Beware the Enneagram

13 January 2022

5.3 MINS

Stay away from this occultic tool of dubious New Age spirituality and Sufi fortune-telling roots. It is not a mere personality test and cannot be made compatible with faith in Jesus.

Many Christians are getting into the Enneagram. They shouldn’t be. Folks may claim that this is just a personality test and self-discovery tool, that it has Christian roots, and that it is harmless, but all three of these claims are false, as I will explain shortly.

For those not in the know, the Enneagram is simply a geometric figure, or diagram — a circle with nine points, meant to represent nine different personality types (ennéa is the Greek word for ‘nine’). While plenty of secular businesses and others make use of it, sadly some Christians over the past few decades have been promoting this as something quite useful for believers.

Indeed, consider two key evangelical publishers (Zondervan and IVP) that have been pushing this, as evidenced by the key ‘Christian’ books that enthusiastically promote the Enneagram:

  • Heuertz, Christopher, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. Zondervan, 2017.
  • Rohr, Richard and Ebert, Andreas , The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. Crossroad, 1999, 2001.
  • Stabile, Susan, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. IVP, 2016.

Heuertz and Stabile are both students and disciples of Rohr. Worse yet, in 2020 Zondervan actually was going to release the “first-ever Enneagram film”: NINE: THE ENNEAGRAM DOCUMENTARY. See an update on this here.

So far the only major full-length Christian critique of this is NOT from a major evangelical publishing house. It is this book:

  • Marcia Montenegro, Don Veinot and Joy Veinot, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret. MCOI Pub., 2020.Enneagram Secret book

Because the roots of the Enneagram are actually in the occult and New Age spirituality, biblical Christians must be aware of what this is all about. Here I will mainly draw from the Montenegro and Veinot book, although a number of good articles and videos can also be appealed to, some of which I will list at the end of this article.

The authors are well-placed to discuss this matter. Montenegro had been heavily involved in occult practices and the New Age Movement (NAM) before becoming a Christian, and the Veinots have long been involved in ministering to those in cults and New Religious Movements.

In this very well-documented volume, the authors explode the three myths I mentioned above, and others. As to this just being a simple personality test, they make it clear there is no psychological validity to it, and no solid social science evidence to support it.

Focus on Self

Moreover, those behind it say otherwise. One of its main proponents, Richard Rohr, has admitted to this:

“The purpose of the Enneagram is not self-improvement, which would be our ego’s goal. Rather, it is the transformation of consciousness so that we can realize our essence, our True Self.”

Hmm, sounds just like the sort of stuff I used to read when I was into the New Age movement. It is all about self, self-realisation, and cosmic consciousness. This has nothing to do with either biblical Christianity, or ordinary personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs test. Even that has been questioned by some.

Occult Roots

As to the claim that this practice goes back to some fourth-century church fathers, this is patently false. The authors carefully trace the lineage of this through to some well-known occultic and spiritist figures of the past 150 years such as George Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, and Claudio Naranjo. These names were certainly familiar to me when I was into the New Age movement.

Say the authors:

“In summary, the origins of the Enneagram are in mysticism, occultism, and New Age. It has no origins in history prior to the early twentieth century. In fact, it is not based on empirically validated psychological theories or psychometric studies. It is based on the intuitive and occult-based mystical experiences of one man: Claudio Naranjo. The Enneagram is no more valid than Astrology, and… may be more dangerous.”

Heresy

As to the claim that this is harmless, and something Christians can get involved with, the authors show how very wrong this is. Simply consider the main ‘Christian’ promoter of this, Richard Rohr. He is a Catholic priest who has made it quite clear over the years that he has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. Indeed, simply consider his recent book, The Universal Christ.

It is about as heretical as you can get, pushing pantheism, universalism, self-salvation, and various bits of New Age mumbo jumbo. See here for one good critique.

Consider just one area: sin. Anyone familiar with Eastern thought and New Age views knows that the main point is to understand that we are already one with God — indeed that we ARE God. Overcoming our false idea that we are somehow separate from God is a common teaching here.

Rohr pushes the very same thing, claiming that sin is simply thinking we are distinct from God. But Scripture makes it clear that we are NOT God nor part of God. We are created beings who are separate from God both because we are created beings, and because we are fallen sinners. We do not find God by looking within — we find God by looking to Christ, and turning away from sin and self.

Conservative Catholics also are quite critical of Rohr. The authors quote one of them who says,

“The Christ whom Rohr preaches is not the authentic Jesus… that the Church has proclaimed and safeguarded for 2,000 years with the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result, Rohr remains an unreliable and spiritually dangerous guide for Catholic and non-Catholic alike.”

The authors have a chapter on whether something like the Enneagram can be ‘Christianised’ and whether God can redeem everything. They write:

God’s word is quite clear that God will redeem those who have trusted in Christ; and He will redeem creation — make a “new heaven” and “new earth” (see Revelation 21:1). However, He will not redeem other things, but rather cast them into the Lake of Fire: Satan’s angels, death, and those who have rejected Him (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, 14-14; 21:8).

Will witchcraft be redeemed? No.
Will sorcery be redeemed? No.
Will astrology be redeemed? No.

In truth, as the authors insist, the “Enneagram is not spiritually neutral. Having myself (Marcia) been involved in the occult practices of Astrology, contacting the dead, using divinatory tools (Numerology, Astrology, Tarot), and having spirit guides, I can say with 100% confidence that nothing that is a product of these practices or of New Age beliefs is beneficial for anyone; and it is always spiritually harmful at the least.”

Idolatry

Let me conclude with their closing paragraphs:

Rohr is a huge reason why and how the Enneagram came into the church — first in the progressive church and then in the church at large. Since then, it has gained rapid momentum due to books published, classes, seminars, and retreats taught by Rohr’s students and disciples…

If the Enneagram had stemmed from scientific, psychological studies, testing, and research and afterward had been used in the New Age, one could, perhaps, argue that Christians could still use it by going back to its original model. But there is no such model for the Enneagram.

It originated with occult mystic George Gurdjieff, and it had no personality types. (Astrology also originally had nothing to do with personality.) Perhaps a final word from the Scriptures is in order:

Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:31)

For further reading and viewing

There are a number of good articles available on this. Here are just two of them.

These three videos are well worth watching. The first one provides a 9-minute overview from a Christian apologist:

 

This one features Montenegro taking a brief historical look at the Enneagram:

 

Finally, an hour-long interview Montenegro has with Alisa Childers:

___

Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels.

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3 Comments

  1. Leon 14 January 2022 at 3:10 am - Reply

    I believe the language of the Enneagram could be more aligned to the bible. The Christian teachers who apply it for increasing awareness of negative and positive tendencies (of both yourself and other people in your sphere of influence) and the potential root causes of these tendencies/ personality/ false or true self types, often must define it and explain it in a way that appears a little confusing or contradictory to some of the Enneagrams keywords. If you put aside the often common reference to “self”, the benefits are: it’s a clear presentation of different behaviours, attitudes, tendencies, personalities or ways of dealing with life and their associated strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage them. Therefore, it can improve conscientiousness, attitude, emotional intelligence, resilience, patience, self-awareness, and character, which are biblical concepts – related scripture listed below. As to it’s historical origin, I have not seen or heard of significant proof that it came from either Christian or Occult roots, which group discovered it first. As a teacher said, if it is valuable or important to God/ people, the devil will pervert it (eg. music, worship, sex, marriage, scripture, bible teaching, prayer, healing, speaking in tongues, miracles, etc.)

    Scriptures on self-awareness/ awareness of others and conscientiousness:

    1 Timothy 4:16 ESV
    Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

    Romans 12:3 ESV
    For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
    Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

    Galatians 6:3 ESV
    For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

    Proverbs 14:8 ESV
    The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.

    Matthew 7:1-5 ESV
    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

    Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
    To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    Matthew 16:24-25 ESV
    Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
    For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

    1 Timothy 3:9 ESV
    They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

    Romans 12:2 ESV
    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Psalm 139:14 ESV
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

    Philippians 4:13 ESV
    I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    Psalm 139:13-16 ESV
    For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

    1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
    No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

    2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV
    Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

    1 Corinthians 3:16-17 ESV
    Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

    Ephesians 2:10 ESV
    For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Galatians 6:7 ESV
    Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

    1 John 4:19-21 ESV
    We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

  2. Pamela Schmidt 16 January 2022 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Leon,

    Just your first sentence, “I believe the language of the Enneagram could be more aligned to the bible”, informs me that you have bought the cool-aid and deception that Marcia Montenegro just spent an whole hour warning against. All the scriptures you quote are irrelevant if the foundation of the Enneagram is satanic, and brings to mind the old quote, “He doth protest too much”. I think you may need to look to your conscience and what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. I hope you find the way, the truth and the life, JESUS. Look to him only.

  3. Cody Mitchell 17 January 2022 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    Unbelievable? on Premier Christian Radio hosted a good discussion on the Enneagram between Todd Wilson and Marcia Montenegro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZj4DUm-AHk

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