One WELS layman wisely distinguished between Confessional Lutherans and Synodical Lutherans.
Synodical Lutherans owe their allegiance to a visible institution. Synodical Lutherans cannot resolve any doctrinal problems because they endlessly circle around the previous papers of their own pastors. To disagree with a paper suggests that the synod is fallible, and Holy Mother Synod never errs.
Synodical Lutherans cannot find fault with any of their drinking buddies, who lay up treasures for themselves at synodical headquarters by getting blasted in school. "He's not a false teacher. I drank a lot of beer with him in school." - A steward of the mysteries of God need not be found faithful, only bibulous.
Synodical Lutheran often look like they just got a free package of Olestra Ritz crackers in the mail and could not resist trying a sleeve.
Confessional Lutherans start and end with sound doctrine. They do not put their trust in princes or institutions.