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Original Photo of the church by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

A 2018 article, “The Rise of the Enneagram,” was recently brought to my attention by MCOI Senior Editor, Corkey McGehee. It has a surprising story that begins with fallacies by Beth McCord.

The article first references Enneagram “coach” Beth McCord, who, by her own admission, learned the Enneagram from New Age psychic Helen Palmer and at least five New Agers whom she named. Beth, along with her husband, Jeff, an ordained PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) pastor, founded Your Enneagram Coach in 2015. In 2019 Thomas-Nelson publisher produced her nine-volume set of Enneagram books. Beth also claims to teach a “gospel-centered Enneagram.” Apparently, by just incorporating the words “gospel-centered” or “Christcentric,” into a heretical occult tool you can have a million-dollar business (that is an actual fact for the  McCords). The writer, Tyler Huckabee (not related to Mike Huckabee) quotes Beth:

“They’ll say well that’s not in the Bible,” she says. “Well, the Myers-Briggs isn’t in the Bible. You know, there are lots of things that aren’t in the Bible but are still helpful.

“If they take the time to hear how we use it from a biblical perspective they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, this makes sense. There’s no problem there,’” she continues. “It’s when they have misconceptions that they get all freaked out.”

Beth employs false dilemma and red herring fallacies in this first response. The false dilemma is not whether it is in the Bible or not that determines the usefulness of the Enneagram. I know of no sound critique of the Enneagram that rejects it because it is not in the Bible (who would make such a ludicrous statement?). Moreover, it is a red herring to bring up the Myers-Briggs which, unlike the Enneagram, is not derived from spirit contact. Myers-Briggs is not in the same category as the Enneagram. It is claimed the Enneagram is a spiritual tool; Myers-Briggs makes no such claim. While Myers-Briggs claims to assess the personality, the Enneagram was never designed for that. The Enneagram is not to assess personality types but to figure out which of the nine paths to God each one must take to reconnect with their “true self.” In addition, Myers-Briggs is no longer viewed as valid by psychologists. Many have stopped using it.

McCord attempts to rehabilitate the Enneagram by using biblical language and is doing so with no one calling her out for it, other than myself (as far as I know). Even pastors who should know better are falling for McCord’s fake gospel Enneagram. By crafting the right-sounding terminology, it can sound biblical. With a modest amount of effort, I could make astrology sound biblical. All I have to do is transpose Christian meanings into astrological terms without changing the content of astrology.

Facts are not misconceptions. If McCord is referring to factual information on the Enneagram as “misconceptions,” such as its occult origins and the spirit contact involved, those are not misconceptions. If that is freaking people out, that should be a normal reaction for a Christian. Apparently, it does not freak out McCord. She did remove the names of her 6 New Age Enneagram teachers from her website once I made this broader public knowledge. It seems McCord may have thought those facts might have freaked people out.

The Flexible Enneagram

The article continues:

Ask 100 devotees of the Enneagram what it is and you’ll get 100 answers, most of them bespotted with vague language and words that don’t seem to mean much of anything, and several definitions contradicting one another so violently you wonder if these people are talking about the same thing. It’s a personality test. A path to wholeness. A way to process your trauma.

The above only validates my warnings that the Enneagram can be anything to anyone, that it’s flexible and fluid. The reason I made those claims is that the Enneagram has no standard or basis in reality or facts. So, it can become whatever one may want it to be or think that it is.

Ironically enough, a system designed to help people understand themselves is in danger of being misunderstood.

Even more ironically, the Enneagram was not designed to help people understand themselves. It was designed to help people deconstruct the false self (the belief they are a sinner) they were conditioned to be so they can uncover the true Essence of the Self which, in contradiction to Scripture, has never been separated from God.

Enter the Angel & Archetypes

The article moves on to Chris Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, who cautions against using the Enneagram as Beth McCord tries to use it, as a way to discover your personality. Give credit where credit is due – Heuertz is correct. Read carefully:

“It is helpful,” Heuertz admits. “It is clear that the Enneagram does sort of expose repeating patterns in human character structure archetypes that are sort of observable. But I think if you don’t really understand the essence of what’s behind it, you’re just fueling your own narcissism and you’re weaponizing something. You might be super interesting at a dinner party, but that’s not the point, you know?”

Well, then. What is the point?

“I usually try to say that [the Enneagram] is a sacred map of our soul,” Heuertz explains.

“And, you know this, the map isn’t the journey. The map informs the journey. So, if the Enneagram is a sacred map of our soul, if it’s a compassionate sketch of possibilities of who we can become, then what it actually helps us do is excavate our essence.”

Notice the language:

  • Archetypes
  • repeating patterns
  • what’s behind it (the Enneagram)
  • map of our soul
  • excavate our essence

Heuertz is referring to the false construct of self (repeating patterns), which is what the Enneagram allegedly exposes. In actuality, for Heuertz and his discipler, Franciscan friar Richard Rohr, it is “a sacred map of our soul.”

Notice Heuertz uses the word “essence” twice. He has used this term in podcasts I have heard. He is repeating the concept and word used by Oscar Ichazo, that the Enneagram uncovers our pure Essence. Heuertz is a disciple of Richard Rohr. Rohr mentored Heuertz and additionally, Heuertz had 3 New Age Enneagram teachers. Heuertz knows what the Enneagram is for. But what about the angel?

By way of explanation, Heuertz talks about the mystic origins of what we now know as the Enneagram, which began with Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian teacher who received the wisdom of the Enneagram in a dream.

“He went into sort of a seven-day divine coma,” Heuertz explains. “It was essentially a hallucinogenic prayer. And he said that during these seven days, this angel came to him and exposed to Ichazo 108 different, what he then called Enneagons. So this angel comes and gives him 108 Enneagons, or now what we call Enneagrams. And really just one of those 108 is the Enneagram of personality.”

Calling Oscar Ichazo (1931-2020) a “Bolivian teacher” deceptively whitewashes the fact that Ichazo was a hardcore occultist. It is very revealing that not only did Ichazo allegedly have this dream – a “divine coma” – but Heuertz seems to think this is a good thing. It seems apparent that Heuertz, like Rohr, is a Perennialist; therefore, this would not bother Heuertz. He would view Ichazo as a “wisdom teacher” who garnered wisdom from otherworldly sources (what is viewed as wisdom can come from any tradition, faith, or source in the Perennial view).

Even more dangerous, it was an angel that revealed this information to Ichazo. If this truly happened, and I have no problem believing it did (though I am not saying it is necessarily true), it makes sense that an angel would do this. Of course, we are talking about a fallen angel here. Ichazo admitted contact with spirits (including an angel called Metatron) and claimed his group was guided “by an interior master” (a spirit guide or “higher authority” as Claudio Naranjo calls them; Naranjo came up with the Types via automatic writing, a form of spirit contact). Christians are warned about spiritual teachings from angels:

”I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel, which is not just another account; but there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-9)

Moreover, the number 108 has spiritual significance in several religions and occult systems: Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, astrology, Tai Chi, and more. Naturally, the number 108 does not have any special meaning beyond its numerical value but made its way into these religions and occult teachings. There are other ways to find 108, but that is because if you want to find a pattern, you will find it everywhere. Ichazo, being an occultist, probably knew about the significance of 108 so it is no surprise he claimed 108 Enneagons were revealed to him.

Ichazo and the “Fully Enlightened” Man

The whitewashing of Ichazo and who he was continues:

Whether or not you track with the idea of Ichazo having a divine revelation that led to the Enneagram of Personality, the verifiable parts of this story actually do check out. Ichazo would go on to found the Arica Institute, where the Enneagram was taught as one part of a much more holistic system called the Protoanalysis, which posited that it was a comprehensive understanding of the fully enlightened human being.

The Arica Institute was an occult school. Would-be students had to sign an agreement not to reveal what they learned there. Tyler Huckabee dismisses the importance of Ichazo’s claim or Heuertz’s recounting of it in the article and continues to present Ichazo as some kind of wise teacher who taught a “holistic system.” “Holistic” is a word from the New Age, so in a sense it fits, although it is not a good sense.

Note that Ichazo’s idea of the Enneagram was that it would help one understand the “fully enlightened human being.” The magazine does not explain what they think “enlightened” means. It can only have one meaning in connection with Ichazo: esoteric Gnostic occultism.

Much to Ichazo’s consternation, one of his students, a Chilean-born psychiatrist named Claudio Naranjo, applied the mystical qualities of the Enneagram to a psychological model more palatable for Western audiences. The Enneagram of Personality, as we understand it today, was born.

This is a false assertion by Huckabee. Claudio Naranjo (1932-2019) did not use a psychological model. He claimed to have received the specific information on the Types via automatic writing in 2 video interviews, both available on YouTube. Psychiatrists also do not concern themselves with personality issues, especially Naranjo whose specialty was using psychedelic drugs to create mind-altering experiences. Naranjo himself used hallucinogenic drugs this way for what he asserted were spiritual trips. Any psychological model he came up with afterward was never based on research, studies, objective data, or peer-review examinations.

Beth McCord is quoted as saying the Enneagram is a tool to help in self-transformation. But the Enneagram is no more a tool for transformation than is astrology. It is easy to believe in astrology when the astrologer sits there looking at your birth chart, as I did with clients for 10 years, and tells you all about yourself. This “works” by confirmation bias, self-validation, the Forer effect, the Barnum effect, and more. These are the same reasons people think the Enneagram “works” for them.1See “The Enneagram, Science, and Christianity – Part 2” by Jay Medenwaldt for a better understanding

Humans have a high capacity for being deceived and especially for self-deception. I believed in astrology and believed that it was accurate. I saw it every day with my clients, with myself, with my young son. Does my experience make astrology valid? Of course not. But if the basis for claiming that the Enneagram is valid because anecdotally it “works” or because it appears to help people or seems accurate, then one must admit astrology is valid as well.

The article refers to Richard Rohr and his co-author Andreas Ebert, authors of The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective. Huckabee recites the story that they,

traced the Enneagram back much further than the 20th century, all the way to the Desert Fathers: Christian mystics like Evagrius Ponticus, who identified “eight deadly thoughts” and one overarching thought over them all, that do seem to loosely correspond with the modern Enneagram’s nine points and—more saliently—to the idea of the Enneagram being less of a personality test and more of a means of discovering your own identity and what that means for your spiritual journey.

However, in the first edition of their Enneagram book, Rohr and Ebert wrote that the Enneagram had no Christian origins. As we documented in our book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret on page 53:

In the 1992 introduction to Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert’s book,  Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey (trans. Peter Heinegg; New York: Crossroad, 1992) Ebert writes:

“The Enneagram is a mysterious model of the psyche that is not originally Christian.” (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.” (Pg.xv)

They were quite clear it has no historical Christian roots or connections.

The falsehood that the Enneagram came from Evagrius Ponticus and the Desert Fathers has permeated every evangelical Enneagram book. It does not take much research to find out this is not true. Dr. Ronald V. Huggins, who had patristics as one of his specializations in his doctoral program, taught Church history for years, which covered the Early Church; he taught a second-century seminar; and he wrote several entries for the Erdman’s Bible dictionary on Early Church topics. He researched this for us and we included his findings in our book. The church has fallen for teaching from a fallen angel, an occult teacher, and a New Age teacher whose specialty was the use of psychedelic drugs. God help the church.Ω

More Info: Resource page for Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret by Don & Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro; has videos, podcasts, endorsements, the first chapter of the book, and links to various sellers.  Also note, we did attempt to contract Tyler Huckabee and offered to send him a copy of our book but have not had a response.

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

© 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 See “The Enneagram, Science, and Christianity – Part 2” by Jay Medenwaldt for a better understanding