Ruckman’s teaching on inspiration is confusing and hard to follow

Several years ago we wrote Ruckman’s self-serving interpretation for 2 Timothy 3:16. This is essentially part two of that article.

Spoken, not written

One of Ruckman's unusual views of inspiration is that it has to do with speaking, not writing. Inspiration according to him occurred when God breathed through the mouth of his prophets, not when it was written.

So when Paul says, “All scripture is given by inspiration,” the giving had nothing to do with the writing at all. All of this emphasis on the “original text” and the “original autographs” is nothing but a bunch of baloney. The word inspiration means “God-breathed,” and God breathed through the mouths of His prophets when they spake [sic]. That’s when the inspiration occurred, not when it was written.[1]

“inspiration” deals with BREATH, not with a writer’s “quill”[2]

With 2 Peter 1:21 right in front of the stupid, infidelic, egotistical, blabbering tongues of all 320 of the scholars to show them that inspiration has to do with breathing and speech (not writing or translating), they all cancelled Job 32:8, 33:4; Ezekiel 37:8-10, 14; and Genesis 2:7, and then followed a scholarly FABLE which Charles Hodge invented while Princeton was going into apostasy in the Nineteenth Century.[3]

We believe that Ruckman is taking a partial truth and distorting it for his own purposes. Granted, some inspiration of God originated as the Spirit of God moved through a prophet’s speech, which was subsequently recorded in written form (or "inscripurated") by inspiration. This is clear not only in 2 Pet. 1:21, "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" but also in such passages as Acts 1:16, "the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake" and 2 Sam. 23:2, "The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue." However, there were many cases that did not involve the speaking of the inspired writer (although it could be added that many people verbalize as they write, especially something important). The epistles were not originally spoken, except situations in which an amanuensis was employed (Rom. 16:22). Even then, the salutation of Paul with his own hand was "the token in every epistle: so I write." (2 Thes. 3:17). Although “speaking” in the ordinary sense refers to oral speech, there are times when it can refer to what has been written down. 2 Peter 3:16 "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things…" utilizes the same Greek word for "spake" as in 2 Pet. 1:21.

There are various passages in which God instructs His Words to be written down:

Exo. 17:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

Jer. 30:2 Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.

Isa. 30:8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:

Hair splitting

In the process of his teaching on inspiration, Ruckman is full of mind games in the manner in which he splits hairs. This should be immediately apparent in the following quotes:

The Bible never says that the Scriptures are inspired. It says they are “GIVEN by inspiration.”[4]

…not the “Word” of God or the “preserved Word of God” —but as found in “THE HOLY SCRIPTURES” (Rom. 1:2) …[5]

So when an apostate Fundamentalist says, “We believe in the authority of THE Bible,” he is lying like a dog. The “Bible” is a Book; it is NOT a pile of manuscripts that got lost before the birth of Christ. It is a Book that is composed of 66 books. There wasn’t one time since 1200 B.C. when all the “original autographs” [66 by A.D. 100] were ever all in one book on which you could get your hands.[6]

He said nothing of the kind (2 Tim. 3:16): that historic fundamental slander has been given with such frequency and repetition by the Alexandrian Cult that to this day there are 5000 faculty members in over 100 schools who actually think that "autographs" are "inspired" or that the "original autographs were inspired." The Scripture said nothing of the kind anywhere. It said "all scripture WAS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION" (2 Tim. 3:16). It is the rankest heresy to teach that a writing IS inspired. It is GIVEN by inspiration, and any other teaching is the grossest type of lying.[7]

The word "scripture" (and "scriptures") is not "the Word of God." The "Word" of God is Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5).[8]

To demonstrate the absurdity of these statements, let’s look at the last quote, in which Ruckman is stating that the Scriptures is not the Word of God (it was listed as a point, and we reproduced the entire point, so there was no quoting out of context). It is true that the Bible refers to Jesus Christ as the “Word of God.” In our edition of the KJV, the only time “Word” is capitalized in the phrase “Word of God,” is in Rev. 19:13, where referring to Christ, it states “his name is called The Word of God.” Most Bible students are aware that the KJV does not follow all the modern forms and Christian costumes regarding capitalization. It is very likely Ruckman had capitalization in mind, but if so, it is a triviality that is not worthy of the form in which he made his shocking statement. This is not an isolated case, as Ruckman has a history of berating those who dare use the phrase to refer to the Bible, referring to it as “the apostates’ cliché!”[9]

I believe the Bible I have. It is not the “Word of God.” Jesus Christ is the “Word” of God.[10]

Any Bible reader knows that a capital “W” on the Word of God is a reference to nothing in print. It is a reference to Jesus Christ (John 1:1–3, 14).[11]

Some theologians such as the neo-orthodox have tried to water-down the phrase “Word of God,” but it is a frequent Bible term, referring nearly every time to the Bible, therefore we should not surrender it nor be distracted by technicalities of how the KJV translators capitalized it. Ruckman uses such trivialities to nitpick statements of his opponents with fallacious strawman arguments. It is interesting to note that Ruckman frequently used the phrase “Word of God” to refer to the Bible repeatedly in his earlier writings, especially noticeable in The Bible Babel (1964).

We do not personally claim to have all aspects of Ruckman’s inspiration views completely figured out. At times we felt we had his views on inspiration figured out, only to find quotes contradicting our conclusion of what Ruckman believes. This could reflect a change in his views (something he has a hard time admitting), a persistent lack of clarity, or beliefs that are so contradictory they are impossible to reconcile. Obviously, Ruckman disagrees, and he points out what would seem unnecessary to state if it were indeed true and clearly apparent:

With US (dig that one!) there is no sophistries, no cloaked mysteries, no double talk that needs definitions, no excursions into cloudland to unravel the mess we made of things, no Jesuit casuistry, no twisted applications, invented terminology, or ad lib’s like “we may CALL” or “To all INTENTS,” etc.[12]

Is inspiration God breathing at the end?

We have documented how Ruckman teaches that inspiration has to do with speaking rather than writing. Another confusing aspect of his teaching has to do with breathing on the final product to make it Scripture:

Inspiration is God’s breath on a thing, or into a thing. Adam was “given by inspiration” Gen. 2:7).[13]

You see, in Adam’s case (Gen. 2:7) and Ezekiel’s case (Ezek. 37) there was no “breath of God on any lifeless corpse until the corpse was FULLY assembled: flesh, bones, organs, and all. To be “given by inspiration” (2 Tim. 3:16) in 20,000 languages —if there were that many— all God had to do was guide the translators in their choice of words, in any particular language, and then BREATHE on the finished product![14]

It was the Bible—and when I say “the Bible,” I mean “the Book” of the Scriptures— that was breathed on after it was completed (like Adam and the dry bones). The “originals” no more had to match it word for word than the book of Jeremiah did its original (Jer. 36:32);[15]

The Scriptures are alive (Heb. 4:12) because the Holy Spirit breathed life into them (2 Pet. 1:21). When we see that the KJV is “the holy Scriptures” in English (Rom. 1:2), or “given by inspiration” (2 Tim. 3:16), we mean that the Holy Spirit of God guided its translators in their work and then breathed on that book when they got through with it.[16]

The Holy Spirit did not BREATH life into Adam until his COMPLETE uninspired body had been molded from dirt. Ezekiel’s army was FULLY FORMED but dead, for they had not yet been BREATHED ON by God. They were not in embryonic form as “fetuses”; they were FULLY FORMED ADULTS, with FULL FORMED arms, legs, feet, head, hands—the works. Then God BREATHED on them. They were “given” to Ezekiel “by INSPIRATION.” One time, a long time ago (1611), some sincere, honest men got together and put together a Book. Anyone can get the history of how many committees were formed, the quality and number of the translators, the care they took to double-check everything. We say God aided them, assisted them, and helped them produce a Book in English that He wanted produced, under a JEWISH name: King JACOB (Ιακωβος—“James”). It would be the standard for the whole world in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Centuries (Psa. 12:7). When they finished the Book, God “BREATHED” on it—as in Genesis 2:7; Job 32:8, 33:4; and Ezekiel 37:6, 8–19, 14. So instead of claiming “inspiration” for what they wrote, the King James translators said that what they WROTE (“scripture”) was “GIVEN” to them “BY INSPIRATION”; i.e., God BREATHED on the Scriptures they produced (Πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος) and gave them life (Heb. 4:12). This act was never described in any book you read if it corrected one word in the AV. “By inspiration” is described in Jeremiah 36; Genesis 2; Ezekiel 37; and Job 32-33.[17]

In this quote Ruckman stated “the King James translators said that what they WROTE (‘scripture’) was ‘GIVEN’ to them ‘BY INSPIRATION;’” The KJV translators were not describing “what they wrote” as “given to them by inspiration”! That is simply how they translated 2 Tim. 3:16. Again, they were not writing about themselves as Ruckman tries to imply, but simply translating Scripture.

Ruckman is building a doctrinal foundation on the sands of analogies. Analogies can sometimes illuminate a truth already spelled out, but in the cases provided, the analogies are completely different and irrelevant, having nothing to do with the Scripture being given. The Bible does not teach that inspiration was an afterthought or something that took place at the very end “on the finished product” or “after it was completed” or “when they got through with it” or “when they finished the Book.” 2 Pet. 1:21 informs us that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Some cases of God speaking through the prophets were to be incorporated into Scripture, so they were being moved by the Holy Ghost regarding those words from the time they were spoken right up until the last word was written down. The Greek word for “moved” in 2 Pet. 1:21 means “to bear or carry.” God did not breath on the Bible after it was completed.

The revealing of Ruckman’s agenda

It is not always necessary to guess Ruckman’s motives for holding to a certain unusual view. Ruckman objects to “confining God’s breathing to the individual words of Greek and Hebrew”, but in this quote he reveals exactly why:

You see the Saturnalia these egotistical fools got into by confining God’s breathing to the individual words of Greek and Hebrew that no one had seen for 1,800 years? Having done this, they had to believe that if one of these words was altered, “inspiration” ceased. Having adopted this tactic, they surmised immediately that the Authorized Version couldn’t be “given by inspiration,” for the words had changed, and this was a no-no in “verbal, plenary inspiration.”[18]

If Ruckman’s interpretation of inspiration and 2 Tim. 3:16 does not seem natural, the previous quote reveals why. He has an agenda to protect, and he will go to great lengths to do so, no matter how far he has to go.

The context of 2 Tim. 3:16

Ruckman is very quick to link the mention of Scripture in verse 15 in an attempt to convince his followers that since Timothy surely did not have the originals, the Scripture of verse 16 could not possibly refer to the original manuscripts. However, he conveniently neglects to inform the reader that, as stated in part one, the term "Scripture" in 2 Tim. 3:15 and 2 Tim. 3:16 are two different Greek words. The Scriptures Timothy had are referred to as gramma, while in the next verse dealing with inspiration, the Greek word graphe is used. 

Second Timothy 3:16 without Second Timothy 3:15 can be a perversion, exactly like [list of Ruckman opponents omitted here] pervert it.[19]

The key portion of 2 Tim. 3:15 states “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures…” Here are some facts to consider regarding this statement.

  1. The verse does not state outright that Timothy or his family had actual copies of Scripture in their possession, although it is entirely possible.
  2. In Bible times it was uncommon for individuals to possess large portions due to the expense and space required to store the scrolls.
  3. His familiarity with the Scriptures could have been through frequent visits to the temple or a synagogue where the Scriptures were read and taught. His mother and grandmother (mentioned in 2 Tim. 1:5) could have verbally related to Timothy what they knew about the Scriptures. 2 Tim. 3:14 refers to what Timothy had learned and been assured of.

2 Tim. 3:16 not about original manuscripts?

Ruckman is very insistent in his writings that 2 Tim. 3:16 is not about the original autographs.

For the ten-thousandth time, there is nothing in 2 Timothy 3:16 that refers to the original autographs.[20]

Therefore, every man teaching that II Timothy 3:16 is a reference to the ORIGINALS is teaching a non-Biblical, anti-Biblical FALSE TEACHING…[21]

Second Timothy 3:16: which has no reference to the originals, and 1 Peter 1:21, that has no reference to anybody writing anything.[22]

The fable (see comments on 2 Tim. 4:4) invented at Princeton University around 1880 that the term “scripture” in 2 Timothy 3:16 is a reference to some verbally inspired, infallible, plenarily inspired “autographs” is a fairytale as big as any taught by Darwin and Einstein (see App. 73).[23]

No Bible states that “the original manuscripts” were inspired …[24]

An example of how Ruckman can be contradictory, here are two quotes in which he brings up 2 Tim. 3:16 for establishing that the original manuscripts were indeed “given by inspiration”:

Every Bible believer believes the original manuscripts (that NOW constitute our King James Bible) were “given by inspiration” (2 Tim. 3:16), which means the breath of God (Job 32:8) gave them life (Gen. 2:7). But we believe this by FAITH, not by direct evidence, for neither Peter, James, John, nor Paul ever do what BJU “expected them to do”: believe their own writings were inspired.[25]

Original manuscripts were written, and no doubt, they were “given by inspiration” (2 Tim. 3:16) —not “inspired”— even though no verse in either Testament says anything of the kind.[26]

Ruckman goes as far as to state that believing 2 Tim. 3:16 refers to the original manuscripts, or “original manuscripts only” is “blasphemous heresy”[27] “greatest heresy … heretical and apostate teaching”[28] “a non-Biblical, anti-Biblical FALSE TEACHING.”[29]

Although it is true that no verse states “the original manuscripts were inspired," by the same token, no verse states outright "Jesus is God." There are very clear verses such as "I and my Father are one" (Jn. 10:30), therefore the truth that Jesus is God can be properly and Scripturally deducted regardless of the absence of a specifically worded phrase. The existence of a preserved book necessitates the prior existence of an original autograph. Passages such as 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:21 have historically been understood as a description of the process by which we obtained the Bible, which initially had to be physically written with ink on ancient writing materials (which is universally referred to as original manuscripts or autographs), regardless of whether the words had originally been spoken or whether all portions of the original autographs were bound into one volume.

For Ruckman to grasp at obscure and often irrelevant technicalities in an attempt to reach different and dazing conclusions is cause at the very least for suspicion and extreme caution at best, and outright rejection of his teachings on the matter at worst.

Our view is that Ruckman's teaching on inspiration is a minefield loaded with fallacies. We believe that he is frequently obfuscating. Note, for example, the various statements as follows:

1. The word "scripture" (and "scriptures") is not "the Word of God." The "Word" of God is Jesus Christ (John 1:1-5).

2. The word "scripture" is not even spelt like "the word of God"; not even if they were synonymous.

3. There is no verse of "SCRIPTURE" that says "all the Word of God is inspired." The "scripture" (as in the word spelled 'S-C-R-I-P-T-UR-E") says that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). That is, it says that in 600 New Testament translations and 200 English New Testament translations and all Greek manuscripts extant.

4. Have you ever read a verse of "SCRIPTURE"?

5. Does your church practise [sic] "SCRIPTURE memorization"?

6. How do you memorize something you never read and cannot see?

7. Does your preacher say: "Open the SCRIPTURES to such-and-such a place?" Does he have a copy of the "SCRIPTURES" when he tells you to do this?

8. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16).

9. The verse says nothing about any "autographs," original or otherwise. It does not mention "the Word of God."

10. If you have a copy of the "SCRIPTURES" you have access to something that was "given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16) for "ALL scripture" (not some of it) was "given by inspiration of God."

11. The "Word" of God is absolutely irrelevant at this point, or we are talking about all SCRIPTURE"—written words.

12. If they were the same then would it not mean that a man who had "the Word of God" had the "SCRIPTURES"? And if he had "the SCRIPTURES" how much of them would be uninspired?[30]

How many fallacies can you spot in the above set of statements? For your convenience, we are providing a sample list of common fallacies:

Persuasive definition – purporting to use the "true" or "commonly accepted" meaning of a term while, in reality, using an uncommon or altered definition.

Definitional retreat – changing the meaning of a word when an objection is raised. Often paired with moving the goalposts, as when an argument is challenged using a common definition of a term in the argument, and the arguer presents a different definition of the term and thereby demands different evidence to debunk the argument.

Equivocation – using a term with more than one meaning in a statement without specifying which meaning is intended

False equivalence – describing two or more statements as virtually equal when they are not.

A red herring fallacy – an error in logic where a proposition is, or is intended to be, misleading in order to make irrelevant or false inferences. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies. Accessed 12-27-22)

Ruckman changing his views on inspiration

In 1974, Ruckman did something that is extremely unusual for him. (He is known for making statements such as "I have not changed my convictions from the day that I was ordained until right now.") (Peter Ruckman’s claim that he did not change his convictions from the day he was ordained | Ruckmanism.org) He actually admitted on one occassion to having changed his interpretation for 2 Timothy 3:16. The change was based on an idea shared with him by Herb Evans. Ruckman had already been implying in his writings up to that time that the KJV was inspired, so he quickly seized on this idea for interpreting the key verse and popularized it by making it the cornerstone of his teaching that the KJV was “given by inspiration.”

I am indebted to Herb Evans for giving me some light on 2 Timothy 3:16, which frankly up until about 1974 I had never really considered. The context of the passage had escaped me exactly like it did most of the “Scholars’ Union.” Evans, a plain, ordinary Bible Believer (with no special Christian education), was the first one to call my attention that 2 Timothy 3:16 was NOT a reference to “original manuscripts.” …I had to do some “back tracking” on that one verse, even though I didn’t have to reverse my convictions about every word of the AV text…[31]

Ruckman’s admission that he had not thought of that interpretation before 1974 is revealing. He already had a doctorate from BJU for 20 years by then, and had been ordained for 24 years. He had already written his first book defending the KJV 10 years prior, and had written several more on the KJV by 1974. If Herb Evan’s idea for interpreting 2 Timothy 3:16 is supposed to be the natural interpretation upon reading it, why did Ruckman miss it for decades?

Another observation that could be made in light of Ruckman admitting that he once believed 2 Tim. 3:16 was a reference to the originals is how he treats Christians who believe what Ruckman believed for over 20 years. Notice the language Ruckman uses for them from just two pages of one of his books:[32] "modern apostate fundamentalist," "refuses to tell the truth," "poor deluded souls," "lying against the Holy Ghost," "greatest heresy," "heretical and apostate teaching," "lies about the verse," "Alexandrian Cult members," "a heretical cult." Based on his own criteria, Ruckman would have been an apostate and a member of the Alexandrian Cult up to 1974!

In a letter to Robert Sumner in 1971, Ruckman had stated the following:

Now, at no time have I stated flatly that the A. V. 1611 was the “verbally inspired word of God.” Verbal inspiration has to do with 2 Timothy 3:16 and deals with the original autographs, as we all know.[33]

The above statement was made three years before his 1974 position change. Now notice what he calls those who hold to the position he held for many years:

The Lord gave you 2 Timothy 3:15 just before 2 Timothy 3:16 so you would be able to spot an apostate when you saw one. The word “scripture” (2 Tim. 3:15), in the context of 2 Timothy 3:16, is NOT a reference to ANY “originals.” Therefore, if a man teaches that it is, he IS an apostate.[34]

By his own definition, Ruckman was an apostate for many years, including the timeframe when he wrote his first three books defending the KJV! If this is not enough to convince someone that Ruckman is unreasonable, inconsistent, and all too ready to label others as apostates and liars, nothing will!

 

 

 

 


[1] Ruckman, Peter. The Books of the General Epistles. Volume 1. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 2005, p. 432.

 

 

 

[2] Ruckman, Peter. The Books of the General Epistles. Vol. 2. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2004, p. 117

 

 

 

[3] Bible Believers' Bulletin. Oct. 2008, p. 3

 

 

 

[4] Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Romans. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 2003, p. 606.

 

 

 

[5] Ruckman, Peter. The Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2004, p. xv.

 

 

 

[6] Bible Believers' Bulletin.  Feb. 2008, p. 5.

 

 

 

[7] Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Feb. 1981, p. 4.

 

 

 

[8] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Feb. 1999, pp. 10.

 

 

 

[9] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. June 2005, p. 6.

 

 

 

[10] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. May 2001, p. 14.

 

 

 

[11] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Mar. 2007 p. 14.

 

 

 

[12] Ruckman, Peter. The Christian Liar’s Library. 1997, p. 185.

 

 

 

[13] Ruckman, Peter. Ruckman’s Bible References. p. 80.

 

 

 

[14] Ruckman, Peter. The Books of the General Epistles. Vol. 2. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2004, p. 120.

 

 

 

[15] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. March 2011, p. 14.

 

 

 

[16] Ruckman Reference Bible. 2009, p. 759.

 

 

 

[17] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. March 2009, p. 17.

 

 

 

[18] Ruckman, Peter. The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1999, p. 364.

 

 

 

[19] Ruckman, Peter. How to teach the Bible. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2000 reprint, p. 23.

 

 

 

[21] Ruckman, Peter. The Alexandrian Cult. Part 7. 1981, p. 11.

 

 

 

[22] Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Nov. 1992, p. 10.

 

 

 

[23] Ruckman Reference Bible. 2009, Footnote from 2 Tim. 3:15-16.

 

 

 

[24] Ruckman, Peter. Minor Prophets. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1978, 1984 reprint, p. 311.

 

 

 

[25] Ruckman, Peter. The Christian Liar’s Library. 1997, p. 130.

 

 

 

[26] Ruckman, Peter. The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1999, p. 97.

 

 

 

[27]  Theological Studies. Vol. 12, p. 7.

 

 

 

[28] Theological Studies. Vol. 15, p. 6.

 

 

 

[29] Ruckman, Peter. The Alexandrian Cult. Part 7. 1981, p. 11.

 

 

 

[30] Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Feb. 1999, pp. 10, 13.

 

 

 

[31] Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin Reprint #7 (Strictly Personal). 2004, pp. 32-33.

 

 

 

[32] Ruckman, Peter. Theological Studies. booklet 15, pp. 6-7)

 

 

 

[33]  Letter to Robert Sumner, 1971. On file.

 

 

 

[34] Ruckman, Peter. The “Errors” in the King James Bible. Pensacola, Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1999, p. 57.

 

 

 

One Response to “Ruckman’s teaching on inspiration is confusing and hard to follow”

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  1. Anon says:

    Another partial truth of Ruckman is to take hard preaching and re-phrase it as permission for flippant vile insults and behaviours.

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