Is Peter Ruckman arrogant? His supporters say no. Geneha Kim in Ruckmanism Ruckus assures everyone that "Dr. Ruckman is not a prideful person claiming to be the final authority in the world." (p. 82). Perhaps to quell some concerns, in 1976 Ruckman assures his readers that he would write in a humble manner:
We shall study and write with a humble spirit. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Exodus. 1976, p. X of Preface.)
Did Ruckman fulfill his promise? Are Ruckmanites who speak up for him correct? We will allow Ruckman to speak for himself in his own writings to demonstrate what led us to our conclusion.
Ruckman repeatedly claims to have come up with many new teachings in the Bible
The following quotes reveal that Ruckman is not subtle at all about his claim to have found many new teachings in the Bible:
In those books [Ruckman’s commentaries] will be found (at a minimum) 500 Bible revelations that cannot be found in any commentary written by anyone since the completion of the New Testament. (Bible Believers' Bulletin Mar. 2005, p. 5)
What we have done, by the grace of God, is extract about one hundred “new teachings” from the old Book, by comparing the AV with the AV, and by side stepping Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and Greek and Hebrew scholars. (Ruckman, Peter. The Alexandrian Cult. Part Eight, 1981, p. 28)
In 2,000 years of church history, they haven’t even been able to find the passages which dealt with these things we have been talking about… (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Revelation. 1970, 1982, p. 348)
Ruckman frequently brags about his accomplishments
The following is only a small sampling of what we have found:
I have written more than twice as much material as John Calvin and Augustine combined, and I have stood on my pins (preaching and teaching) on the average of twelve hours a week every September-May for 31 years, plus an average of 6 hours a week for another 16 years—“year-round.” (Ruckman, Peter. Why I am not a Calvinist. 1997, p. 46)
I have been an artist and a musician since I was 15, as well as a poet and songwriter. (Ruckman, Peter. General Epistles Commentary Vol. 2. 2004, p. 261)
…it was Ruckman who was the “SPEARHEAD” of the real “Back to the BIBLE” movement in America since 1960. (Bible Believers' Bulletin May 2007, p. 2)
I do profess to have read somewhere around 36,675 books since I was ten years old, if you count Bible-reading part of the list. (Bible Believers' Bulletin Sep. 2007 p. 3)
…having typed, written, read, or proofread more than three million pieces of paper; (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin reprint #7 Strictly Personal. 2004, p. 237)
Ruckman frequently brags about his intellect
Two pages before having bragged about Bob Jones Sr. saying Ruckman was the brightest fellow to go through BJU (based on hearsay) he brings up the following prideful question:
Many students whose capacities exceeded “Ruckman’s”? For example? (Ruckman, Peter. The Last Grenade, p. 141)
Ruckman openly makes references to believers following him. Sometimes it comes in the form of quoting letters from Ruckmanite admirers. In one Bible Believers' Bulletin issue (Feb. 2008, p. 18) he approvingly quotes from a letter from a Filipino follower who made reference to Ruckman as the "big dog" and Filipino Ruckmanite pastors as his "puppies." In the June 2002 issue of his Bulletin, Ruckman mocks anti-Ruckmanites as not being able to get anyone to follow them and then pats himself on the back as follows:
I didn’t have any trouble getting them to follow me in high school, living like the devil and taking the wrong way. I had no trouble having them follow me in the Army when I became a platoon leader. I had no trouble with them following me when I went out to preach on the street, and I’ve had no trouble with them following me now for fifty years, believing the Book and winning people to Christ. (p. 5)
Ruckman's speech exudes arrogance
The following are only a sampling of what we easily collected from his writings:
I know exactly what I am talking about, and you don’t. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Hebrews. 1986, p. 241)
Ruckman was the issue. They fear “Ruckman” more than sin, hell, judgment, or death. (Ruckman, Peter. The Last Grenade, p. 329)
…I will show you what was in verses 8-10 that not even Oliver Green, Harry Ironside, C.I. Scofield, E. Schuyler English, Clarence Larkin, Tim LaHaye, Perry Rockwood, or Hal Lindsay could find with a pair of binoculars, a laser gun, a microscope, and “polarized light.” (Ruckman, Peter. The Books of the General Epistles Vol. 1. 2005, p. 114)
I realize that some of you people think I’m very blunt, but that’s because you’re rather stupid. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies. Part. 2, p. 26)
Don’t get upset with me just because you are bigoted or lazy or wicked or stupid. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies, Part 10, p. 37)
Now some of you will take offense to that last remark because of your egotistical stupidity and narrow-minded, superstitious bigotry; (Ruckman, Peter. The Alexandrian Cult. Part Four, 1980, p. 3)
I get sick and tired of these touchy, sensitive folks who say, we don’t believe as you do. “Oooh, you have no right to say we’ve blasphemed and insulted God just because you think you are right.” Shut up, child! Grow up and get out of the knee pants and knee britches and get into some long pants. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies, Part 6, p. 10)
What you know about the contents of Scripture, I know, and if it is in THE BOOK I probably know it a great deal better than the men who TAUGHT you THE BOOK know it. If that is “foolishness in boasting” (2 Cor. 11:17, 12:6), so be it. (Bible Believers' Bulletin Sep. 2005, p. 13)
To an apostate Fundamentalist in the Alexandrian Cult: “Ruckman thinks he is right and everyone else is wrong.” “Ruckman thinks his opinion is the only one.” “Ruckman thinks his interpretation is the only correct one.” He can see only this because he is a scared, lying, Bible-perverting Nicolaitan. I corrected no one with my opinion; I corrected them with Scripture, and not once did I posit my opinion of one of my “preferences” as an authority for interpreting anything. I simply did the most damaging thing I could do—I drew out a two-edged sword, sharper than Damascus steel, and cut their guts out with it. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Psalms Vol. 2. 2002 reprint, p. 1192)
[After mentioning over 30 teachers he has had and authors he has read after] Do I “have more understanding than all my teachers”? Ah buddy, that is the “chip” that will short-circuit the computer! Well, if I couldn’t expound Matthew, Acts, and Hebrews better than any of the men listed above, I would go back to playing drums in a dance band. If I could not lead more people to Jesus Christ in a year than thirty-one of them did in a lifetime, I would take up drag racing. If I knew as LITTLE about the Biblical doctrines of the Second Coming as twenty-five of the men above, I would retire at the North Pole, and if I couldn’t correct all of them ten times per chapter in the New Testament, I would go back to life-guarding for a living. If I didn’t know the practical and evangelistic content of the Pauline epistles better than thirty men in the list, I would cancel all of my evangelistic services. (Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Psalms Vol. 2. 2002 reprint, p. 1247)
If everyone had the mentality Ruckman demonstrated in that last quote, hardly anyone would serve the Lord. Any preacher should be able to think of many others who can teach or understand the Bible better than themselves, but that is no reason to go back to the world or secular work instead of being completely dedicated to the ministry and doing their best. When Peter decided to go back to fishing, the Lord questioned him whether he loved Him more than this, and challenged him saying "feed my lambs" (John 21).
While decrying scholarship, Ruckman elevates himself as a scholar
In his writings Ruckman sometimes mentions that he does not claim to be a scholar–but is this not false humility in light of how he portrays himself? Observe:
Five earned degrees, with 120 books authored, and handling a curriculum of 22 subjects (by myself)… (Ruckman, Peter. The Scholarship only Controversy. p. 275)
I’ve only read a book a day since I was 10 years old. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies. Part 15, p. 7)
I have only written 120 books: how many have YOU written?
If you counted the books that I have written by handlettering (that were never published), you would have fifteen more. If you had the cassette tapes I have made, transcribed and printed, as books, you would have forty more. That would be 175 books. (Ruckman, Peter. Ecclesiastes. 2001 reprint, p. 358)
I may be the only man alive on the American continent who has taught twenty-five different subjects in one curriculum AT ONE TIME with three of the subjects being on a graduate level. (Ruckman, Peter. How to teach the Bible. 2000 reprint, p. 1)
It will be a cold day in Mobile, in July, when these Alexandrian jacklegs lecture me on “What the Bible Teaches.” I have been through it 130 times in English, and I study it in German, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew and Greek; (Ruckman, Peter. How to teach the Bible. 2000 reprint, p. 2)
[Ruckman’s books] … are the only set of books on this earth that exposit the AV text word-for-word, without altering one word out of 788,258 words in the Bible. (Bible Believers' Bulletin May 2004, p. 5)
In a review of Ruckman's first book, the reviewer couldn't help but notice the following:
The author, who inveighs mightily against the pride of modern scholarship, nevertheless lists his degrees on the title page as B.A., M.A., Ph.D. —a practice that would make most writers blush. (Hodges, Z.C. "Book Reviews and Notices" Bibliotheca Sacra. Oct. 1967, p. 361)
Is Ruckman trying to sell himself with an agenda in mind? If so, he knows what he is doing. Observe what he has admitted in his writings could be the reason for all this:
A real false prophet is out to promote himself. His first concern (above all other things) is to “sell himself” and his ministry to “the people” so they will listen to him and follow him. (Bible Believers' Bulletin Mar. 2005, p. 13)
Is Ruckman his own favorite subject?
When reading Ruckman's literature we cannot help but wonder if he is his own favorite subject. For instance, in what he implies was a sermon, he starts off as follows in the first minute:
I’m going to talk to you a while this morning about myself, for a while. As “foolishly boasting,” you know. Most of my sermons are about something else, but I’m talking about myself this morning…I’m never that much interested in anybody else. (Ruckman, Peter. Personal Testimony of Dr. Peter S. Ruckman. n.d., CD audio recording, 1992, track 3)
It is not uncommon for Ruckman to call attention to his accomplishments in the midst of what is supposed to be a Bible commentary. For example, in his commentary on Ecclesiastes, he brags about having traveled the equivalent of 78 times around the earth (2001 reprint, p. 172). In his commentary The Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther he brags about being able to answer questions with a scriptural reference within 5 seconds, and regarding this calls himself “the fastest gun in the West.” (2004 edition, pp. 204-205). In the midst of his commentary on The Books of the General Epistles Volume 1 Ruckman just has to tell you that he has written more than 120 books (proofreading each five times), he pastors 600 people, answers about 20 letters a day, has taught 10 hours a week for 37 years, done more than 500 paintings, has over 3,300 hours of preaching on tape, etc. (pp. 69, 421).
His arrogance in a nutshell
Perhaps the quote which sums up Ruckman's arrogance the most is the following, which should remove all doubt:
…You found someone that knew more about the Bible than “Ruckman,” did you? Who? (Ruckman, Peter. The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship. 1988, p. 35)
That Ruckman is in denial about his arrogance is evident by his lecturing others on this very subject in his writings:
The Holy Spirit is grieved with foolish talking and…exaggerating… (Ruckman, Peter. The Books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. 1973, 1980 reprint, p. 291)
Feeling an important, independent spirit…Having a sarcastic or unyielding spirit…Saying and doing things to attract attention to yourself…Permitting things in your life you would not permit in the lives of other Christians…Being a joker or jester…Partiality in dealing with certain persons, denominations, or classes…Putting on a false or exaggerated humility. (Ruckman, Peter. The Books of the General Epistles. Vol. 2. 2004, pp. 28-29)
We should not be bragging about our work and bragging about our consecration and bragging about our dedication. (Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies, part 8, p. 18)
The Bible on pride
Such arrogant talk as manifested by Ruckman should be repugnant to a child of God who is aware of what the Bible has to say about boasting. 2 Cor. 3:5 reminds us that our sufficiency is of God: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 1 Cor. 8:2 states that …if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. Pro. 27:2 makes it clear that we are not to heap praise on ourselves: Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. Romans 12:3 contains an admonition of which we all need to be reminded: For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
The less controversial early years
In the early days of my ministry, before I had learned how to be tactful and diplomatic—I have mellowed with the years! (Ruckman, Peter. Minor Prophets Commentary. 1978, 1984 reprint, p. 302)
In the above statement Ruckman claims the opposite of what we have observed from reading his earlier writings and listening to recordings of his preaching from the 1950’s as compared to subsequent decades. In our research, we located a small number of early writings and videos of Dr. Ruckman to compare his early theology and attitude with that of his later years. Although he may have always been at least somewhat controversial, the sampling from his early days revealed a remarkable difference. He came across mostly as a non-controversial preacher who smiled a lot and spoke with a tender heart. Rarely would he say something that could be considered controversial; moreover in the audio and video clips we were able to see and hear from the period, it seems to indicate that he did not go beyond borderline. There was no tearing down of fundamentalists by name, no new doctrines, and no self-aggrandizement. In his less-controversial early days, he claims to have preached for J. Harold Sightler, John Rawlings, Beauchamp Vick (Detroit Baptist Temple), Canton Baptist Temple, Bob Jones University, Tennessee Temple, and Baptist Bible College. Ruckman defenders sometimes defend his current controversial approach by excusing it as his style; however, his earlier writings and recordings do not reflect this to the same extent as later years.
Intimidation of critics
In the following quote, Ruckman tries to intimidate potential critics who might dare think that he brags by calling them "prejudiced bigots:"
We are not trying to brag about our knowledge or trying to strut it (although it seems this way to the prejudiced bigots… (Ruckman, Peter. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians Commentary 1973, 1980 p. 350)
Are Ruckman's followers feeding Ruckman's big ego?
Ruckman started off more cautious in proclaiming his beliefs back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but as he gained a loyal following it apparently emboldened him to propagate his new teachings and cocky attitude. Could it be that his followers by accepting, promoting and defending his teachings over the years knowingly or unknowingly, did little more than stroke Ruckman's ego? He seems to hint at this with his statement: "I have always had enough Bible believers to respect me to keep me happy and satisfied." (Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin reprint #7 Strictly Personal. 2004, p. 131) Would Ruckman have corrected his behavior if his followers would have quit respecting him as he got more extreme? The measure of Ruckman's satisfaction should be determined by pleasing God according to his Word–not by how many look up to him.
Even if Ruckman's teachings on the Bible were correct, his incredible arrogance alone as displayed in his speech should be enough to reject his ministry. Let us be mindful of Proverbs 8:13, which says The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Drums sound loud because there is nothing in them.
Good men know themselves too well to chant their own praises.
Do you have a theory as to what led Ruckman to become arrogant? Feel free to comment below.