IFB Memories #13: Peter Ruckman: God’s “junkyard dog”?

After accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior in the early 1980s, my wife and I began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church in the area. All IFB churches are completely autonomous, but from what I could tell back in those days, the majority could be categorized “somewhat” according to if they emulated John R. Rice, Bob Jones, Jr., or Peter Ruckman (photo above). Like-minded pastors networked via seminary affiliation, pastors’ conferences, and missionary support.

Rice was the more moderate of the three and from his camp came Jerry Falwell. Our IFB pastor emulated Falwell and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virgina. Young men at our church who desired to attend seminary often ended up at Falwell’s Liberty Baptist College (changed to Liberty University in 1984). Bob Jones, Jr., was a bit more hardcore fundamentalist and separationist than Rice. Bob Jones University didn’t drop its ban on interracial dating until 2000. Peter Ruckman was definitely the most radical of the three. He became the standard bearer of KJV 1611-Onlyism among IFB churches. Neither Rice or Jones, Jr. taught KJV 1611-Onlyism so Ruckman labeled the two and all of their followers as members of the apostate “Alexandrian Cult” (i.e., those who use any other Bible translation besides the KJV 1611).

I had been reading the Bible for several years when a couple of guys at work, Jose and Ray, began witnessing to me. They were members of the very large First Bible Baptist Church in town, which aligned with Ruckman and KJV 1611-Onlyism. Because of their witness, and in addition to other people and circumstances from the Lord, I accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone. Jose and Ray invited me to attend First Bible Baptist, which was pastored by James Modlish at the time. I didn’t care for the sermons with their HEAVY emphasis on Anglo-centric KJV 1611-Onlyism, so I opted for a more “moderate” IFB church, much to Jose’s and Ray’s disappointment.

Peter Ruckman would periodically visit First Bible Baptist and preach primarily on the exclusivity of the KJV 1611 and the dangers of the “Alexandrian Cult.” His sermons from his Pensacola church were regularly broadcast on our local, community cable channel, undoubtably through the sponsorship of the First Bible Baptist Church here in town. Ruckman’s chalk talk sermons – am I the only one who remembers chalk talks? – invariably included railings against the “Alexandrian Cult.” His messages were downright nasty; full of ad hominem attacks and name-calling. But Ruckman never apologized, he proudly claimed to be God’s “junkyard dog.” Turmoil also appeared to be part of his personal life as he was divorced twice and married three times. He admitted to physical abuse and regular heated arguments with his first two wives. See here.

I’m all for teaching Biblical truth even when it hurts or is inconvenient, but some IFB pastors were just downright nasty, arrogant, and obnoxious. Our pastor was much more moderate than Ruckman, but, still, his constant railings against gays and his politicizing from the pulpit became intolerable and we left the church after eight years. But Ruckman took in-your-face Christianity to a whole different level with his constant stream of invectives. Yes, we are to defend the faith with vigor, but we should also mirror the grace and love of Christ. Ruckman died in April 2016, but I’ll never forget those acerbic chalk talks.

The other day I noticed the very sad news article below, which reported that Ruckman’s 58-year-old son had murdered his two boys and then committed suicide. So sadly tragic. Ruckman Jr. and his wife had divorced last year. It would be sheer speculation on my part to connect Ruckman Jr.s’ challenging childhood environment to this tragedy, but neither can it be ruled out.

Final messages from P.S. Ruckman Jr. include cryptic social media posts, emails of his life’s work

In the audio below, Ruckman Sr. defends abortion. It’s an unnerving thing to hear Ruckman’s followers enthusiastically “Amening” his pro-abortion heresy.


Postscript: I realize many of my brothers and sisters hold dearly to KJV 1611-Onlyism and I’m definitely not trying to pick a fight. I usually stay away from debates over secondaries, but that’s not totally possible with a post about Mr. KJV 1611-Only, Peter Ruckman. For my one and only post regarding KJV 1611-Onlyism, see here.


19 thoughts on “IFB Memories #13: Peter Ruckman: God’s “junkyard dog”?

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth. I’ve read reports that Warren’s son struggled with mental illness from early childhood so it may be apples and oranges. Rick Warren is the polar opposite of Ruckman Sr., theologically (both of them on opposite extremes), and it would appear from what I’ve observed that they’re also polar opposites temperamentally, Ruckman flaunted his orneriness to the detriment of Gospel witness while Warren appears to have little backbone for the genuine Gospel.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. You handle those secondaries with so much care, and love, for your brethren! I really look up to you in this regard, and thank God daily that He has seen fit to give me such good examples of how to handle these touchy issues. The story of Ruckmans son is heartbreaking, I’m going to pray for all the family that must be devastated by what he did. God bless you, brother Tom!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, sister, and God bless you, too! I may have come down a bit hard on brother Ruckman. I believe he was truly born again, but his style of preaching was so nasty and arrogant. But that style was par for the course in many fundamental Baptist churches at the time. The influence of hardcore IFB churches is definitely not what it used to be and that’s both good and bad. These “IFB memory” posts are difficult for me to write because of the many bittersweet memories. Yes, we need to pray for that mother and the whole family. Thanks, again.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you Tom, I appreaciate your link to KJV 1611. For years I have been reading the KJV as the church I currently attend does not condone mordern translations. As English is not my first language, I had to keep looking up words to gain clarity. Now I use KJV , ESV and sometimes other translations for my personal study. ( Exclusivity can be dangerous unless is the non negotiables of the Christian Faith.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Crissy. Yes, KJV 1611-Onlyism would have us believe God favors only English-speaking peoples. The translators of the KJV certainly did not think they were divinely inspired or creating an inerrant work. I’m glad you found the post informative. KJV 1611-Onlyists don’t see this issue as a secondary, but as a non-negotiable. I’m sure I’m going to receive some hate mail accusing me of being controlled by Satan.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for enlightening your readers on IFB churches, mostly news to me. I tried listening to that diabolical message on abortion but it so contaminated my ears – I had to turn it off. Even still, in this age of apostasy we need to know these things. Thanks, I always look forward to your posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa Beth! It’s always bittersweet whenever I take a trip down memory lane to my old fundamentalist days. There was a lot of personality cultism going on back then. Well, I guess that hasn’t changed! Ruckman was solid on many doctrines but in outer space on others.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks. Yes, very sad to hear about these kinds of tragedies, especially when Ruckman Jr. purported to be a believer. Ruckman Sr. represented a stream of Christianity that I was very familiar with back in the 1980s, but have lost touch with purposely. My sense is that it has declined quite a bit as a movement since those days. I could not name one IFB pastor except for David Cloud and Steven Anderson. Anderson’s church is extremist to the max and he’s a self-promotor, which is the only reason why I know of him.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have found your post on Independent Fundamentalists fascinating as its a totally different world than my own; very eye opening. While I have heard of Anderson and Falwell all the other names are new to me…except for Ruckman which I have heard of in the context of James Whites’ response to him but never knew anything about him as much as I learned from your post. Thanks Tom

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Jim. I definitely have ambivalent feelings about Baptist fundamentalism. There’s a great book out there awaiting to be written about the heyday of IFB fundamentalism, but I think few would read it at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I posted a couple of years ago some comments defending the KJB which you unfortunately took offence to.
    I have been following your blog quite closely since then and I have come to the conclusion that the only thing, to date, we disagree on is the KJB issue. I too am of Polish descent, an ex-Catholic and someone who was in the IFB cult! I still believe you are wrong regarding the KJB and some of the arguments you have used are simply false, however, I guess we will have to agree to disagree and bury the hatchet so to speak.
    I would like to recommend a booklet written by my personal friend Vince Wall, also an ex-Catholic who is now a Baptist pastor here in Australia-a review by you would be greatly appreciated.
    Keep up the good work exposing the RCC!
    Vince Walls booklet can be read online at http://www.heraldofhope.org.au -click publications “Tradition or Truth”

    PS Can you email me privately?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bob. I apologize if our initial encounter did not go smoothly. I am used to KJV 1611 onlyists being very dogmatic in that regard and not willing to overlook the issue so I was probably reacting from previous experiences. Thanks very much for the kind encouragement and the booklet recommendation. I look forward to reading and reviewing it. I don’t have a way of finding your email addy since your profile is not “live.” You can email me at excatholic4christ@yahoo.com. I don’t normally check the inbox but I will this coming week.


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