Christ-Centered Critical Thinking – Shorter University

Thinking Powered by Christ logoWhat is Christ-Centered Critical Thinking?

“Christ-Centered Critical Thinking analyzes, synthesizes, and evaluates the tension between truth and experience as we pursue wisdom through a biblical worldview.”


The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Committee is dedicated to helping students and faculty flourish personally, spiritually, and academically within the context of Christ-Centered Critical Thinking. In particular, the committee is interested in exploring what it means to pursue wisdom—an endeavor we believe distinguishes our university from others.  To this end, the committee facilitates various activities throughout the academic year designed to answer the following questions:

  • What does Thinking Powered by Christ really look like in the lives of students and faculty?
  • What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
  • In what ways have our faculty and students experienced the transformation of knowledge into wisdom?
  • How has teaching and coursework impacted our spiritual formation and vice versa?

For a complete reference list, refer to the QEP Resources section.

How do Shorter students define Christ-Centered Critical Thinking?

“It’s thinking for a purpose…if you think of something that takes a lot of time to go through, like a problem that has a solution that has to be found. It’s there, you just have to find it. You may have to take many steps and it could take a few minutes, or it could take years, but eventually you’ll reach it. “

“I think Christ-centered critical thinking is more, instead of thinking how the world thinks, is thinking how Christ would think.“

Fall 2011 Student focus group responses

What does the phrase, “Christ is the ultimate critical thinker,” mean to Shorter students?

“I would say that is that he thinks before he acts. Everything he did had a purpose; it wasn’t just like he did this just to do it, but he thought before he acted.”

“It would make me think of all of the Parables because there is a point in the Bible whenever Jesus asks a question. He’s going to answer it for you, but He’s going to answer in the craziest way possible, and you wonder, ‘How does He come up with that?’ Those are the best lessons of life. That’s just what I think when I think of him as a critical thinker because He knows how to not only understand a situation, but to make others understand it.”

“Besides Him being the standard for how we should live, he was very brain-based. He went against the grain Of what the time said to do. What do you do when your enemy hits you? Well, you turn the other cheek. That’s what Jesus said. If he asked for your cloth, then you gave him your tunic too. If he wants to walk a mile with you, go with him, too. He really broadened the spectrum on what love is. That’s what really got me on how Jesus thought critically.”

What does it mean for a University to be Christ-Centered?

Historically, American denominationally-tied colleges and universities have had diverse and evolving approaches to integrating faith and learning in the classroom and within individual disciplines, as well as to defining their Christian identity. These approaches have been complicated by the ascension of secularism, especially in scholarship and in post-graduate studies, necessitating recruitment of secularly educated faculty, staff, and administrators to Christian institutions.

The question is often asked: What is the difference between a secular and Christian institution of higher education? Markos (2010) argues there are only three values that higher education institutions teach: tolerance, environmentalism, and egalitarianism. However, Glanzer (2010, p. p. 381) states that “leaders and faculty at Christian colleges and universities have the tools to define the human and therefore properly overcome the supposed divide between facts and values.” Glanzer’s explanation is summarized in the table below.

For a complete reference list, refer to the QEP Resources section.

What is Shorter University’s definition of critical thinking?

While there are multiple definitions for critical thinking, we will use the definition of critical thinking of The Foundation for Critical Thinking (Paul & Elder, 2009):

Critical thinking is the process of analyzing and assessing thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinking presupposes knowledge of the most basic structures in thinking (the elements of thought) and the most basic intellectual standards for thinking (universal intellectual standards). The key to the creative side of critical thinking (the actual improving of thought) is in restructuring thinking as a result of analyzing and effectively assessing it. (p. 6)