THE THREE HEAVENS THEORY:
After discussion with many LDS about this subject, I offer the following thoughts:
(1) The I Corinthians 15:40 passage - - a primary proof text - - does speak about glory of our bodies varying. LDS have suggested that that links to where we will be. But I would suggest that one's biology does not dictate one's geographical location. In the same building there can be light bulbs with varying wattages... varying brilliance.
I Cor. 15:41 is cited by LDS to suggest that the glory of the sun, moon and stars picture the three levels of glory. But in verse 39 it speaks of FOUR different kinds of flesh. Hmmm. Maybe the illustrations are given for some other reason than to suggest a number.
(2) II Cor. 12:1-4 says Paul was caught up to the "third heaven" (celestial glory). But the passage does not define what those three heavens are.
Jewish understanding of the term included the same uses found in the Bible - one meaning was the sky, one meaning was outer space, and one meaning was the dwelling place of God. (Acts 1:11, Gen. 1:14-17, also the Lord's prayer) That makes three. Now stay with me on this... This passage equates the third heaven to paradise, and Rev. 2:7 says paradise is in God's presence. But Luke 23:43 says the thief on the cross was caught up to paradise....that very day. He would not have been qualified for entering God's presence in LDS thinking (he would not have been baptized, made restitution for sins). Smith tried to avoid this problem (see Paradise, in the book, Mormon Doctrine) by saying the translation in Luke didn't really indicate the thief went to paradise. But if you check a concordance, you will see that it is precisely the same Greek word as in II Corinthians 12 and Rev. 2:7. Smith lied to cover up the fact that His requirements for the LDS 3rd heaven do not fit the Biblical example of the thief.
(3) Note that in Doctrine and Covenants 101:65-66 it makes reference to the parable of the wheat and tares found in Matthew 13. That parable states that the chaff will be burned, but the wheat will inherit celestial glory. That is just what I am saying in my warning!!!
(4) Another verse that begs for explanation is Mosiah 5:5, which speaks of never-ending torment or eternal life - a term that D & C 88:4 equates with celestial glory.
(5) If you are LDS and have a testimony for the Book of Mormon (the fullness of the Gospel) the choice is made. It says NOTHING about 3 heavens, and consistently speaks of two destinies only. It is in perfect agreement with the Bible. Isn't it obvious that we are either spiritually dead or spiritually alive, period?
(6) May I state that I am not saying it will be a share and share alike heaven or a share and share alike punishment in the lake of fire. Believers will be rewarded for their works (I Cor. 3:12-15), but the rewards are something other than the destiny of God's presence. And the unsaved will experience varying degrees of punishment - as is indicated in Matthew 11:22-24 and Luke 12:47-48. But the sharp contrast will be in either being with God or being separated from Him.
(7) This brings up the concept of being in the presence of Christ or the Spirit, but not God. Well, all that God is, Christ is (Heb. 1:3), so there would be no difference. The Bible teaches that we are indwelt by all three members of the Godhead when we trust in Christ(John 14:17,23) even though we are not perfect, so it is pretty fuzzy thinking to suggest that once the sinful nature is gone we would have less...the Spirit of God being with us but God not with us. One of Christ's names (Emmanuel) means God with us. The whole thing falls apart, however, when we realize that all who do not enter God's presence (name in the book - Rev. 21:24-27) are sent to the lake of fire (name not in book - Rev. 20:15). What difference whether the Spirit will be there to watch us suffer or not? I'd say it might be preferable NOT to have a conscious awareness of His presence.
(8) One writer told me that it is possible it will be both glorious and a place of regret at the same time. That does not fit what Alma 41:4 states: "raised to ENDLESS happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to ENDLESS misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil.... and this is followed in verse 8 with a statement that the decrees of God are unalterable. Did you notice it said kingdom of the DEVIL? The telestial and terrestrial worlds are said to be part of God's kingdom(thus degrees of glory). Which is it?
In conclusion, I ask you to think with me....legally, a witness who tells two contradictory stories disqualifies himself for being untrustworthy. That is the case with the LDS revelations. The Bible tells one story only -- two destinies only. It is folly to believe the LDS doubletalk. Joseph Smith has perverted the whole definition of salvation by his invention of destinies that simply do not exist. Come back to the true Word of God - the Bible... and receive the GIFT of eternal life in God's presence. "There shall be ONE fold, and ONE shepherd" (John 10:16)