I would think that if someone has a sincere interest in what the Buddha taught, they would be willing to keep an open mind about the accuracy of the interpretation we have been handed, ...
Very true. As I said in another thread, it's claims that someone has either proved or rejected particular interpretations that I think is completely bogus.
You haven't seen all the evidence yet, Mike. I have long had great respect for your understanding of the dhamma, and the evenness of your responses to people. I hope the above statement isn't an indication that you've closed your mind.
This evangelistic certainty is the problem I see with many modern interpreters, who inflate their otherwise interesting opinions into a crusade to show that some particular way of looking at the Canon clears away the "unnecessary" parts and gives us the "true way". That the Commentators and other have got it completely wrong for 2500 years, but now we have rediscovered the truth.
I would be interested in any citation you can give for anyone saying that the Commentators and others have got it "completely wrong".
I have repeatedly said that my revised understanding of the dhamma and the traditional understanding has a huge overlap. I throw out a wild estimate of 75% and it's only that low because I see how passionate believers that the Buddha taught rebirth are about that point; how big a deal it is to them. My own view is more like 95% overlap in understanding; it's only rebirth and the emphasis it gives to practice that is different. All the rest that would be significant to a newcomer to Buddhism is in line. (Nerds like us in this forum can always find minor points to debate; I'm not giving any weight to those differences at all in the percentage as being too hard to estimate.)
Many modern scholars, teachers, and practitioners are quite capable of discussing problems of interpretation and practice without rejecting other views as nonsense. In fact, almost anyone I meet off-line does that.
I apologize if I have ever appeared to dismiss others' views as "nonsense" -- I don't see nonsense, I see carefully constructed, but mistaken, sense. I can easily conceive how we got to a mistaken understanding of the Buddha's teaching on rebirth; I don't find anyone's acceptance of the traditional views to be any reflection on the individuals I've met who accept those views at all.
I have another observation. A huge straw man that some hoist when these issues arise is "appeal to authority". Now, unless you think that the only thing Dhamma is good for is bit less stress in your life. I.e. if you take seriously the Buddha's claim that the end of dukkha is possible, then, unless you are an ariyan, you are appealing to authority. So accusations of "appeal to authority" are, I'm afraid, beside the point. Why read any suttas at all if you reject "appeal to authority"?
Getting into who is an ariyan and who is not, stream-entry, arahantship, any of that is a fool's game in our age. I am not even going to go there.
I practice. I am not a newcomer. I am not fully enlightened. I am somewhere between the two. Nothing else I could say online could make any difference to my qualifications in anyone here's eyes (see my comments on recognizing wisdom through long acquaintance below).
I reject an appeal to second-hand authority. The Buddha is my authority. My understanding is that he wanted us to take refuge in him, in his dhamma, and in his sangha, and that he gave good instructions about how to tell false dhamma from true, and how to tell wise teachers from the less-than-fully-wise. The latter takes long acquaintance to be sure -- and I can't claim that acquaintance with any authority. But when I compare the dhamma I am offered here online to the dhamma in the texts, there is a disconnect. I therefore rely on the dhamma in the texts, as measured against my own progress on the path. When in doubt, I defer to the Buddha. He has not let me down yet. I am not always pleased with his approach, but I am always pleased with the outcome of understanding the teaching he gets across.