I recently reread a chunk of D. A. Carson’s The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996).
This section on cultural vs. theological conservatism is insightful:
Most Western nations, not least the traditionally Anglo-Saxon ones, betray signs of rapid change. As we have seen again and again in this book, many aspects of Western culture are mutating. Churches that are faithful to the apostolic gospel are sometimes also the ones that are loyal to a culture becoming increasingly passé. In such a situation cultural conservatism can easily be mistaken for theological conservatism, for theological orthodoxy. In an age of confusing empirical pluralism [see pp. 13–17] and frankly frightening philosophical pluralism [see pp. 19–54], in an age that seems to be stealing from us the Judeo-Christian worldview that prevailed for so long, it is easy to suppose that retrenchment and conservative responses on every conceivable axis are the only responsible courses for those who want to remain faithful to the gospel.
In various ways I have tried to show in this volume that such a course is neither wise nor prophetic. Sometimes it is not even faithful. The church may slip back into a defensive, conservative modernism that is fundamentally ill-equipped to address postmodernism (p. 470, emphasis in original).
So is contemporary evangelicalism displaying innovative creativity as a function of evangelistic zeal, or toadish capacity to whatever is novel, now that its interest in truth has so sadly waned, in order to titillate the masses?
Inevitably, one can find examples of both. But if the trend is toward the latter—and I think it is—we must nevertheless be careful not to draw two premature conclusions. (1) We must not suggest that the motives of those involved are necessarily bad. . . . (2) We must not suggest that the alternative is a kind of rugged traditionalism that has not learned to live later than the 1950s, or perhaps in some cases the 1930s or even the 1870s (pp. 472–73).
(You can check out the context here by using Amazon’s “search inside” feature. Just search on the page number.)