Part of the Interview with an Ex-Atheist series.
Okay, thought I’d introduce today’s guest via a really bad poem I wrote. Here we go.
Matthew Blair…dog groomer extraordinaire.
Once a legalist bent on pleasing man…now a huge reformed Baptist fan.
Savvy in the art of cutting canine hair…he also excels in exegeting the gospel with care.
His blog aims to help tired legalists lay in Christ’s finished plan…but his heart truly beats for union with Calvary’s victorious [fill in the blank].
[Two dollars and fifty-cents for anyone who can guess the end of the rhyme. Hint: It’s not a true rhyme. I fudged. Just a tad.]
Okay. Enough nonsense. Onward.
1. How would you describe your religious bent: Christian, non-Christian or other?
I’m an unashamed Reformed Baptist.
I started my regenerate life as a dispensational fundamental (as my grandfather is), which then spilled into a non-denominational Armenian at my local Calvary Chapel, and finally to where I am now…basking in the glories of the reformed faith. Thanks to 8 or so hours of good podcasts a day, I came to “exalt God on high and lay man in the dust” as it were.
2. Were you religious before you became an atheist?
Nope…well. Sort of. I was an evolutionist, and in my opinion, evolution has become somewhat of a religion requiring quite a bit of faith on the part of the one holding to it. After I went to college, it only deepened my feelings for it.
3. What makes you think you were an atheist?
Knowing what I know now, I would classify my self as an agnostic back then. Only someone who possess full knowledge can truly say they are an atheist in the fullest meaning of the word.
I didn’t know any better. I grew up in an unbelieving home in which the only time God or Jesus was brought up was to blaspheme His name. I was an “atheist” by default I guess you might say. My folks were, so was I.
4. How did Christians treat you as an atheist?
Honestly, I didn’t know any. I went to public school and was surrounded by like minds…minds dead in their sin being taught by others dead in their sin. Sad, really. Had I known any, I probably would have thought they were weak minded and believers of fairy tales.
I can remember once as a small child opening up a bible on my bed and reading from it. It was like reading another language. I remember that distinctly.
5. How are you treated by atheists now? Persecuted?
They tolerate me.
In the beginning of my new life, I was a typical annoying new believer. All fire and no wood…ready to change the world for Jesus! My coworkers thought I was a little nutty, but they were professing Catholics from North East Philly, so my Jesus talk was a little familiar…just with zeal.
Persecution? Nothing like our brothers and sisters around the world receive on a daily basis I assure you!
6. What was the final event or argument that brought you to believe in God?
I can’t really remember. Such as the Spirit goes, you know?
It was a process, but ultimately, I came to the end of rope. I felt nothing in my life but utter desperation and conflict….I saw Jesus as the only way to go. It wasn’t my doing…it was all Him.
7. Was it head or heart that led you to God? Or both?
In the beginning, heart. I still cannot explain it to this day, but it was as if (and I know this sounds silly) Jesus just lit up like a Christmas tree. Bizarre….and I still haven’t come to grips with it, but it’s as if darkness was pushed aside and light poured in. My conversion? Maybe. The beginnings of His drawing me? Possibly. One day I’ll find out.
8. Have you talked to any atheists about giving up atheism? How did they react?
9. When did you know you were a Christian? Did it scare you?
Dunno…but I will say this: The first time I ever “felt” grace was on my way to work one morning while stopped at a red light in front of Dominick’s Pizza. I set there and felt fully justified…fully clean. Heck, maybe that was my conversion!
10. What do you want to accomplish with your life?
Ugh, by God’s grace to be like His son. It’s what we all want, right!?
11. Who are your heroes? Why?
I don’t have enough space to list them all, but my top five would be my wife who prayed for my salvation for years while we were dating and even after we got married…my grandfather who always bore a silent testimony to Christ in his home…William Tyndale for doing what he did to get God’s word into the hands of the common folk…James White for doing what he does in defending the faith and bearing witness to a biblical Christ…and John Piper who I think was the guy that finally sealed the deal for my belief in the reformed faith.
12. What would you like to accomplish with your blog?
I struggle with legalism…it was part of my upbringing to please everyone and have no one mad at me I think. I started the foolish galatian to try and help others struggling to see Christ and to rest in His finished work. I consider myself a reform(ed)ing legalist. It’s still something I fight against tremendously. To help one saint rest in Christ would be well worth every second I’ve put into it. I’ve swayed a bit from that from time to time, but that’s my heart.
13. What’s your favorite part about being a Christian?
Being forgiven and the thought that I was once bound to hell and was given mercy beyond all measure. Yea…that’s the best part!
14. Would you ever bail on Christianity?
Again, knowing now what I know, I believe He will never let me slip from His hand. By trial, suffering, and tribulation, He will see me home. I have been bought at a high price and He’s not about to let me bail.
Matt, thank you immensely for laying it all out there. Okay readers, say “hello” to Matt and share any comments, questions or concerns. Don’t be shy.