November 19, 1921 |
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
|Residence||Pensacola, Florida, U.S.|
Peter Sturges Ruckman (born November 19, 1921) is an American Independent Baptist pastor. He is also the founder of the Pensacola Bible Institute (not to be confused with Pensacola Christian College), an unaccredited school in Pensacola, Florida.
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Peter Ruckman is a son of Colonel John Hamilton Ruckman (1888–1966) and a grandson of General John Wilson Ruckman (1858–1921). Ruckman was raised in Topeka, Kansas, attended Kansas State University, and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama.
Ruckman entered the U.S. Army in 1944 as a second lieutenant and volunteered to serve with the occupation forces in Japan. While there, Ruckman studied Zen Buddhism, and claimed to have had paranormal experiences during this period, including "the experience of nirvana, which the Zen call samadhi, the dislocation of the spirit from the body....Looking at my moral life following that experience, and my desire at times to commit suicide, I realize I had produced a passive state that was an entrance for spirits." Ruckman returned to the United States "uneasy, unsettled, full of demons." Drinking heavily, he became a disc jockey during the day and a drummer in various dance bands at night. Sometimes verging on suicide, he began to hear voices, and he met with a Jesuit priest to explore the possibility of joining the Roman Catholic Church. On March 14, 1949, Ruckman converted to Christianity after talking to evangelist Hugh Pyle in the studios of WEAR radio in Pensacola. Ruckman then attended Bob Jones University, where he received a master's degree and Ph.D. in religion.
In 1965, Ruckman founded Pensacola Bible Institute, in part because of disagreements with other institutions with regard to Biblical translations. The school is unaccredited and does not accept government funding nor participate in federal student loan programs.
Ruckman is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Pensacola, and his writings and recorded sermons are published by his Bible Baptist Bookstore. Like his father, Peter Ruckman demonstrated artistic talent early in life, and he often illustrates his sermons in chalk and pastels while preaching.
Ruckman has been married three times, with his first two marriages ending in contentious divorces. During his marriage to Janie Bess May of Sawyerville, Alabama, they had five children together. His son, P.S. Ruckman Jr., is a professor of political science at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois.
Philosophy and beliefs
King James Version supremacy
According to David G. Burke, Ruckman "presents the most extreme form of King James Onlyism," "uses the strongest language," and "presents the most strident form,". According to Roy E. Beacham and Kevin T. Bauder, Ruckman's first book on the Bible translation controversy demonstrated "unmistakable dependence" on an earlier work, James Jasper Ray, God Wrote Only One Bible (1955). Ruckman insists that the King James Version of the Bible, the "Authorized Version" ("KJV" or "A.V."), provides "advanced revelation" beyond that discernible in the underlying Textus Receptus Greek text. Arguing that the KJV is more authoritative for English speakers than the Greek and Hebrew texts, he believes the KJV represents the final authority for modern disputes about the content and meaning of the original manuscripts. For example, in his Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence, Ruckman says, "Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation!" Likewise, he advises where "the perverse Greek reads one way and the A.V. reads the other, rest assured that God will judge you at the Judgment on what you know. Since you don't know the Greek (and those who knew it, altered it to suit themselves), you better go by the A.V. 1611 text."
Ruckman distinguishes between the Textus Receptus of the KJV, and the numerically fewer manuscripts of the Alexandrian text-type underlying most modern New Testament versions. Ruckman characterizes those who endorse the latter as members of the "Alexandrian Cult" who believe that while the autographs were God-inspired, they have been lost, and that therefore his opponents believe there to be "no final, absolute written authority of God anywhere on this earth."  Ruckman also believes that the Septuagint was a hoax perpetrated by the "Alexandrian cult" under the leadership of the Church Father Origen Adamantius (as part of his Hexapla) in the 3rd century A.D. in order to subvert belief in the integrity of the Bible.
Ruckman's position on the exclusive authority of the KJV is strongly opposed by many supporters of biblical inerrancy, including signers of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy who specifically "deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs [and] further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant." The majority of those who support the King James Only movement reject Ruckman's position that the English KJV is superior to existing Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, and they also criticize Ruckman because "his writings are so acerbic, so offensive and mean-spirited that the entire movement has become identified with his kind of confrontational attitude."
Ruckman is known for his confrontational style. The website of Ruckman's press notes that although some have called his writings "mean spirited," "we refer to them as 'Truth With An Attitude.'" According to Beacham and Bauder, "Ruckman is without any doubt the most caustic and abusive among King James-Only partisans." James R. White states in his book, The King James Only Controversy, that to call Ruckman "outspoken is to engage in an exercise in understatement. Caustic is too mild a term; bombastic is a little more accurate.…There is no doubt that Peter S. Ruckman is brilliant, in a strange sort of way. His mental powers are plainly demonstrated in his books, though most people do not bother to read far enough to recognize this due to the constant stream of invective that is to be found on nearly every page. And yet his cocky confidence attracts many people to his viewpoint." Ruckman once described the New American Standard Bible as "more of the same old godless, depraved crap" On another occasion, Ruckman labeled a rival KJV-Only supporter, a "puffed up conceited ass." And although Ruckman graduated from Bob Jones University, he has referred to it as "the World's Most Unusual Hell Hole."
Ruckman believes a fetus does not become a living soul until it is born and takes its first breath. He believes in Unidentified Flying Objects and aliens, specifically blue aliens with blue blood, black aliens with green blood, and gray aliens with clear blood. Ruckman believes the Central Intelligence Agency has implanted brain transmitters in children, old people, and African-Americans and that the agency operates underground alien breeding facilities.
In 1984, Ruckman wrote, "Negroes have to be carried. Where they are left to themselves they resort to mugging, rape, slavery, dope traffic, and eventually cannibalism. In 1994, he wrote that "no matter how much integration is carried out, the IQ of blacks is always lower than whites." In 1997, Ruckman claimed that Attorney General Janet Reno had drawn up a list with his name on it and predicted that the "Government Mafia" would make a hit on him during "the next two or three years."
- Peter Ruckman, The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Press, 1990), 126; the website of David Cloud, another KJV-Only proponent, says that "For good or for bad, Peter Ruckman’s name is intertwined with the defense of the King James Bible." Cloud presents his views on Ruckman's strong beliefs regarding the KJV Bible and advanced revelation as the apex of Biblical infallibility.
- Peter Ruckman, Dr. Ruckman's Testimony (audiotape), Bible Baptist Bookstore, n.d., quoted in R. L. Hymers, Jr., The Ruckman Conspiracy (Collingswood, N. J.: The Bible for Today, 1989), 3-4, 19.
- The bookstore also sells coffee mugs featuring Ruckman's photograph and artwork. Bible Baptist Bookstore
- "John Hamilton Ruckman," at P. S. Ruckman, Jr. website.
- By his own admission, Ruckman's earlier family life was turbulent: "I have had two wives desert me after fifteen years of marriage....I have been in court custody cases where seven children's futures were held in the balance; in situations where Gospel articles were being torn out of typewriters, Biblical artwork torn off the easels, women trying to throw themselves out of cars at fifty m.p.h., mailing wedding rings back in the middle of revival services, cutting their wrists, threatening to leave if I did not give my church to their kinfolk; deacons threatening to burn down my house and beat me up; children in split custody between two domiciles two hundred miles apart, and knock-down, drag-out arguments in the home sometimes running as long as three days." Peter Ruckman, The Last Grenade (Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1990), 339.
- Website of P. S. Ruckman, Jr. Ruckman, Jr., a political scientist, provides biographies of his grandfather and great-grandfather but comparatively little information about his father except for a photograph of the rakish young man.
- David G. Burke, ed., Translation That Openeth the Window: Reflections on the History and Legacy of the King James Bible (Society of Biblical Literature, 2009), 201.
- Roy E. Beacham and Kevin T. Bauder, One Bible Only? Examining Exclusive Claims for the King James Bible (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001), 47.
- Peter Ruckman, The Christian's Handbook of Manuscript Evidence (Pensacola: Pensacola Bible Press, 1990), 126, 138.
- The "Creed of the Alexandrian Cult" in the Bible Believer's Bulletin.
- "The LXX is nothing more than a figment of someone’s imagination. The Septuagint represents PERFECTION in FRAUD, obviously intended to deceive, and cause doubt regarding the INTEGRITY of the Word of God." Septuagint hoax
- James White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1995), 1-4. White is an opponent of the KJV-Only position, but he cites such KJV-Only proponents as David Cloud. See, for instance, Cloud's website. Ruckman's position is, however, supported by Gail Riplinger.
- White, 109. Sam Schnaiter and Ron Tagliapietra, Bible Preservation and the Providence of God (Xlibris, 2002), 364.
- Bible Baptist Bookstore
- Beacham & Bauder, 47.
- James R. White, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations? (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995), 109. His invective has often been ad hominem. One of Ruckman's targets has been Stewart Custer, emeritus chair of the Bible department at BJU: "By far the most shameful and shocking thing about Stewart's work is not his lying (we would expect that) and his stupidity (we take that for granted, but we will document it for the reader); the most shocking thing was the performance of Robert Sumner (The Sword of the Lord) and Bob Jones, Jr. (BJU) in actually seriously recommending" his work. Peter S. Ruckman, Custer's Last Stand (Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1981), iii.
- Peter Ruckman, Satan's Masterpiece: the New ASV (Pensacola: Pensacola Baptist Bookstore, 1972), 67.
- Quotation from the Bible Believer’s Bulletin, November 1994.
- The Separatist (December 1984), 11. The reference is to BJU's former promotional slogan "The World's Most Unusual University".
- "I teach that a baby is not a living soul until it breathes. I'm considered a great heretic for teaching that, but then again if a man goes by the King James Bible he's bound to be a heretic these days. And so I don't teach that abortion is murder like the brethren do and for that reason I'm considered a heretic by some of the brethren...Some of the brethren get so hung up on these things you know, they say, 'Abortion is murder; abortion is murder.' They show you pictures. Well they're trying to prove, they're trying to prove that thing looks like a person, it is a person. That's what Darwin taught. You gotta watch that business."Ruckman sermon. To support his position, Ruckman cites Ezekiel 37:5, Genesis 2:7, and Job 27:3. Ruckman, Ruckman's Bible References (Pensacola: Baptist Bible Bookstore, 19970, 131.
- "Peter Ruckman, UFOs, and Daffy Duck," Christian News (August 29, 2005), 22; Peter Ruckman, Black is Beautiful (Pensacola: Bible Believers Press, 1995), 85-86, 244, 310-11.
- "Peter Ruckman, UFOs, and Daffy Duck," Christian News (August 29, 2005), 22; Peter Ruckman, Black is Beautiful (Pensacola: Bible Believers Press, 1995), 243, 256. According to Ruckman the CIA flies space ships developed from technology garnered from aliens after they were permitted to kidnap and eat children. (291, 295-97).
- Ruckman, History of the New Testament Church (Pensacola: Bible Believers Press, 1984), vol 2, Chapter 11, fn 44.9
- Ruckman, Discrimination: The Key to Sanity (Pensacola: Bible Believers Press, 15.
- Bob L. Ross quoting from Bible Believers Bulletin, May 1997.
- Ed Barclay, What about Peter Ruckman? wide-ranging fundamentalist criticism of Ruckman and "Ruckmanism."
- David Cloud, "What about Ruckman?" criticism of Ruckman by another KJV-Only proponent.
- Calvin George, "The Danger of Ruckmanism as Applied to Foreign Language Bibles".
- Jeffery Khoo, "Non-Ruckmanite Answers to Anti-KJV Questions"
- Samuel Gipp, What is a Ruckmanite? defense of Ruckman.
- James White, "A Response To Dr. Ruckman".
- James White, "The Ruckman-White Correspondence".