Oliver Granger

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Headstone at Oliver Granger's grave in Kirtland, Ohio

Oliver Granger (February 7, 1794 – August 27, 1841) was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He was the subject of one of the prophecies of movement founder Joseph Smith.

Early life[edit]

Granger was born in Phelps, New York, to Pierce Granger and Clarissa Trumbull. Before becoming a Latter Day Saint, Granger was a member of the Methodist Church and a licensed preacher. On September 8, 1813, Granger married Lydia Dibble. During the 1820s, Granger was a sheriff in Ontario County, New York. In 1827, Granger lost most of his vision due to cold and exposure.[1]

Latter Day Saint member and missionary[edit]

Granger and his wife became converted to the Latter Day Saint religion after they both read the Book of Mormon in 1832. According to Granger's daughter, Granger had a vision in which the angel Moroni told him that the Book of Mormon was "a true record of great worth" and that he should become a Mormon preacher.[2] Granger was baptized at Sodus, New York, by Brigham Young and was ordained to be an elder of the Church of Christ by Young on the same day. Almost immediately, Granger set out on a mission for the young church.

In 1833, Granger joined the gathering of Latter Day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. He was assigned by Joseph Smith to serve another mission in the eastern United States with Samuel Newcomb. After returning to Kirtland, Granger was ordained to the priesthood office of high priest on April 29, 1836, and became a member of the Kirtland high council on October 8, 1837.[3] In 1836, Granger was again asked by Smith to serve a mission. Granger worked mainly in New York with John P. Greene, establishing large branches of the church in Huntsburg and Perry.

Special assignment and prophecy[edit]

In 1838, after most of the Latter Day Saints had left Kirtland and settled in Far West, Missouri, Granger was asked by the First Presidency to return to Kirtland to be the church's agent in settling outstanding church debts and selling property the Latter Day Saints owned in Ohio. This calling was extended to Granger in a revelation given to Smith on July 8, 1838, which is today printed as the 117th section of the LDS Church's edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.[4] The portion of the revelation addressed to Granger reads as follows:

And again, I say unto you, I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord. Therefore, let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord. Therefore, let him come up hither speedily, unto the land of Zion; and in the due time he shall be made a merchant unto my name, saith the Lord, for the benefit of my people. Therefore let no man despise my servant Oliver Granger, but let the blessings of my people be on him forever and ever.[5]

Granger performed this assignment with such satisfaction to the creditors involved that one of them wrote: “Oliver Granger’s management in the arrangement of the unfinished business of people that have moved to the Far West, in redeeming their pledges and thereby sustaining their integrity, has been truly praiseworthy, and has entitled him to my highest esteem, and every grateful recollection.”[6] However, Granger was largely unsuccessful in selling the church's property, and most of it would eventually fall into the hands of others who would never pay the church any remuneration.

Granger remained in Kirtland until his death in 1841 at the age of 47. Even though there were few Latter Day Saints in the area at the time, his funeral was attended "by a vast concourse of people" from Kirtland and neighboring towns.[7]

Prophecy controversy[edit]

Some critics of Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saint movement have pointed to Smith's revelation to Granger as an example of a "false prophecy"; the critics allege that even though Smith's revelation stated that Granger's name would be held "in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever", most Mormons are unfamiliar with Granger's name or his activities.[8] A Mormon apologist has responded to these charges by stating that "the words 'sacred remembrance' most likely refer to the fact that the Lord would remember him. After all, the verse begins with the Lord saying, 'I remember my servant Oliver Granger.'"[9] Another apologist has written:

Detractors ... imply that the Doctrine and Covenants says everyone will remember him. That is not what the revelation says. As long as we have the Doctrine and Covenants, Oliver Granger's name will be there, and therefore this declaration is fulfilled. The Bible student will find an interesting parallel in Matt. 26:13. Here the Savior states that wherever the gospel is preached, the act of the woman anointing him will be as a memorial to her. Last time the gospel was preached, did anyone tell the story about this woman? Not likely. But this doesn't detract from the truthfulness of the statement in the Bible any more than it would have regarding the Doctrine and Covenants, if that had been what D & C 117 had said. Her act was preserved in the Bible, and therefore this prophecy is fulfilled.[10]

Legacy[edit]

Granger is occasionally cited by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an example of an ordinary person who accomplished great works as a result of simple dedication and faith.[11]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Joseph Smith, B. H. Roberts (ed), History of the Church, 4:408.
  2. ^ Pettit, Tom. "Moroni Appeared to 17 Different People!". Living Heritage Tours. Retrieved 2016-04-24. 
  3. ^ Biography of Oliver Granger, Joseph Smith Papers (accessed January 6, 2012).
  4. ^ The revelation is not included in the edition printed by the Community of Christ.
  5. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 117:12-15. See also the 1838 letter containing this revelation.
  6. ^ Horace Kingsbury, as cited in Joseph Smith, B. H. Roberts (ed.), History of the Church, 3:174.
  7. ^ Joseph Smith, B. H. Roberts (ed.), History of the Church, 4:409.
  8. ^ See, e.g., David Henke, "Beware of False Prophets", The Watchman Expositor, vol. 6, no. 9, 1989, Watchman Fellowship ministry; Ed Decker, "Testing the prophecies of Joseph Smith", 30 June 2009.
  9. ^ John A. Tvedtnes, "The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy", fairlds.org.
  10. ^ Stephen R. Gibson, "Is Oliver Granger's Name Forgotten?".
  11. ^ See, e.g., Howard W. Hunter, "'No Less Serviceable'", Ensign, April 1992, p. 64.; Boyd K. Packer, "The Least of These", Ensign, November 2004, p. 86.