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Theology: Ruckmanism

May 19, 2011

I want to start discussing Christian theology. I think the first place to start would be Ruckmanism. It is, of course, a type of theology that is only held by a minority of a minority  of Christians. The latter minority is the independent fundamental Baptists (IFB). Many IFB do not show the slightest approval of Ruckmanism. This is because Ruckmanism is not a systematic theology and thus not one that has many main elements in common with the doctrines of the IFB in general.

The teachings of Ruckmanism are so scattered across different doctrines that I don’t know where I would begin to start summarizing it. Most of its teachings are just slight tweaks here and there to common IFB teaching. The doctrine of salvation from hell by Jesus Christ alone through faith alone is perhaps the thing they emphasize the most; it is also a doctrine they have in common with the rest of IFB and any other sort of Baptist.

An emphasis on dispensationalism and on premillenialism, to a much greater degree than the rest of IFB, is also a key trait. Besides just the latter two doctrines, however, Ruckmanism presents what seems to be a stubborn, uncompromising insistence that the “kingdom of heaven” is different from the ” kingdom of God” in the New Testament Gospels. The main reason Ruckmanites give is that they can’t be the same simply because heaven and God by themselves are not the same. I wonder if they think that, because the president of the United States is not the same as the White House, therefore a presidential press release isn’t the same as a White House press release.

Similar differences with both traditional dispensationalists and hyper-dispensationalists about the interpretation of Matthew, Acts, Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter also seem to be a major difference. However, in keeping with the anti-intellectual nature of Ruckmanism, this latter difference is hardly ever stated. What is emphasized the most is dispensationalism, premillenialism, and–probably most of all–King James Onlyism (KJVO). No wonder Ruckmanites are anti-intellectual!

Sometimes a nominal dislike of pastoral authority is expressed, in contradiction to much of the IFB movement. Yes, they do encourage doing a little research into books or speeches by their theological opponents. This is how I got out of the movement. However, this encouragement is rarely expressed from the pulpit. Wide-ranging research into other opinions is not considered necessary, either. So while dislike for strong pastoral authority might be genuine, the effect of their teachings doesn’t seem to be much different. If much research into other viewpoints isn’t tried, then the individual member has no where else to go for study and answers but church leadership or the people who trained those currently in the church’s leadership.

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