Theological perspectives on accounting: worldviews don’t change overnight

Ken McPhail, Carolyn J. Cordery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the 2004 AAAJ special issue (SI): “Accounting and theology, an introduction: Initiating a dialogue between immediacy and eternity,” the relative immediate impact of the call for papers and the relevance of the theme to address issues in accounting today and in the future. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is a reflection and is framed around three different modes of engagement with new perspectives as identified by Orlikowski (2015). These are religion as phenomenon, as perspective and as a worldview. The authors draw on Burrell and Morgan’s (1979) framework in order to explore the ontological and epistemological blinkers that have limited the attempts to explore accounting from a theological perspective. Findings: The paper argues that historical and current structures can limit the manner in which accounting research uses theological perspectives. Indeed, the concerns of the initial SI remain – that the contemporary economic and knowledge system is in crisis and alternative ways of questioning are required to understand and respond to this system. Research limitations/implications: As a reflection, this paper is subject to limitations of author bias relating to our beliefs, ethnicities and culture. The authors have sought to reduce these by drawing on a wide range of sources, critical analysis and the input of feedback from other scholars. Nevertheless, the narrative of impact remains a continuing story. Originality/value: In drawing on both an original SI guest editor and a scholar for whom the 2004 SI has become a touchstone and springboard, this paper provides multiple viewpoints on the issue of accounting and theology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2330-2352
Number of pages23
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number8
Early online date2 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited


  • Methodology
  • Religion
  • Spirituality
  • Theology


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