Peter Sturges Ruckman (November 19, 1921 – April 21, 2016) was an independent Baptist pastor, teacher, author, artist, musician and founder of Pensacola Bible Institute in Pensacola, Florida. He was well known for his brand of “King James-Onlyism” – perhaps better known for his vitriolic approach in its defense. Two authors examining his claims wrote, “Ruckman is without any doubt the most caustic and abusive among King James-Only partisans.”[i] The Bible Baptist Bookstore refer to Ruckman’s writings as “Truth With An Attitude” rather than “mean spirited.” His obituary yields the interesting fact that “He was lead to the Lord by a Baptist preacher, Bro. Hugh Pyle” (an associate of John R. Rice).
Peter Ruckman’s teachings are full or errors that far exceed his position on the Bible. He insulted others that he mocked as scholars and positioned himself as the sole arbiter of the truth. Concerning the Bible itself and the King James Bible in particular he taught “double inspiration” and “advanced revelation.”
Insults and attacks
- “Every major, recognized Christian scholar in this century is an habitual, chronic, intentional, pathological LIAR (Gen. 3:1).”[ii]
- “Every time I consult the best Christian brains of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century I am forced to conclude that the scholar is just as rotten as a dead shrimp in the sunlight or as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, or….else he is simply ‘out of his skull’ because he hasn’t got any brains in it. I hate to keep calling them ‘LIARS’, but they do lie like a Persian rug and lie more consistently than the sun coming up in the morning. I do not like to call them ‘jackasses’, although they meet the Biblical qualifications (Job 11:12) many times, by their comments; and I do not like to refer to them as ‘cloned robots’, although that is EXACTLY what their writings reveal.”[iii]
Double inspiration and advanced revelation
Double inspiration and advanced revelation do not mean the same thing, yet are two sides of one coin.
Double inspiration is a little tricky to nail down, since it is more likely to be defined by those who disagree with it than those who agree.[iv] Double inspiration is the idea that God inspired the translators in the same manner that he inspired the original writers of the Scriptures, or that God gave the words of the translation “by inspiration.” For practical purposes, double inspiration is the idea that God inspired the translators of the King James Bible in the same manner that he inspired the original writers of the Scriptures.
It is hard to find definitive quotes from Ruckman on double inspiration,[v] but the following from the Bible Believers’ Bulletin (January 2008, page 9) uses the terminology:
- “The first time they were ‘inspired’ was in the Hebrew language, and the next time (‘double!’) they were inspired again in the New Testament ‘original autographs’! They were inspired in a different language, and many times the translations did NOT match ‘the original Hebrew’ or the ‘original Old Testament manuscript’ or ‘the Hebrew text’.”
- He also writes, “The King James Bible was ‘given by inspiration of God.’”[vi]
Advanced revelation can also be tricky to define. Yet it is stated more plainly than double inspiration in the writings of Peter Ruckman. Advanced revelation is truth not revealed by God until a later date, in the case of Ruckman’s teaching it is that the King James Bible contains advanced information or revelation not found in the Greek and Hebrew from whence it came.
- “There are more than forty-five advanced revelations in a King James Bible that no Hebrew or Greek scholar was able to find in any set of Greek manuscripts, in any translation of any Hebrew text, for any version in any language, published by anyone who rejected the AV as the final and infallible authority.”[vii]
- “Maybe the Lord doesn’t want you to have the exact force of the original. Maybe he wants you to have the exact force of the English!...If I had the originals right here in my pulpit tonight, I wouldn’t teach them to you—and I mean it.”[viii]
- “Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation!”[ix]
- “A short handbook, such as this, will not permit an exhaustive account of the marvelous undesigned ‘coincidences’ which have slipped through the A.V. 1611 committees, unawares to them, and which give advanced light, and advanced revelation beyond the investigation of the greatest Bible students 300 years later.”[x]
Evasion and equivocation
Ruckman evades uncomfortable issues with “Who cares?” Asked about English-speakers having access to the word of God before 1611: “What version of the Bible was the inerrant, infallible, inspired translation prior to the AV1611?” Answer: Who cares? Ask the people that read it.”[xi] Asked about the translators own recognition that they were not inspired: “Who cares what the King James translators thought about their work?”[xii] The fact that someone asked the question shows they both think and care.
KJV vs. Ruckmanism
Now that we have examined some of the views of Peter Ruckman on the Bible, someone might ask, “Who cares?” We care because Ruckmanite doctrines of double inspiration and advanced revelation deny plain truths taught in the Scripture.
Advanced revelation denies the truth of preservation of the word. The Psalmist wrote, “Forever, O Lord, thy words are settled in heaven.” Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31; cf. Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Luke 21:33; Isaiah 40:8). If the words of scripture were lost and had to be “re-revealed” in 1611, then Jesus did not fulfill his promise of preserving his word. “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalms 12:6-7). The doctrine of preservation is a crucial companion of inspiration. Preservation means that God sovereignly oversaw the process of the transmission his words over the centuries.[xiii] Because of preservation we can trust the Scriptures. An inspired Bible that is not preserved would be of little consequence to us living today – or those living in any period![xiv]
Double inspiration confounds the biblical meaning of inspiration. Without question, the original human authors of the Bible received divine revelation directly from God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16) and “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). The product was inerrant, infallible, pure words of truth from God. Ruckmanism.org points out that “when human translators translate, the divine act of the Holy Spirit breathing out words does not take place. No double or secondary inspiration takes place when human translators do their work because they are not being inspired in the process as were the Biblical writers.” Double inspiration further confuses the “closed” nature of the process of revelation – “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The Old Testament and New Testament authors were inspired. The translators did not claim this type of inspiration for themselves.[xv] (They did accurately translate the Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek scriptures into the English language.)
King James Bible supporters must be aware that the teachings of Peter Ruckman and his followers sound like what we believe – they sound like they support our views. His view is no sound support of the King James Bible. It perverts the true doctrine of inspiration and preservation and supplants it with cleverly disguised falsehood. Beware! The words of the LORD are pure words.
[i] One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible, Roy E. Beacham and Kevin T. Bauder, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001, p. 47
[ii] The Christian Liar’s Library, Peter S. Ruckman, Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1997, p. 212
[iii] The Books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Philemon, Peter S. Ruckman, Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2005, p. 95
[iv] Many adherents of “Ruckmanism” avoid or deny the term “double inspiration.”
[v] One of Ruckman’s followers writes, “I not only believe in DOUBLE inspiration [which the NEW Athenians reject], but, also, I believe in TRIPLE INSPIRATION. I believe that God not only inspired the writers in the original languages, but also the New Testament writers when they TRANSLATED the Hebrew passages into the Greek, and the translators of the Authorized Version as they made their selection of English words.” – The New Athenians, James H. Son, Lubbock, TX: Praise Publishing, 1992, p. 25
[vi] The Christian’s Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, Peter S. Ruckman, Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, pp. 271-272
[vii] Bible Believers’ Bulletin, Peter S. Ruckman, December 2005, p. 13
[viii] A Survey of the Authorized Version, Peter S. Ruckman, Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1978/2003, p. 17
[x] Ibid., p. 127
[xi] “Strictly Personal,” Peter S. Ruckman, Bible Believers’ Bulletin Reprint, Vol. 7. 2004, p. 251
[xii] The Pastoral Epistles: I & II Timothy, Peter S. Ruckman, Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1989, p. 446
[xiii] Preservation is the process by which God kept the Scriptures since their original inspiration. Preservation applies to the copying of scripture and making translations.
[xiv] I believe a Bible succession is necessary for the Lord to keep his promise of Matthew 28:18-20, as well as for the church to fulfill the commission of Matthew 28:18-20, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Cf. Matthew 16:18)