It must be tough sometimes to be a non-Mormon Mormon. Let’s say you are a Strangite. Someone asks you what your religion is. "I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", you reply. (You probably don’t say, "I’m a Strangite".) Isn’t that the Mormon Church? "No. We believe that Joseph Smith’s true successor was James Strang". How many people belong to your church? "A few hundred". Oh.
Does size matter? Imagine for a moment that Brigham Young was not Joseph Smith’s authorized heir. Imagine also that you still believe in the divine nature of the Restoration. If you reject the Utah Church, you would then be left with two choices:
1. Despite its divine origins the church apostatized and I can lie in bed on Sunday mornings.
2. The true church is to be found among one of the many Mormon schismatic groups.
If you choose #2, here is the major dilemma as I see it:
(Disclaimer: As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints how "I see it" is precisely that — it’s my own perspective influenced by my own religious paradigm. But what can I do?)
The other Restoration groups simply do not clamour for my attention. The Community of Christ (RLDS) is a nice Protestant church, but frankly I prefer the Anglicans. The other groups are for the most part either Right Wing wackos or utterly irrelevant.
And there’s the clincher: irrelevant. If I believe that God spoke to Joseph Smith and instituted through him the Restoration of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ; if I believe that said Restoration is necessary for the salvation of the world; if I believe that the church is the kingdom of God destined to fill the world; and if I believe that James Strang/Sidney Rigdon/Joseph Smith III/BLANK was God’s chosen instrument to continue Joseph’s work; then I would have to conclude that the Church had utterly failed and I can stay in bed on Sunday after all.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is by a million miles the only Mormon group with a hope in heck of fulfilling the Millennial mission upon which the Restoration was predicated. Size does matter. So forget Brigham’s "transfiguration" and everything else: the proof is in the pudding. We’re bigger than you. And as all good Americans know, bigger really is better.