Archbishop Sentamu's Easter message: Britain needs revival and renewal

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, says that Christian values can turn the world upside down.Reuters

Christian values can still turn the world upside down and transform people's lives from within, according to the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu.

"Young people know in their bones that there must be something better, something more worthwhile than the self-centredness which is attracted by the promise of endless pleasure but which somehow never seems to deliver," he says in his Easter message in The Yorkshire Post.

As the Church of England bishops' pre-election letter continues to prompt debate among political leaders, Dr Sentamu speculates how disconcerting Christianity must have been to the establishment at the start.

"From the tiniest of beginnings, this group of enthusiasts expanded throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. It's still happening," he said. "Last century the African Church grew from nine million to 541 million members. It is predicted by some that China, where atheism is endorsed and religious observance is often repressed, will soon have more Christians than any other country."

But numbers on their own are not enough, he admits. It is renewal and revival, both at a personal and a corporate level, that are necessary today, he says, warning against the temptation to slide into "compromise and apathy".

Christians today must do a regular "spiritual workout" with honest self-examination. conducted in the searchlight of Christ's all seeing, ever gracious love.

"It can't be right for consumerism (which we used to call greed) to measure the worth of human beings by what they own, what they eat and how up to date with fashion they are."

Referring to the radicalisation of young people, he warns that government programmes to 
prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims will be ineffective if all they do is offer an alternative is the status quo.

"In the eyes of most young people, the status quo has been tried and found wanting. Something far more worthwhile and exciting is needed."

He also criticises some politicians in person. "The Prime Minister tried to offer a grander vision with the notion of the Big Society. It sounded promising, but seems to have petered out. Gordon Brown, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, bravely attempted to define British values, but little came of it."

Arguing that the UK's moral direction is grounded in the Bible, he says it was the Resurrection of Christ that made his message last.

"This was God's eternal guarantee of the authenticity and indelibility of everything He had said and done before death."