One of the many Enneagram books from Christian publisher IVP is “Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram” by Adele & Doug Calhoun and Clare & Scott Loughrige. I have written Facebook posts demonstrating how this book intertwines Christians with New Agers. It is made abundantly obvious due to the “Gratitudes” given in the book to 13 New Agers as well as to Richard Rohr.
Why “naked” in the title? That is simple. When one removes the mystical language and the false data about the Enneagram, the book is left naked. That is, once this material is removed, there would be nothing left but blank pages. As it is, this book is an example of the dangers that come with the Enneagram I have been warning about: Contemplative Spirituality, Panentheism, and possibly Perennial Wisdom (see info & links on authors toward the end). This book is all of these dangers on steroids.
There is a blocked off section on page 9 titled, “Historical Connections” which includes a drawing of a geometric figure from Ramon Llull. Under the name of Evagrius Ponticus, they claim he gave guidance on “how to move from the old sin nature to the new Christ-in-me nature.” We have to ask, is any of this true? And what does the figure from Llull depict? Dr. Ronald V. Huggins, who has researched claims about Evagrius Ponticus and Ramon Lllull in primary sources, offers this observation:
On Page 9, the authors write: “The twelfth-century Franciscan theologian developed diagrams of three overlapping triangles to explain how to move from vice to virtue (see fig 6).” Llull, like all Medieval Theologians, was interested in people moving from vice to virtue, and like them he did compare and contrast the seven virtues and the seven deadly sins.
The seven virtues consisted of the four cardinal virtues, justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude, taken over from the classical authors like Plato, and the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity from 1 Cor. 13:13.
Andreas Ebert was confused in thinking that Evagrius spoke about the seven virtues, but they apparently came after his time. According to István P. Bejczy, the cardinal and theological virtues were brought together for the first time by Primasius of Hadrumetum (d. after 522 AD). But the claim of the authors here is irrelevant to all that because the diagram they direct their readers to is not about the virtues and vices, but about the dignities of God, or rather, the attributes of God.
Notice also that even the description of the picture is inaccurate since they claim it depicts “three overlapping triangles.” But the diagram actually consists of 9 overlapping triangles, not three. I am glad that they have at least backed off of the claims of earlier writers on the Enneagram who asserted outright that Ramon Llull knew and used the Enneagram, which of course he did not.1From Ron Huggins via Private Message
Much of the misinformation is based on Andreas Ebert’s confusion (Ebert was Richard Rohr’s co-author for The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective). Also notice, as Dr. Huggins pointed out, that the diagram is not what the authors claim it to be. Dr. Huggins continues:
The claim that Evagrius “believed the spiritual life could be advanced by understanding Pythagorean mathematics and astronomy” (p. 9) appears to derive from Richard Rohr, Andreas Ebert, and Lynn Quirolo’s misinterpretation of a single passage in Evagrius at the beginning of his 153 Chapters on Prayer. These authors simply didn’t understand how the Church Fathers interpreted figurate numbers (number shapes) and, as a result, falsely imagined that Evagrius was speaking of an enneagram–like figure, which of course he was not. I believe you touch upon this error in your book (Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret).
Virginia Wiltse and Helen Palmer wrote a dense article in the July 2009 Enneagram Journal entitled “Hidden in Plain Sight: Observations on the Origins of the Enneagram,” trying to buttress the arguments of the three earlier authors, but they too failed. They once again misunderstood Evagrius because they too didn’t understand how figurate numbers work or how the Church Fathers employed them in interpretation. When I asked the authors about the source of their information on this point, the Calhouns kindly sent me links to the Virginia Wiltse and Helen Palmer article and to Richard Rohr’s book and talks along with other talks by enneagram teachers.
Dr. Huggins pointed out the lack of knowledge on what Evagrius Ponticus was writing about. This error was adopted and has been compounded in dozens of lectures and books on the Enneagram. There is no historical evidence at all that the Enneagram was taught prior to 1916 from mystic George Gurdjieff.
The theme of Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram is about each Enneagram Type finding harmony with the Triads. The Triads are 3 sections of the Enneagram called head, heart, and gut. This derives from George Gurdjieff’s teachings on the way of the fakir, the way of the yogi, and the way of the monk. The Gnostic-oriented Gurdjieff believed the Enneagram was a diagram of all universal laws and used it as a tool to illustrate awakening to new truths (as taught by himself). This was decades before the existence of the Types known today, which came later, via spirit contact (automatic writing) to Claudio Naranjo.
The authors have redesigned connecting lines in the Enneagram so that each Type connects with the other two Triads. They write that there are “Holy Spirit motions of the soul” that one can listen to if connected to all the Triads. This seems to be the basis of their “spiritual rhythms” and “harmony” ideas in the book. Inexplicably, they cite Jeremiah 6:16 to support this:
This is what the LORD says: “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find a resting place for your souls.”
Nothing in this verse has anything to do with what the authors are writing. Moreover, that verse is part of a passage in which God is judging Israel and announcing that he is bringing “disaster” (v. 19) to them. I suspect the authors are suggesting that the Enneagram is “ancient” by citing the verse since it speaks of “ancient paths.” In context it has to do with following God’s laws. Biblical passages cited by Enneagram proponents are nearly always out of context and misused.
The authors speak of these Triads of head, heart, and gut being three “intelligences” (p. 204). They are not. The heart and the gut do not have their own “intelligence” (nor does the body, which the authors claim as well). The appeal to multiple intelligences reveals the source of the information as being from the New Age which holds that a divine intelligence permeates the body, giving separate “knowledge” or “intelligence” to each part.
In actuality the Triads do not exist and have nothing to do with who you are or with Christianity. They are part of the Enneagram’s New Age psychology as a spinoff from Gurdjieff’s esotericism.
The True Self
The True Self in the Enneagram is based on New Age concepts mixed with Richard Rohr’s beliefs. On page 16, the authors write that the True Self is your,
Christ-in-me-self. It is the beautiful person that has existed in the mind of God from the beginning…Your true self is humble, restful, open, and vulnerable. It is present to God and reflects God. It is present to others and receives others. Your true self knows its belovedness.
There is no biblical support for those ideas. What they are is a mixture of psychological, mystical, and New Age-Rohr-ish beliefs. Rohr and other followers of Perennial Wisdom teach that the True Self was never separated from God. The Types are masks or constructs that hide the True Self. Perennialist David G. Benner also uses the term the “Christ-in-me-self” to indicate this Self that was never separated from God.
The Bible does not teach a True or False Self. It teaches a fallen, unredeemed self and the redeemed self, which is a “new creature in Christ.” The book’s idea of the True Self is incompatible with Scripture. One cannot set aside the Enneagram’s teachings and try to replace them with something else to sound biblical. This is like removing the information on astrology and replacing it with something from the Bible and then calling it Gospel-centered.
Contemplative Practices Dominate
Suggesting and promoting contemplative practices are a major component of the book. That is not surprising given who the authors are – three of them are Spiritual Directors – this only adds to the fact that the Enneagram is connected to Contemplative spirituality.
Contemplative mysticism litters every single page. “Breath Prayers” are given throughout the book; there are Healing Prayers, which are actually Imaginative Prayers manipulating a figure of Jesus in the imagination; silence and solitude are extolled; and other related practices are taught.
The Breath Prayers direct the reader to inhale while thinking or saying certain things such as “God gives wisdom” on the inhale while saying/thinking “I share God” on the exhale. One starts with “Notice your magnificent breath.” These methods are New Age practices.
Revelation 8:1 is given to support silence and solitude:
When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Revelation 8:1 does not teach we must be silent. Rather it is a silence of sober awe and anticipation of the seventh seal being broken. Right after this silence, there is a dramatic event where the prayers of the saints are added to a golden censer, and an angel hurls it to the earth. This is followed by thunder, lightning, and an earthquake.
The silence in verse 1 is a vivid contrast to the noise of the thunder, lightning, and earthquake which signify God’s judgment. Then hail and blood is hurled into the sea, followed by more disasters, with an eagle pronouncing “woe, woe, woe to those who live on the earth” (v. 13).
This passage showcases God’s mighty judgment and wrath being poured out on earth. It is a severely grave event (just read the rest of the chapter) and so the silence anticipating it is equally grave.
Looking at the context, chapter 6 of Revelation covers the opening of the first 6 seals in 17 verses, followed by an interlude in chapter 7. But the opening of the seventh seal takes up the whole of chapter 8. So, the interlude of chapter 7 and the silence in verse 1 serves as a way to separate the opening of the seventh seal from the opening of the first six, giving it more weight. The context makes it clear that this has nothing to do with a teaching about silence nor does it endorse silence as a discipline.
“God is the Oxygen of Your Soul”
In keeping with the focus on Breath Prayers’ inhaling and exhaling techniques, page 201 states that:
God is the oxygen of your soul. Connecting body breath to God is a spiritual practice.
Yes, it is a spiritual practice, but not a Christian one. This is Hindu and New Age. God is NOT the oxygen of our souls. “Breath” in scripture represents life; God himself does not literally have breath since he is spirit and has no parts. The statement above implies Panentheism (God is in all, all is in God) which is the standard view in Contemplative Spirituality and is the view of Richard Rohr, who openly promotes it.
Jesus is not a Puppet
Body scans, similar to how it is done in the New Age, are also advised. On page 202, step 4 of a Body Scan directs the reader to:
Imagine that Jesus comes and asks your body to tell him the truth about what’s been going on. Look at Jesus and ask him for grace to hear the truth from your body. How does your body answer? What does your body say about your life right now or about past pain? Imagine Jesus’ healing power coming to that part of your body through his words or loving touch.
There are several serious unbiblical, even anti-biblical, concepts here.
▪️ First of all is the manipulation of Jesus (this is done in all of the Healing Prayers I saw in the book). Imagining Jesus doing something in your mind is not reality. Jesus is not really doing or saying what you imagine; he is not a puppet subject to your imagination’s command. Nor is Jesus some spirit guide who appears when one conjures him up in an occult/New Age practice, which is what this is. To dishonor Christ in such a way may even be blasphemy.
▪️ Secondly, asking your body a question is a 100% New Age practice. As pointed out previously, the New Age view is that the body has its own innate intelligence. However, our bodies do not have separate minds or intelligences from our own mind. The body cannot answer a question on its own apart from what one’s mind is thinking.
▪️ And lastly, what takes it to an even worse place, if possible, is imagining Jesus asking your body to “tell him the truth about what’s been going on.” If this were the only thing in the book, it would be enough to warn about. This is imagining the Savior, the Son of God, practicing a New Age technique!
It is difficult to come up with the words to express the outrage I felt when reading that.
A Word About the Authors
The descriptions and careers of the authors are revealing.
🔹 (REV.) CLARE LOUGHRIGE, Pastor, Spiritual Director and (REV.) SCOTT LOUGHRIGE, “a church planter, author, and social entrepreneur”
The website of Scott and Clare Loughridge, two of the four authors of this book, reveals language and ideas of Perennial Wisdom. They even state they follow the “Christian tradition,” which is standard language for those who follow “Christianity in the Perennial Tradition,” as well as stating that they collaborate on the Enneagram as a spiritual tool with those of “other faith traditions” and “no faith traditions.”
What does it tell us when those presenting themselves as Christians are fine with using the Enneagram as a spiritual tool with non-Christians and even with those who claim no belief?
The Perennial philosophy is a perfidious friend with soothing and silky words, but who, beneath the surface, meanwhile tears away at true biblical doctrine. In Perennial wisdom, no atonement for sins is needed since God permeates creation and the True Self has never been separated from God. This is the view of Richard Rohr, whose influence through the Enneagram has been indisputable.
🔹 ADELE and DOUG CALHOUN, both “spiritual directors” (Bios of Spiritual Directors Adele and Doug Calhoun are on the Spiritual Rhythms book page).
The title “Spiritual Directors” has only come into the evangelical church in recent years, and it came under the cloak of Spiritual Disciplines/Contemplative Practices. This title was part of medieval monasticism. I have been documenting links between Contemplative practices, spiritual directors, the Enneagram, and Perennial Wisdom in a number of posts. The additional info is listed at the end of the original post of this article.
🔹 Jerome Wagner
Jerome Wagner wrote the Foreword to this book and also mentored and taught his Enneagram philosophy to co-authors Adele and Doug Calhoun.
Wagner uses the term “essence” for the “true Self,” which is a thoroughly New Age concept but is in keeping with Enneagram thinking. He writes:
“Personality masquerades as our essential self and tricks us into identifying with and believing that an inflated dimension of our self is our whole self. We collaborate in this deception as a way of defending our true self from anxiety-provoking vulnerabilities and as a way of compensating for certain imagined shortfalls in our real self.
Our personality retains intimations of our real self and we can follow it back to our authentic self if we follow our developmental trail back the way we came. This will return us to the path of self-actualization.”2From Idolatry to Reality: From the Idealizations of our Personality to the Ideals of Our Real Self
Humanistic “self-actualization” and New Age beliefs mingle and overlap in New Age-based counseling and psychology. This type of psychology has entered the church, not in small hesitant streams, but in crashing waves, via the Enneagram. 3See CANA FB post ENNEAGRAM INFESTATION: CHRISTIAN COUNSELING & JEROME WAGNER
This book takes the reader into a deep dive into the self, but it’s not even the self as God made us. It’s a New Age mirage of self, or even a toxic miasma of self.
A large dose of biblical truth is desperately needed.
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the perseverance of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)Ω
Before trusting Christ, Marcia Montenegro was a professional astrologer and was involved in Eastern and New Age practices for many years. Through her ministry, Christian Answers for the New Age, Marcia speaks around the country and on radio, and writes on New Age and occult topics. She has a Masters in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, NC, and serves as a missionary with Fellowship International Mission, Allentown, PA. Based in Arlington, VA, she is the mother of an adult son and author of SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids, (Cook, 2006). She is also co-author of Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret (MCOI Publishing, 2020) with Don and Joy Veinot You can find her online at: CANA or on Facebook at Christian Answers for the New Age
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|↑1||From Ron Huggins via Private Message|
|↑2||From Idolatry to Reality: From the Idealizations of our Personality to the Ideals of Our Real Self|
|↑3||See CANA FB post ENNEAGRAM INFESTATION: CHRISTIAN COUNSELING & JEROME WAGNER|