Tough Questions on Faith and Political Economy A Commentary

Main Article Content

Philip Powell
Richard Slimbach


The following is a response by Philip Powell (co-director of the Justice Conference, UK, and also Theology and Network Engagement Manager with Tearfund, UK) to the five questions Richard Slimbach poses on faith and political economy in his article “Asking Tough Questions About Transformational Development,” published in this journal in the summer of 2023 (Slimbach 2023). A follow up comment by Slimbach appears at the end.  Both of these contributions were part of a webinar on June 27, 2023 discussing that article; the rest of the webinar content, consisting of two other responses and discussion around them, is published in this issue as well. The full recording of the webinar can be found at The specific questions to which Philip Powell responds are:

  1. In what ways have your family background, theological education, and ideological leanings shaped your perspectives on US foreign policy and the global US American military ‘footprint’?

  2. Are policy advocacy, community organizing, and other actions that prioritize economic justice, environmental sustainability, and human rights legitimate areas of public engagement for Christian NGOs?

  3. What does our theology say about the importance of environmental responsibility? Why must the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor be heard together? What keeps Christian organizations from tackling big environmental issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and resource (oil, gas, and mineral) depletion? What goals might Christian NGOs set for themselves in these areas?

  4. Given the realities of global poverty, increasing income/wealth inequality, and excessive levels of consumption and material waste in the Global North, what is expected of Christian organizations committed to the welfare of the poor and dispossessed?

  5. Our current economic system works to create immense wealth and to grow economies, but morally, how does it work? What does it do to people and planet, not just for them? Do the internal mechanisms of capitalism act to preserve and protect the earth’s ecological processes and biodiversity? Do they enable people to live in caring relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature? Do they encourage people to desire and delight in God? Do they strengthen the world’s cultural and religious traditions and identities that provide meaning, direction, and joy in life? In other words, in what ways does advanced capitalism nurture and/or hinder transformational development?

Article Details

How to Cite
Powell, P., & Slimbach, R. (2024). Tough Questions on Faith and Political Economy : A Commentary. Christian Relief, Development, and Advocacy: The Journal of the Accord Network, 5(2), 138–141. Retrieved from