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About 3 months after God delivered the Nation of Israel from Egypt, they entered the wilderness of Sinai. God spoke to Moses and set up what we might call today “a meet at the mount.” We read about the “meet” in chapter 20 where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The very first commandment forbid His people from worshipping any other gods. Yet, in Exodus 32, when Moses did not come down from the mount as soon as the people thought he would, the people began mumbling, grumbling, and demanding a god substitute. So, Aaron created a calf made of gold to appease the crowd and when he presented the golden calf to them, they cried out:

These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! (Exodus 32:4)

Aaron, who obviously should not have made the idol, may have been caught off guard at the crowd’s reaction and this proclamation. He hastily:

built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” (Exodus 32:5)

The prohibition against worshipping other gods, such as worshipping the calf, also precluded Aaron’s building an altar to the true God next to the calf idol, thus mixing the worship of the true GOD with the worship of pagan gods, or using any pagan practices in their worship, as was further explained later. So, the first commandment was not merely about banning the falling down in worship before idols but prohibited any humanly devised and created means and instruments to be added or to replace God’s prescribed way of achieving spiritual connection with Him.

The reason for this prohibition is simple: Anything mankind can devise or create will, at best, represent a mere element of God’s creation. Manmade “spiritual paths” of all kinds will always fall short of His majesty, glory, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc., and those paths inevitably lead people away from Him. Sadly, combining forbidden pagan practices with God’s word and prescribed way of worshiping Him has a long history with the people of God in the Old and New Testaments. That is largely because it far easier to focus on self than God and what He has said. Israel wanted a visible representation of god like all the other nations had. They may not have intended an outright rejection of the LORD their God, but adding visible religious symbols, practices and teaching borrowed from paganism and the occult is tantamount to the same thing.

The newest addition is the Enneagram. Many are trying to pass the Enneagram off as being an ancient Christian tool, but that claim is completely false. New Age psychic, Helen Palmer, popularized the Enneagram in the New Age community in the 1980’s, long before it achieved manic fashionable status amongst Christians. In a 1988 interview “The Politics Of Radical Clarity: Helen Palmer And The Enneagram” she describes her experiences as a psychic and importance of the Enneagram in that work. She also claimed that the Enneagram came out of the mystical tradition of Sufiism. There is no documented history of its use because, according to her, “the Enneagram was passed on orally for countless years.”

The claim of Christian origins is of later invention, for marketing purposes, according to Claudio Naranjo. It was called an “ancient Christian tool” in order to give it credibility. That strategy seems to have been a wildly successful ploy. We document its verifiable history in the first chapter of our book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret. Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr and his co-author Andreas Ebert stated in their 1992 book, Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey 1trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992 it has no Christian origins:

The Enneagram is a mysterious model of the psyche that is not originally Christian. 2Richard Rohr, Andreas Ebert, trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992, pg.xiii

I believe that the Enneagram can help us to find a deeper and more authentic relationship with God—even though it was not discovered by Christians. 3Richard Rohr, Andreas Ebert, trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992, pg.xv

Rohr’s disciples have flooded the church with their books, seminars and for a fee, will provide certified Enneagram Coach training. The Enneagram gives people sanctified permission to become self-obsessed, which is quite appealing to many. The self-absorption aspect is abundantly apparent in titles like,

– The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
– The Sacred Enneagram
– Mirror for the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram
– A Book Called YOU: Understanding the Enneagram from a Grace-Filled, Biblical Perspective

There are currently over 30 pro-Enneagram books on the Christian market, published by Christian publishers, and this is rapidly increasing. The word of God is apparently insufficient for our needs. Like the ancient Israelites, many Christians are demanding something new and more visual – and perhaps more “fun” – to turn their attention toward. Like Aaron’s golden calf, to which he strained to connect an altar to the true LORD, we today have the Enneagram, to which Enneagram coaches and many pastors are straining to attach to the true word of God, the Bible, wedding the pagan with the divine. One of the latest books, Hearing God Speak: A 52-Week Interactive Enneagram Devotional, states in its promotion on Amazon that the authors are:

Combining the Enneagram system with biblical truth…

Having difficulty understanding Scripture? It is a language problem which this book will help resolve:

This weekly, interactive guide helps you explore how your heavenly Father is speaking to you as you listen to Him in your Enneagram language.

This is so much easier than engaging in the challenging work of studying to show yourself approved to God. (2 Timothy 2:15).

Under the heading, “Discovering the History of the Enneagram” the authors regurgitate the false claims of the Enneagram being ancient:

The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system

First, that would be difficult since the start of personality typing systems was developed in 1917 by Robert S. Woodworth and published in 1919 as Woodworth’s Personal Data Sheet. It, “has been described as ‘the linear ancestor of all subsequent personality inventories, schedules and questionnaires.’”4The article, “THE FIRST PERSONALITY TEST WAS DEVELOPED DURING WORLD WAR I” describes why it was developed

Second, the story of the Enneagram being ancient was made up by two men. The first was Bolivian born Oscar Ichazo, a philosopher and originator of Integral Philosophy. His idea was to bring humans to the highest states of enlightenment. Ichazo was involved in psychedelic drugs and shamanism,5“John Lilly who described his Arica studies in ‘The Eye of the Cyclone’ said that most of the material he learned in Arica was facilitated by use of psychedelic drugs. The problem was that insights gained during these drug trips could not be easily transferred to daily life. Lilly parted company with Ichazo when he sensed that if he continued as Ichazo’s disciple, he would have to give up his commitment to scientific and critical thinking. “Ichazo’s story kept changing. He claimed to be a Sufi, but never substantiated his sources.” Quoted from “Problems with Arica Institute,” Cult Education Institute website; https://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,4099  and asserted he had “received instructions from a higher entity called Metatron” and his Arica group “was guided by an interior master.”6 For sources on Ichazo and Metatron, see John C. Lilly and Joseph E. Hart, Charles T. Tart, Ed.. “The Arica Training,” Transpersonal Psychologies (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1975), p. 342. From footnote 16 in Dorothy Garrity Ranaghan, A Closer Look at the Enneagram (South Bend, IN: Greenlawn Press, 1975), p. 9. For more on Gurdjieff and Ichazo, see James Moore. “The Enneagram: A Developmental Study,” The RunningFather Blog; https://runningfather. wordpress.com/2013/03/25/enneagram-a-developmental-study-james-moore/

The other was Ischazo’s disciple, Chilean-born Claudio Naranjo. In a video interview in 2010 Naranjo stated they made up the story that the Enneagram is ancient to give their ideas credibility. In the same interview Naranjo admits he received the types, the very ones the authors of this book are promoting, via the occult practice of automatic writing. He was also the grandfather of psychedelic drugs. Note also that the authors of Hearing God Speak referred to Naranjo as, “the American psychiatrist,” when it is well known he was Chilean. They also describe the Enneagram as a,

nine-pointed pointed geometric figure, one point for each personality type, upon the system was originally based.

However, as Naranjo admitted, the types didn’t come into existence until he channeled them through automatic writing in the 1970s. We address the actual documentable history of the Enneagram in the first chapter of our book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret.

As to the book, Hearing God Speak, the author’s history of the Enneagram contains literally nothing that is accurate. We also note that on the acknowledgements page they write:

We would like to acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of the Enneagram teachers, experts, and authors who came before us. We want to credit the following trailblazers and their published works which have paved an invaluable path that helped guide us in writing this devotional

Along with the names on the list books and other recommended resources are included:

  • Beatrice Chestnut, New Ager
  • The Enneagram Institute, founded and operated by New Agers
  • Beth McCord, trained by six New Agers
  • Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, New Agers
  • Richard Rohr, who denies all the essential doctrines of the Christian faith

Nonetheless, undiscerning Christians will flock to buy this work embracing the claim that the Enneagram is the language which God uses to clearly communicate what is allegedly not understandable in Scripture. Incredible.

But what of pastors? Mark Moore, Teaching Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria, AZ, is one of the defenders of the Enneagram. After getting some heat for having Ian Cron, co-author of The Road Back to You, at his church, Pastor Moore, produced a short video defense. He rather glibly notes that, “in its origin it had a couple of guys that had some mystic practices.” Wow – quite an understatement! Those “couple of guys” were occultists in communication with spiritual entities which handed down the Enneagram types. Pastor Moore then responds to the question of whether we can use a tool that came out of mysticism. “Let’s be clear first of all, it didn’t come out of mysticism.” Pastor Mark may in one sense be right about that. Since Ichazo received “instructions from a higher entity called Metatron” and his Arica group “was guided by an interior master”, and Naranjo received the Enneagram types via automatic writing, the Enneagram came out of occultism, not run-of-the-mill mysticism. Somehow that is not comforting.

Pastor Moore then compares the use of what is an occultic tool to the Apostle Paul quoting pagan sources in Acts 17. The context would militate against that idea. In Acts 17:24-27 the apostle described the One True God and quoted from a philosopher and a poet. The quotations Paul cites, though, can well be garnered from natural revelation, something the Apostle Paul points to in Romans 1:19-20. Even pagan philosophers and poets can deduce some true things about God, but they choose to worship the creation rather than the creator.

Pastor Moore also appeals to “meat sacrificed to idols” argument in 1 Corinthians 8. Again, the context gives us some insight. Meat is morally neutral. It can used in a stew or a hamburger – or offered to an idol. It was not meat that was the issue, but the pagan PRACTICES attached to it. Now if Paul had written that the pagan practices employed in offering sacrifices to idols is just a matter of conscience, Pastor Moore has an argument to make. But Paul plainly does not do that. We are not casting doubt upon the pastor’s faith, nor his commitment to the church’s Statement of Faith, nor his likely desire to serve the church well. However, pastors, elders and teachers of the word have a solemn responsibility before the LORD to protect the flock, to warn of dangers and to hold fast to the faith “delivered once for all to the saints.” (Jude 3) Yet he, wittingly or unwittingly, along with many other shepherds, Enneagram authors, books, courses, and coaches, are placing the Golden Calf right into the sanctuary. And when confronted with the dangers, far too many Christians shrug them off claiming the Enneagram delivered them from bad marriages and relationship problems. I wonder, if Moses were alive today, would he grind up and burn the Enneagram material, mix it with water and make all who are involved with it drink it?

He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it. (Exodus 32:20)

Christians have long tended to look to pastors and other Christian leaders for guidance on what is spiritually OK and what is not. However, such guidance cannot always be relied upon. The word of God is to be our unchanging standard. We say to Christians in the pews and to their leaders, PLEASE DO NOT BE FOOLED. The Enneagram is NOT OKAY.Ω

Don and Joy Signature 2

© 2021, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

End Notes

End Notes
1 trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992
2 Richard Rohr, Andreas Ebert, trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992, pg.xiii
3 Richard Rohr, Andreas Ebert, trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992, pg.xv
4 The article, “THE FIRST PERSONALITY TEST WAS DEVELOPED DURING WORLD WAR I” describes why it was developed
5 “John Lilly who described his Arica studies in ‘The Eye of the Cyclone’ said that most of the material he learned in Arica was facilitated by use of psychedelic drugs. The problem was that insights gained during these drug trips could not be easily transferred to daily life. Lilly parted company with Ichazo when he sensed that if he continued as Ichazo’s disciple, he would have to give up his commitment to scientific and critical thinking. “Ichazo’s story kept changing. He claimed to be a Sufi, but never substantiated his sources.” Quoted from “Problems with Arica Institute,” Cult Education Institute website; https://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,4099 
6  For sources on Ichazo and Metatron, see John C. Lilly and Joseph E. Hart, Charles T. Tart, Ed.. “The Arica Training,” Transpersonal Psychologies (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1975), p. 342. From footnote 16 in Dorothy Garrity Ranaghan, A Closer Look at the Enneagram (South Bend, IN: Greenlawn Press, 1975), p. 9. For more on Gurdjieff and Ichazo, see James Moore. “The Enneagram: A Developmental Study,” The RunningFather Blog; https://runningfather. wordpress.com/2013/03/25/enneagram-a-developmental-study-james-moore/