In his Reformation sermon of 1872, Walther wrote this:
Unfortunately, there are now many who are called Lutheran, who do not know what a great grace it is to be a member of the true church of God on earth. They consider this such a minor thing that, even on a day like today, they do not consider it worth the effort of showing up in the house of the LORD along with their brothers to thank God for it…They only remain with the evangelical Lutheran Church because they were born into it or because their relatives or good friends are in it. When they are tempted to leave the church they depart from it all too easily. …
Well then, my brothers, let us retain what we have, so that no one rob us of our crown. Let us not be offended or angered that our evangelical Lutheran church stands before the world, small and insignificant. That is exactly how a true church must look in an age of general apostasy, as in our time. [!] Oh, let us not forsake the banner of the pure doctrine of the Gospel which God has raised upon the steeple of Zion for the redemption and the warning of souls in this terrifying age! In these turbulent times the task confronting us is too great to be put into words. Oh, as much as we value our salvation, let us not become unfaithful to her. Let us not only reject and trample under foot every benefit we might gain by falling away from her, but let us also be prepared to suffer a thousand deaths rather than deny or surrender even one iota of the pure Gospel that has been entrusted to us Lutherans. (p. 16, 17-18, transl. Joel Baseley)
I, for my part, cannot understand why people who leave the Lutheran Church, who have denied and forsaken their confirmation vows, who hate everything she stands for, who would never darken a door of one of her congregations unless compelled by family, funeral, or wedding, who despise our “legalism” and our “arrogance,” still manage to huff and puff that we will not allow them to commune at Christ’s altar with us. Go back, please, to your “open-minded,” “progressive,” “Gospel-motivated,” “open-hearts-and-open-arms” church, then. We refuse to change; what’s the point of continually getting upset about it? Go be happy in your “nice” churches, and leave us to our “meanness.” Everyone wins, no?