Dr Sentamu believes the downturn provides a ' unique opportunity'
The Archbishop of York has urged Britain to use the credit crunch as a chance to reassess its priorities and to rediscover its vision.
Dr John Sentamu said the crisis had "brought home to us in a powerful and painful way that we have been tempted to put our trust in false securities".
He said it was a tragedy that Britain had lost the shared view of national aims that existed in the 1940s.
His comments came during a lecture at the Smith Institute in London.
Dr Sentamu suggested a three-fold approach based upon "freedom, social fellowship and service".
"With the global financial crisis, we have seen a sudden and traumatic impact on our banks, on businesses and in so many of the things we have taken for granted for so long, he insisted.
"It has brought home to us in a powerful and painful way that we have been tempted to put our trust in false securities (and I would argue false gods) and the need to think again.
"Governments and individuals are both radically reassessing their priorities and values as a result and so are the religious communities. Because of this, I believe it is also a unique opportunity."
Dr Sentamu reflected on the work of the architects of the Welfare State, William Beveridge, William Temple and R.H. Tawney at the end of the Second World War.
He added: "The reforms which Tawney, Temple and Beveridge achieved in the 1940s represented the apogee of a shared 'big vision' for Britain in the last century.
"Intellectuals, church leaders and government agreed both on the big vision and on the ways in which it could be delivered. It is a tragedy, to me, that we have increasingly lost this big vision."