Many times I've heard suggestions to the effect that "clearer passages should guide our interpretation of less clear ones". This is related to the principle that "Scripture interprets Scripture" (e.g. see What does it mean that "Scripture interprets Scripture"?).
Question: How do Christians who follow this principle handle tricky cases in which two sets of passages, let's call them A and B, which at face value seem to be very clear, lead independently to contradictory doctrines?
In situations like this, I see the following dilemma:
- Either we choose A as the set of clear passages, establish a doctrine based on them and explain away the apparent contradiction raised by set B, or
- we choose B as the set of clear passages, and explain away set A.
As an example, let's consider a concrete debate: Soul Sleep vs. Consciousness after death.
A set of "clear" passages that support Soul Sleep: Gen 3:19, Eccl 9:5,6,10, 12:7, Psalm 6:5, 88:10-12, 115:17, 146:4, Isaiah 38:18-19, Matt 9:24, Mark 5:39, Luke 8:52, John 11:11, 12, Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Cor 11:30, 15:6, 18, 20, 51, 1 Thess 4:13-15, 5:10 (more passages here, courtesy of @Dottard)
A set of "clear" passages that support Consciousness after death: Luke 16:22-24, 23:43, 24:37-39, 1 Samuel 28:1-25, Revelation 6:9-11, 2 Cor 5:8, 12:2-4, Phil 1:21-24, 1 Peter 3:18-20, 4:6, Matt 10:28, Mark 12:26-27, Acts 7:55-60 (more passages and arguments here & here, courtesy of @HoldToTheRod, and in the answers to the question What is the biblical basis for the belief that the spirit of a person remains conscious after death?).
In this example, we could either focus on the first set of passages, acknowledge that most of them seem to be rather clear and establish the 'Soul sleep' doctrine based on them, and then simply explain away the second set, OR we could focus on the second set, establish the 'Consciousness after death' doctrine on the assumption that they seem rather clear, and explain away the first set.
How do adherents to the maxim "clearer passages interpret less clear passages" handle tricky cases such as this one? Are there additional principles/maxims that are commonly employed as "tie-breakers"?
If this needs to be further scoped to stay on-topic, I would prefer answers from Protestants.
Closely related, although slightly different: How do proponents of Sola Scriptura choose the "correct" interpretation of a key Bible verse?