A Dialogue with The Book of Mormon Answer Man
Soon after posting my pages on-line (years ago) I contacted the Book of Mormon Answer Man and asked about the problem of the 3 Heavens not fitting with the either-or of Rev. 20:15 and Rev. 21:24-27 (name in book/ name not in book).
Our dialogue (off-line by his choice) lasted most of a month.
I asked about the two verses in Revelation. At first, he said that the lake of fire was highly symbolic of the regrets people in terrestrial and telestial glory would have because they did not gain celestial glory (I'm summarizing). Then I asked why such people at that time were spoken in D & C 76:38-43 as being redeemed, saved, cleansed and sanctified, if they were in fact in hell, anguish and a state of damnation. I wondered how this could be referred to as one of the 3 heavens, and a kingdom of "surpassing" glory.
He then lectured me about words meaning different things in different contexts, but maintained that the word hell is actually used to describe the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms. I asked how these kingdoms can be referred to as "glory" when they are in fact the very same punishment that Satan himself gets - being "cast into the lake of fire", which, with a resurrected body, sounded like it might be more than MENTAL anguish.
Then he reversed his position and said that terrestrial and telestial glory actually fit in with the description in Rev. 21 of the new heaven and earth. So I asked why, then, there was open access (gates always open) between the locations and only 2 instead of 3.
He then began questioning my motives, and wanted to know if I was LDS, or someone trying to prove Mormons wrong. Said I wasn't LDS; would need to have questions answered before I could be seriously interested. He then explained to me that the answer to my question was that actually there are 2 parts to the book of life, - the Lamb's book of life is a subset of the general book of life. He also changed his position again and said the new heaven and earth are both a part of celestial glory, and terrestrial and telestial glory are "somewhere else". I pointed out that it seemed more likely that the word Lamb was merely a description of who owns the book of life. I also pointed out that his interpretation (Lamb's book for celestial glory) didn't fit with what was described in Rev. 14 - for it made everyone except celestial glory recipients the receivers of the most SEVERE punishment described in the whole Bible!(See Alma 41:10) I also mentioned the curse at the end of the book of Revelation for adding to the "things" written in the book (it seemed to me the subset, terrestrial and telestial glory are all additions to the future scene described in that book). (I also note since then that D & C 76:68-70 doesn't go along with his idea of a subset. See also Alma 5:57-58 compared to D & C 88:25-26, which show that only the righteous (not the wicked, such as those seen in Rev. 14:10 and 16:2,11) have their names in the book of life and inherit celestial glory.)
He then said he didn't think answering my question was the best approach. I should read the Book of Mormon and pray for the spirit-feelings.(I'm paraphrasing). I told him I had done that but without answers to what looked like doubletalk to me, it would be hard to read it with an open mind. Thus ended our dialogue.
I'm not trying to run from any truth...I'd say it is more a case of legitimate answers not existing. I do not say that flippantly. I have sent out thousands of tracts with the same information in them about 2-destinations-only in which I asked for response, before ever going on-line with the same info, that has been read by well over 20,000 folks to date (my counter was started over last year), and in all efforts, so far no one has given me any information to demonstrate that I have misunderstood. But I am always open to hear it, if such information exists. So please let me know if it does!