Karl asks a question that I have been pondering mightily for a while: What exactly is a "Confessional Lutheran?" Now, why would a guy with the words confessional Lutheran be doing pondering what it means? When you see the state of Lutheranism in America, it is tough not to wonder about such questions.
Now, what is a confessional Lutheran? The answer is very simple. It is someone who makes a quia subscription to the Lutheran Confessions. Simple, right? Not so fast, my friend. A person may be confessional, but the person doesn't exist in a bubble. A person may be confessional but exist in a church or congregation that isn't. As a matter of fact, this is probably unavoidable. We are stuck in communities of sinners. Sinners have a tendency to compromise principles and just forget what God has called us to uphold. I myself am as guilty as anyone of this. In this sense, we have to trust in the grace of Christ, He who died for sinners. We have to trust our pastors to catechise those who confess with their lips and not their hearts. We have to trust the law will condemn their sin and the salve of the gospel to soothe their broken spirits.
But what happens when we lose our trust in our pastors because they themselves are not keeping their vow? I don't know if you know this, but pastors vow to remain faithful to and hold true the contents of the BoC. There are many pastors who ignore, forget, or stomp on this vow. Can a layman correct a pastor? Yes, especially if his fellow brothers will not do so. One of the more interesting scenes in the book Hammer of God is an elderly lady correcting her pastor in private. If he doesn't listen, however, what then?
You see, saying you are a confessional Lutheran is one thing, but being a confessional Lutheran is something completely different. It's a tough calling, but one we should embrace. There is nothing greater in this world than being embraced by God. There is nothing harder in this crazy world than living in that embrace.