You've heard the arguments from both sides, heard them named: Traditional view vs. Modern view. Buddhism Lite vs. Buddhism Baroque. Rebirth vs. Viewless.
It's been (very vaguely, probably jokingly) implied that without 16 years of study as a monk, it is presumptuous of me to give my interpretation of a sutta (see "Sutta Readers: Shoot Me Down" thread). And that's true, it is. It presumes I have done some studying on my own, and that I have a brain capable of independent thought: big assumptions, there, especially if you don't know me at all. The implication is that one can only truly understand the dhamma if you've spent at least half a young lifetime studying it. But it seems to me that this is not what the Buddha taught: he did not say I should refrain from applying my brain to his teachings; he did not say that it could only be understood if you'd studied for a very long span of years. Quite the opposite. I have even heard (though I haven't come across it yet in my sutta readings) that he gave us a set of tests we could apply to what is offered as his teachings, so that we can determine which are authentic, which not. Which (it seems to me) implies that he had every expectation this would be needed -- the man did not come up with rules arbitrarily, "just in case" -- he was a man who responded to need -- and he must have seen in his own lifetime, that his teachings were already being corrupted, and knew such a test would be even more valuable as time went on.
To paraphrase Richard Gombrich in "What the Buddha Thought", it would be unparalleled in human history for such a huge volumes of a canon to be a precise record of what the originator said. Setting aside that our canon is not in the Buddha's original language -- it is extremely unlikely to be a 100% accurate transmission of what he *meant* never mind what he said. And yet the canon seems to me as though it is treated as gospel, and worse than that, that we must pretend to understand every single word, and be able to justify every turn of phrase, making every bit out to be totally consistent with whatever we understand is being taught; and if we can't do that -- if anyone dares admit that they don't know how a given bit got in there -- they are scoffed at.
I would ask those who see seamless coherence all throughout the suttas to do a little reality check about human perfection vs human fallibility and maybe be a little more open-minded about the possibility that what we have before us is text that just may have been modified somewhat along the way.
So to my mind, it's not just my right but my duty to question: because I don't believe the canon can possibly be perfect transmission; and I do believe that the Buddha, brilliant as he was, would have been able to see this trouble coming, and would prefer reasoned dialog and open-minded debate to keep his dhamma alive.