Bare Bones Faith


For years I have wondered what faith in Jesus looks like, not faith in the church, or faith in Bible, or faith in doctrine, or faith in ritual, but faith in Jesus.

This thing called Christianity has played fast and loose with faith in Jesus for a long, long time. Sometimes “Christianity” hardly looks like Christ at all.

People will fight for their particular brand of historical Christianity and its coded theology and conduct because there is a great deal of security in that. I get that. The fundamentalist always thinks the best days are behind us and we need to return to the purity of the code, whether it is the bible, tradition, or the United States constitution. They act like God is done with us. Church history is over. Everything is going to hell.

Not me.

I am a dreamer.

But it’s hard.

I am still getting untangled from decades of what I was taught, and what I taught others, searching for the core what it means to follow Jesus. I wonder, what does it look when all of the trappings are stripped away, and it is just Jesus and life?

But it is a difficult challenge. Sometimes I am so damn selfish or messed up, I really don’t care about Jesus, or anyone else. It’s difficult to strip out all of the expectations. It’s hard to get in the moment.

So, I have been living a non-spectacular life, punctuated with brushes of the divine in unlikely people and places. I am trying hard to live life with my eyes wide open so I don’t miss anything.

What am I learning? I am free to love and to be loved. But, even that can be a problem for me, because I get disgusted with other people, and I get especially disgusted with myself. I have to re-learn how to love several times everyday. Sometimes, I hold on my disgust, until I get disgusted with it, and realize once again, that more than anything, love transforms.

One more thing. If you are looking for a similar “bare bones faith,” you are not alone. There are so many of us that sociologists has given us a name, “dones.” We are people who were once heavily involved in the institutional church, and are now looking for a faith that is more real and authentic. 

What does a stripped down, real faith look like to you?

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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  1. Wow. Yes. This.

    “What does a stripped down, real faith look like to you?”

    It is lonely. :/

    • I agree. We “dones” are a massive group of people who have individually left the church organization for something unknown and uncharted. But we are dispersed, rather than gathered. I often think, if only there were some way to gather, without re-generating all of the baggage that we have turned away from.

  2. Umm… have you been reading my prayer journal? because what you’ve written here looks a great deal like a lot of entries in that journal. 🙂

    I agree with another commenter that “stripped down faith” feels lonely. Most Christians I know don’t “get” me and a few think I’m going to hell. That’s par for the course, I think. Christians who are serious about finding God without all the trappings of institutional Christianity have always been challenged, and not a few have been put to death… by Christians. Wow. What an uneccesarily complicated mess we’ve made of things. I have never liked “complicated.” Bare bones suits me just fine. Keep hanging your soul out there in the wind; you never know who will read your blog and think, “Hmmm…”

  3. Rick, You are an encouraging soul. That’s what this new community needs, honest stories and mutual encouragement. It’s worth “hanging our soul out in the wind.” Thank you!

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