In such a milieu, the vast majority of religious people had no interest in theology. Their religion had little content, apart from the rituals needed to influence the deity. Consequently, the various cults and temples seldom clashed, since experience, not ideas, drove religion. Since all religious experience was fundamentally the same, toleration was practiced. Most people, regardless of what religion they practiced, sought salvation from suffering, power in daily life, and entertainment. As a group, first century worshippers, regardless of their religious affiliation, wanted “health, wealth, protection and sustenance, not moral transformation.”
In this setting, one can see how a church might fall prey to a false gospel that plays on the themes of the culture:
[Paul's] opponents came with flashy and entertaining rhetorical power, a track record of “success” in other churches testified to by letters of recommendation, and a stress on signs and wonders. Moreover, they promised “more” of the Spirit to those who would show their sincerity by giving them money!
Is our religious context the same? Do pastors and churches feel the pressure to entertain? Do we look for pastors who are "gifted" speakers? Do we evaluate pastors by their track record of "success"? Are we always looking for something "more," whether more of the miraculous or more spirituality? It would be easy here to point fingers at other groups (by which I mean other evangelical groups) and express how they are guilty of these things. But let's take a look at ourselves to see how the culture has shaped our view of pastoral ministry.