Category Archives: Bible

Books by a Mormon Author

By Jonathan Whitcomb, nonfiction crypotozoology writer

Rather than begin by listing my four cryptozoology books, let’s look at what you would like as a reader or at the needs and interests of the reader for which you would give a book as a gift. Check out the following headings and choose one that fits your needs.

How do reports of non-extinct “pterodactyls” relate to LDS beliefs?

As of late-summer, 2017, the best nonfiction book to answer this question is the fourth edition of Searching for Ropens and Finding God. It’s also the longest of my cryptozoology books: 360 pages. Notwithstanding the title words “finding God,” this is more about true-life adventure than religion. Yet a few paragraphs of the early chapters occasionally mention religious belief. The following is from the first chapter:

In my childhood, nobody insisted to me that small simple life must have changed into large complex life long ago. I had read of ideas contrary to the General Theory of Evolution by my mid-teens, after our family had moved to Pasadena, California. But I was brought up to believe or disbelieve what I chose. My own feelings, perspective, and belief in God raised my doubts about Darwin.

From page 44 read:

But it was much more. We were promoting awareness of another survival long ago: the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That in itself deserves countless books, and we need to move on; but be aware, that the driving force behind the ropen expeditions was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It was more than competing with Darwin’s philosophy, although mostly that, at least at first. My associates and I believe that the fiery flying serpent of the Old Testament was a “basal” pterosaur, perhaps related to the long-tailed ropen of Papua New Guinea. We believe they called it “fiery” because of its glow, which we attribute to bioluminescence. “Flying” is literal, with wings.

 

Nonfiction paperback book about eyewitness sightings of living pterosaurs

Searching for Ropens and Finding God – by LDS author Jonathan Whitcomb

 

What book is a low-cost introduction to living-pterosaur investigations?

I recommend my Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, a free pdf nonfiction cryptozoology book about encounters with these flying creatures in two nations of the southwest Pacific. The first chapter is titled “How can pterosaurs be alive.”

nonfiction cryptozoology book "Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea" by Mormon author Jonathan Whitcomb

Free online cryptozoology book

 

Is there a book especially about pterosaur sightings in the USA?

Look into the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America. Here’s what a satisfied reader wrote for the Amazon page of this cryptozoology book:

This book is one of the best books that I have ever read! It reminds us to have an open mind and that the things we have all been taught as fact ….may not be fact at all.This is a very interesting and educational book and may change the way you see the world around you.

nonfiction "Live Pterosaurs in America" by LDS author Jonathan Whitcomb

Third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America (by an LDS author)

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Does any nonfiction book have tangible evidence of a non-extinct pterosaur?

In other words, does any cryptozoology book have anything more substantial than eyewitness testimony, to support the concept that at least one species of pterosaur is still alive? My recent publication, Modern Pterosaurs, is that book. The American physicist Clifford Paiva and I have jointly studied the old photograph “Ptp” and have declared that it has a genuine image of a real animal. That photo has what appears to be a recently deceased Pteranodon.

Nonfiction "Modern Pterosaurs" by LDS author Jonathan Whitcomb

Modern Pterosaurs (by Mormon nonfiction writer Jonathan Whitcomb)

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Mormon nonfiction writer Jonathan Whitcomb

“Not all of my books and online publications are about eyewitness reports of apparent pterosaurs, but most of them are. How do doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relate to the existence of modern pterosaurs? Most of our beliefs don’t relate to them directly, yet those that do—they deserve attention. . . .”

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The Pteranodon Photo and Religion

An old photograph has been bouncing around the internet for quite some time, with many persons giving it a careless glance but very few indeed examining it closely and with an open mind. In the first few months of 2017, however, that changed.

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Cryptozoology book by Whitcomb

Reports of living pterosaurs or apparent pterosaurs come from Papua New Guinea and Africa, with cryptid names that include “ropen,” “indava,” and “kongamato.” But similar descriptions come from eyewitnesses in the U.S.A.

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Living Pterosaurs and Skepticism

This is a partial response to some of what has been written by Glen Kuban. I begin by addressing a couple of concerns that Kuban has had about publicity for the Ptp photo . . .

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Angel Moroni and young Joseph Smith

Warning Against “Another Gospel”

The other day, I noticed a comment on one of my posts on Facebook. A man quoted to me a few verses from the first chapter of Galatians in the New Testament:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Before getting into my original post, let me mention the writer of the above scripture.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ as Taught by the Apostle Paul

What was the gospel taught by Paul the apostle in the New Testament times? It was the same gospel taught by Peter and the other apostles of the Lord: the good news that the Messiah had come to the earth and fulfilled prophesy and was resurrected and still lives.

Consider how Jesus concluded many days of teaching his disciples (beginning of the first chapter of Acts in the New Testament):

To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God . . . And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

This was not a God who left his friends by evaporating into an ether, never again to be seen in the form of a man. This was not a Savior who would never again send an angel to minister to Christians. This was not a Messiah who would never again inspire any mortal to write scripture. This was Jesus Christ, a glorified personage who appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, and that appearance was in his true form: a glorified man.

Let’s now look at the beginning of the second chapter of Galatians:

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles . . .

Revelation From God

So the Lord communicated with Paul the apostle. Is that a new doctrine or “another gospel?” No, it’s the same way that Peter the apostle lived after his conversion: a life led by revelation.

So what would cause Paul to write the following? “I marvel that ye are so soon removed . . . [from Christ] unto another gospel . . .” It was a system of long-standing traditions that lacked that essential ingredient of spiritual life: our need for a Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. So how do we know Christ and know about him and know about his great works? It’s by revelation from God, both personal communication with God and by revelations from true apostles and other truly authorized messengers from God, including angels.

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Angel Moroni and young Joseph Smith

Like at the time of Paul the apostle, angels still minister to people in modern times

What was my original comment on Facebook, that caused a man to quote to me a few verses from the first chapter of Galatians? It was my testimony of the Book of Mormon a glorious book that has led thousands of persons, if not millions, to search the Bible. The Book of Mormon is a revelation from God. It is filled with exhortations to believe in Jesus Christ and follow him, listening and reading of his eternal gospel. Outside of the Bible itself, what book, other than the Book of Mormon, has done more in turning people to read and believe in the Bible?

Beware of old Christian traditions that include dogmas about God never again giving us any new scriptures and never again sending angels. That was not the gospel preached by Paul.

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Reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon

Encountering the book published by Joseph Smith, in the early 19th century, promotes Bible reading.

A New Word for Marriage Between a Man and a Woman

A new word has been appointed for traditional marriage between a man and a woman: Adahmeve.

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Book of Mormon text, beginning of book

Getting People to Read the Bible

Introducing the Book of Mormon

Why would I title this post “Getting people to read the Bible” when it’s mainly about the Book of Mormon? Encountering the book published by Joseph Smith, in the early 19th century, promotes Bible reading. That needs explaining.

I, Jonathan Whitcomb, am one of millions who have been influenced by the Book of Mormon in this way: My faith in Jesus Christ has been strengthened; my knowledge of his Gospel has been enlarged; my understanding of his divine existence has been elevated. And there’s something else.

Like millions of other ordinary persons, I have come to better appreciate the Bible and believe in its divine origin because of the Book of Mormon. In other words, we have greater confidence in the Bible because of the Book of Mormon, greater faith in the truths in those 66 books than we would have if we had never encountered the Book of Mormon.

Reading the Bible—a fruit of the Book of Mormon

What is the greatest tool that God has given to modern mortals, to turn their hearts to reading the Bible? Other than the printed Bible itself, it is the Book of Mormon.

The greatest tool in defending the divine origin of the Bible—that’s the Book of Mormon? Exactly. How many people had never touched a Bible until they had been touched by the Book of Mormon! I’m not one of those many readers but my wife is. (I was converted to Jesus Christ from reading the Bible, before I found the Book of Mormon.)

I intend no special criticism of the Roman Catholic church nor any of its members by the following statements, for we are all human, with weaknesses in knowledge and understanding that God has given to us while we live in this short estate of mortality. With all the qualities of character and faith that I have seen in the lives of my Catholic friends, persons whom I have loved and admired throughout my life, many of them have not read the Bible. Notable exceptions are those many Catholics who have encountered the Book of Mormon and felt the influence of the Holy Spirit, testifying to their hearts that it is true. That leads them to the Bible.

Origin of the Book of Mormon

The key mortal in organizing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in bringing forth the Book of Mormon—who was he? Let’s approach it thus: Can any person be sure of coming to know who Joseph Smith truly was by first rejecting the man’s claim to being a prophet of God?

Beware of that approach, the same faulty approach used by those Jews who rejected Jesus Christ during the mortal ministry of the Savior. Jesus tried to reason with those who opposed him, asking them to consider his works, even if they disliked him. If they had followed his counsel, they might have recognized the truth: His life was evidence that he was who he said he was: the Messiah.

Who is a prophet of God?

Consider what Jesus said (7th chapter of Matthew):

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

Notice that he did not say that the world would never again have prophets in the future. If our Father in Heaven intended that no prophets would be sent to the earth, after the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice was accomplished, Jesus would then have simply said that no more prophets would come. He said nothing like that, but gave us a way to tell the difference between true and false prophets. Now apply that to Joseph Smith.

The Book of Mormon—a fruit of the life of Joseph Smith

A farm boy in the back woods of New York state in the early 1800’s—Joseph Smith could hardly finish writing an intelligible letter, let alone hundreds of pages of apparent ancient scriptures, when the Book of Mormon first began to emerge. What greater evidence could we find, of a man being a true prophet or a false prophet, than a new publication of proclaimed scripture?

Consider the following, if you have not yet read anything in the Book of Mormon. Regardless of what you had previously assumed about it, use portions of it to test whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

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Book of Mormon text, beginning of book

What early-18th-century farm boy anywhere on this planet would have known that many people in Jerusalem, in 600 B.C., were strongly influenced by the Egyptian language? Only recently have scholars come to understand how deeply those people were involved in the culture and language of Egypt at that time in history.

And that is only the beginning of the countless evidences for the historical validity of the Book of Mormon, that first page. Beware of those critics who use improper tactics to try to discredit this modern book of scripture, for some of those tactics have also been used to try to discredit the Bible, in particular vain declarations based on the assumption that all scripture is of human origin, without divine authority.

Beware of careless criticisms against the greatest tool that God has given us to defend the divine origin of the Bible: the Book of Mormon.

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Book of Mormon and baptism of little children

The ancient American prophet Mormon is teaching his son Moroni what was revealed  by God through revelation, after Mormon had become troubled about disputations on  this subject of infant baptism.

Textual Evolution in Book of Mormon?

It appeared to me that this commentator had not actually read the Book of Mormon but was speculating based on his imagination (and perhaps on what other critics had speculated) for he gave no detail, no example, no reference. . . . [in reality, however] How obvious that there was no textual evolution from 1830 to the present!

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Fiery Flying Serpent

The Fiery Flying Serpent of the Old Testament is also found in the Book of Mormon. In fact, in First Nephi, Chapter 17, verse 41, it is more clearly a flying fiery “serpent” that afflicted the children of Israel at the time of Moses, more clear than at least one of the relevant passages in the Bible, in that “flying” is included.

I Nephi 17:41

And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

Traditional Interpretation

One traditional way this is interpreted is as follows:

  1. Not literally fiery, but biting with venom that causes burning
  2. Not literally flying but leaping out of trees
  3. Literally a serpent, meaning a snake

Rhamphorhynchoid Pterosaur Interpretation

My associates and I offer an interpretation quite different:

  1. Apparently fiery because of a bioluminescent glow at night
  2. Literally flying, with wings that flap
  3. Not literally a snake, but something with a long tail suggesting a snake

I suggest you consider the new pterosaur interpretation, for major problems fly up from the traditional explanation. For example, what would be the worst symbol for Moses to use, or any other prophet or religious leader to use, as a symbol for Jesus Christ? Would it not be a symbol that was well known as representing Satan? The snake seems like the worst thing that Moses could have used to turn our minds to the Savior.

How would a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur image more closely resemble Jesus Christ on the cross? The outstretched wings on the pole used by Moses would have represented the outstretched arms of the Savior. My associates and I, who study in an obscure branch of cryptozoology, offer this interpretation as far more reasonable for what was used by Moses as a symbol for the people of Israel to look up to.

By the way, a long-tailed pterosaur at rest, with wings folded up, could resemble a snake because the long tail would be visible. Flying at night, venomous creatures could easily have caused great problems for people. They would have had had more access to people, for they would also have been able to move at night, after flying into an area from another location. Also, how unreasonable for anybody to name an animal with the word “flying” if it were an non-flying snake! Jumping out of a tree does not resemble flying, especially not according to the original meaning of the Hebrew word, which signifies a back-and-forth motion, like wings flapping.

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Could the "Fiery Flying Serpent" of the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon have been a Rhaphorhynchoid pterosaur? It is possible

Fiery Flying Serpent? (sketch of the “Gitmo pterosaur” of Cuba)

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This pterosaur-interpretation is not from any policy or doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but an opinion of one of its members: Jonathan David Whitcomb. This opinion is shared by several other active investigators of modern flying creatures that have been given names like the following in Papua New Guinea:

  • Ropen
  • Indava
  • Seklo-bali
  • Duwas
  • Kundua
  • Kor
  • Wawanar

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Book “Searching for Ropens and Finding God”

Many of the paleontologists will say, “A live pterosaur?! A live pterosaur?! We have got pterosaur fossils and there cannot be any more live pterosaurs.”

O fools, they shall have pterosaur fossils; and they shall come from among those animals that died during the ancient Flood written of in Genesis. And what thanks do paleontologists give to God for the preservation of basic animals types on the Ark of Noah, written of in the Bible?

How do we Begin our Book of Mormon Reading?

I relate my own experience, for those who have not yet read any of the Book of Mormon, or have read very little. In 1971, in Pasadena, California, I borrowed a copy from a neighbor family who had introduced me to the Church. I had just started taking the missionary lessons, but I felt no desire to follow another person’s dictation of what verses I should read. How could somebody else know what order I needed to read verses in the Book of Mormon? . . . Oh course, I had no idea myself. But at least I dived into the book where I want to dive in.

Before I relate what then happened with me and the Book of Mormon—what I received—consider what we might bring into a reading experience. For me, years before my encounter with that book of scripture, in my early teens, I had fed on teachings of the Bible, especially the words of Jesus Christ recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I understood the idea that God is perfect but people are imperfect, sometimes extremely imperfect. I was raised in a God-fearing family environment, in a home with my father and mother and eventually three younger sisters. But in my early teens I had tried to apply, in my daily life, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and experienced the peace that comes naturally from that application.

By the time I turned thirteen, I had long ago forgiven my oldest sister for being born [ 🙂 ] (it was not her fault; it was our parents doing). I was beginning to get over being dethroned as only-child. By around the age of eight I had forgiven her for her existence . . . (but it was her attitude about that). Nevertheless, throughout my teenage years I had recovered, and by age twenty-two, as I began to read the Book of Mormon, I had applied the teachings of Jesus Christ, especially the teaching to forgive.

Recognizing my own weaknesses and failings, of course, was part of the forgiving, and that was what I brought into my reading experience with the Book of Mormon, notwithstanding I had only just begun applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life: I was far from perfect. I began my reading with the concept that Jesus Christ was the only perfect person, with not even a speck of transgression, to have ever lived on this earth; I was not disappointed. I knew that God sometimes performs miracles but that he did not usually prevent us from having any unpleasant experiences; I was not shocked when I read the Book of Mormon.

After reading various passages, I came to realize that this was a true book about real persons who had lived in the past. I did not come to this perspective from anything the L.D.S. missionaries had told me. I came to it through my own communication with God. That is a key to how we should read the Book of Mormon: pray sincerely while reading it, with faith in Jesus Christ, gratefully remembering the good things that God has given us.

Beginning with the end of the Book of Mormon

Near the end of the last chapter of the last book in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni is writing to us who live in the last days and who have the opportunity to read his words in our own language (Moroni 10:32):

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Is it true that some “Mormons” go astray in self-righteously aspiring for perfection? That could be a complex issue and part of the problem may include negative use of the label “Mormon,” but let’s get to the point. Some non-LDS critics have proclaimed that we are self righteous, and some LDS leaders have, on occasion, at least hinted that we need to avoid that attitude, so let’s see if the Book of Mormon can help. Moroni 10:32 (quoted above) gives us a key to a successful Christian life, exhorting us to allow ourselves to be perfected in Christ. This relates to a verse in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5.

 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Jesus himself referred to this great commandment: Mark 12:29-30.

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

He also told us how we can know of his doctrine: John 7:17.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

When the Savior was teaching the Jews in their promised land, about two thousand years ago (or trying to teach as many as he could, for some would not listen), those who were willing to change (repent) were able to do so because of their faith in the Messiah who was reaching out to them. But other relatives of the Jews, the Nephites and Lamanites of the Western Hemisphere, also had the promise that the Messiah would appear to them. Jesus Christ did appear to them, in fulfilment of the promises of their prophets, but not until after his resurrection.