I am a die hard believer in inerrancy.
However, I do not believe that the Bible is necessarily perspicuous.
What is perspicuous? This means that the Bible is clear. Martin Luther believed that the Bible was perspicuous, therefore anybody that read it could drag out the true meanings of the Word. Now, mind you, I believe that certain section are very perspicuous. The message of salvation is easy and simple so that even my young children can understand it.
However, we fool ourselves to think that all of the Bible is this way. Indeed, I have the highest regard for the scriptures, and because I do believe in its power, I try to read through the entire Bible every year.
However, it is important to realize that wide spread literacy is a new behavior. Are we to say that the only true giants of Christianity are those that could read? If so, this would rule out many Godly men of the past.
Because we do not have a perspicuous Bible, we must lift meaning out of the Bible. This is done by two big words.
Hermeneutics: This is the theory or philosophy of how to draw out meaning.
Exegesis: This is applying your hermeneutics to any section of scripture to explain it.
I believe that an overlooked hermeneutic rule is the following: How many times is it mentioned?
If something isn't mentioned a lot of times in the Bible, may you need to accept that it really isn't all that important.
Angel: Word search yields 207 times. (NIV)
Heaven: Word search yields 236, New Testament only, times. (NIV)
Hell: Word search yields 14 times. (NIV)
I have noticed the tendency in my own life to want to spend a lot more time thinking about Hell rather than focusing on Heaven. As a matter of fact, my sense of the world is that the non-Christian is absolutely fascinated with Hell. And, we Christians seem to be willing to feed that fascination.
We should not brush Hell under the covers, as some of the liberal offshoots of the church have done, but we should be also highly careful not to describe our understanding of the lightly described sections of scriptures with absolute certainty.
If asked in the future about Hell by a non-Christian, here will be my response.
"As Christians, we only have the word Hell mentioned 14 times in the Bible. The fact is that we don't know exactly how the after life will play out. However, we do know that some will be invited to the banquet feast of the lamb, and each of us have an opportunity to respond to this invitation. If you turn down the invitation of believing in the Messiah, you received some type of a punishment. Some Christian believe that eventually you will be destroyed, and but many believe that the punishment will go on forever. Regardless, of the final resting place, we know that the point of this life is to find God before it is too late.
This is the message of the Bible."