Philip Melanchthon is one of my heroes of the time of the Protestant Reformation. Phillip was one of the great minds of his day. He, like Martin Bucer, was a reformer who managed to be held in high regard by friend and foe alike.
Melachthon was, for his on day, a man far ahead of his time. Philip was not willing to compromise on essential issues, but he was always looking for ways to bring about unity and for ways to fix the shattered church. Philip was Luther's right hand man, but he was very unlike Luther in many ways. Luther could be violent and ugly in his polemical writings, while Melanchthan tended to be polite and kind to those he was arguing against.
Philip's view on the Eucharist was closer to Calvin's position than it was to Luther's position, and Philip work with Calvin to bring the Reformed and Lutheran Churches together. Both of these men were willing to bend on non-essentials for the sake of greater unity. Both of these men were vehemently attacked by doctrianal (hyper) purists for this work of unity.
Things do not change. There are theologians today who are willing to split hairs and divide and spout anathemas at all who disagree with their subsection of split haired doctrine. We need more Melanchthons today.