That quote and Acinteyyo's response put the spotlight right on a persistent tension within Western Buddhism. It emerges in a few ways:
- People who want to go all the way back to the earliest sources of the scriptures and throw out anything that may have been added after the Buddha's time.
- 'Sceptical Buddhism' (don't accept anything on trust)
- Authoritarianism vs openness
- the 'Religious' model (the Truth has been revealed and all we can do is try to understand it) vs the 'Scientific' model (the discovery of truth is an ongoing process and everyone can contribute according to their ability)
- Reform movements within Asian Theravadin traditions
And of course the Theravada/Mahayana split itself is an example of similar tensions.
I haven't yet resolved it for myself, although (as some of you have probably noticed
) I do tend towards rationalist anti-authoritarian positions. But it's an unavoidable challenge for Buddhism in the modern world (and Asian countries are increasingly part of the modern world) because the Religious model - of belief in the unproven and trust in authority - is taking such a hammering from modern society's emphasis on openness, accountability and new discovery.
Look at what has been happening to Christianity in the West: the traditional churches have lost much of their credibility, authority and support, while the new fundamentalist churches (especially in the USA) are blatantly anti-intellectual, anti-science, narrowly sectarian ... I could go on, but I won't.
Do we want Buddhism to follow either of those paths?
If not, how can we define our path?