The out-going Bishop of Rochester, who resigned last week to focus on helping the persecuted church, has warned Britain against drifting from its Christian moorings.
In The Sunday Telegraph, Michael Nazir-Ali calls on Christians to learn from the witness of believers suffering for their faith overseas.
Rejecting the popular assumption that all faiths will provide the same values as Christianity, he warns that in Britain celebrations of “mere diversity” are replacing the “spiritual and moral framework provided by the Judaeo-Christian tradition”.
He writes: “Our ideas about the sacredness of the human person at every stage of life, of equality and natural rights and, therefore, of freedom, have demonstrably arisen from the tradition rooted in the Bible.”
Yet Britain, he says, has developed a “values vacuum”, and is suffering from the “historical amnesia which is so prevalent today – or, rather, a selective sort of amnesia”.
He says: “The perfectly virtuous pages of history, such as Magna Carta, the campaign to abolish the slave trade and, later, slavery itself, the easing of conditions of labour for men, women and children and the introduction of universal education, which all took place under the inspiration of the Christian faith, are forgotten or ignored.
“Instead of which we get large doses of guilt along with an emphasis on our involvement in the slave trade, religious and ethnic persecution, exploitative colonialism and other wrongs which certainly need repentance.
“But repentance for past wrongs without the celebration of what has been good has deprived people of a common vision by which to live and a strong basis for the future.”
The former Bishop also said the church in Britain had failed to provide robust opposition to the slide away from Christian values, particularly in the area of abortion.
He said the church has come to be “seen as simply the religious aspect of society, there to endorse any change or chance which politicians deem fit to impose on an unsuspecting nation, rather than being the guardian of the Christian tradition which has provided for nearly everything valuable in this country”.
Referring to the persecuted Christians whose cause will become his main focus from now on, he said that “in their clear and sacrificial witness, they have a great deal to teach the churches of the West”.