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Ex-British Museum Boss Laments the Decline of Religion in the West

A country that does not have God at its heart is a country that desperately needs to hear about Jesus – and we need to tell them.



A report in the Times newspaper says that “Britain is the first society to operate without shared religious beliefs and rituals at its heart”. This is according to Neil MacGregor a former director of the British Museum, who is to host a 30-part series on BBC Radio 4 called Living with the Gods, which will feature objects from the British Museum’s collection that illustrate 40,000 years of “believing and belonging”.

He said that the rituals of religion could bring communities together but the decline of religious belief was “a striking phenomenon across western Europe”, particularly in Britain.

We might want to dispute whether Britain is unique or outstanding in this, but in general we can agree that there is now no unifying faith in our nation. In past days, although everyone was not a Christian, we would be considered a Christian country in that most of the values we shared were shaped by a Christian worldview.

Today, if there a set of unifying values does exist it would be around “individualism”. We might have a sense of awe at the beauty of the natural world nature but are blind to any Creator behind it. We might have a sense of a higher authority, even a god, but any such being is only there to help us fulfil our own personal dreams. These values, by definition, do not particularly bring us together, nor are they the way we were made to be.

This is surely a call for the church to get out there and tell people the good news about Jesus. We do not just want to present a set of values we can all united around as a society (helpful though that might be) but rather, to give God his rightful place of honour so that our friends, neighbours and family get to share the gift of eternal life. And that is something that will last a lot longer than the 40,000 years of objects in the British Museum.



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