Martin Luther once remarked that he believed the pure Faith of primitive Christianity is to be found in the Orthodox Church,” according to this very informative UK site on Orthodoxy.  I’ve also read that some early Lutheran leaders in Germany corresponded with a Patriarch of Constantinople over a number of years.  But in the end, IIUC, the Patriarch concluded they weren’t quite coming around, but instead just debating with him.  Too bad.  Imagine how history might have changed!


  1. asimplesinner

    ““Martin Luther once remarked that he believed the pure Faith of primitive Christianity is to be found in the Orthodox Church,”” If in fact he did ever write that… I am not certain that is exactly correct – that would have been well before he would be disabused of any notions of what the East was truly like.

    Minus particular objections to the papacy, it is VERY hard to imagine him beind “down” with 7ish Byzantine mysteries, when he would not allow for the retention of 7 in Lutheranism. Note also that none of the Reformers allowed for divorce originally. There is really no way I could have imagined Luther and the Germanic princes leading their communities into Greek Orthodoxy….

  2. Leo Peter O'Filon

    What little I know about the Mainstream Reformation leads me to believe that if the remark *is* Luther ‘canon,’ it’s from rather early-on indeed.

    But FWIU there *was* correspondence between Germany and Constantinople – though I haven’t studied it myself. I don’t believe it was Luther himself, which was why I left it vague up top. I want to say Melanchthon, but maybe not him either?

    Anyway, as we journalists like to say, “I don’t make the news, I just report it!”

  3. The correspondance reads more like the Lutheran party making a case for the East to join them, rather than vice-versa.

  4. Leo Peter O'Filon

    Ah, very interesting. Did they start out asking His All-Holiness if he was saved? LOL!

  5. Arina

    in fact there really was correspondence between the Lutheran community and Constantinople; but it was not Luther himself – he did the beginning, because at the “Leipziger Disputation” with Eck 1519, he tried to legitimate his view about the pope, by bringing examples from the greek orthodox church. And from that day on, he tried to rely his arguments on the greek orthodox church with the outcome, that he couldn’t stick by his (first very possitive ) opinion about the greek church.
    However, there was suddenly a great interest in the greek church and Stephan Gerlach (1546-1612) and Salomon Schweigger (1551-1622), were the first ecumenical travelers among the protestant theologians.

    And of course there was interest and information about the lutherans in Constantinopel as well (because there were some “greek-orthodox” students in the university-cities in Europe.

    For more information, there is a really great author who wrote about these relationships: Ernst Benz! (there are several books as for instance: wittenberg und byzanz; Die Ostkirche. Im Lichte der Protestantischen Geschichtsschreibung von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart; Die Bedeutung der griechischen Kirche für das Abendland,..

  6. Leo Peter O'Filon

    Greetings, Arina, and Wilkommen! A church historian, no less? Did WordPress catch your whole post? I ask because of the two dots at the end of the version that made it through to me, plus it held it for moderation for reasons I can’t discern.

    I can imagine mutual interest in those heady days of the Reformation, but I didn’t know there were Orthodox students in Western Europe that long ago, just merchants!

    In any case, thanks for your informative comment, it sheds more light on that moment than I’ve known about before!

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