We will conduct this study in the form of reviews of articles and publications warning about Peter Ruckman in chronological order. Although it is still a work in progress, since it is mostly done we are publishing this rough draft on the website to invite our readers to provide feedback in the comments section.
1967 – Brief book review by Zane Hodges
It is interesting to note that the first published warning against Ruckman we could locate is written in the non-Fundamental publication Bibliotheca Sacra (October 1967, pp. 361-362). This review by Hodges of Ruckman's first book The Bible Babel is very brief, taking up part of only two pages. We will reproduce some interesting remarks:
The author of this little booklet has done a tragic disservice to the Authorized King James Version of the Bible. Ironically he is seeking to defend it. … Furthermore, the spirit of criticism throughout is harsh and vindictive in the extreme and the epithets hurled at those who do not share his views go far beyond the bounds of the righteous indignation appropriate to Christians. … So distorted indeed is so much of the material presented that any reader would be well advised to trust nothing which he cannot verify.
Hodges ends his article as follows:
… such truth as he has is horribly unconvincing. Indeed, with friends like this, the King James Version does not need enemies.
1971 – Book review by Marshall Neal & Stewart Custer
The April 1971 issue of Biblical Viewpoint has a review of Ruckman's 1970 book A Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence. The brief article starts off being somewhat defensive of the Westcott & Hort Greek text, and the conclusion urged Christians to continue using the NASV in addition to the KJV, which would have made KJV defenders uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the article contained numerous valid warnings about Ruckman, and we will reproduce a few:
The first one is Mr. Ruckman's colossal egotism. At the end of the book, Ruckman gives a list of other works which he has written. Of his Commentary on Matthew, he says: "This is the first real commentary ever written on Matthew." Beside his commentary on Genesis he makes a similar statement. "This is the first real commentary on the book of Genesis." About the Commentary on the Book of Revelation he says: "The works includes several revelations unknown to the major authors of works on the Book of Revelation itself."
Secondly, the book is very heavily footnoted, but many of these footnotes are meaningless and ridiculous. On page 55, he makes the statement that Origen was not able to interpret third-grade Greek. This statement about a man who spoke Greek as his native tongue and who wrote his works in Greek is supported by a footnote which appears on page 189. This footnote says "See footnote 41, chapter 5." The latter says: "Why wouldn't he if he thought Jesus was a Greek philosopher like Origen did." On page 63, the statement that Aquila was excommunicated from the Christian community for refusing to give up astrology is supported by footnote 65 which appears on page 195. This footnote reads simply "Et. Al."
If it is the King James Bible which is the inspired, infallible Word of God and not the Greek (he has a whole chapter on correcting the Greek from the King James) one wonders what all of the Christians of the first fifteen hundred years did without the inspired, infallible Bible.
1973 – Brief warning in Sword of the Lord
In the February 2, 1973, issue the following warning by John R. Rice appeared on p. 15:
When a Peter Ruckman sets 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.
Proverbs 22:24 says, "Make no friendship with an angry man." You will get to calling people names and making rash judgments and making mountains out of molehills, too, if you run with that kind of people or listen to their teaching and are influenced by them.
In the above paragraph and in what followed Rice is somewhat defensive of the NASV, but he mentions the KJV is best for general use, and he points out that he uses it continually in preaching, in study, and in memory work.
In 1975 all the above is repeated in a slightly edited form in Rice's book I Am a Fundamentalist.
1980 – Pamphlet by Charles Provan
In 1980 Charles Provan issues what appears to be a privately published pamphlet by the title The King James Version of the Bible versus Dr. Peter Ruckman. Throughout his pamphlet he concentrates mostly on how the Septuagint sometimes differed from the Masoretic text and the KJV. He then points out how the KJV translators believed that a BC era Septuagint existed, and believed that the apostles used it. The writer spends nearly all 15 pages on this matter, squandering an opportunity by concentrating on only one small issue which seems to be little understood by many laymen. The writer documents the beliefs of the KJV translators, but he does not do the same with Ruckman, which weakened his argument.
1981 – Booklet by Stewart Custer
The booklet is entitled The Truth about the King James Version Controversy and was published by Bob Jones University Press. In my opinion one of its main weaknesses is its attempt to defend the Westcott & Hort Greek text and some versions based upon it, such as the NASV. Many of those who have mixed feelings about modern translations would have been less likely to read it, let alone distribute it to those who needed to be warned about Ruckmanism. Those who fit in that category would have been more prone to be attracted to Ruckmanism, but those who needed it the most were the ones who likely were turned off from reading it or at least from passing it on.
In spite of this major weakness, the booklet contains the most complete documented analysis of Ruckman's views up to that date. It not only documents Ruckman’s extremes regarding the KJV, but also regarding his various odd doctrines, theological inconsistencies, his judging of the brethren and evil speaking. The conclusion to Custer’s booklet contains a stern warning:
Mr. Ruckman has misrepresented the value of the manuscripts; he has misrepresented the facts; he has misrepresented the biblical portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ; he has manifested a bitter spirit; and for years he has divided God’s people against themselves. He has tried to make his followers blind fanatics. They cannot think for themselves; they must accept with blind submission Mr. Ruckman’s infallible pronouncements. Therefore, let all the Christian world know that Mr. Ruckman has started a cult. No born again, Bible-believing Christian should have anything further to do with Mr. Ruckman or with his literature.
1983 – Statement in book on Fundamentalism
Causing resentment and even righteous anger among Fundamentalists have been the writings of Peter Ruckman of Pensacola, pastor, founder of a Bible institute, and a self–styled critic of all who would even think to question his rightness in asserting the verbal inspiration of the King James. His words spread brimstone and vehemence because of their viciousness and vulgarities. (Dollar, George W. The Fight for Fundamentalism. Orlando: Daniels Publishing, 1983, p. 176)
1985 – Brief article in the Biblical Fundamentalist
The June 1985 issue of the relatively unknown Australian periodical Biblical Fundamentalist carried a two-page article by the title "Ruckmanites Take Heed!" The article starts off with a strange admission in the introduction. "We have published two messages of his in days past in the Biblical Fundamentalist." The only thing that is warned against regarding Ruckman's position on the KJV was that he implied that the King James translators of 1611 were inspired in the same sense as the inspired writers. However it does have a strongly documented section on Ruckman's different gospels and what it terms "more nonsense." One weakness is that it only documents Ruckman's statements from his commentary on Revelation. His conclusion includs the following comments:
It would take an entire book to answer all the false statements and ridiculous claims Ruckman has made in his study of Revelation. I am honestly concerned that good people are being led astray by Ruckman's teaching. … In heeding the admonition to "Test all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21) I find that Ruckman's writings have failed the test.
1988 – Book by Gary Hudson
This marks the year in which Gary Hudson published his book Why I Left Ruckmanism. On page 40 he provides the following definition of Ruckmanism:
The belief that the King James Version is absolutely inerrant, containing advanced revelation over the Greek and Hebrew from which it came, with the demand for one exact, inerrant version to preach and teach.
Starting on page 39 he gives the following reasons why the Ruckman logic is so appealing for some people, which we reproduce in a condensed form with the main points only:
1. It is clever circular reasoning disguised as a reasonable "no alternative" approach to the question of locating "the Word of God."
2. It is a convenience in avoiding the discipline of having to study the original languages of Scripture, for the KJV is IT.
3. It is proselytizing, causing church members to favor certain groups or individuals as true "Bible-believers."
4. It is racism, making the white Anglo-Saxon race the most highly favored in Bible versions.
5. It is rebellion against spiritual leadership disguised as anti-rebellion to the Word of God.
6. It is idolatrous, an appeal to the carnal nature to worship a paper relic instead of the true God.
7. Mr. Ruckman's own charismatic personality. His crack humor, beautiful art (as he is a very fine artist), fearless tone, frankness of speech, intellectual ability, and commanding , radio-announcer voice (from his background in broadcasting) make him interesting and persuasive among those who are swayed under the spell.
1989 – Article by Curtis Hutson in the Sword of the Lord
The February 3, 1989, issue contains an excellent article by the title “Ruckman’s Various Plans of Salvation and Other Rabid Ramblings.” Unfortunately, it focuses mainly on Ruckman’s plans of salvation, and the KJV issue is an afterthought. However, he does bring up the KJV issue at the end and has some words of wisdom which we reproduce:
We have complete confidence in the KJV. One can read it, believe it and live by it with complete confidence. However, Dr. Ruckman is wrong when he implies that the King James translators of 1611 were inspired in the same sense that Moses, John, Paul and others were. … Again we affirm our strong belief in the King James Bible as the best translation of Scripture we know anything about. However, it does not make much difference which version of the Bible a man uses if he is not going to believe it or obey it anyway.
1989 – Brief article in The Biblical Evangelist
The Biblical Evangelist had a brief article in their February 1, 1989 issue by the title “The Sad Case of Peter Ruckman.” It is mostly about Ruckman’s controversial divorce situation, but it does have some interesting remarks about Ruckman in general:
First of all, let us note that the saddest thing about this man is that he has, foolishly and unnecessarily, divided Fundamentalism over a “non issue.” As far as we have been able to ascertain, no Fundamentalist ever claimed verbal inspiration and inerrancy for a translation until he started the idea. While it mimics the old Roman Catholic claim for the Latin Vulgate, evangelicals have always had better sense.
It is sad too, that Ruckman has never been able to disagree with others without being disagreeable. Lacking in the fundamental elements of ethics, he is anything but a gentleman in his rude, uncouth language and vitriolic slander and childish name calling. He will associate the top Fundamentalists in the country, who do not agree with him on some detail, in the same sentence with anti-American Communists and the most profane liberals and modernists, passing them off as one and the same.
1989 – Another article by the Sword of the Lord
The March 17, 1989 issue came out with an article by Gary Hudson with the title “Ruckman’s Unscriptural Claims for the K.J.V.” This article by Hudson was basically a critique of Ruckman’s 1970 book The Christian’s Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, 19 years late. It properly demonstrates that Ruckman was the originator of the idea that the KJV English is superior to its own Greek and Hebrew texts. He documents how Ruckman’s use of KJV defenders such as Edward Hills could give the reader the impression that these men supported Ruckmanism, which they clearly did not:
Notice what Dr. Hills calls the belief that the KJV is superior to its own Greek and Hebrew: “Excessive Veneration!” So, according to Dr. Hills, Ruckmanism is “excessive veneration!” Could it be that Dr. Hills has “often been accused of such” because Peter Ruckman mixes Dr. Hills’ research with his own strange teachings about “Correcting the Greek With the English”? (See title of chapter eight in Manuscript Evidence in which Ruckman often quotes from Dr. Hills.)
Hudson concludes with a warning about Ruckman’s 1970 book as follows:
We cannot recommend such a work for studying the Greek texts, for it goes to a dangerous extreme that undermines, not only what the Scriptures teach, but what the Christian church has believed for 1900 years about the inspiration and inerrancy of the original manuscripts.
1989 Booklet by R.L. Hymers
In 1989 R.L. Hymers, Jr. published The Ruckman Conspiracy, and in 1998 it was released in a 3rd edition under the new title Ruckmanism Exposed. Hymers is quite outspoken in his booklet, referring to Ruckmanism in the subtitle as "a doctrine of demons." Although such statements make the booklet controversial, I believe it is the the most complete exposure of Ruckmanism currently in print. Hymers defends the KJV throughout the book, which helped assure readers that turning against Ruckmanism did not necessitate turning against the KJV. In the introduction of the book he labels himself as "King James only," but he immediately clarifies in the next sentence that "we should not claim that this translation was given by inspiration, or that this translation is somehow preserved or inerrant." Hymers defines Ruckmanism in his work as follows:
Ruckmanism is the belief that the KJV translation is given by inspiration of God; the translation itself is preserved, and this translation is superior to and corrects the Greek and Hebrew Bible from which it was translated.
Hymers also made the following remarks which complement his definition of Ruckmanism:
Ruckmanism takes the honors assigned to the original Greek and Hebrew and places them upon the King James translation. The honors of inspiration, preservation, inerrancy, and revelation are assigned to the King James Version rather than strictly to the Hebrew and Greek. Historic Christianity has never done this. It is a tenant of Ruckmanism.
As to Ruckman mocking the originals because we do not have them, whereas we have the KJV, Hymers points out the following:
The fact is, plain and simple, that there is no original copy of the King James Bible. The original text of the King James Bible, which was delivered to the typesetters, has been lost. Ruckman has no original text! … In his book Differences in the King James Version Editions, Ruckman unwittingly shows that edition after edition of the KJV had to be "corrected." Now why did each of these editions have to be corrected if each of them was the inerrant Word of God in English as Ruckman claims? How can an edition that needs to be corrected be without error? … Ruckman himself is not sure when this final "correct" edition came out. In some places he seems to say that it came out in 1769. In other places he indicates 1813 or 1852. No one can say. Ruckman has no originals. Ruckman has no Bible. Ruckman is in the same position he accuses us of being in!
In the booklet Hymers writes some well-documented sections about Ruckman being wrong on salvation, guessing the time of the rapture, demonism, and various other matters for which Ruckman is known.
We will end this brief review of Hymer's booklet with the following insight from its author:
Fifthly, the devil receives benefit from believing that the KJV is "without proven error" by driving fundamentalism into evangelicalism. Thousands of intelligent young people will leave Ruckmanite churches and be influenced by soft evangelicalism, with its better scholarship. We are already seeing this. These young people take a few courses, realize that Ruckmanism is anti-intellectual and untrue, and so reject the King James Bible, reject fundamentalism, and become new evangelicals. A backlash against Ruckmanism drives thousands of young men into evangelicalism, young men who are lost to the cause of fundamentalism forever because of the ignorant rantings of Ruckmanite pastors and Ruckmanite Bible school teachers.
1993 Another article by the Biblical Fundamentalist
The June 1, 1993 issue of this Australian paper came out with an article by Sidney Hunter by the title “Ruckmanism—It’s Attack on the KJV.” Here we will reproduce a paragraph that is under the subtitle “The Subtlety of Ruckmanism”:
It is not hard to get sucked into Ruckmanism. A Bible reader sees problems with the modern translations. He then understands that the Westcott and Hort Greek text used in modern translations is not as reliable as the Received Text used in the KJV. He begins reading Ruckman’s literature or listening to his tapes and rightly understands that the KJV translation is superior to other translations. Ruckman then introduces him to the teaching that the KJV is an up-date on the original Hebrew and Greek and contains advanced revelation. Having been cunningly led this far, the reader accepts Ruckman’s error. At first he plans to “eat the meat and spit out the bones,” but soon he becomes a Ruckmanite.
1994 – Booklet by David Cloud
In 1994 David Cloud put out a booklet by the title What About Ruckman? which has been revised and expanded in several subsequent editions. For a booklet of its size it is one of the most comprehensive and is relatively well-documented. It refutes a variety of Ruckmanite teachings with sound arguments. The author is a defender of the KJV, so this helps not to turn away those who need to read it most.
Although he does a remarkable job exposing Ruckman, the booklet has some issues which I believe hamper its effectiveness. In his effort to expose Ruckman but not at the cost of lowering one's confidence in the KJV, Cloud seems to go overboard into territory that some might consider to be semi-Ruckmanism. Notice how he answers the pointed question: "When the AV says one thing and the Received Text says another, which one is your authority?" on p. 44 of his 2004 4th edition of his booklet:
These statements are blatant lies [an accusation that his is not a King James man]. The AV is my authority. My writings definitely do not contain "corrected passages from the original Greek." That is pure unadulterated nonsense, and the man who wrote those lies will answer for them one day. Further, I don't see that there are contradictions between the Received Text and the AV. If someone asks what edition of the Received Text do I believe is perfect, my answer is the King James Bible edition of the Received Text is perfect.
Ruckman promoter Herb Evans recognized the above type of statements by Cloud for what it is, and came to the following conclusion:
Now, David Cloud says that we should choose the Greek that matches the KJB in these cases. You know — correct the Greek with the English. I thought only Dr. Peter Ruckman did that???
(Evan, Herb. “Inspiration In Retrospect” The Flaming Torch http://www.theflamingtorch.org/archives/2007/INSPIRATION%20IN%20RETROSPECT.htm)
Concerning Cloud's position that if there is a difference between the KJV and any certain edition of the Received Text the KJV should be followed, D.A. Waite had the following to say:
This taking of the KJB over the Received Text is a dangerous position which is taken by Peter Ruckman and his followers. David Cloud states that he is not one of Ruckman's followers, but I do not think he should side with Ruckman in this area. (A Critical Answer to Michael Sproul's God's Word Preserved, p. 73)
Although Cloud should be commended for saying, "But I don't believe the King James Bible was given by inspiration of God. I don't believe the KJV is given by inspiration of God in the way that the original writings were" he often states that the KJV is inspired without the above disclaimer, which can lead others to confusion.
Cloud also expressed his view on page 46 in his booklet which was supposed to be against Ruckmanism that the KJV is the final authority for foreign translations:
I founded a project in Nepal to translate the Bible into the Nepali language. The New Testament has been completed, and the Old Testament is in progress. One of the principles I established for that project was that the translation would be from the KJV. The translators could use various tools to dig into the meaning of the AV, but the final authority would be the KJV itself and not some lexicon or commentary. Absolutely no textual departures from the KJV would be allowed. That has always been my position.
Although Cloud may not have meant it to be so, the following observation seems overly soft:
Let me say that all men who appreciate Peter Ruckman are not quarrelsome church splitters. I know several gracious Christian gentlemen who appreciate Dr. Ruckman. They appreciate the fact that the man stands boldly for an infallible Bible in a confused, wicked hour. They appreciate the fact that he has stirred up the pot and caused many to look at the Bible version issue. They are willing to overlook his problems.
While I have no personal quarrel with any man who takes such a position, the bottom line for me is this: I don't believe an extreme position on an issue is a blessing to that issue, and I don't believe a mean-spirited defense of the truth furthers the truth.
The part I believe is overly soft in the above statement is Cloud's position that he has no personal quarrel with a man who appreciates Ruckman and is willing to overlook his problems. I believe this exact apathy by Ruckman followers is what keeps Ruckman going. Ruckman thrives on such support, and even remarked, "I have always had enough Bible believers to respect me to keep me happy and satisfied." (Bible Believers' Bulletin Reprint #7 Strictly Personal. 2004, p. 131)
With all negatives aside, we shall proceed to quote some valuable statements from the booklet that are worth noting. As to readers enjoying Ruckman's carnal writings, Cloud offers the following insight:
Enjoying Ruckman because he "gets after those Bible perverters" is the same carnal spirit as enjoying a good dog fight when the dog you have betted on is the biggest, meanest one around. "Sic 'em, Pete, sic 'em!" It is entertaining, and it is immensely satisfying to the flesh, but God says bitter envying and strife is earthly, sensual, devilish. God says heavenly wisdom is peaceable, gentle and full of mercy.
As to the "winning souls" smokescreen used by Ruckman and his followers, Cloud observed:
…he rarely shows any mercy or kindness whatsoever in his critique of others. Come now! And since when does "winning souls" excuse one's sin and error? Many of those in "the Alexandrian cult," that Dr. Ruckman criticizes and calls all sorts of names, win souls. Billy Graham wins souls. Oral Roberts win souls. Does this mean they are beyond criticism?
1997 – Book by Chris McHugh
In 1997 Chris McHugh issued a small book by the title Secrets of the King James Cult. It consisted mostly of letters he receieved from Ruckman and a few others. It contained little of substance, and seemed to be put together in a haphazard manner. He went on all sorts of rabbit trails, such as calling Jack Chick a "voodoo-possessed devil" on p. 89. Much of the strangeness of his 1998 book which we review next also apply to this book. At the end of the book he lists some unusual products for sale, such as a belt buckle with an icon he describes as follows: "Prophecy of the Second War in Heaven Ancient Icon depicting the Victory of the Blond, Angelic God-Man over the demonic beastman."
1998 – Second book by Chris McHugh
In 1998 a quaint 180-page book was published in the Philippines by the title Fallacies of Ruckmanism, which transcribes a lecture given ten years prior. We knew the book would be odd the moment we set our eyes on the author’s name on the front cover: “Lord Christopher Brendan McHugh, Polymath, Poor Knights of Christ.”
McHugh claims to have been a charter member of a Ruckmanite church around 1982. He also states that when he was involved in Ruckmanism he owned a number of Ruckman’s major works and commentaries, he disposed of them as follows: “I dug a hole in my backyard, threw all his book, tapes and commentaries into it, and burned them to ashes.” In the “About the Author” section at the back of the book it stated he presently served “as founding Prior of our Religious Military and monastic Order.” He continues describing how he lived in the Far East for several years, including for quite some time in a bamboo-type native dwelling. With this background, which appears to have taken place shortly before the book was written, he continues:
But this former humble existence without electrical power, television, radio, or other such “modern” distractions provided an extremely conducive environment in which to undertake an intensive study of Yoga, or Eastern Religion. After several years of great effort he achieved the mystical, transcendental state known as Samadhi, by an act of will, leading to the opening of the Wisdom-eye. Lord McHugh, however, became dissatisfied solely with Eastern religion and was moved in mysterious ways by the Spirit to re-examine his original Western, Christian, Apocalyptic Roots.
The weirdness of the author caused me difficulty in taking him seriously. The fact that he admitted the following on page 100 also demonstrates how unscholarly the book really is: “All quotes pertaining to Dr. Ruckman’s works, unless otherwise indicated, are taken entirely from memory.” In spite of the book's shortcomings and its eccentric author, we will make a few observations. On the second page of his book, McHugh defines Ruckmanism as follows:
Ruckmanism is, among other things, the belief, that the King James Version of the Bible is an inspired product, containing "advanced revelations"; outside of the Inspired Canon of Scripture.
In the book he warns that Ruckmanism had been steadily growing in Christian Fundamental circles over the years, largely unchecked. In solidarity with the view of R.L Hymers, McHugh holds to the controversial belief that Ruckman’s theories were delivered to him by demons (p. 11). A possible carryover from his Ruckmanite days is his attitude that Fundamentalists who embraced the Westcott & Hort textual position were “apostate.” (p. 11)
The most blatant inconsistency noticed in the book is a contradiction in the author's position as to whether the KJV is infallible. On page 43 he takes the following personal position which strongly implies infallibility: “Now I personally believe that the KJV is an exact, reproduction, in the English language, of the original autographs that God intended for us to have.” This contradicts his view reflected by the following question on page 114: “If the A.V. (Authorized Version) 1611 is INFALLIBLE, then why were numerous revisions and WORD CHANGES made to its text?” This inconsistency did not go unnoticed by his critics, and he even reproduces a letter on page 121 in which this was pointed out to him!
McHugh includes a section in which he explains in simple terms the history of ultradispensationalism and the possible link between Cornelius Stam, J. C. O’Hair, E.W. Bullinger and Ruckman. This aspect as relating to the men whose views may have influenced Ruckman regarding different plans of salvation is not covered in any other material on Ruckmanism of which this author is aware.
It is our opinion that this book as well as his previous one from 1997 did little good due to some inconsistent positions of the author, his eccentricity, and his unscholarly methods of research. They were both printed in the Philippines, and it seems that few copies made it to the United States where Ruckmanism is more of an issue.
Although at first glance it might seem that much material has been written against Ruckmanism, a closer look reveals that it was "too little, too late." For example, it took 24 years from the time Ruckman wrote his first book until the first book-length critique of Ruckmanism was published. Warnings before Gary Hudson's 1988 book were in short articles or small booklets, some which may have had limited circulation. Even Hudson's book has been out of print for several years, and it took us a couple years of searching to locate a copy. This leads us to our concluding thought:
One must wonder whether, if fundamentalists (who are sometimes criticized for being too intolerant) had responded with zeal and vigor in the early stages of the corruption of Bibliology that has become Ruckmanism, the current division and deviance brought about by the movement could have been stopped.
Jarman, Jerry C. (2004) The Theology of the King James Only Movement.[Electronic version] Doctoral Dissertation, Bob Jones University. (Theological Research Exchange Network No. 003-0136) (p. 268)
If you know of other articles, pamphlets or books not mentioned here containing a substantial refutation of Ruckmanism (especially in its earlier stages), please leave us a note in the comments section. Please do not include internet articles.