Parochial ecology on St Briavels Common: Rebalancing the local and the universal in Anglican ecclesiology and practice

Michael Northcott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rise of the global market economy has advanced forms of centrist, corporatist and statist rule that are insensitive to local indicators that this novel social order is ecologically, and socially, unsustainable. For many political theologians, and for secular political ecologists, the related crises of species extinction and climate change, combined with structural economic crisis, require a fundamental relocalization of the global economy and of the harvesting of natural resources. The contest between the political economy of global ‘free’ trade and a relocalized economy and polity bears analogies with debates around the relation between the local and the universal in Christian ecclesiology. In the eucharistic body politics of Saint Paul Christian communion is focused in the eucharistic gathering. However, centrist tendencies in ecclesiastical polity emerged in fourth-century accounts of the universal church. The subsequent doctrine of the primacy of Peter gave a powerful push to centrist over localist accounts of the esse of the Church in the West, and the contest between local and universal in Anglican and Catholic ecclesiologies continues to this day. Orthodox theologians Zizioulas and Afanassieff, describe and fill out the doctrinal implications of a primitive ecclesiology in which ‘the eucharist makes the church’.2 This recovery of a local eucharistic ecclesiology offers valuable resources for thinking about the nature of communion between Anglicans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-93
JournalJournal of Anglican Studies
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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