Subscribe to receive weekly emails of the Reasons for Hope blog.

* indicates required

The Four Dimensions of Critical Thinking

To critically think requires four skills.  What are they?
“Does not the ear test words, as the palate tastes its food?” Job 12:11
What if someone assigned you the task of building an elaborate mahogany executive desk? What if they gave you the materials, and the tools, but you lacked the skills with which to do so? Chances are you would not be able to complete the mission successfully, unless you first learn the skills of carpentry.  In much the same way, as Christians we are tasked with the mission of engaging our culture and the ideas it promotes. Jesus tells us to be “the light of the world.” We are tasked with the mission of standing up for truth and confronting deception. Paul instructs us to “demolish arguments” and to “demolish strongholds.” But how can we succeed if we lack the skills necessary to accomplish the task? The key is found in Peter’s exhortation to engage the culture, “always be prepared…” We must make it a priority to acquire the skills we need to successfully “give an answer to anyone who demands a reason for the hope that lies within us.”
Engaging culture requires critical thinking!  We must be able to evaluate arguments and truth claims. We must be able to overcome personal prejudices and biases. We must be able to formulate good arguments. And we must be able to make intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do. These are the four dimensions of critical thinking.
As Christians we are constantly being bombarded with dangerous and often antagonistic truth claims and we need to be able to identify, analyze and evaluate these claims, prior to accepting them as true. Atheist professors constantly bombard students with truth claims that are hostile to God, Christ, the Bible, etc,. Non-Christian friends and family often attempt to persuade us to abandon our faith in response to their arguments. Newspaper articles, magazines, websites and blogs are constantly striving to persuade us with truth claims that may or may not be true. We need to be able to break these arguments down and evaluate them objectively in order to embrace only those claims which we find to be true.
Sadly, as we observed in the Galatian church, Christians are often ill-equipped to critically evaluate arguments and truth claims. It is far easier to accept an idea that “sounds good” or “feels right” than it is to carefully and logically evaluate it. Unfortunately, deceptive ideas are often packaged to sound or feel good. When one considers the temptations of Christ, it is easy to see that the ideas sounded good. If you haven’t eaten in 40 days, doesn’t it “sound good” to turn the stones in to bread and have plenty to eat? These temptations by the enemy probably felt right, yet they were meant to destroy Christ and completely derail his mission. Fortunately, Christ did not allow himself to be deceived by these ideas. Instead, he exercised impeccable critical thinking skills and completely debunked the false ideas.
A secondary benefit that also comes in handy when one learns the basics of critical thinking is the ability to identify our own prejudices and biases as they affect our ability to evaluate truth claims. There are a number of ways in which these biases manifest themselves. Sometimes we really want something to be true because it would benefit us greatly. I think this is what got to Adam and Eve. The idea of being like God, of whom they were in awe, sounded amazing. Imagine what they could do it they were like God? The deception worked because it offered something that would have been immeasurably beneficial to them.
Other times we may be so inclined to believe the person or organization making a claim, that the claim itself isn’t given due consideration.  This is often the case with college students. The tendency is to trust the professors and their knowledge, so much so, that the ideas they present are often accepted without question. If the professor says, “Science has demonstrated that God does not exist,” all too often the response is one of blind acceptance.  If the professor says so, than it must be true. When, in fact, the statement is absurd and completely false, as is obvious to anyone with minimal critical thinking skills. Most importantly, it isn’t just the teachings of professors that need to be evaluated, every idea should be given due consideration. Just because the pastor says so, or just because the church says so, it doesn’t make it true. Too many cults have arisen unchallenged because people are unwilling to question what a pastor, teacher, or organizations presents as “truth.”
On other occasions we may fear the consequences of rejecting a truth claim. Whether it’s the student who fears a bad grade if he disagrees with the professor, or the Jehovah Witness who fears excommunication if he is found to disagree with any of the teachings of the Watchtower Press, fear of the consequences plays a key role in our willingness to accept ideas without questioning them. It’s the reason young Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, he feared the consequences of questioning the teachings of his organization. It’s the reason Peter denied even knowing Jesus, he feared the consequences of being considered among those who believed what Jesus taught. Whatever the prejudices and biases may be, they keep us from being objective in our evaluations of truth claims.
Equally important to evaluating truth claims presented by others is our ability to present truth claims of our own in a proper format.  We need to be able to communicate the Truth of God’s Word in valid, sound and coherent arguments.  Too often, our arguments are weak and our ideas lack the undergirding foundation to withstand critical analysis. When we give conclusions without the supporting arguments, we set ourselves up to be rejected by those who think critically. Our truth claims need to be able to survive the critical analyses of others. This is why Paul was so successful in his presentation of the Gospel and his teachings from God’s Word. He was able to formulate clear strong arguments to support the ideas. Paul’s lecture at Mars Hill is a classic example of his excellent skills in argumentation. Being able to present strong and solid arguments requires a commitment to learning the necessary skills and a willingness to put them into practice.
Some people will still reject our truth claims, even when these are presented in perfectly good arguments, but the rejection won’t stem from objective analysis. Instead, the rejection will often stem from subjective positions, unreasonable stances, or arbitrary choices. The Pharisees and Sadducees were constantly rejecting the solid arguments of Christ. In every confrontation with them, Christ provided amazing and irrefutable arguments that would have been more than sufficient to anyone seeking truth. However, if perfect arguments persuaded all who heard them, then Jesus would have been far more successful in his earthly ministry. Nevertheless, we know that many rejected his truth claims. What must be clearly understood is that those who rejected him had no reasonable or rational basis for their rejection—for his arguments were perfect.
Our lives are full of choices! We make hundreds of choices every day. We know that many of these choices are inconsequential, but there are quite a few that bear an enormous potential for consequences— good or bad.  Critical thinking skills provide us with the tools we need to evaluate alternatives and to make better choices. It doesn’t mean all of our choices will be perfect, since we often find ourselves having to make decisions without access to all of the information we need to do so intelligently. Nevertheless, even in those situations, we can minimize the potential for bad consequences and maximize the potential for good ones.
There are numerous examples in the Bible of people that made good choices and people that did not. A great example is found in Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites to “choose ye today whom you will serve.” Joshua presented the alternatives (all of whom had done nothing for Israel) and then he presented his choice, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The choice would have been obvious for anyone with even minimal critical thinking skills. Yet, many chose not to serve the Lord and suffered dearly for their poor choice.
Critical thinking skills are not optional if we desire to live beyond deception. Critical thinking skills are not optional if we desire to fulfill the mission we have been assigned—to engage our culture.  In a world gone mad, critical thinking skills provide the foundation and stability to withstand the ideological storms that constantly come our way. We must be able to evaluate arguments and truth claims. We must be able to overcome personal prejudices and biases. We must be able to formulate good arguments. And we must be able to make intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do. These are the four dimensions of critical thinking, and they are not optional for follower of Christ.
Look for our next critical thinking article: Jesus: The Master of Critical Thinking
Posted in
Tagged with





1 Chronicles 16:8-12 1 Chronicles 22:14 1 Chronicles 29:11 1 Corinthians 10:31 1 Corinthians 13 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 1 Corinthians 15:21 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 1 John 2:15-17 1 John 2:15 1 John 4:10 1 John 4:19 1 John 4:7-8 1 Peter 2:24 1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 4:12-13 1 Peter 4:12-19 1 Peter 5:10 1 Thessalonians 5:11 1 Timothy 6:10 1 Timothy 6:3-10 100 miles 100% human 1Peter 1:17-21 2 Chronicles 9:13-29 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 2 Corinthians 3:17 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Peter 3:9 2 Samuel 23:8-12 2 Samuel 6:17 2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 3:12 2 Timothy 3:16-17 2 Timothy 4:11 25% are staying 50k 55-mile race Abraham sacrificing Isaac Abraham was very rich. Abuja Acts 11 Acts 13 and 15 Acts 17:11 Acts 1:8 Acts 5:38-39 Acts 9 Albert Einstein All great men were born in February. Alyssa Glander America waited too long. Apostle Peter Asbury Barna poll Barnabas Baruch Bulla Be a Berean Be bold! Be bold Be happy! Be part of the process. Be still and know that I am God Best Evidence God Created Bethlehem Bible Biblical archaeology Bob Gillespie Brian Miller C.S. Lewis CRT Candace Nordine Carl Kerby Jr. Carl Kerby Choosing for Two Christ in me Christ opened my eyes. Christian witness Chruch Colossians 1:27 Colossians 2:14 Colossians 3:17 Colossians 3:1 Colossians 4:5-6 Columbo Tactic D. Mark Jacobs Jr. Dan Lietha Daniel 2:21 Dave Glander David Tautofi DeBunked 15 DeBunked TV DeBunked Deuteronomy 11:13 Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Deuteronomy 6:7 Did Jesus Commit Suicide? Dr. Andrew Fabich Dr. Francis Schaeffer Dr. Jason Lisle Dr. William Beal Draa Mackey EQUIP Easter Ecclesiastes 12:13 Ecclesiastes 4:10 Eleazar Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 3:17-18 Ephesians 3:19-21 Ephesians 4:29 Ephesians 5:15-17 Ephesians 6:4 Exodus 17:11 Exodus 17:12 Exodus 33:14 Facing the Giants Family dinner Fascinating Facts Frank Figueroa Galatians 2:20 Galatians 5:1 Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 6:9 Gen Z Genesis 13:1-2 Genesis 1:14-15 Genesis 1:27 Genesis 1:29 Genesis 1:31 Genesis 3:10 Genesis 3 Genesis Glad You Asked Glendive Montana Glory to God! God created you God is love. God is rich in mercy God loves us. God loves you God won the battle God-shaped vacuum God's Word God's character God's joy God's plan God's pursuit God\'s Word God\'s character God\'s joy God\'s plan God\'s pursuit God\\\'s character God\\\'s joy God\\\'s plan God\\\'s pursuit God\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\'s joy God\\\\\\\'s plan God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s plan God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s character God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s plan Gods Word is truth Gods Word Gods care Gods character Gods divine plan Gods light Gods love story Gods plan of redemption Gods plan Gods wisdom Good Shepherd Gospel message Grammar matters Groggy Hallelujah! Hawaii He is always faithful. Heaven Hebrews 10:19-22 Hebrews 11 Hebrews 12:1-3 Hebrews 12 Hebrews 13:5-6 Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:8 Hebrews 7:25 Hell His glory Holly Varnum Holy Spirit How can I fight and overcome fear? Hubble Human life is sacred. Huntsman Center I Peter 3:15 IMPACT Impact Curriculum Is it okay for a Christian to be rich? Is life good? Isaiah 11:1 Isaiah 26:3-4 Isaiah 40:28-31 Isaiah 40:29 Isaiah 40:31 Isaiah 41 Isaiah 43:1 Isaiah 45:9a Isaiah 55:8-9 Isaiah 55:8 Isaiah 64:8 Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah 9:6 Israel Museum It is well with my soul Jamaica James 1:12 James 1:15 James 1:17 James 1:2 James 4:10 James 4:8 January 2022 Jehovah Rapha Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:13 Jeremiah 31:3 Jeremiah 33:3 Jeremiah 36:32 Jesus and me Jesus chose to die. Jesus comforts the broken-hearted. Jesus saw their faith Jesus Job 1:3 Job 2:8 John 10:17-18 John 10:27 John 11:25 John 14:6 John 15:13 John 15:16a John 16:33 John 1:12 John 1:35-42 John 3:16-17 John 3:16 John 6:51 John 8:32 John 8:36 John Mark John Ray Joni Eareckson Tada Joni and Friends Joseph A. Kennedy Joseph Joshua 1:9 Joshua 22:5 Joshua 24:15 Juan Valdes Justice Kaimuki Bulldogs Kaimuki High School King David King Hezekiah King Solomon Know It! Live It! Share It! Know why you believe. Lacey Reitz Lamentations 3:22-24 Leviticus 18:24-30 Leviticus 25:23 Liberty Institute Life in layers Life is good because God is good. Life is good Listen to His voice. Listen Little boys need Mamas. Little boys need to know their Mamas like them. Loose the Lion Luke 12:12 Luke 18:1 Luke 1:32 Luke 22:32 Luke 2:1-14 Luke 5:1-11 MTD Malachi 3:3 Malachi 3:6 Mark 10:8 Mark 16:15 Mark 1:16-18 Mark 2:3-5 Mark 5:19 Mark 6:31 Martin Luther Mary Master Potter Matthew 10:20 Matthew 10:32 Matthew 11:28-29 Matthew 11:28 Matthew 11:29-30 Matthew 11:29 Matthew 13 Matthew 14:22-33 Matthew 16:24 Matthew 19:16-24 Matthew 19:23-24 Matthew 1:22-23 Matthew 27:75 Matthew 28:18-20 Matthew 4:18-20 Matthew 5:13 Matthew 5:16 Matthew 6:19-20 Matthew 6:19 Matthew 6:27 Matthew 6:33 Matthew 9:35 May 15 1987 Memory Lane Mere Christianity Messiah Mic'd Up Mic\'d Up Mic\\\'d Up Mic\\\\\\\'d Up Mic\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'d Up Micah 5:2 Michigan State University Miracles Money is their god. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Mosaic NRB National Religious Broadcasters Nigeria Noah's ark Not yet a human. Parable of the sower Pastor Baba Paul Varnum Peter Philippians 1:6 Philippians 2:3-4 Philippians 3:12-16 Philippians 3:7-8 Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:8 Plan C Please say Yes! Please say "Yes!" Please say \"Yes!\" Please say \\\"Yes!\\\" Potter Proverbs 12:26 Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:34 Proverbs 15:4 Proverbs 16:3 Proverbs 18:12 Proverbs 18:24 Proverbs 19:21 Proverbs 1:20 Proverbs 1:8-9 Proverbs 22:6 Proverbs 3:5-6 Psalm 100:5 Psalm 103:2-5 Psalm 119:105 Psalm 119:11 Psalm 119:160 Psalm 122:1 Psalm 138:1-2 Psalm 139:14 Psalm 139:17 Psalm 139 Psalm 13:6 Psalm 147:4 Psalm 16:11 Psalm 18:1-2 Psalm 19:1 Psalm 1:1 Psalm 1 Psalm 23:1 Psalm 23:2 Psalm 23:4 Psalm 23:6 Psalm 27 Psalm 29:2 Psalm 34:19 Psalm 40:2 Psalm 40:8 Psalm 42 Psalm 63:3 Psalm 68:19 Psalm 69:9a Psalm 8:3 Psalm 8:4 Psalm 92:1-4 Pursued Put God first Reasons for Hope in the Mosaic of Your Life Reasons for Hope* Reasons for Hope Rebekah Haynie Respond to God's voice Respond to God\'s voice Respond to God\\\'s voice Respond to God\\\\\\\'s voice Respond to God\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s voice Resurrection Revelation 7:9-11 RforH Romans 10:14 Romans 10:15 Romans 10:9-10 Romans 10:9 Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:9-21 Romans 1:16 Romans 3:23 Romans 5:12 Romans 5:17 Romans 6:23 Romans 8:14 Romans 8:26 Romans 8:28 Romans 8:38-39 Sanctity of Life Schaftlein Report Scriptures Seal of Baruch September 11 Shelby Pruitt Spurgeon Stay bold! Stay bold Supreme Court Surprised by Joy Thanksgiving The Bible Project The Right Ingredients The Screwtape Letters There is no truth There's Nothing Wrong with Abortion ... DeBunked! There\'s Nothing Wrong with Abortion ... DeBunked! There\\\'s Nothing Wrong with Abortion ... DeBunked! There\\\\\\\'s Nothing Wrong with Abortion ... DeBunked! Think before you post. TikTok Tish Kerby Titus 2:6 Trust His heart Trusting God Use God's Word correctly. Use God\'s Word correctly. Wade Wacker Wealthy Christians What is a Christian? What is my purpose? Who Made God? Why am I here? Why did Jesus have to die? Within Our Reach Wooed Word of God Your grace still amazes me. Your vote matters. a little at a time a process; not an event abortion absolute truth acacia accepting help achieving the impossible adventure angels angry another child of God struggling answering questions antidote to fear anxious apologetics astronomy astrophysics be not afraid biblical Christianity biblical creationist biblical perspective biblical worldview biology blindfold boldness bold boys branch brokenness bullae bulla butterfly caged called to encourage cancellation cease striving certainty challenge character check your attitude children clay coercion come alongside comfort zone comfortable Christian commas save lives compromised confidence confused conjunction created in Gods image critical race theory critical thinking cross curriculum cut the head off the snake debate defend depressed depression design of the eye desperate passion dinosaur dig don't fight alone don't stop don\'t fight alone don\'t stop don\\\'t fight alone don\\\'t stop don\\\\\\\'t stop dont stop doubt embryology encouragement entrusted by God to do good eternal life eternity without God evangelism examine the scriptures eye fair and impartial faith walk family circle family first fear not fearfully and wonderfully made fear feeling lost feeling overwhelmed fig filled with joy and worship flight cancelled football coach forest former athiest freedom of choice fruit fulfilled prophecies galaxies give a defense give thanks glory in His holy name good news of Jesus Christ good news good will toward men grace gratitude grog having conversations heavenly host heroes of the faith hope human eye humble ourselves illness impact lives impact your teammates positively impulsive incomprehensible God isolation keep moving keep progressing largest church in the world layers leaf light year speed like Christ live in freedom loss of loved ones love of money love made for another world made in His image manger marriage memories memorization without application memorizing Scripture missing opportunities more like Christ multiple meanings mystical truth never compromised no complaints no hope no pain no gain no quitting no room in the inn nonconformist not a fetus not ashamed oak objective right and wrong olive one foot in front of the other opened doors opportunity to bring hope overwhelming distance palms part of a team passionate patience patriotism paying it forward persecution persevere perspective physics plans pomegranate positive messages postgame prayer potsherd pottery potter power of the Word praying pregnancy pregnant preposition pro-life progress quadriplegic quiet time reach the younger generation reality exists reality reassurance red cardinal redemptive work of Christ refining refocus what church looks like relationship with God relentless forward motion represent Christ resolutions rest revival right time right words root of all evil root sacrifice salvation see God move seed experiment seek the Lord shine a light silversmith situation slavery social media son of encouragement speak life speak your truth spiritual apathy spiritual harvest spotless Lamb of God stable stagnant church stand boldly on the Word of God stand up against evil star-gazing starstruck stars step by step stranded stress statistics stress study for yourself suffering swaddling clothes sycamore symbol of God's love and reassurance symbol of God\'s love and reassurance symbol of God\\\'s love and reassurance symbol of God\\\\\\\'s love and reassurance symbol of Gods love and reassurance teaching science telescope terebinth thank you thankful the apple of his eye the finish line the lion will defend itself the seeing eye theology think for yourself thriving in Christ traditions traffic trees trials tribulation troubles truth turn to God ultamarathon ultrarunner unborn child uncage the Lion uncertain uncover the truth unfair universe unpredictable use your gift vine virgin birth visual reminders vote wethering the storm where two worlds collide willow windows to the soul wonder of boys work ethic worldview worth fighting for worth it worthy of protection your circle matters youth ministry youth zeal for worship zoo guide