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The Virtue Project

Cornerstone University exists to produce graduates who influence the cultures of our world for Christ and His kingdom. This means that in both our community and in the actions of our graduates, we seek to embody the values of the coming kingdom that Christ will establish on earth. Indeed, our primary means of influencing society is not as “culture warriors” but rather as humble, faithful Christ followers who live with integrity as citizens of the future kingdom.

We are committed, therefore, to producing students who are not only intellectually and professionally prepared but whose lives demonstrate the distinguishing characteristics of the kingdom—the Christian virtues—and hence who will influence culture through their virtuous lives. This commitment manifests itself not in one particular course or student activity but rather a comprehensive and collaborative project that, when brought to fruition, will infuse every aspect of the university. To give structure to this comprehensive task of Christian formation, we have specified nine key virtues that will be woven into the university’s courses, programs, activities and community life.

Virtue Project Overview and Description (PDF)


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of gratitude. This virtue is marked by confession of our neediness. It will be evident when we resist the temptation to feel entitled and:

Biblical/Historical Foundation

The root of gratitude for the Christian is in the character of a gracious God, expressed through His loving interaction with His creation. More than a response to the kindness of another, gratitude is an orientation of need—a recognition that another has provided what we both needed and were unable to provide for ourselves. The psalmist often calls God’s people to gratitude as an appropriate means of receiving and responding to God’s grace. Gratitude is most appropriate, of course, as a response to the gift of salvation, resulting in forgiveness and new life in Christ. Jesus clearly taught that when we are truly aware of our need for grace, our lives overflow in gratitude when that grace is received.

Role in a Learning Community

Gratitude within the Cornerstone community will be evident in the way that individuals approach, and then respond to the experiences, insights and opportunities available to them. The educational endeavor approached in humility results in profound gratitude for the disciplined research and scholarly inquiry that combine to produce wisdom in the lives of the learner and the teacher alike. The unique experience of a residential campus also can breed gratitude for the insights and interactions gained in an intentional Christian community.

Role in Influencing Culture

Likewise, our engagement with culture as citizens of Christ’s kingdom can and should be marked by gratitude. This is negatively commanded in Christ’s parable of the unforgiving servant, which spotlights the sinfulness of responding ungraciously when lavish grace has been received. The apostle Paul demonstrates this mandate positively when reflecting on his gratitude for Christ’s grace on Him, the “worst of sinners.” His recognition was that God’s grace was to then serve as a model for others—an extension of Paul’s profound gratitude. A spirit of gratitude in our relationships, the workplace and generally speaking in all of our endeavors will mark us as unique in a world characterized by attitudes of entitlement and posturing for rights and privilege.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of hospitality. This virtue is marked by consideration. It will be evident when we reject an attitude of isolation and insensitivity to others and:

  • Follow the example of Christ in putting the needs of others before our own (Phil. 2:1-8).
  • Sympathetically engage in dialogue with others whose perspectives, beliefs and backgrounds may be different from our own (John 4:1-42).
  • Willingly step outside our comfort zone to make others feel safe and welcome (Luke 10).
  • Embrace opportunities to translate consideration into practical action by sharing of ourselves to meet the needs of others (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9).

Biblical/Historical Foundation

Hospitality, for the Christian, is rooted in our understanding of the incarnation of Christ, the One who humbly embraced the fullness of humanity to offer Himself for us. During His earthly ministry, Christ often shocked the religious establishment by devoting attention to “sinners” and by casting an outcast such as a Samaritan as the hero of a parable. His apostles, living out the tension and opportunity of hospitable engagement found themselves scattered around the known world, ministering to and with people from backgrounds that would otherwise have been unfamiliar to them. Little wonder, then, that the commandment to practice hospitality makes its way into several of the Apostles’ letters to the early church.

Role in a Learning Community

Within the Cornerstone community, the active cultivation of hospitality as a virtue will provide students, staff and faculty with a sense of belonging as they are welcomed into the common task of the academic community. A diversity of perspectives will be valued and as individuals, we will welcome the ways in which the views of others can shape and mold our own. The community will be marked by the kind of consideration that seeks out opportunities to care for one another’s needs.

Role in Influencing Culture

As a reflection of our commitment to extending Christ’s kingdom, the virtue of hospitality will mark our methods of cultural engagement. We will respectfully and sincerely seek to understand the perspectives of those whose faith is different than our own, believing that charitable discourse is possible without the compromise of our core beliefs. A commitment to hospitality will inform and energize our capacity to cross cultural boundaries in a way that seeks to understand, as well as to be understood. Hospitality will motivate us to sacrificial and charitable service as a response to the gracious gifts of God. We will bring peace to chaos, healing and help to the needy and engender an environment that values the needs and perspectives of others.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of self-discipline. This virtue is marked by consistency. It will be evident when we cease to live solely by the random impulses of our own desires and instincts and:

  • Perseveringly embrace moments of discipline and trial, even though painful, as opportunities for spiritual growth and maturity (Heb. 12:1-13; James 1:2-8).
  • Value and pursue temperance and moderation as beneficial markers of maturity in our lives (Prov. 13:4).
  • Demonstrate integrity and perseverance in our academic and vocational pursuits (Gal. 6:9).
  • Acknowledge that living effectively in community requires us to occasionally relinquish personal freedoms for the sake of others (Rom. 14:1-23; 1 Cor. 9:19-23).
  • Cultivate habits that lead to a life of consistent growth and maturity as a follower of Jesus (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 6:7-10).

Biblical/Historical Foundation

An emphasis on the virtue of self-discipline is appropriately understood, for the Christian, within the context of God’s grace. We are freed to pursue lives of self-discipline and righteousness only after God has delivered us from slavery to our sinful desires (Rom. 6-7). Apart from Christ’s intervention, our attempts at righteous self-discipline are best categorized as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) or as “garbage” compared to the surpassing joy of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8-9). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, however, self-discipline becomes a joyful response to God’s grace (Rom. 12:1), a means of experiencing the blessing of living according to God’s design (Psalm 1) and an opportunity to sow seeds that bear good fruit in our lives and in the lives of others (Gal. 5:13-26).

Role in a Learning Community

Within the Cornerstone community, an emphasis on the virtue of self-discipline will bear fruit in the excellence and integrity of our scholarship. We will be disciplined in our use of time and devote ourselves to the hard work of study and learning. Our capacity for perseverance and temperance will positively affect our relationships. The interactions of our community will be marked by humble self-discipline as a response to God’s grace, rather than proud legalism that subtly attempts to glorify self. As co-members of the community, faculty, staff and students will view moments of correction as opportunities to demonstrate grace and to grow in maturity.

Role in Influencing Culture

As a kingdom value, cultivating the virtue of self-discipline will mark us with a capacity to live in a way that positively draws the attention of others and points to Christ (1 Peter 2:11-12). Self-discipline will equip us to willingly engage vocations and scholarship with rigor, integrity and perseverance. Our capacity for self-discipline will also serve to preserve our witness and capacity for leadership in the church (1 Tim. 3:1-13) and will protect the relationships that are closest to us (Heb. 13:4-5; 1 Thess. 4:3-8).


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of faith. This virtue is marked by conviction. It will be evident when we cease to drift toward doubt and unbelief and:

  • Accept the free gifts of eternal life and peace with God by trusting in Christ’s death as atonement for our sins (Rom. 1:16-17; 3:28; 5:1-2; Eph. 2:8-9).
  • Actively choose to align our actions and our thoughts according to God’s Word (James 2:14-26).
  • Embrace realities that we have not yet seen, demonstrating our trust in God with obedience (John 20:24-29; Heb. 11:1-40).
  • Develop a set of core beliefs that will identify who we are, mark our behaviors and unalterably stand even in the midst of trial and cultural resistance (2 Tim. 1:6-14).
  • Acknowledge our doubts and ask the Lord to strengthen our faith (Mark 9:14-29; Luke 17:5-6).

Biblical/Historical Foundation

Scripture clearly points to the critical part that faith plays in following God. Faith is the starting point of the Christian journey and is essential to pleasing God (Heb. 11). During the ministry of Christ, He not only commended the faith of individuals that He encountered, but He was also moved to act on their behalf, granting spiritual and physical healing (Matt. 9:1-5; 18-26). Cultivating the virtue of faith is not a passive process. Scripture describes it as a way of living (2 Cor. 5:7) and makes clear that faith is demonstrated in the way we live our lives (James 2:14-26). Ultimately, we are reminded that Christ is both the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2) and that God will carry to completion the work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).

Role in a Learning Community

Our campus is intentionally structured to be a community of faith. The spiritually formative practices of our community will serve to remind us of the object of our faith—God and His work on our behalf—and to kindle our faith into worship and action. In our scholarship, faith couples with humility, drawing us to wonder and the acknowledgment that there are mysteries that we do not fully understand, yet embrace because of what has been revealed to us in God’s Word. As faculty and staff, faith equips us to look for evidence of God’s work in the lives of students, recognizing that their intellectual, moral and spiritual development is not ultimately dependent on our role. We believe that a learning environment where faith is practiced will enable students to form life-long core convictions that will guide, protect and define their lives and actions.

Role in Influencing Culture

As citizens of the kingdom, our calling includes inviting others to a life of faith through the proclamation of the Gospel. We will reject the false dichotomy of social justice versus evangelism; we will express our faith both in our actions and in our willingness to verbally communicate the Gospel to unbelievers in winsome and relevant ways. Our faith will serve to direct us (James 1:5-7) and to draw us back to trust in God’s provision for our needs (Matt. 6:25-34). Our faith will equip us, as well, for the cultivation of other virtues such as hope, wisdom, justice and courage. It is expected that at times, our faith will make us the subject of others’ skepticism, derision and persecution. In those moments, however, our trust will continue to be in Christ and His work (John 16:16-33). Our deep and abiding faith will provide an unshakeable foundation of core convictions, granting us a purpose for which we are not only willing to live but also willing to die.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of hope. This virtue is marked by confidence. It will be evident when we resist pessimism and despair and instead:

Biblical/Historical Foundation

As Christians, we choose to reclaim the concept of hope, freeing it from connotations of fervent wishes or ambiguous expectation. Hope, throughout the Old and New Testaments is tangibly rooted in the character and promises of God. Thus, believers place their hope in that which although unseen, is real and is trustworthy. The virtue of hope is often cultivated through seasons of pain and struggle, when we experience God’s presence and a longing for His kingdom in a unique way. Additionally, hope equips to deal with seasons of pain and struggle, reminding us that God’s kingdom is at hand and providing us with a different perspective on our difficulties (Rom. 8:18-25).

Role in a Learning Community

Within the campus community, hope allows us to see others through the lens of God’s enduring work in their lives (Philippians 1:6). In humility, we will also be regularly reminded of the futility of placing our hope and confidence in our own abilities, our scholarship and our resources. Our hope must be in the character and work of God, who graciously allows us to be stewards of the opportunities and gifts entrusted to us. The virtue of hope will also uniquely equip us to serve and support one another through seasons of difficulty and grief (2 Cor. 1:3-7).

Role in Influencing Culture

When we, as CU faculty, staff, students and alumni, are actively engaging culture and pursuing a measure of kingdom influence, we will often encounter situations that appear hopeless. The effects of sin, both general and individual, often ravage personal and social landscapes, presenting us with situations that appear beyond redemption. It is in those moments that the virtue of hope, cultivated during our years at Cornerstone will equip and motivate us for continued ministry. Hope equips us to envision a fallen world that has been redeemed to reflect the kingdom, sustaining us in the pursuit of our calling. Our experience of dependence on God’s character can be an encouragement and source of strength to those we are serving, particularly as we serve as ambassadors of the hope of new life in Christ. Our hope in the certain victory of Jesus will equip us not only to endure but also to thrive with a spirit of resilient joy rather than defeat and discouragement.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of love. This virtue is marked by compassion. It will be evident when we reject self-centeredness and indifference and:

Biblical/Historical Foundation

Among the virtues to be embodied in the life of a Christian, Paul points out that love is the greatest. This is not only because other gifts and virtues without love are worthless (1 Cor. 13), but because unfailing, faithful love is the embodiment of God’s character (1 John 4:7-8). His love is actively and faithfully oriented toward His creation, whether pictured as a husband who loves despite infidelity (Hosea) or as a father who loves despite rejection (Luke 15:11-32). It is because of God’s merciful love that we are not consumed (Lam. 3:22-23) and that we are offered the free gift of salvation through Christ (John 3:16). Love of God forms the root of the Great Commandment—to love the Lord our God with heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37), which is then extended to the related commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:39; Lev. 19:18).

Role in a Learning Community

A Christian campus community offers numerous opportunities to grow in our love for God and for others. Our academic pursuits should remind us of our value in God’s eyes and can deepen our sense of wonder and delight in Who He is and what He has done. A season of living in community provides countless opportunities to bear one another’s burdens, to ask for and to extend forgiveness, and to tangibly care for one another’s needs in compassionate action. Love will define and enrich our capacity to collaborate with one another, valuing the unique gifts offered by each member of the community (1 Cor. 12:12-31) and considering the needs of others before our own (Phil. 2:1-4).

Role in Influencing Culture

Love serves as a primary characteristic of citizens of the kingdom (John 13:34-35). The healthy, loving relationships of Christian families and Christian communities will serve as a winsome invitation into a full, vibrant life. Additionally, many of our most significant opportunities to influence culture and to proclaim the gospel will start with seeds of compassion that bear fruit in loving action (Mark 6:34; 8:32). The mandate of reflecting God’s loving character extends, as well, into loving our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48), an act that stands directly in contrast to the world around us.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of wisdom. This virtue is marked by clarity. It will be evident when we cease to have confidence solely in our own perspectives and:

  • Value wisdom above every other earthly pursuit, cultivating an appetite to grow beyond knowledge to the skillful application of that knowledge (Prov. 2-3).
  • Respond to the authority and splendor of a holy God in reverent fear, knowing that this is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10).
  • Ask in faith, in every situation of life, for the wisdom that God promises as a Father who gives good gifts to His children (James 1:5-8).
  • Trust in and without shame proclaim the truth of Christ’s work on the Cross, recognizing that the wisdom of God appears as foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:18-31).
  • Delight in the pursuit of knowing and living out the principles and practices of Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Luke 2:52; Col. 2:3; Phil. 3:7-14).

Biblical/Historical Foundation

In the pages of the Proverbs wisdom is personified, calling the reader to seek after her while offering not only direction, but protection and blessing, as well (Prov. 4). Wisdom begins with the fear of God and finds its culmination in the person of Jesus Christ. The freely offered gift of wisdom provides discernment, equipping us to understand and pursue God’s will (Rom. 12:1-2, Phil. 1:9-11). Wisdom, beyond mere knowledge, finds expression in actions and attitudes that are aligned with God’s character.

Role in a Learning Community

As an academic community, we have the privilege of cultivating wisdom through the exploration of a variety of disciplines and subjects. Believing that Christ is the source of all truth and knowledge and that the created world reveals God’s truth in a variety of ways, our scholarship will lead us to worship. Our desire for wisdom will compel us to move beyond the acquisition of mere knowledge to the application of that knowledge in ways that conform to God’s character and perspectives. Additionally, we believe that our intellectual pursuits will better equip us to better discern and respond to God’s calling—specific outcomes of wisdom. In humility, we recognize this as a lifelong pursuit; not a project that ends with the completion of an academic degree. Opportunities to grow in wisdom extend beyond the classroom to the numerous decisions and challenges faced by members of the Cornerstone community.

Role in Influencing Culture

The complex cultural issues facing the world also demand careful discernment and the pursuit of God’s wisdom. Our students will be well-equipped for the specific tasks and competencies required, but more than that, their studies and the experiences afforded them at Cornerstone will draw them into the virtue of wisdom reflected in a Christlike application of knowledge and the discernment to respond to a variety of life situations. This will allow them to better see the needs of the world as God sees them, while relying on God’s provision of clarity and direction regarding their role in meeting those needs. Wisdom will also enable them to find favor with those with whom they work and live.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of courage. This virtue is marked by commitment. It will be evident when we reject the debilitating effects of fear and insecurity and:

Biblical/Historical Foundation

Followers of Christ recognize that their obedience to God’s call requires courage. This virtue is highlighted throughout the Old Testament as characteristic of leaders such as Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David and numerous other kings, priests, and prophets. As with other virtues, courage was rooted in these individuals’ awareness of God’s character and presence in their lives. Their courage was not in their own abilities our resources, but in God’s promises and action on their behalf (Psalm 20:6-9). This theme is picked up in the New Testament as Jesus reminds us that the call to discipleship is costly, requiring us to take our crosses as we follow Him (Matthew 16:24). He promises, in fact, that believers can expect trouble—even persecution—as His followers. However, they can also count on His presence and ultimate victory (John 16:33). It is this reality that equips believers to stand firm in their convictions, even in the face of opposition. It has been the unflinching courage of Christians throughout the centuries that has been an impetus for the spread of the gospel.

Role in a Learning Community

The academic community provides students at Cornerstone with an opportunity to have their convictions tested, challenged, shaped and ultimately strengthened. The process of intellectual inquiry in and of itself requires courage and commitment; courage to challenge existing presuppositions and patterns of thought and commitment to persevere through the rigors of effective scholarship. Furthermore, we will demonstrate the courage to practice integrity in our academic lives and hold others accountable for doing the same. Within a Christian community, this courage will find its source in God’s abiding presence and His enduring Word. The resolve that is strengthened and refined will find ongoing expression as students prepare for cultural influence.

Role in Influencing Culture

As citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, members of the Cornerstone community should anticipate opposition and perhaps even persecution. Christ reminds us that this is part and parcel of our identification with Him (John 15:18-25). The pages of Scripture and centuries of church history remind us of the importance (and privilege) of standing firm in our convictions, remaining committed to Christ, especially when those convictions and their resulting actions require courageous sacrifice.


Individuals in the Cornerstone community are committed to cultivating the virtue of justice. This virtue is marked by concern. It will be evident when we reject prejudice or ignorance that blinds us to the injustices around us and:

Biblical/Historical Foundation

The Bible firmly establishes that God is the Righteous Judge (Psalm 7:11; 9:4,8; 96:13) who is perfectly just in all His ways (Psalm 9:16, 36:6, 89:14). As prophets addressed the people of God in the Old Testament, often their most scathing indictments pointed to the nation’s neglect of justice, particularly in demonstrating tangible concern for the plight of the marginalized and wounded among them. As agents of the God who restores shalom—the right ordering of individual lives, institutions, and societies—they had failed and experienced God’s judgment. In the midst of these oracles, however, the prophets pointed to the One who would reign in justice; the coming Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6-7). Indeed, as Christ’s work on earth was inaugurated, He announced Himself as the fulfillment of these Messianic prophecies (Luke 4:16-21). Ultimately, His atoning death on the cross would satisfy a just God, achieving a permanent peace for those who would believe (Rom. 5:1), commissioning His followers as ambassadors of His peace and agents of His reconciling justice (2 Cor. 5:11-21).

Role in a Learning Community

Within the Cornerstone community, then, we will actively concern ourselves with the needs of others, looking beyond our own interests (Phil. 2:1-4). Our scholarship and our educational experiences will expose us to issues of injustice on individual, institutional, and societal levels and will call us to both analysis and action. In the moments of disequilibrium fostered by our exposure to injustice, we will be reminded of God’s simple, yet compelling call for us to “do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

Role in influencing culture: A commitment to justice and concern for the oppressed will also mark our cultural engagement as Kingdom citizens. We recognize that Christ will call on us to account for action taken on behalf of the hungry, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the imprisoned (Matt. 25:31-46) and so we will ask for His power to make us effective agents of His compassion and care. As we encounter societal sin, structural injustice, and humankind’s capacity for atrocities, we will seek to right the wrong and ultimately trust in the justice of our Righteous Judge who will one day right all wrongs and wipe away every tear (Rev. 20-21).

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