Religion 2.0: Timothy Dalrymple
After majoring in philosophy and religious studies at Stanford, earning an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in religion at Harvard, and studying at Oxford as well as two universities in China, Timothy Dalrymple had had enough of academia. So he plunged into the online world at Patheos.com, a growing multireligious website, as manager of its evangelical portal.
In 2010, the multifaith site grew from 15,000 monthly visitors to about half a million with just 11 full-time employees. Most notably, Dalrymple lured North Park University professor Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog away from Beliefnet. (McKnight said he thought Patheos "was a better fit—more exclusively directed toward an educated audience.") Patheos is based in Denver, but Dalrymple, 34, works from his laptop in Atlanta.
"He's kind of come out of nowhere," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Patheos covers a wide range of topics, but Cromartie particularly notices Dalrymple's political commentary: "Many young evangelicals spend a lot of time saying, 'I'm not Dobson, I'm not one of them.' But [Dalrymple] is a very thoughtful, theologically orthodox, culturally and politically conservative guy. He writes with confidence and boldness that I find bracing and refreshing."
Question & Answer
Why the shift from academia to Patheos?
I was growing weary of the trendiness in academia where enlightened opinion is determined by intellectual fashion. I was also growing frustrated with the prevailing contempt for conservative Christianity. I felt as though the center of gravity of social conversation was shifting more to instantaneous media. Patheos creates a marketplace of ideas, and I believe that the gospel flourishes in that sort of marketplace.
Are people concerned with the multifaith element?
Some potential partners have elected to not get involved because they don't want to direct people to a website where they might learn about other religions. I think that's shortsighted. We should have nothing to fear from people learning about other faiths.
How do you hope to shape or cover evangelicalism?
It's important to make clear that it's perfectly possible to be theologically and even politically conservative and yet be absolutely committed to serving the least of these. There seems to be doubt of that on the Left and not enough people making that case on the Right.
What do you hope to achieve?
Since Patheos is a multifaith site, I want to represent the gospel as clearly and compellingly as possible. I also hope Patheos will host the conversations that are shaping the future of the church. In the broadest brush, I hope it can be both a witness and a host of conversations.
What do you see in the years ahead?
I've always understood writing and teaching as part of God's calling for me. I would like to at last finish a novel I've been working on. I'd also like to put out a book that fleshes out in a popular way the issue of the theology of suffering that I explored in my dissertation.
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Previous "Who's Next" sections featured John Sowers, Alissa Wilkinson, Jamie Tworkowski, Bryan Jennings, L. L. Barkat, Robert Gelinas, Nicole Baker Fulgham, Gideon Strauss, W. David O. Taylor, Crystal Renaud, Eve Nunez, Adam Taylor, Matthew Lee Anderson, Margaret Feinberg, and Jonathan Merritt.