had no influence in this matter before 1950. Also, a number of years ago, Dr. R.L. Hymers made a standing offer of $1,000 to “anyone who could show a Baptist or Protestant scholar who believed Ruckman’s view of the inspiration of the KJV before 1950.” This has already placed the focus before 1950. Some of the quotes we will cover are from failed attempts to claim the prize offered by Dr. Hymers.
The most serious attempt to prove Ruckmanism before 1950
The most serious attempt to prove Ruckmanism before 1950 and dismiss Dr. Hymers as "a fraud" appeared in Ruckman’s Bible Believers' Bulletin in September 2003 in two articles entitled “The Historic Baptist Position (1886)” and “Hymer’s [sic] Fraud and the Baptist Bible Tribune.” Those two articles do not list an author, although authorship by Peter Ruckman is suspected because of its abrasive writing style. We will be analyzing the quotes presented in those two articles which are supposed to prove the existence of Ruckmanism before 1950.
Did Spurgeon teach “the most cultic demonic Ruckmanism ever espoused by a Baptist?”
The first article “The Historic Baptist Position (1886)” consists of quoting Charles Spurgeon at length as he speaks of the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures. In the introduction, the writer promised that he would be demonstrating “the most cultic, demonic ‘Ruckmanism’ ever espoused by a Baptist.” However, in all the Spurgeon quotes in the article, “King James,” “Authorized Version” or “English Bible” is not mentioned even once. When Spurgeon uses the term “this book” the writer of the article wants you to believe Spurgeon was speaking specifically of the KJV, and not of the Bible in general. However, the contexts of the quotes demonstrated that Spurgeon was speaking of the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures as originally written, not a specific translation. Spurgeon is known to have occasionally quoted from the Revised Version and spoken of it in positive terms near the end of his life. In Appendix 4 of his book Ruckmanism Exposed, Hymers quoted Ruckman admitting in 1981 in his booklet series The Alexandrian Cult part 8 that Spurgeon preached from the Revised Version in 1891 and stated that translations are not inspired.
Five futile attempts at proving Ruckmanism before 1950
The second article “Hymer’s [sic] Fraud and the Baptist Bible Tribune” contains quotes from five different authors. Each one will be analyzed individually. At the beginning of the article it mentions that they had already proven twice before that a belief in the inspiration of the King James was taught before 1950. We will begin with those two allegations.
An old Attempt
First we printed a statement by W. L. Phelps where he said the AV was "INSPIRED"—the exact word.
Ruckman is referring to a quote in a book by William Phelps by the title Human Nature in the Bible. Phelps wrote this book in 1922 while he was professor of English Literature at Yale University. It was a book of Old Testament stories in which he treated the Bible as literature. What little he mentioned about the KJV was always from the standpoint of literature, not theology. He made defensive remarks regarding the KJV in the introduction to his book because it was the version he quoted from throughout the book. This was in an era in which he might have been expected to use the Revised Version, which was new on the scene. In the article in which Ruckman brought up what Phelps said he did not quote the entire sentence. The sentence contains a statement that is very revealing:
I have no theory to account for the so-called “inspiration of the Bible,” but I am confident that the Authorised Version was inspired.
Notice that he put “inspiration of the Bible” in quotes, and referred to it as “so-called.” He also stated that he had no theory to account for inspiration. R.L. Hymers, author of Ruckmanism Exposed studied several books written by Phelps and reached the conclusion that he was a liberal who did not believe the Bible was verbally inspired. Hymers also provided a quote in which Phelps corrected the KJV in a given passage with the American Standard Version. (Ruckmanism Exposed, pp. 56-57)
Phelps mentioned the word "inspired" several other times in the book, (pp. 49, 129, 176) always in the non-theological sense of “inspiring,” “inspirational,” or "stimulating to action." On the same page in which Phelps said something Ruckman likes to partially quote, Phelps also stated that some modern versions had “superior accuracy” in individual instances:
The so-called Revised Version and modern condensed versions are valuable for their superior accuracy in individual instances; they may be used as checks and comments. (p. xi).
The above quote by Phelps is hardly the position of those who consider the KJV to be inspired in the theological sense, and proves that Ruckman blatantly took his quote out of context. All this serves to demonstrate that Phelps, a liberal literature professor, could have only meant that the KJV was inspired in the sense that it was “inspiring” to people.
Did Spurgeon say that God wrote the KJV?
The article “Hymer’s [sic] Fraud and the Baptist Bible Tribune” continues with the following allegation:
Consequently, we printed Spurgeon saying the AV was inspired and THAT GOD WROTE IT, that He wrote every word of it, and the one He wrote was the one you could read. This was discounted on the grounds that several times Spurgeon’s old nature got the upper hand of him and he corrected the AV to demonstrate how smart he was.
This statement alleging that they documented in an unspecified issue of The Bible Believers’ Bulletin that Spurgeon had said that God wrote the Authorized Version among other things is simply not credible. My analysis of the article “The Historic Baptist Position (1886)” shows that writers of the Bulletin have a history of reading too much into Spurgeon’s statements in order to make him appear to hold to the Ruckman position.
Here are the other five quotes in the article followed by a brief analysis:
Attempt # 1
CASE #1: citing Letis, Edward Freer Hill’s contribution to the Revival of the Ecclesiastical Text (Candler School of Theology, 1987, p. 69). “Woodbridge and Balmer admit ‘it is true that in the 17th century A GOOD NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS ESTEEMED THAT THE BIBLES THEY HELD IN THEIR HANDS WERE INFALLIBLE… We must hold therefore that we have now those very ancient SCRIPTURES which Moses and the prophets published, although we have not perhaps precisely the same forms and shapes of the letters. . . God’s Word [citing John Jewel] yet continueth still without adding or altering OF ANY ONE SENTENCE, OR WORD OR LETTER.’”
Notice that the first quote by Woodbridge and Balmer does not mention the KJV. It is also speaking of the 17th century, which began without the KJV, and other versions were still being used (such as the Geneva) for a time after 1611. The John Jewell quote was not in the context of the KJV or translations. The paragraph from which the quote was lifted starts off with, “By the space of so many thousand years, the word of God passed by so many dangers of tyrants, of pharisees, of heretics, of fire and of sword, and yet continueth and standeth…”
It is likely that both now and in the past there have been new Christians who started off assuming that their Bible translation (no matter which version) was inspired and infallible. Some upon their conversion may not even know that the Scriptures were inspired originally in Greek and Hebrew, not their native language. When establishing a historic position, the views based on the assumptions of new or uninformed Christians should not trump the views of those who have studied inerrancy and inspiration at length and have written extensively on the matter. If they wrote about it at length, it shows that a lot of thought went into it. Basil Manley writing at the end of the 19th century seemed to have the above observations in mind when he wrote:
We do not deny that there have been some wild and unfounded assertions on the subject, just as there is even now, with some ignorant persons, an assumption of the infallibility and equality with the original of some particular translation, as the Vulgate, or King James's, or Luther’s. But we are not responsible for such statements. (Manly, Basil. The Bible Doctrine of Inspiration. 1888, 1995 reprint by Broadman & Holman, p. 71)
Attempt # 2
CASE #2: “Ruckmanism” in 1890. “I take up the King James translation; I CONSIDER IT TO BE A PERFECT BIBLE” (Talmage, Vol. 18, p. 255).
To begin with, the page number cited in the Bulletin article is wrong. It should be page 225, and the year of publication was 1900, not 1890. Devoid of its context and other writings of Talmage, it could appear on the surface that Talmage held to Ruckman’s position. However, Talmage frequently suggested corrections to the text of the KJV. Ironically, the very page wrongly cited in the Bulletin contained an example of this. On page 255 Talmage rewrote Job 9:30-31 and justified it based on Albert Barne’s Commentary, whom he says “went straight back to the original writing of my text, and translated it as I have now quoted it, giving substantial reasons for so doing.”
The context in which Talmage mentions the KJV and proceeds to say that he considers it to be a perfect Bible was not concerning Bible versions. In the paragraph before he mentions the KJV, he is chiding the infidels who believe that the Garden of Eden was only a fable, that the ark was never built, etc. Then he states the following:
I take up this Book of King James’s translation. I consider it to be a perfect Bible, but here are skeptics who want it torn to pieces, and now with this Bible in my hand, let me tear out all those portions which the skepticism of this day demands shall be torn out. What shall go first? “Well,” says some one in the audience, “take out all that about the creation, and about the first settlement of the world.” Away goes Genesis…
As the context demonstrates, the topic was not Bible versions. He was speaking of the infidels and skeptics that wanted to get rid of the Bible. Talmage at times quoted approvingly from the Revised Version (The Wedding Ring: A Series of Discourses for Husbands and Wives and Those Contemplating Matrimony by Thomas De Witt Talmage. New York: The Christian Herald, 1896, p. 95). It is obvious that whatever he meant by using the word “perfect” in relation to the King James, he did not mean it in the full and logical extent as is the case in Ruckman’s writings.
Attempt # 3
CASE #3: “Ruckmanism” preached in 1880 in The Gospel Standard. Philpott: “The AV we believe is the grand bulwark of Protestantism; the safeguard of the Gospel and the treasure of the church, and we should be TRAITORS, in EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD, if we consented to giving it up to be rifled by Puseyites, concealed Papists, German Neologians, Infidel divines, Arminians, Socinians, and the whole tribe of the ENEMIES OF GOD AND GODLINESS . . . To alter our Bible [the AV] would unsettle the minds of thousands as to which was the word of God . . . there would be TWO Bibles spread throughout the land and what CONFUSION this would create in almost every place.”
Philpot was simply against revising the KJV, especially by those he described as the “enemies of God and godliness.” This does not mean he believed the KJV is inspired or inerrant. He provided practical reasons (which I can identify with) showing the advantage of having one Bible in general use.
Attempt # 4
CASE #4: “Ruckmanism” as preached by a Baptist in 1680—two hundred years before Philpott wrote for The Gospel Standard. “A University man met Bunyan on the road near Cambridge. Said he to Bunyan, ‘How dare you preach when you do not have the original scriptures?’ DO YOU HAVE THEM, the copies written by the apostles and prophets?’ asked Bunyan. “No,” replied the scholar, ‘but I have what I believe to be a TRUE COPY OF THE ORIGINAL.’ ‘And I,’ said Bunyan, ‘believe THE ENGLISH BIBLE to be a true copy, too,’” (Burgess McCreary, John Bunyan, the Immortal Dreamer, Anderson, Indiana: 1928 Gospel Trumpet Co., p. 38).
The only problem with Ruckman using John Bunyan, is that Bunyan sometimes used the Geneva Bible in his writings. The point that Bunyan was making is that the English Bible has practical authority and is reliable; therefore one who does not know the original languages should not feel cheated. One of Buyan’s biographers had the following to say regarding this:
Unable to read the Bible in the original languages in which it was written, he wisely made use of every aid that might enable him to study its contents with the greatest advantage. It was his habit to examine the two translations then in common use. The present authorized version, first published in 1611, is that to which he usually refers; comparing it with the favourite Puritan version, made by the refugees at Geneva, and first printed in 1560. He sometimes quotes the Genevan, and so familiar were the two translations, that in several instances he mixes them in referring from memory to passages of holy writ. (The Whole Works of John Bunyan: Reprinted from the Author's Own Editions by John Bunyan, George Offor. London: Blackie & Sons, Paternoster Row, 1862, p. lii)
Attempt # 5
Next is the last case mentioned in the Bulletin article:
CASE #5: “Ruckmanism” from a man who never heard of Ruckman or read him. (Robert Clariborne, Our Marvellous Native Tongue, Time Books, The New York Times Book Co., 1983, p. 172). “. . . the English Bible is of course only a translation . . . at the very LEAST it must surely BE EQUAL TO THE ORIGINALS . . . it is impossible to imagine anyone saying any better in ANY TONGUE what the King James says so well.”
To begin with, the book was copyrighted in 1983, so it is not evidence of Ruckmanism before 1950. The author was writing from a literary, not theological standpoint. Although he has some high words of praise for the KJV, he does not affirm that it is inspired or inerrant.
Other quotes Ruckmanites may attempt to use
These are all the cases mentioned in the September 2003 issue of The Bible Believers’ Bulletin. I have heard of a few quotes before 1950 not mentioned by Ruckman in which something is stated to the effect of people believing in an infallible or inspired KJV. However, in those quotes I am familiar with, there is no exact statement from a named individual, only vague assertions as to what some people supposedly believed. Spencer Cone, who failed in an attempt to persuade others that the KJV needed to be revised around 1850, accused some of his opponents of pronouncing the KJV a perfect work. Glenn Conjurske in an article in Olde Paths & Ancient Landmarks warned against putting too much stock in broad statements about opponents and third parties in his analysis of the quote by Spencer Cone as well as a separate statement by Henry Alford:
Yet mark: all that we have here is a second-hand report, made by an opponent, in a heated controversy —- and a report of the substance only (not the words) of the statements of unknown persons, made in the heat of the same controversy —- and a bitter controversy, which dissolved lifelong friendships. Heated and reactionary statements are almost always extreme, and heated opponents are very likely to impose upon them extreme interpretations, never intended by those who spoke. We know not who spoke such things —- whether learned divines, or ignorant blunderers. Neither do we know exactly what they said or meant. They might have meant only that the English version was perfect in its plan and principles, or that it was perfectly adequate, and not that it was inerrant in every detail. Neither do we know that they would have made, or that they did maintain, such assertions on calm reflection, in the absence of a heated controversy. … Those who have most strenuously opposed the revision of the King James Version (including John W. Burgon) did so not on the ground of its perfection, but of its excellency and its adequacy. They contended only for letting well enough alone, but well enough and perfect are two things —- though the warm advocates of revision (and this includes both Cone and Alford) may have mistaken or misrepresented their sentiments, and supposed them to have thought the old version perfect. Let us have an original statement to that effect, and I shall be glad to print it, for I am not afraid of the facts of history. By the way, we certainly do receive the King James Version as the written word of God, by which our soul has been saved, and our spiritual life nourished for a third of a century, but it is the word of God only so far as it faithfully represents the originals —- which it most certainly and most admirably does in general.
In 1859 Richard Chenevix Trench explained that people with little understanding were the ones who were believing in an inspired translation:
There, and there only, where any divergence exists between the original and the copy, the copy is less inspired than the original; indeed, is not, to the extent of that divergence, inspired at all. But these distinctions are exactly of a kind which the body of Christian people will not draw, will hardly understand when they are drawn by others. The English Bible is to them all which the Hebrew Old Testament, which the Greek New Testament, is to the devout scholar; and receives from them the same undoubting affiance. They have never realized the fact that the Divine utterance was not made at the first in those very English words which they read in their cottages, and hear in their church. Who will not allow that the little which this faith of theirs in their English Bible has in excess is nearly or quite harmless? that on the other hand, the harm would be incalculable, of any serious disturbance of this faith, supposing, as might only too easily happen, very much else to be disturbed with it? (Trench, Richard Chenevix. On the Authorized Version New Testament in Connexion with some Recent Proposals for its Revision. 1859, p. 206)
No Ruckmanism in 1792
In the book Historical View of the English Biblical Translations (1792) the author lists nine objections on pages 188-232 that had been offered against revising the KJV. The author mentioned in the introduction to the chapter that they were all the objections to such an undertaking that he had been able to collect. None of the objections involved a belief that the KJV was perfect or inspired.
No Ruckmanism in 1796
that is, by inspiration of God, 2 Tim. iii. 16, But then, iv. This is to be understood of the scriptures, as in the original languages in which they were written, and not of translations; unless it could be thought, that the translators of the Bible into the several languages of the nations into which it has been translated, were under the divine inspiration also in translating, and were directed of God to the use of words they have rendered the original by; but this is not reasonable to suppose, The books of the Old Testament were written chiefly in the Hebrew language, unless some few passages in Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Esther, in the Chaldee language; and the New Testament in Greek: in which languages they can only be reckoned canonical and authentic; for this is like the charters and diplomas of princes; the wills or testaments of men; or any deeds made by them; only the original exemplar is authentic; and not translations, and transcriptions, and copies of them, though ever so perfect; and to the Bible, in its original languages, is every translation to be brought, and by it to be examined, tried and judged, and to be corrected and amended: and if this was not the case, we should have no certain and infallible rule to go by; for it must be either all the translations together, or some one of them; not all of them, because they agree not in all things: not one; for then the contest would be between one nation and another which it should be, whether English, Dutch, French, &c, and could one be agreed upon, it could not be read and understood by all: so the papists, they plead for their vulgate Latin version; which has been decreed authentic by the council of Trent; though it abounds with innumerable errors and mistakes; nay, so far do they carry this affair, that they even assert that the scriptures, in their originals, ought to submit to, and be corrected by their version; which is absurd and ridiculous. Let not now any be uneasy in their minds about translations on this account, because they are not upon an equality with the original text, and especially about our own; for as it has been the will of God, and appears absolutely necessary that so it should be, that the Bible should be translated into different languages, that all may read it, and some particularly may receive benefit by it; he has taken care, in his providence, to raise up men capable of such a performance, in various nations, and particularly in ours; for whenever a set of men have been engaged in this work, as were in our nation, men well skilled in the languages, and partakers of the grace of God; of sound principles, and of integrity and faithfulness, having the fear of God before their eyes; they have never failed of producing a translation worthy of acceptation; and in which, though they have mistook some words and phrases, and erred in some lesser and lighter matters; yet not so as to affect any momentous article of faith or practice; and therefore such translations as ours may be regarded as the rule of faith. (Gill, John. A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity. 1796, Vol. 1, London: Wintereotham, pp. 18-19).
No Ruckmanism in 1815
It is the privilege of Protestants to appeal to the inspired originals. We do not believe that our translators were inspired, though the Jews believed it of their Septuagint translators. The early Reformers, especially Luther and Melanchthon, thought it one of the most important advantages obtained by the Reformation, that the learned were no longer forced to walk in the trammels of an authorized version, but were at liberty to open the originals. Nor have the foreign Protestant clergy, from the period of the Reformation to the present age, appealed, either in academic disputations, or in writings designed for the learned, to any other scriptural authority, than that of the Hebrew, and the Greek. For those, indeed, who were unable to understand the originals, they provided translations conducted according to the best of their abilities. And since it is infinitely better to read the scriptures in a translation, than not to read them at all, the legislature of different Protestant countries has wisely provided for the reading of them in churches, according to those translations which are most approved. But the high and decisive authority, belonging to the inspired originals, was never supposed by any Protestant, at least not by any real Protestant, to attach to a mere translation; though the Church of Rome requires such authority for her own authorized version. When a Protestant government has selected a particular translation and appointed it to be read in churches, this selection and appointment has implied only, that such translation was the best which could then be obtained. But it did not imply perfection, or that no future amendment could be required. (Marsh, Herbert. "Marsh's Theological Lectures" The Augustan Review, 1815, p. 601)
No Ruckmanism in 1818
But, while it has been thus admired for its general excellencies, it has never been contended that it is a perfect work, or that there are no particular passages susceptible of improvement. … (The Quarterly Review, Vol. XIX, April & December 1818, as quoted in Cloud, David. For Love of the Bible. Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 4th ed. 2006, p. 89).
No Ruckmanism in 1853
…no uninspired translation can have the same authority of the inspired original. But where is the man that has ever raised translations to such a rank? (Carson, Alexander. The Inspiration of the Scriptures. 1853, p. 123)
No Ruckmanism in 1867
No effort of charity can imagine him ignorant enough not to know that among Protestants no translation of the inspired books is accepted as infallible. He knows that from every translation an appeal may be made to the original text in Greek or Hebrew. … Protestantism insists on the right and the duty of comparing all versions with the original text as the authentic and only standard. (Rev. Bacon "A Roman Philosopher" New Englander and Yale Review. 1867, pp. 136-137)
No Ruckmanism in 1917 in The Fundamentals
…and Second, they know that no one believes that the translations and revisions are inspired. (Munhall, L.W. "Inspiration" The Fundamentals. 1917, 1996 reprint by Baker Books, Vol. II, p. 44)
Munhall was considered to be one of 12 "most significant Fundamentalist leaders" by David Beale, author of In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850.
No Ruckmanism observed by R.A. Torrey in 1922
We should also keep in mind what other knowledgeable people had to say about this matter in the past. Notice R.A. Torrey’s observation in 1922:
No one, as far as I know, holds that the Authorized Version, or any English translation of the Bible, is absolutely infallible and inerrant. The doctrine held by me and by many others who have given years to careful and thorough study of the Bible is, that the Scriptures as originally given were absolutely infallible and inerrant, and that our English translation is a substantially accurate rendering of the Scriptures as originally given. (Torrey, R.A. Is the Bible the Inerrant Word of God And Was the Body of Jesus Raised from the Dead. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1922 [2006 reprint by Kessinger Publishing] p. 76).
Ruckman claiming Spurgeon said God wrote the KJV, revisited
Since writing the first edition of this article, we came across another article in which Dr. Ruckman claims that he has provided documentation to prove that Spurgeon believed God wrote the KJV. This time the claim included the month and date of the Bulletin issue when he supposedly proved this. On page 15 of the January, 1993 issue of the Bible Believers’ Bulletin the following claim is made:
Anyone who has a copy of the August 1991 of the Bible Believers’ Bulletin has access to the fact that Spurgeon said that God wrote the King James Bible, that it was inspired, that it was infallible, that it had the breath of God upon it, that all scholars should be corrected by it, and nobody’s opinion was superior to it.
After locating the August 1991 issue of the Bible Believers’ Bulletin, we found the article by Peter Ruckman entitled “The ‘Ruckmanite’ Who Out-Ruckmaned ‘Ruckman.’” It consists of 14 quotes of Spurgeon from a book of sermons by the title The Scriptures (Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, TX, 1990). However, as in the September 2003 Bulletin claim, all the Spurgeon quotes provided do not contain the terms “King James,” “Authorized Version,” “our translation” or “English Bible” even once. They contain terms such as “this Book,” or “this inspired Book.” The contexts of the quotes indicate that Spurgeon was referring to the Bible in a general sense, which happens frequently during preaching. Since Ruckman himself admitted in his Alexandrian Cult series that Spurgeon did not believe a translation could be inspired, it was wrong for Ruckman to use Spurgeon quotes in which he does not specify a translation and falsely portray Spurgeon as a Ruckmanite who out-Ruckmaned even Dr. Ruckman. This is historical revision of the worst sort.
What authors of books defending the KJV were saying before 1950
So beautifully, as well as faithfully, is this Translation made, that the original from which it is taken, it has been justly observed", is alone superior to it. … Every sincere and well-disposed admirer of the Holy Oracles may be satisfied with the present Translation, which is, indeed, highly excellent; being in its doctrines uncorrupt and in its general construction faithful to the original. (Todd, John Henry. An authentic account of our authorized translation of the holy Bible and of the translators. London: Oxford, 1838, pp. 4, 55 [p. 55 quoting Archbishop Newcome])
Not that it is perfect. It only is the best of modern versions and inferior to none of the old ones; so that the few blemishes it has, no more hurt its worth and usefulness, than do the spots on the sun the heat and light thereof; they trouble no one but those who make them an excuse for a change. (Malan, Solomon Caesar. A Plea for the Received Greek Text: And for the Authorized Version of the New Testament, in answer to some of the Dean of Canterbury's criticism of both. London: Strangeways & Walden, 1869, p. v)
… how very seldom our Authorized Version is materially wrong: how faithful and trustworthy, on the contrary, it is throughout. (Burgon, John. The Revision Revised. 1883 [2000 reprint by the Dean Burgon Society] p. 232)
… we do not fail to recognize, what is admitted by all competent authorities, that the A.V. could be corrected in a number of passages where the meaning is now obscured because of changes which three centuries have brought about in the meaning of English words, or where diligent study or recent discoveries have brought to light better readings. Such instances, however, are comparatively few … (Mauro, Philip. Which Version? Authorized Or Revised? Boston, MA: Hamilton Bros., 1924, p. 87)
The original Scriptures were written by direct inspiration of God. This can hardly be said of any translation. (Wilkinson, Benjamin Our Authorized Bible Vindicated. Washington, D.C. 1930, [1989 reprint, Leaves-of-Autumn Books] p. 256)
Why the KJV should be described with terms such as reliable and trustworthy rather than inspired and perfect
Many of those who do not wish to be identified with Ruckman but claim that the KJV is inspired get offended when it is pointed out that such a claim was virtually unheard of before Peter Ruckman. They often respond with something like, “Peter Ruckman believes God inspired the KJV translators, but I don’t believe that when I say the KJV is inspired.” My question for them is—if they do not wish to identify with Peter Ruckman, and if they do not believe that God breathed out the words of the KJV, why even state that the KJV is inspired to begin with? Why make such statements that are susceptible to misunderstanding? Why do these same men not affirm in their writings that Tyndale, Bishops and the Geneva Bible was inspired? Many authors who declare the KJV to be inspired do not declare in their same book that the Textus Receptus is inspired, and if they do, they do not refer to a specific edition.
For the KJV to be inspired, one of two things would have had to happen from 1604-1611:
1. The KJV translators would have had to be inspired by the Holy Spirit in the same way as the original writers of the autographa
*Problems with this view:
A. If this would have happened, the KJV translators would not have had to translate.
B. There is no proof, either from a prophecy in the Scriptures, or from the writings of translators themselves or witnesses of the time that this happened
2. Or, perfect translation would have had to occur from perfectly selected sources that were inspired.
*Problems with this view:
A. There are nearly half a million Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible. Unless a supernatural event occurred, how could fallible human beings translate half a million times perfectly every time, especially considering that at times a translator is forced to interpret?
B. As for perfectly selected sources, it is a well know fact that the KJV was based on the Textus Receptus, especially Beza’s 1598 edition. However, at times the KJV translators exercised a conservative form of textual criticism, sometimes choosing among different TR editions, and in a few cases following the Latin. As for Hebrew, at least a few times the KJV translators followed the keri (marginal) reading of the Masoretic text. For the KJV to be perfect and inspired, all those conservative forms of textual criticism done by Theodore Beza and subsequently the KJV translators when they departed from his Greek text would have had to be done perfectly every time.
C. Even if the fallible KJV translators could have translated half a million words perfectly from perfectly selected sources, one has to consider the meaning of the word “inspiration” in the Scriptures. It means “God-breathed.” Did God breathe out English words in the original transmission of his Word? He certainly did not. One has to consider that a translated word often does not carry all the nuances of the original word in the source language.
D. If each of the varied sources from which they translated weren’t inspired, how could the KJV translators turn out something that was inspired?
Many who hold to the inspiration of the KJV when confronted admit that it is difficult or even impossible to explain. An example of this is Dr. Bruce Lackey, who admitted the following on pages 17-18 of his book Why I Believe the Old King James Bible: “We may not be able to explain how a translation could have been inspired…we do not understand the inspiration of a translation.”
Some are likely to respond saying that the fact that the inspiration of the KJV cannot be explained doesn’t make it untrue. However, the Bible does not promise any second inspiration or continuity of inspiration in translations, let alone a specific one in English. We believe things in the Bible that we cannot understand simply because we have faith in what it says and because we believe it to be the Word of God. Since the teaching that the KJV is inspired is not in the Bible, it would not be wrong to turn solely to logic and the facts of history (as in the preceding outline) to determine that a supernatural act in 1611 did not occur. Such a belief has nothing to stand on except the word of Peter Ruckman and subsequently a few others starting around the last half of the last century.