Lutheran theologian Hermann Sasse, speaking of the Lutheran confession and its distinctiveness:
It alone makes it into that which it is. Our church is essentially a confessional church in a sense in which neither the Catholic nor the Reformed churches are – because all these churches have, in addition to their confession, something else, which characterizes them in their uniqueness and holds them together: their constitution, their liturgy, their discipline, or whatever else. The Lutheran Church does not have all that. It is part of its understanding of the divine Word, of the distinction between Law and Gospel, that it finds no laws in the New Testament about church constitution, church discipline, and liturgy. It can live with presbyteral, episcopal, or congregational forms of constitution. Its liturgical possibilities reach from Swedish high-churchliness to the liturgy-lessness of W ürttemberg. It has only its confession.
This is such a great quote because it helps us understand who we really are. Every other earthly church finds its identity in something other than Scripture & the confession of what it teaches: how it’s organized, how it worships, etc. The primary thing about being Lutheran is you stand on everything in Scripture and don’t attempt to reconcile it or work it into a tidy system.
This also helps us see why we hang on to the liturgy. We don’t use the liturgy because we won’t be Lutheran without it; we use it freely, in Christian freedom, because it’s a very good thing. However, if we let the liturgy go, a lot else is going to start slipping, because the way you worship influences the way you believe. Your faith shapes your worship and your worship shapes your faith. It goes both ways. We don’t want to start worshiping like the Reformed because we don’t want to believe like them — or for confessional reasons. We don’t want to look like them to other people, because then they will think there is no difference between their errors and the truth we confess.
This quote also shows us the value of our Confessions: they teach us who we are. Without them, we’re simply wandering in the void, unaware of what gives us our true identity. The Confessions point the way to our true selves as Christians. That they say nothing more and nothing less than Scripture, while rejecting every error, is a blessed gift of God, but it doesn’t mean that the Confessions replace Scripture. Nothing replaces Scripture. It’s a high testimony to God’s grace that the Lutheran Confessions, a product of mere men, delineate and describe the purest form of Christianity, unleavened by any dross whatsoever. They derive their purity and their power from their clear confession of everything Scripture teaches — adding nothing and taking nothing away. With Scripture as the final ruling authority on everything we teach and do, and the Confessions as a helpful guide, reminder, and testimony to what Scripture says, we can chart a safe course to our home in heaven.