Personality type assessments originated in the 18th and 19th Centuries. They initially involved evaluating the bumps on the subjectâ€™s head (phrenology) or â€œbased on a person’s outer appearances.â€1â€œPersonality testâ€ These innovative methods of assessing character were embraced by many people in that day. Charles T Russell, founder of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses and other Russellite offshoots), were absolutely enthralled with it. Although naysayers called it pseudo-science, early researchers considered Phrenology scientific, and it â€œbecame the early foundation for psychology.â€2â€œVictorian Era Phrenologyâ€ Not surprisingly, perhaps, bumps on the cranium and personal appearance didnâ€™t â€œstand the test of timeâ€ and proved to be pitifully ineffective in assessing human character. Still, it had its day in the sun, which is about all one can expect of utter nonsense.
The desire to assess human personality differences did not diminish, however, and other attempts were made. In 1919, the first modern personality test was published. It was developed by Robert S. Woodworth and carries his name, the â€œWoodworth Personal Data Sheetâ€ or â€œWoodworth Psychoneurotic Inventory.â€3Woodworth Personal Data Sheet Others soon followed. A listing of many of them is found under â€œExamples of personality testsâ€ in the Wikipedia â€œPersonality testâ€ entry. These early pioneers did not make spiritual claims for their creations. None of them included God or looked to His word to understand why we do what we do. In 1966, a â€œChristianizedâ€ version of personality assessment made its way into the church through author Tim LaHaye and published by Tyndale House Publishers, titled The Spirit Controlled Temperament. The four temperaments, minus the spiritual component, were the fruit of rather ancient medical thinking â€“ dating back roughly between 400 BC and 200 AD. Â This early â€œunderstandingâ€ of human nature surmised:
Once introduced into the spiritual bloodstream of the church and popularized, the race was on to tell us more about the most important person in our lives â€“ namely, ourselves. Personality assessment has become big business in our nation and the whole of Western Culture. The recent New York Times article, â€œThe $2 Billion Question of Who You Are at Workâ€5The Original version of this article is behind the paywall of the New York Times puts the reason in perspective. It is a highly profitable industry, and there is little downside. The tests donâ€™t have to be accurate â€“ just entertaining. If people should become convinced of their veracity, that is an added benefit with a much healthier payout for the promoter. (Of course, no one has any idea how many people may have been hurt by this broad-brush judgment of their personality traits or how many interpersonal relationships may have been jeopardized or broken by these coding systems, so there is no known downside to consider.) The author of the Times article explains:
I had spent that day taking every personality test I could find on the internet â€” an alternately therapeutic and mind-numbing journey of the self. This was prompted, in fact, not by personal crisis, but rather by professional curiosity about the role of personality testing in todayâ€™s tangled-up world of work. Could describing people on paper, in the form of colors and animals and good old Myers-Briggs, be relevant to discussions about returning to the office?
Personality testing is roughly a $2 billion industry, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a psychology professor and author of â€œI, Human,â€ who estimated the value of the largest personality testing companies. Their appeal is both magnetic and obvious: ego.6â€œThe $2 Billion Question of Who You Are at Workâ€
We likewise believe that the appeal of personality assessment is â€œboth magnetic and obvious: ego.â€ The popular Enneagram is just the latest rage in personality evaluation. It may well be a step up from the â€œbumps on the headâ€ calculation of Phrenology, or perhaps not. Richard Rohr, the architect of the theology of the Enneagram, is on record, essentially agreeing that his tool is essentially about transforming your consciousness and not about self-improvement and feeding your ego. He states:
The purpose of the Enneagram is not self-improvement, which would be our egoâ€™s goal. Rather, it is the transformation of consciousness so that we can realize our essence, our True Self7â€œThe Enneagram (Part 1),â€ Monday, May 26, 2014, Richard Rohrâ€™s Daily Meditation; Copy on file
In light of the mad rush by Christians to embrace a sacred spiritual tool that puts them on their personal road back to themselves, we thought we should at the very least offer for your consideration a self-assessment program that has been around for much longer than the Enneagram, and whose popularity has never faltered. People base their very life decisions, small and large, on the assessment this tool offers. We call it the Dodekagram. This derives from two Greek words (sound familiar?) â€œDodekaâ€ meaning twelve â€“ and â€œgramma,â€ meaning drawn or written. Although the iconic image above and its name may be new to us, the tradition is ancient, going back to master practitioners who advised kings and rulers as far back as the Sixth Century BCE. This spiritual tool of self-knowledge was endorsed by German Lutheran Theologian Philip Melanchthon who had been tutored in it by Johannes StÃ¶ffler at the University of TÃ¼bingen in 1512-1514.8See â€œMelanchthon Circleâ€ Â The Dodekagram even has handy, easy to understand profile of positive and negative personality traits, split into twelve categories, easily surpassing the Enneagramâ€™s paltry nine. For example, a person in the number â€œOneâ€ category is:
Adventurous and energetic
Pioneering and courageous
Enthusiastic and confident
Dynamic and quick-witted
But on the flip side they are identified as:
Selfish and quick-tempered
Impulsive and impatient
Foolhardy and daredevil
A Two is:
Patient and reliable
Warmhearted and loving
Persistent and determined
Placid and security loving
A Two has agreeable traits, but their downside can be quite negative:
Jealous and possessive
Resentful and inflexible
Self-indulgent and greedy
Just under fifty-one million adults in the US alone believe in and use this tool, far surpassing the lowly Enneagram. It is best known under the name astrology.9“â€˜New Ageâ€™ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans” by Pew Research Center in 2018 records 29% of US adults believe in astrology. According to “How Many Adults Live in the US?” in 2018 the adults population was an estimatedÂ 253,768,092. Twenty-nine percent is just under 51 million.; The personality descriptions we used are taken from “Astrological Zodiac Traits/ Sun Sign Personalities“; The geometric design within the circle and number system was created by Tomruen Dodecagram.Â (2022, June 6).Â InÂ Wikipedia
We recently co-authored a book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, with former New Ager and astrologer Marcia Montenegro. Looking back, she shares how amazed her clients were at the accuracy of her descriptions. Astrology is believed in and embraced by a far larger following than believers in the Enneagram, and it puts that tool to shame with its twelve categories, one-quarter more types than the Johnny-come-lately Enneagram contains, granting it a far greater chance of accuracy than the E-Gram. More types, of course, enables people to assess themselves – and their friends and acquaintances – with a far larger range of possible personality types, with much finer distinction between types. We all can appreciate nuance. Astrology is much older and more comprehensive than the Enneagram, likely with approximate accuracy, if not indeed far more perceived accuracy, judging by the number of adherents. Neither one has any GREAT accuracy, of course, or any stats shown to be higher than mere coincidence, but that is not our main point here. We just want to know WHY the church, for centuries, has shunned Astrologyâ€™s use while now heartily embracing the Enneagram. Someone might respond that Christians have avoided astrology because God Himself forbids engaging in occult practices in Deuteronomy 18:10â€“14, and other passages, which is undoubtedly true. But Deuteronomy was written a way long time ago. What has it done for us lately?
Todd Wilson, an Enneagram supporter and author of The Enneagram Goes to Church, in a point/counterpoint live stream with Marcia Montenegro, claimed she was committing a genetic fallacy by raising the occult origins and shaping of the Enneagram. A genetic fallacy is defined as: “arguments or information being dismissed or validated based solely on their source or origin.” This is an objection many celebrity pastors and well-known Christians who advocate for the Enneagram appeal to, to their disgrace. Marciaâ€™s response was simple. If our objection is solely due to its occultic and New Age origins, he might have a point – not a good point, from a biblical standpoint, but still a point. But, the psychometric test (a scientific litmus test for accuracy in such systems) she cited demonstrates the Enneagram has no validity at all as a personality profiling system.
A far more important issue is that the use of occultic tools is expressly forbidden in Scripture, whether or not people believe in their efficacy. God does not offer a pass to those seemingly â€œnewâ€ and â€œshinyâ€ practices that people may believe â€œworkâ€ for them! He forbids dabbling in the occult period because of its pagan origin and involvement with evil â€“ which leads many away from God and the true faith â€“ as is exactly the case with the Enneagram.
Here we pose a different question. If the use of the occultic spiritual tool of the Enneagram by Christians is acceptable, then the use of the Dodekagram (Astrology) should be fine as well. And, while we are working on â€œChristianizingâ€ occult practices formerly rejected by Christians, perhaps we can introduce Tarot cards into the church experience. Oh, wait, the New Apostolic Reformation has done that under the seemingly harmless name of Destiny Cards. Tarot Cards have had evil connotations attached to them for centuries, so Christians might shy away, but a name change and good marketing can rehabilitate its image in the church. The Ouija Board has likewise been â€œChristianizedâ€ as The Holy Spirit Board, which enables its users to â€œCommunicate directly with Jesus Christ.â€ God’s people used to accomplish that with prayer.
Does any of this indicate to Christians that the church has slipped from its moorings? With great sadness, we say yes.Î©
Â© 2023, 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.
|↑2||â€œVictorian Era Phrenologyâ€|
|↑3||Woodworth Personal Data Sheet|
|↑5||The Original version of this article is behind the paywall of the New York Times|
|↑6||â€œThe $2 Billion Question of Who You Are at Workâ€|
|↑7||â€œThe Enneagram (Part 1),â€ Monday, May 26, 2014, Richard Rohrâ€™s Daily Meditation; Copy on file|
|↑8||See â€œMelanchthon Circleâ€|
|↑9||“â€˜New Ageâ€™ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans” by Pew Research Center in 2018 records 29% of US adults believe in astrology. According to “How Many Adults Live in the US?” in 2018 the adults population was an estimatedÂ 253,768,092. Twenty-nine percent is just under 51 million.; The personality descriptions we used are taken from “Astrological Zodiac Traits/ Sun Sign Personalities“; The geometric design within the circle and number system was created by Tomruen Dodecagram.Â (2022, June 6).Â InÂ Wikipedia|