Ruckmanism(Extreme KJV Only-ism) Explained and Found Wanting
There is a fringe of professing Bible believers who hold the King James version of the Bible (which is an excellent translation of the Bible by the way) with a regard that is inappropriate and ridiculous. This regard is a false holiness which doesn’t actually help anyone believe and walk in the truth of the Bible. The man who popularized this inappropriate and ridiculous regard for the King James Bible, if he did not start it himself as well, also actually twisted the Bible and taught false doctrines which are opposed to the Bible in many other ways too. That man is Peter Ruckman who pastored Bible Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, founded Pensacola Bible Institute, and lived from 1921 to 2016.
Peter Ruckman was undoubtedly a man of high intelligence who had read extremely much. One description that the Bible gives of false teachers who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof applies especially well to Ruckman.
2 Timothy 3:7: “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Ruckmanism is essentially the following teachings and conclusions:
The King James Version of the Bible translation is inspired by God (and that’s not just a reference to the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts that the King James Version was translated from, but even to the translation itself. This is the doctrine of double inspiration which is the foundation of Ruckmanism.
Moreover, Ruckman taught that English is the universal language which God intended to give His perfect word in. Therefore, the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts were really just a bridge to arrive at the King James translation of 1611 (Ruckman did indeed call English “the universal language.”)
And thus the King James version of the Bible is better than the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts from which the King James version is translated from (that is, the English in the KJV corrects the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts)!
It is never right then to reference Hebrew and Greek manuscripts when trying to come to the best understanding possible of any Biblical text.
And those who have lived since the King James Version of the Bible was made (1611) have greater Biblical light available to them than those who lived before that.
Any apparent error in the King James translation is simply greater light and revelation correcting past imperfections in the original language texts.
Everyone on earth then should learn to speak English in order to be able to read the King James Version of the Bible.
It is logically wrong then to ever think the translators of the King James Version could have even used a better word in any place. And it would also be wrong to ever use a modern word instead of an archaic word as one reads from the Bible (even if it is undoubtedly a modern equivalent of the archaic word used in the King James version).
Again, I emphasize the preceding statements are according to Ruckmanism.
Ruckman also had other strange beliefs, including that three quarters of the Bible deals with beyond 1998.
Peter Ruckman was also an angry, furious man. And that is not dealing with those rare occasions where anger might be appropriate in upholding righteousness. It is speaking of his basic character and his normal mode of operating. This is self-evident for those familiar with him. All that Ruckman could do with the obviousness of this was try to say that he was speaking for God against the (real or alleged) error and corruption which he was trying to come against at the particular moment. The Bible gives the following warning about regularly being around an angry person, and that would especially include listening to a preacher who cannot even restrain his anger.
Proverbs 22:24-25: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”
Ruckman’s followers, as well as Ruckman himself, are notoriously angry. I even know someone who had a Ruckman book and he confessed to me that he got angry every time he read from it. That’s not a rare thing. A carnal preacher can draw carnal people for reasons which justify and foster the people’s own carnality. A carnal preacher will also corrupt the undiscerning who are impressed with them and do not discern their (the preacher’s) carnality. Ruckman in his preaching also reminds me of a slick lawyer, a shrewd businessman, and a cunning used car salesman. He certainly would impress carnal and undiscerning people for these reasons too. He had the type of personality and preaching style which would tend to make people love him or hate him quickly based upon these things. It would thus be easy to not critically examine what he actually said for these reasons. This is surely related to why the Apostle Paul sought to not be an impressive orator and sought to not sound unnecessarily clever in his preaching of the Gospel. Not only did he not want to turn people from Christ for bad reasons, he also didn’t want people to profess Christ in relation to a carnal admiration for him as a preacher.
Peter Ruckman should not be regarded as a spiritual authority about anything, not only because of his own obvious carnality, but also because his own doctrine was blatantly false in relation to even the most foundational matters of Christianity.
Ruckman’s theology was Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a theology which is prevalent in many Baptist and non-denominational churches, though not limited to these of course. Dispensationalism overreaches regarding the distinction between the Old Covenant which God made with Israel and the New Covenant which God made with the New Testament church. It discounts that the earliest Christians were Jews who operated on the foundation stones of the Jewish Scriptures (and it also discounts that the Jews who rejected Christ did so because they did not heed, and were not obedient to their own Scriptures). It doesn’t take into account that the New Covenant was also made with the house of Israel. There is thus not a separate covenant for Israel as a nation now. Rather, gentiles who believe in Christ have been grafted into the house of Israel; while Jews who reject Christ as their Messiah are cut off from the New Covenant with the house of Israel (Romans chapter 11 so beautifully and clearly illustrates this). This shows how the New Covenant God made with Israel is also the Covenant which He made with the New Testament church. The greatest significance of this error is that Jesus and the Apostles referenced the moral principles of the Law of God given in the Law of Moses as Christian righteousness, based upon the eternal moral law of God. Jesus and the Apostles also illustrated salvation by grace through faith using Old Testament examples and people. A great evil of Dispensationalism then is that it does not provide a faithful reference for righteous Christian living since it removes the force of the moral principles of the Law of God as a definite reference for this. It also gives a potential distinction between saving faith in Christ and practical obedience to Christ which involves faithful living before Him, while the Bible does not make such a distinction. Genuine saving faith in Christ is obedient to Him for who He is (He is the Lord and Savior- the Passover Lamb must be totally eaten for the Passover blood to deliver from God’s judgment). The evil concept that Jesus can be your Savior while not really being honored and followed as Lord is fostered by Dispensational heresy. Closely connected here is OSAS (once saved, always saved doctrine or unconditional eternal security) which the Bible repeatedly teaches contrary to. OSAS is a logical outcome of Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism was popularized through the Scofield Reference Bible which came out in the early twentieth century.
Ruckman indeed disregarded Biblical illustrations like the Passover Lamb which prove that Jesus must be received for all that He is (Lord and Savior; Prophet, Priest, and King) in order for one to have an interest in His atoning blood. Ruckman boldly and blatantly taught antinomian heresy (that is, a lawless gospel) and said that getting to heaven meant choosing to trust Jesus to forgive you by His death on the cross while Ruckman also boldly and blatantly taught that receiving Jesus has nothing to do with turning from sin, obeying God through being subject to Jesus’ Lordship, or even confessing sin for that matter. He blatantly taught the heresy of the imputed righteousness of Christ, saying that when God looks at a wretched, unholy man like Peter Ruckman He sees Jesus Christ’s own personal righteousness! Yes, that’s right. Ruckman taught the heresy that God sees Jesus Christ when he looks at one who has trusted in Christ (by Ruckman’s own corrupt definition of trusting in Christ)- and he even blatantly taught that one can be a Christian while being an unholy, profane, disobedient, unrepentant sinner! It cannot get any worse than that (and that is a common, common evangelical heresy).
Though Ruckman came off as if he were an authority on Biblical forgiveness and imputed righteousness, he proved himself to be anything but that. When the Bible speaks about righteousness being imputed to a person, it is speaking of God forgiving them and justifying them by Christ’s blood through the person’s own living faith in the true God (which if it is a really a living faith has turned into the way of holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes). And contrary to Dispensationalist doctrine and theology, the very Biblical basis for imputed righteousness stems from Old Testament men like Abraham and David regarding their obedient lives where righteousness reigned, sin was put away, and they were presently worshiping God in spirit and in truth as the Bible requires for anyone who would be regarded as a worshiper of the true God who is in in His grace. Romans chapter four indeed references them in teaching about imputed righteousness. It speaks of God not imputing sin to the faithful. It does not speak of speak of a person cleansing a person by Christ’s blood and God seeing Jesus Christ when He looks upon them (the doctrine of double imputation- ironically, Ruckman’s great errors are related to the false doctrines of double imputation and double inspiration- we could call these his double devilish doctrines).
Romans chapter four in its context is an elaboration of what is said in the closing verse of Romans chapter three. Romans 3:31: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
Paul goes on to prove in Romans chapter four that a person need not be physically circumcised in order for God to impute righteousness to them (that is, to forgive them through Jesus Christ whom even the people in the Old Testament who were saved through due to the anticipation of His eventual atoning death which God had promised since Genesis chapter 3 when He told the serpent that the seed of the woman would bruise his head while the serpent would bruise the seed of the woman’s heel).
Paul did not say (in Romans 4 or anywhere else) that a person could be forgiven as a persistent, disobedient, unholy sinner like Ruckman and the lawless gospel preachers would have us believe. Paul rather taught that a living, obedient faith is the foundation for being justified in God’s eyes (in terms of having Christ’s atoning blood applied to them), that such a faith can be in one who is not physically circumcised, and that physical circumcision only had significance in those who had come to such a faith in their hearts (that is, those who are circumcised in their hearts). Abraham was circumcised at heart before he was physically circumcised because he had a faith which corresponded with what circumcision signified when God commanded it of Abraham (and that is the resolve to believe and trust God, and to quickly do what He says as a result of this even unto suffering and reproach). Abraham had such a faith when he was circumcised in Genesis chapter 17 and he maintained it so that he offered up Isaac at God’s command in Genesis chapter 22 (many years later).
James 2:19-24: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
You see how by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. It must stem from a repentant, obedient heart towards the true God. Ritualism, self-reform, and other attempts to earn God’s favor cannot save someone. Ruckman was setting up a strawman when he spoke of such things as the opposition to his lawless gospel of easy-believe-ism and unconditional eternal security.
The reference to righteousness being imputed to David in Romans chapter four is from Psalm 32. It proves Ruckman as a liar when he says that confession of sin has nothing to do with salvation; and it proves that acceptable confession of sin in God’s eyes must mean forsaking it and being subject to the authority of His Word.
Psalm 32: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh (near- Ruckman wouldn’t like my using a more modern word to clarify the King James Version like I just did)) unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah (Selah is a Hebrew word by the way- the King James translators didn’t even try to translate this word into English; they had enough humility to know they didn’t know the best English word for every Hebrew and Greek word). I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”
David also wrote in Psalm 66:18: “If I regard iniquity (lawlessness) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
John 9:31: “Now we know (the man who said this said it based on the principles of God’s Law which Jesus warned not to think He came to destroy) that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.”
Ruckman boldly and blatantly taught the false, deadly, and silly doctrine that one must confess their sins to have fellowship with God, but that salvation is a separate matter of “trusting in Jesus Christ.”
Dare I risk going into the realm of insults and invectives which Ruckman dwelt in by calling him a major fool to teach such? On the contrary, the Bible puts being in God’s grace and possessing eternal life as inseparable from being properly related to Him in fellowship. We must walk in the light of His Word to be in fellowship with Him; and to be in fellowship with others who are in fellowship with Him.
John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Proverbs 28:13: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
See especially also 1 John 1:6 to 1 John 2:6.
On the other hand, Ruckman was so blatant in his doctrines of easy-believe-ism and unconditional eternal security that he taught that after someone has said the prayer “to trust Jesus for salvation”, they could not fail to go to heaven even if afterwards they decided they didn’t even want to go to heaven at all.
By Ruckman’s logic, even the most famous occultist, Pagan, hedonist, and anti-Christian Aleister Crowley would be in heaven now if he had said that supposedly magical sinner’s prayer at some point (and Crowley was raised in an evangelical household by the way- so he might have said the prayer).
And no wonder that the time I talked to a few guys who had actually gone to Ruckman’s Pensacola Bible Institute (they had renounced him as a teacher and renounced his doctrine by that point) they spoke of the great deception they had been involved in and described the mindset logical end of the OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved) doctrine which they had been taught at Ruckman’s school with the phrase “you couldn’t go to hell if you tried.”
How can someone then be wrong about such obvious things and still be a spiritual authority on anything, let alone be trusted in the outrageous claims he has made in trying to turn the King James version of the Bible into something which it is not? They cannot be trusted.
The burden of proof is on the one making such claims to prove them. Ruckman did not do that. The translators of the King James Version never even claimed to be inspired by God in doing their translation of the Bible. In fact, we have no good reason to believe that Peter Ruckman would have regarded them well at all if he had lived in their time.
We can indeed gain better Biblical insight regarding many passages by consulting the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
There were obviously several occasions in which the KJV translators could have used more accurate words and phrases (and we even saw an example of a time where they did not even try to put a word from a Hebrew manuscript into English; “amen” is a word from the Greek manuscripts which they carried over and didn’t try translating into English).
People can and do come to Christ, and people can and do serve Him faithfully even though they do not know English and cannot read from the King James Bible.
It is appropriate, and not wrong, to use words like “believes” instead of “believeth” and to make other such substitutions where more modern language can be used that takes nothing away from the clear meaning of the text in the King James versions.
Ruckman’s outrageous claims regarding the King James Version are all the more dangerous because the King James Version of the Bible is probably still, to this very day, the best English translation of the Bible available. There is a greater amount of manuscripts from the Hebrew Masoretic text and the Greek Textus Receptus streams of manuscripts (which the King James version is derived from) than the manuscripts from the other streams of manuscripts which modern English translations have come from. There is also a poetic quality to the King James Version which in my opinion is noticeable and very good.
To go to the ridiculous lengths which Ruckmanism goes to in order to promote the King James version is unnecessary, ridiculous, and involves falsehood.
To say that the modern versions are inferior to the King James version in every way, at every passage, is false and doesn’t get to the real reasons why people should really beware of modern versions.
To say that we shouldn’t analyze the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts potentially robs us of valuable insight- especially related to the manuscript streams which the King James Version comes from which have such proven reliability due to the amount of manuscripts which exist in them, regarding how they agree so well, and regarding how far back in history some are known to date from (and remember, Ruckmanites say we shouldn’t even consult the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts which the King James Version itself is derived from).
To say that we cannot update the King James Version with modern language makes understanding the Bible harder than it needs to be for some at times (though I also think many exaggerate that difficulty in many instances and/or say it exists when it doesn’t at all with certain passages).
Yet a key problem with many versions which are supposed to be about updating the King James Version in terms of language is that they use an altogether less reliable manuscript stream, or they perhaps attempt other unwarranted innovations (and let us know if you know of one which you believe does not).
The corruptions of many Bible versions are so potentially dangerous precisely because they water down key Bible doctrines, tear at true Biblical holiness, and help people better think they are secure from God’s wrath while they live in sin- and these are all things which the extreme KJV-Only people do anyways by the doctrine that they preach! They don’t even need a corrupted Bible version to teach wicked things! They twist and ignore so much from the King James Version to accomplish the same thing which the corruption in modern Bible versions potentially accomplishes.
Matthew 9:13 in the King James Version: “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Matthew 9:13 in the Revised Standard Version (and other versions from less reliable manuscript streams) makes a key omission: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Note that “to repentance” is omitted in the latter version.
But what if you twist the Bible’s definition of repentance like Ruckman’s followers or what if you in any way don’t uphold Biblical repentance in your church, your witness, and/or in your own life? In that case you’re nothing more than a contentious stickler, a sinner arguing with others about a Bible passage which is only even more a witness against you if you are right in your contention. No one cannot defend the Bible well while practically promoting disobedience to it.
Ezekiel 18:30-32: “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
Aaron’s email is: [email protected]