Here's an irritation: when folks outside Lutheranism reduce our faith to a "school of thought." It is NOT a school of thought. It is made up of real pastors, teachers, and parishes that are infinitely more than "a way of thinking." It is true that she is recognized by her Confession of the Christian faith, preeminently the Augsburg Confession and the Small Catechism. That means:
- You can't tell a Lutheran by polity - Lutheran's can live with just about any kind of polity.
- You can't tell a Lutheran by liturgy - there's precious little distinctive about that, and Lutherans use their treasure of liturgy in varying degrees, and sadly some leave it mostly shelved.
- You CAN tell a Lutheran by confession of the faith - and therefore by the altar he or she is joined to.