Question:I ran into your web page about Mormons and the three heavens. Paul make it clear in I Corinthians 15:41-43 that there are three states, or degrees of glory that happen in the resurrection "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead: Can you tell me what this means?
If you have already decided what it means, then why are you asking? But the meaning is found in the context of the verse.
"But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Corinthians 15:35-54).
Paul wishes to establish that while we will be resurrected, we will not have the same bodies we currently inhabit. These bodies are mortal and are subject to decay. Our new bodies will be immortal and will not decay. He points out that such a concept is not foreign to people. You put seeds into the ground, but what springs forth is not a seed, but a plant.
He then points out that we know that all bodies are not the same. People, beasts, birds, and fish all have different flesh even though they are all living creatures. Stars given off different amounts of light from planets. The sun, moon, and stars give off different amounts of lights even though they are all in space and even each star's light differs from the light of other stars.
If we can understand this, then it isn't so difficult to grasp that the body we will have in the resurrection will be different from our current bodies, even though both are bodies.
What you have done is taken the illustration for difference and claim that there are exactly three places for resurrected people to go. Yet that isn't what is under discussion. Worse, the illustration does talk about three types of lights (or glories in older translations). It states that there are an innumerable variations in lights because it mentions that light of each star differs from other stars. One would wonder why you didn't point out the four different types of flesh, other than you were looking for three of something to "prove" the idea that there are three states of being in resurrection.
The idea of three degrees of glory after the resurrection began in Mormonism with Joseph Smith's teaching on February 16, 1832, recorded in the Doctrines and Covenants, section 76. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God ... A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God, without being born of water and the Spirit." (History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 283).
It was later expanded upon by Joseph Fielding Smith, who said, "Those who reject the gospel, but live honorable lives, shall also be heirs of salvation, but not in the celestial kingdom. The Lord has prepared a place for them in the terrestrial kingdom. Those who live lives of wickedness may also be heirs of salvation, that is they too shall be redeemed from death and from hell eventually." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p. 133).
By what Orson Pratt later admitted is that there is no support for this teaching in either the Bible or the Book of Mormon. "Then again, what could we learn from either the Bible or the Book of Mormon in regard to three glories -- the celestial, the terrestrial, and the telestial glories? What did we know concerning those that should inhabit these various worlds of glory? Nothing at all." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p. 70).
He was forced to admit this because the Book of Mormon states:
"And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the foundation of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice which I have spoken." (I Nephi 15:35).
"Behold, my brethren, do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God ... I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning ... ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil ... And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil." (Alma 5:24-25, 39).
Thus the Book of Mormon teaches adamantly that there are only two states of the dead: with the devil or with Christ. Worse, it calls Smith, who taught differently a liar.