There is no doubt that the Enneagram is taking much of the Christian church by storm. There are currently over 15 titles being sold by “Christian” publishers with more on the way, selling in the hundreds of thousands of copies. It is being used as a 9-week sermon series in many churches, and also used in new members classes, marriage classes and small groups as a spiritual tool. Being as we are a question-asking ministry, we feel compelled to ask what the Apostle Paul would think of the Enneagram? If he were among us today, would he approve of and support the Enneagram – or would he reject it?
The Enneagram is a geometric design consisting of a circle with an equilateral triangle and an irregular hexagram inside, which touches the circle at nine points. The current version has numbers added at the touch points around the circle and it is the adherent’s task to figure out which point reveals their own personal number. It is claimed that this is a spiritual tool which is very ancient, and indeed “may be as ‘old as Babylon’”1Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram; p. 43, Zondervan. Kindle Edition dating back perhaps 6,000 years 2Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram; p. 43, Zondervan. Kindle Edition:
Versions of the Enneagram have been around for thousands of years, hidden away in wisdom schools and passed along orally within the mystic traditions of the world’s religions.3Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram pp. 42-43; Zondervan, Kindle Edition.
If anyone should be concerned that the claims of its origins indicate that the Enneagram “spiritual tool” may originate in ancient occult mystical and pagan religions, they may put their mind at ease on that point, since it was invented by a Russian mystic named George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff in the early 1900s. So, it is recent occultism rather than ancient. But even though it certainly does not date back to Babylon, we need to point out that all of the Enneagram teachers, coaches and Master Teachers who were trained prior to 2016 were trained by New Agers, psychics, and a theological heretic by the name of Richard Rohr. In addition, all teachers and coaches who are accredited received their accreditation through the International Enneagram Association, which was founded and is run by mostly New Agers – which means the Enneagram may as well come straight from the ancient pagan mystical religions, since these sources have zero teachings in common with Christianity and are in fact, anti-Christian mysticism. A teaching does not have to originate in ancient Babylon to be “Babylonish.”
We have written a book addressing the origins, theology and claims of Enneagram coaches, trainers and Master Teachers titled, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, but in light of the sheer volume of material the Apostle Paul wrote to correct false teaching and bad behavior we should be able to figure out where he would fall on this phenomena.
What is the draw of the Enneagram? Many gravitate toward the Enneagram thinking it is a personality test, by which people can determine what type of person they are. Why do I do the things I do and react to others in the ways I do? They want to improve on themselves, win the struggle against sin. And, they have no fear of involving themselves with it, and trust it is fully aligned with their Christian faith since it comes from Christian publishers, is endorsed by celebrity Christians, and is used and promoted by their pastor and church elders who are after all, charged with guarding the flock. What could possibly be wrong with it?
The bigger name Enneagram teachers, though, are very clear the Enneagram is NOT a personality test to enable one to figure out what type of person he or she may be. Popular author and Enneagram teacher, Christopher Heueretz, writes:
As Russ Hudson frequently emphasizes, “Type isn’t a ‘type’ of person, but a path to God.”4Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram; p. 49, Zondervan. Kindle Edition. It also should be noted that Russ Hudson is a New Ager
So Christian, your “number” isn’t what type of person you are but which of the 9 possible paths will get you to God. (Does this sound “Christian” to anyone?) In using the Enneagram, you are on a quest to discover which one of these is your personal path. But hold on there, Christian! Didn’t Jesus clearly teach that He was the ONLY path to God (John 14:6), and that ALL OTHER PATHS lead to destruction? (Matthew 7:13)
The answer that so many seek to figure out why they do what they do is addressed in Scripture. And since the Bible is the final authority for faith and practice, we would expect this to be the case. Among the various portions of Scripture, we might turn to is Romans chapter 7, where the Apostle Paul reveals his own struggle with this issue at some length, part of which is:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15-19)
We do the things we do and react to others the way we do because even after salvation, we have to deal with our old sin nature until we are with Jesus, either through death or through His coming to get us. Jesus will deliver us – the Enneagram cannot.
The fact that we need to be delivered from our sin nature is completely at odds with one of the core tenets of the Enneagram. This tenet draws on Jungian psychology with a bit of fanciful theology provided by Franciscan Priest and mystic, Richard Rohr. The claim is, there exists in all of us an unsullied, unsinful “True Self” which has never been separated from God at all. According to this core teaching, you, and I (and the Apostle Paul!) have unfortunately created a “False Self” which believes we are sinners, though we are not. If properly “worked” – another overused therapeutic term – our individual path will get us back to our true unsinful self which is and always has been with God. Yet the apostle Paul states that you my friend, are a sinner. Who are you going to believe – New Age frauds or the Bible? According to the Bible, sinners need to fess up to that truth to be saved. Moreover, Christians are to steadfastly believe that they will be delivered from all sin. The One Who delivers us from the body of this death is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 7:24-25)
So the fact that we are not yet perfect but have still to deal with our own sin (and other people’s sin) in this life is no reason to despair, and no reason to seek out the wisdom of New Age charlatans. As we grow and mature in Him, we focus more on Him and less on ourselves. We are to give our anxieties to Him and admit our failures to Him. He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We don’t have to “work” a path. IF we HAD to choose a number, it would be number “saved by grace.” Thank You, Lord!
We are also to focus our minds on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise. Christians who are young in the faith are to imitate the things they have learned from more spiritually mature believers who have weathered some of the storms of life. (Philippians 4:8-9) And yet, though we are to look to more mature believers, we still have the responsibility to check what anyone tells us to make sure it lines up with scripture. That obviously necessitates that we KNOW the scriptures. The time we waste fooling around with New Age practices could be put to much better use in that pursuit.
We often do suffer in our battle against our old natures. Yet, it is sometimes the suffering in life which strengthens our relationship with God, sharpens our focus on Christ and who He is, resting in the knowledge that one day soon we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2), joyously delivered from this struggle against sin.
Finally, the Apostle Paul only knew of one path to God. In Romans 10:9 he explains it simply:
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Just one path. Just one way. Not 3, 5, 9 or unlimited. Just one and it is through the One. And if anyone asks how they can understand and fix themselves, the answer is – you don’t. He does.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
He is changing you, molding you, strengthening you, giving you the ability to see others as He sees them, giving you a supernatural love for them that comes from Him. Here we’ll let Peter in on the act:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)Ω
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End Notes [ + ]
|1, 2.||↑||Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram; p. 43, Zondervan. Kindle Edition|
|3.||↑||Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram pp. 42-43; Zondervan, Kindle Edition.|
|4.||↑||Heuertz, Christopher L. The Sacred Enneagram; p. 49, Zondervan. Kindle Edition. It also should be noted that Russ Hudson is a New Ager|