Dr. Danny B Purvis
It might be helpful if I explain to you the genesis of this blog. I mean, besides the fact that this is the Growth Project blog…and I work with Growth Project…which means I write the blog. It started back in about 2008. At that point, I was still in the Navy, serving as a Chaplain, and stationed at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Southern Maryland. I was minding my own business when I got an email letting me know that I had been selected for the Navy Funded Graduate Education Program. Since I had not even applied for said program…I didn’t know what that meant.
In a nutshell, what it meant was that the Navy had selected me to go to graduate school for a year to receive a second graduate degree. One year, tuition and books paid for, to go to school, all while still getting paid my salary. Not bad work if you can get it. I had several schools to which I could have applied…but there was only one that I was interested in: Princeton Theological Seminary (PTSEM) in Princeton, New Jersey. And there were two reasons why I wanted to attend there.
First, because some of the finest theological minds I read were graduates from PTSEM. I would be going to the same school that produced: B.B. Warfield; Cornelius Van Til; James Montgomery Boice; Charles Hodge; John Gresham Machen; Bruce Metzger; and Neil Clark Warren (Yes! The guy from eHarmony.com).
The second reason is a bit more complicated. While at one time PTSEM was a bastion of Biblical, conservative theological thought, it was (and is) not that way today. As more liberal theologically minded folks moved into the seminary, the more Biblically sound ones departed. Now it is way more common to find professors and students who: deny the Incarnation; deny a bodily resurrection of Christ; deny that miracles actually took place; deny the Virgin Birth and deny the inerrancy of the Bible. I still wonder what the draw to Christianity is without all of those things. But that is another topic for another day.
I wanted to be challenged in my thinking. I had gotten my undergraduate degree from a place where everyone (for the most part) believed like me. I got my first Master’s degree from a place where everyone (for the most part) believed just like me. I got my PhD from a place where everyone (for the most part) believed just like me. I wanted to go to a school where virtually everyone believed the exact opposite of what I believed. That’s how you learn to sharpen your positions…when you are in an environment where you have to defend what you believe in the face of folks who demand you to answer for them spiritually, intellectually and Biblically. It was a great experience. I had virtually nothing in common with anyone there. It was great.
I then met a professor there that I would have for two classes before I graduated. We had absolutely nothing in common save for the fact that we carried the Y chromosome. That was about it. His political ideas were as kooky as his theological ones. And he felt the same about me. He didn’t agree with me Biblically. He didn’t agree with me spiritually. He didn’t agree with me politically. He didn’t agree with me socially. He didn’t agree with me culturally. And…he was my friend.
It is funny. Though we had nothing in common, we had tremendous respect for each other. It’s amazing how far that can carry a friendship. In my last semester, I had him for one of my final classes. He assigned a paper. I can’t even remember the topic. But whatever the topic, I sort of pulled a bait and switch and wrote about what I wanted to write about. And that was how I was lamenting the demise of true Christianity in this country due to a variety of reasons. He agreed with some of the reasons. He staunchly disagreed with others. But he lauded my reason and my critical thinking in defending my theses.
When the time came for him to assign a final paper for the class, he waited until everyone had cleared out of the classroom and pulled me aside. He had seen my work, and he knew I was more than capable of doing the work he assigned. But he wanted more. He told me not to write the final paper. He knew it would be good. He knew it would end in a good grade. So he made me a deal. He told me he would give me the A in the class because I had more than earned it. He told me I did not have to do the last paper…on one condition. “I want you to start a blog”.
I had virtually no knowledge as to what a blog was…and even less knowledge on how to “start one”. To his credit, he did not place a timeline on the request. He knew I would be in the Navy for the next 9 years or more. He knew that meant deployments, a high operational tempo, and multiple moves. He did not attach any strings at all. He just made me promise him that I would do what he asked. And that if I would agree, he would preemptively count that as my final project for the class. He said he knew it would be years away. He just wanted me to commit to do it. When I asked him why, he looked at me very intently and said: “People need to hear what you have to say.”
Interesting isn’t it? A man who agreed with me in virtually nothing, found enough important common ground with me that he wanted me to present my thoughts to a larger audience. Well…here is where I keep my promise. This is the culmination of an agreement made 10 years ago, and one I have never forgotten. To be clear, this is the Growth Project blog. I will not be writing all of the posts. But I will be writing a lot of them. They will not be about one thing. They will run the gamut from serious to silly and lots of places in between. The posts will be about what fascinates me, frustrates me, enlightens me and makes me think. All filtered through the prism of God’s Word and how He wants us to view the world. In other words, all of the posts will have the ultimate goal of getting us to know Him…and to make Him known.
I’d like to think my old professor might actually see this one day. I don’t even know if he is still teaching. I don’t know if he is still at PTSEM or not. I don’t even know if he still alive or not. But if he were to read these posts, I would like to think of him as reading them and talking out loud and in a frustrated voice about all of the things I have gotten “wrong” in his eyes. And then concluding with the words: “People need to hear what you have to say”.
So…here we are. This is the first step on a journey I hope many of us will take together. I hope you read my words. I hope you are moved by them; provoked by them; maybe even angered by them a bit. That’s ok. The words will be carefully chosen; prayed over; reasoned; checked against Scripture and honest. Do people really need to hear what I have to say?
Well…I’ll leave that up to you.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.