In speaking of the background of the Corinthian culture, Timothy Savage makes the following statements in his book entitled, Power through Weakness: Paul’s Understanding of the Christian Ministry in 2 Corinthians. Savage’s description of the culture that the Corinthian church found herself in parallels modern America both within the church and society at large.
We must be content, therefore, with two observations. First, the cults seemed to exact little appreciable change in a convert’s manner of life. Secondly, and not unrelated to the first, religion served not as a critic of, but as a warrant for, society. It uplifted, entertained, prospered and confirmed those it was designated to serve.
First century worshippers looked to religion for contact with the divine. But this was contact as they defined it, according to their wants. They wanted divine benefits, not enlightenment — health, wealth, protection and sustenance, not moral transformation. Naturally they were attracted to convincing displays of the gods’ power, for they yearned to tap into and display that power for themselves. The stronger the god the more power they could manifest. They cared little for doctrine and thus little for those who excluded every god but their own. They honored the one who preached with flair, force and pride. In short, they wanted religion to serve them on their own terms — not to change them, but to exalt them (p. 34).
The depressing aspect of this is how far from Christ our American churches and culture have fallen. The encouraging and uplifting aspect of this is that we have inspired revelation from the risen Head of the church, Christ Jesus the Lord on how to relate to that culture, what to proclaim to that culture, and the method by which His churches can be revived from their progression to destruction.