Why would the God of the Old Testament or Torah tell the ancient Hebrew peoples to go out and kill those who were opposed to him? I do not think that a benevolent deity, who many believe in the world today, would demand that people be put to death for living apart from the laws of the Torah, or because they happened to be living in a certain geographic area, such as the Philistines or the Canaanites. It is quite ironic that the supposed same God of the Torah is completely different in mindset, for in the New Testament his followers are called to love their enemies and turn the other cheek when struck. This philosophy is in stark contrast to that of the Old Testament and really does make God seem like a paradoxical being.
I find it absolutely astonishing that there is no mention of hell in the Old Testament, and then suddenly, there are several cases in which hell is mentioned in the New Testament. I do not believe that it is coincidental that there was a heavy influence of the Greco-Roman culture upon Israel and the region in general at the time. The description of hell and Hades is purely Greco-Roman. Christ himself mentioned hell several times, and therefore by default, he must not have been a real historical person. This is also the case of the fact that Adam was mentioned by Christ as a real historical person, when we now know for a fact that the Creation story is fictional.
Another factor in the realm of the myth of hell is that hell, by Christian definition, is a spiritual place which is apart from heaven and earth. If hell is a spiritual place like heaven then there is no relevance of the physical realm. If there is no aspect of the physical then there is no chance of the fictionalized pain and torment of hell, which is so aptly used to scare “non-believers.”
Perhaps there is no mention of a place of separation from God in the Old Testament because it was not revealed to mankind. However, I find it very difficult that God would not mention to His chosen people, “Oh, by the way, if you don’t follow Me, you’re going to a tortuous place of fire and brimstone for all eternity.” This is a rather large issue that, I feel, has never been dealt with by modern Christianity. There was no progressive revelation with the doctrine of hell in the transition from the old covenant to the new covenant of Christ. Rather, the doctrine of hell simply appeared in the advent of the Jews intermingling with the Greeks, and this doctrine of hell became yet another form of control.
Why do we now accept the fact that magic is not real, but yet Christians believe magical events recorded in the Bible? The Bible makes several comments about magic as if it were real, such as the witch of Endor who conjured Samuel from the realm of the dead so that Saul could speak with him. There is also the story of Balaam and his talking donkey, as well as the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into a white hot furnace, emerging without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. The Puritans with all of their core belief thought that certain women were actually witches, which is evidentiary of the Salem Witch Trials. Christians believe the Bible without question and never think that, in terms of inerrancy, if even one portion of the Bible is false then it is no longer inerrant.
Perhaps in our modern age of science and industrialization we have lost touch with the mystical side of the human mind, although, clearly some have not lost this ability, and so we call them superstitious. It is certainly a possibility that humankind’s loss of mysticism is simply an advance in the evolution of the human brain. As we develop our understanding of the world around us we become less frightened of that which may be unknown. We should no longer fear the dark for there are no demons lying in wait to possess the soul of those who enter. One can most definitely see that more primitive cultures, such as those in Africa, rural Mexico, or Papa New Guinea still believe in witches, spirits, magical healing and animism.