Part 1 — What sixteenth-century Lutherans experienced in church
Sixteenth-century Lutherans experienced a service that would strike many present-day church members as “high church.” But this was not just an unintended holdover from the Middle Ages, nor was it done for show; rather, it had theological significance. The Lutheran service highlighted the sermon and the Sacrament of the Altar in order to assure those present that their sins were truly forgiven. Both had their roles to play in this task, and minimizing either one risked obscuring the doctrine of justification.
Part 2 — Sacramental piety since the seventeenth century
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw various attacks on Lutheran sacramental piety, and each one weakened the church?s proclamation. By the nineteenth century, the revival movement tempted many churches, but the Missouri Synod resisted it, preserving its confession. Missouri’s stance in the Predestinarian Controversy of the 1880s soured relations with other Lutherans, but in the end it provided a theological basis for restoring sacramental piety and resisting pressure from the church growth movement of the late twentieth century to downplay its importance.