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Introducing Patheos

By Mark D. Roberts | Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues at Foundations for Laity Renewal forwarded to me a news release about Patheos and its effort to increase meaningful dialogue among different religious traditions. Keith Mirrer, our Director of Communications, keeps abreast of religious news stories and forwards to me those that are relevant to my work. I was indeed impressed with the Patheos story. I had heard mention of this online effort, but had only a vague notion of its mission. The news release included this overview of Patheos:

Founded in 2008, is the premier online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. Patheos is designed to serve as a resource for those looking to learn more about different belief systems, as well as participate in productive, moderated discussions on some of today’s most talked about and debated topics.

Then, that very day, another of my colleagues in our Communications Department contacted me. Marcus Goodyear wanted me to know that Timothy Dalrymple, who works for Patheos, was interested in interviewing me. Timothy, who manages the Evangelical Portal of the Patheos site, attends Park Street Church in Boston, where I was to preach on Sunday, October 11th. He wondered if we might find time for a short interview.

And so we did. Between the first and second services, Tim and I found a quiet office. He asked me a number of questions on faith, doubt, the university, and faith in the workplace. I enjoyed our conversation, and left feeling even more impressed with Patheos than before. In this Internet-flattened world, we need places where people from different religious traditions can honestly and faithfully enter into dialogue. Moreover, speaking as a Christian, I believe that we who follow Jesus need places for serious conversation about our faith in relation to the real issues of our world. Genuine religious dialogue, by which I don’t mean the kind where everybody pretends that we all believe more-or-less the same thing, is essential for the health of our world. I also happen to believe that the Christian faith will be well-served in an open, truthful conversation.

I have now spent a good chunk of time browsing the Patheos site. I’m impressed with the quality and relevance of the conversation. For example, today their “Public Square” conversation focuses on religion and sports. You’ll find a wide range of contributions, all of which are thoughtful and readable.

I heard today that a part of my interview with Timothy Dalrymple is now up on the Patheos site.  It’s called “Finding Life in Student Life.”  You can check it out here. And, no, I was not intentionally making funny faces for the camera. That’s just how I look online.

Be sure to check out other features of the Patheos website. It’s really quite impressive, and well worth your time and effort. For example, I was fascinated by the content in the Muslim portal.

Kudos to the Patheos people for an excellent effort. And thanks to Tim Dalrymple for the privilege of contributing to this website.

Topics: Internet |

5 Responses to “Introducing Patheos”

  1. Timothy Dalrymple Says:
    October 20th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    And if anyone should wonder whether Mark is the same gracious guy in person as he is with his electronic ‘pen,’ you need wonder no longer. Thank you Mark for giving us your time for the interview — it was a real pleasure — and thanks for your kind words regarding Patheos.

    I like to say that Patheos recreates the marketplace of ideas in miniature — and I have always believed that the gospel reaches those who are truly seeking when it is spoken in the marketplace. I’m grateful to all the authors who contribute, and invite readers as well, so that we can be a winsome and compelling voice for the Christian faith in that market square.

    For fans of Dr. Roberts, you can also see, in the little video in the upper right on the Evangelical Portal (, a video in which he answers the questions “Why are you an Evangelical?” and “Where do you hope to see Evangelicalism in 10-20 years?”

    Thanks again, Mark! God bless!

  2. Kozak Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 6:05 am

    I checked out (not as thoroughly as you) the Muslim section to which you linked. I do not share your enthusiasm. Though the discussions seem to bring up hard questions, the answers are the usual stuff from the Muslim end. Using Hitler and Stalin as examples of “Christians”, dismissing critiques by calling them “Islamophobic” rather than refuting the substantive points. Unfortunately, while Muslims whistle a happy tune at sites like this, they sing a rather different tune amongst their own.
    Islam is unique in not presenting publicly the reality of what they believe, and this site is no exception. Must admit that in general I am extremely skeptical of “interfaith dialogue”.

  3. Mark D. Roberts Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Kozak: Thanks for your comment. As near as I can tell, Patheos is letting people speak of their own faith. So, yes, you’d find Muslims presenting “the usual stuff from the Muslim end.” I would hope that, in some place, a substantive dialogue about these issues could ensue.

  4. Paul Says:
    October 21st, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for the pointer to Patheos. It looks intriguing and, by all means, dialogue needs to begin between the world’s religions.

  5. Timothy Dalrymple Says:
    October 22nd, 2009 at 8:04 am

    To clarify, the “Library” portion of Patheos seeks to present accurate, unbiased information on many different religions and sects. The “Portals” are written by and for the members of particular religious communities. So at the Muslim Portal, for instance, it is mostly Muslims writing articles for Muslims. The “Public Square” addresses issues of common concern, so that a person can see what different religious traditions believe about, for instance, homosexuality. Also, most of the Portals will have material from conservative, moderate and liberal constituencies within each tradition.

    I will say that I, too, am skeptical of much “interfaith dialogue” in the way it has been done in the past — largely to relativize differences between religions and encourage people to abandon exclusive commitments to their own faiths. This is rather different. It’s more of a marketplace of ideas. Although the site as a whole is not evangelical in its intent, I’m glad that people can come from all faiths and many countries around the world, including countries closed to missionaries, and see Christian beliefs well represented. But we’re always seeking to improve, so please leave feedback.


Thanks for your willingness to make a comment. Note: I do not moderate comments before they are posted, though they are automatically screened for profanities, spam, etc., and sometimes the screening program holds comments for moderation even though they're not offensive. I encourage open dialogue and serious disagreement, and am always willing to learn from my mistakes. I will not delete comments unless they are extraordinarily rude or irrelevant to the topic at hand. You do need to login in order to make a comment, because this cuts down on spam. You are free to use a nickname if you wish. Finally, I will eventually read all comments, but I don't have the time to respond to them on a consistent basis because I've got a few other demands on my time, like my "day job," my family, sleep, etc.

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