Ruckmanism or Wreckmanism
The Teaching That KJV Translaters Were Inspired Is Dangerous

By G.B. Fisher

Ruckmanism is a little-known system of teaching that has been formulated by Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, head of the Pensacola Bible Institute in Pensacola, Florida. This teaching is basically Baptistic and dispensational, but with some radical twists that set it apart as an unorthodox position.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Mr. Ruckman received his B.A. degree from the University of Alabama in 1944. His early religious connections were with the Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches, the latter which he prepared to join in 1949.That year marked his conversion to Christ and he pursued Christian training at Bob Jones University. After completion of his studies there he accepted a pastorate of a Baptist Church in Pensacola. In 1959, he was divorced from his wife and subsequently married the wife of one of his students, a matter that has brought personal criticism from some Christian leaders.

It is Ruckman's unique position on the King James Version, however, that has brought him the greatest opposition. In the past decade the attention of conservative writers has been centered upon what group of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament most accurately represents the original text. A number of Christian writers favor what is known as the Byzantine text type, the basic text used in the translation of the king James Version. For this reason they believe that the Authorized Version represents the best possible translation of the New Testament into English. English-speaking Christian, they claim, should use the King James Version exclusively because it alone gives us more accurately the Word of God in our English tongue. Ruckman agrees with this but goes even further. He regards the translators of the Authorized Version as having been "inspired" by the Holy Spirit in their translating work, therefore making their more accurate than any Greek text of the New Testament now in existence. Thus the K.J.V. becomes for Ruckman and his followers the only possible translation acceptable for use by God's people today.

The elevation of the King James Version to the level of an "inspired" and therefore "infallible" translation is a serious error, for it goes beyond what the facts themselves warrant and leads Ruckman to conclusions that ultimately damage the authority of God's original words written by his inspired Apostles. In the first place it means that Ruckman is forced to defend questionable and even erroneous translations made by the King James translators. One such questionable translation is the use of the term Easter in Acts 12:4. In his COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF ACTS, he acknowledges that the words "after Easter" in the A.V. are used to translate the Greek words "after the Passover." Since Easter is a term adopted several centuries ago by Christianity to refer to the time of Christ resurrection, it is not strictly accurate to designate the Passover as Easter. What especially bothers some Christians about the use of the term "Easter" for "Passover" is the fact that Easter was derived from the name of a pagan goddess "Eastre" whose festival was celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox - the same basic season as the Passover and the celebration of the resurrection. Therefore to use this term of pagan origin when the Greek text simply reads "Passover" leads many Christians to feel that the A.V. should be corrected at this point. However, Ruckman's position will not allow him to alter one single word in the Authorized Version. He therefore defends the King James use of "Easter" by insisting that the Holy Spirit personally directed and inspired the translators to use this term. He writes: "AFTER EASTER (vs.4). The Holy Spirit has thrust Himself into the A.V. committee of 1611 and said 'WRITE' ..." (pp 335f).

Ruckman goes even further, however, and defends the A.V.'s errors as additional revelation. In his book, THE CHRISTIAN'S HANDBOOK OF MANUSCRIPTS EVIDENCE (1970) he has a chapter entitled, "Correcting the Greek with the English". In it he actually defends the K.J.V. translation of "churches" in Acts 19:37 when every known Greek manuscript has the word "temples". He justifies this rendering with the startling assertion that "Mistakes in the A.V. 1611 are advanced revelation" (p 126). This makes the A.V. better than the original Greek upon which it is based. In his book PROBLEM TEXTS, he asserts that 'the K.J.V. English rendering is so perfect that Acts 2:38 was left in by God to mislead people.'

The major difficulty with such a position is that such a claim of infallibility could be made about any translation. Once a translation is viewed as superior to the text it translates, any mistakes in translation can be written off as further light revealed by God. On this basis no translation could ever be shown to be incorrect. Furthermore, the only evidence one would have that the translation was given directly by God would be the word of the one making such a claim. In that case the word of the religious leader making this assertion would become more authoritative than the Biblical text itself, since one would have his word that the translation was infallible. This is exactly what has happened in Ruckmanism, and Ruckman's followers cling to his every word with all the devotion of cultist to their cult leaders.

A number of Ruckman's teaching are nothing but a straining and twisting of Scripture. He holds that Judas Iscariot was not human because Jesus said of him "one of you is a devil." Did Jesus' characterizing of the Pharisees as "vipers" mean they were literally snakes and not humans? Ruckman thinks Judas was, is and will be the Antichrist, and as such he lacks a true human nature.

Yet Paul speaks of this arch-enemy as the "man of sin" (2 Thes. 3:2). Ruckman also teaches that all who indulge in physical sexual union ('flesh joined to flesh' as he calls it) have been married, even though their marriage may not be recognized in the eyes of men. This is hardly a Biblical concept of marriage which involves a public contract or ceremony (Jn. 2:1-10) as well as physical union. He also maintains that the Septuagint translation which rendered the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek about 200 B.C. was not really produced until long after Christ had come. Such a position makes it difficult to account for how the Greek New Testament could quote from it when it had not as yet been produced. Ruckman has authored 11 books and a commentary series. These and his tapes are full of historical and Biblical errors, yet his followers relish every word he puts forth.

Ruckman resorts to vicious badgering and name calling for those who do not submit to his authority. In the book PROBLEM TEXTS he uses curse words and vile language to castigate all the major Bible schools and seminaries in America. All who do not agree with him are the "Alexandrian Cults," "Heretics," "Apostates," ect. In one of his books, he describes himself creeping into a church basement with blackened face, grenades in hand to blow apart the apostates. He is at times fanatical, rabid and incoherent. Because of the divisions and confusion he has produced, Ruckmanism could well be called "Wreckmanism". His "us against the (Christian) world" mentality produces fear and paranoia. When Ruckmanism gets a foothold in a church, one can be sure it will nearly always tear the church apart. It must accordingly be regarded as a serious error and a growing cult that has just enough truth to deceive, as it were, the very elect.