Britain's debt culture is a "thundercloud" which threatens millions of families, the natural environment and the moral fabric of the nation, the Bishop of Worcester has warned.
He said many families across Britain would find themselves in serious trouble if anything went wrong with the economy, because they owed so much money.
And he evoked the traditional Christian prohibition on lending money at interest.
The bishop was speaking in the House of Lords as peers debated the Government's plans, following the recent General Election.
He said: "At a certain point, I came to the conclusion that the subtext of the election campaign was that it was a principal responsibility of government to maintain a steady rise in the prices of people's houses and that that was their principal task. I find that somewhat depressing."
He highlighted a report by Lord Griffiths, a vice-chairman of banking group Goldman Sachs, which warned that credit was too easily available.
The average person owed #4,000 in unsecured debt by the end of 2004, and the total level of person debt was #1 trillion.
The report warns that 15 million people would suffer "serious economic and social problems" if there was a shock to the economy, such as a rise in oil prices, because their debt levels were so high.
The bishop said: "It points to a thundercloud ? the thunder we are not yet hearing, but we can see it on the horizon.
"In the report, the noble Lord and his colleagues point to the vulnerability not just of individuals, but also the vulnerability of the whole economy when it is based on debt as an assumption about the way to live."
A society where debt was considered acceptable also raised moral issues, he said.
The Christian tradition "is a tradition about the control of the activities of creditors, whose uncontrolled activities are an extremely grave danger to the spiritual and moral well-being of a society".
He added: "We are vulnerable as individuals, as we might be, for example, to a serious collapse in house prices; we are vulnerable as a nation and as an economy; and we are vulnerable as a world."
Attitudes toward debt even affected the natural environment, he said.
"It would appear that the way in which we live is revealed, for example, in climate change and the loss of species.
"Those kinds of signs show that we regard the universe as an essentially unsecured and never-to-be-repaid floating loan, on which we can draw in our generation at will and expect never to have to repay, hoping that for our children and grandchildren something will turn up.
"That is the way of debt. Planetary debt follows from national debt follows from personal debt."