What did the reformers think about the Eastern Orthodox Church?
What was the attitude of the reformers (Martin Luther in particular) toward the Eastern Orthodox Church? Was the idea of becoming part of the Eastern church entertained?
Luther was generally positive toward the Eastern Orthodox church, especially because it rejected many of the things he most disliked about the Roman Catholic church: clerical celibacy, papal supremacy, purgatory, indulgences, and Communion by bread alone. He frequently referred to the beliefs and practices of the "Greek church," as he called it, as evidence that Catholics had deviated from principles upon which Christians formerly agreed.
Luther never attempted to build a bridge to the Eastern church, but some of his followers did. Philipp Melanchthon worked with Demetrios Mysos, a deacon sent by the patriarch of Constantinople to find out about the new religious movement in Germany, to complete a Greek translation/paraphrase of the Augsburg Confession, called the Augustana Graeca. Mysos was supposed to take the document back to Constantinople, but he died on the journey.
Some Lutheran theologians at Tubingen tried to establish an even closer connection. The "Eastern Orthodoxy" entry in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand, reports:
The Lutherans were convinced that they, rather than Rome, were the true apostolic and catholic church, and thus to establish contact with the venerable Greek church, to enlist its support against the papacy, and perhaps even to enter into communion with this apostolic church would have been a sensational victory. Thus in 1575 they sent the Augustana Graeca to Patriarch Jeremias II (d. 1595), asking his opinion. There ensued over the next six years a friendly but candid exchange of extensive doctrinal ...