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(Editor’s Note: This is not a short review.)

Christians hold a general idea that the indwelling Holy Spirit will completely protect them from being deceived. This idea is taken from a portion of John 16:13:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,

There are two fundamental problems with attempting to use the passage in this way. The first problem is the context. As with all passages in scripture, context must be considered to gain a proper understanding of the text in question. The context of this verse is the coming persecution (John 16:1-4a) of the disciples after Jesus’ departure, the work of the Holy Spirit to help them in that regard — once He is sent to them (John 16:4b-11). How would the Holy Spirit help them in that regard? Jesus explained the type of truth the Spirit would guide them into that would help them through this devastating and discouraging time ahead:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13)

The disciples would need the Spirit’s presence and close guidance to keep them from falling away from their mission. (John 16:1) This is part of a much longer narrative by Jesus, which the Apostle John began in chapter thirteen. Jesus was preparing the disciples for rough days ahead and “the things that are to come.”

Second, even if this admonition was aimed not at the disciple’s immediate need but at all Christians in all times ahead, there is nothing in the context that states or implies believers will necessarily follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Christians may allow — and do allow — themselves to be deceived in spite of warnings of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. There are numerous warnings in the New Testament to believers that had been deceived.1For example, 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Galatians 6:7; James 1:16 Paul’s challenge to the Galatians who were believers that had been deeply deceived is direct and to the point:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. (Galatians 3:1)

Any of us can be deceived, particularly if we ignore the guidance of the Holy Spirt and the word of God. Reading Thomas Nelson’s latest contribution to the world of the Enneagram within the Evangelical church is a reminder of the importance of guarding against deception. We do not doubt the sincerity of Meredith Boggs, the author of The Journey Home: A Biblical Guide to Using the Enneagram to Deepen Your Faith and Relations (Meredith Boggs, Thomas Nelson; January 24, 2023). However, someone can be very sincere and yet be sincerely wrong — which can lead from self-deception to having a role in deceiving still others. The Apostle Paul warns Timothy of this truth in 1 Timothy 3:13:

while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

There are “evil people” and “imposters” (pretenders to the faith) who intentionally deceive. Then there are those deceived by these intentional deceivers, who unintentionally deceive still others. Has Meredith Boggs been deceived, or is the Enneagram truly a spiritual tool God uses to supplement the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the word of God? The reader will have to decide.

In the Introduction of her book, Boggs begins “the bottom line” with:

The Enneagram is not the gospel.2Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. xv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

On that, at least, we completely agree. The second one is somewhat mixed:

The Enneagram can help you grow personally and spiritually, but don’t use it to replace God’s Word. That will lead you astray more than any cult.3Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. xv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

Anecdotally, it may be that Boggs and others believe they have grown personally or possibly even spiritually while using the Enneagram, but correlation does not imply causation. Could someone’s marriage improve as they started talking together after being introduced to the Enneagram? Sure, that could happen. But did it improve because of the Enneagram or because they began talking to each other? The Enneagram has not been demonstrated to be a valid profiling tool. Jay Medenwaldt performed the only valid psychometric test to date, and in his General Conclusion, wrote:

Unless you’ve done graduate work in psychometrics, the scientific data probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to you (which is why there are two parts to this article). For those who have studied psychometrics, it’s a no-brainer that the enneagram simply cannot do all its proponents claim it can. Any scientist who studies personality would simply look at the reliability scores and conclude the test is not accurate enough to be helpful, and therefore, they wouldn’t use it because the potential for harm will be too high.

Medenwaldt sees absolutely no reliability in the Enneagram and, in fact, warns of its potential for harm. Medenwaldt is not the only source of research on the Enneagram. Boggs, in Footnote #1 of Chapter Two on page 16, cites:

The WEPSS (Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scales) test has been statistically validated, and that’s the one I recommend. For more information, see the Resources section.4Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 234). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

We have no doubt someone communicated this idea to Boggs, and she believed it, but there is no evidence the claim is true. In “The reliability and validity of the Open Enneagram of Personality Scales,”  Kayleigh Kastelein wrote on page 5:

With small sample sizes, weak support from factor analysis, and low quantity of studies, there is not enough support for reliability and validity of the WEPSS for it to be considered a strong assessment of the Enneagram.

The American Journal of Psychiatry raises similar concerns in their General Conclusions:

We advise caution in integrating these concepts too quickly, as the Enneagram is more complex than this brief overview suggests. We hope to expand on this overview in future papers targeted specifically at the practical value of the Enneagram for medical education and clinical psychotherapy.5History of the Enneagram in Psychiatry, Morgan Alexander, B.S., Brent Schnipke, M.D., Psychiatry Online, The American Journal of Psychiatry Resident Journal, Published Online:6 Mar 2020

Other than anecdotal claims, there is too little research to classify the Enneagram as a valid tool. To say that one’s dog speaks Latin may be interesting, but the burden of proof, obviously, is on the claimant. Of the sources we have cited, at least two advise caution and suggest potential harm. To claim otherwise is deceptive, even if it was not Boggs’s intent to deceive. Human beings cannot judge another person’s “intent.”

Our concerns are focused on the occult origins and unbiblical nature of the Enneagram. However, there are some, like Dr. Todd Wilson, author of The Enneagram Goes to Church, who have acknowledged the occult connections, but then assert that rejecting it based on its origins is a Genetic fallacy.6See “Should Christians embrace the Enneagram? Todd Wilson & Marcia Montenegro We would agree that something which does not have Christian origins may be a perfectly valid tool IF it has a valid neutral use. We cannot imagine, though, what would validate something such as a Ouija board or Astrology for Christian use. In the case of the Enneagram, it is an occult tool AND also is not a valid profiling or psychological tool.

In the first chapter of The Journey Home, titled “Origins of the Enneagram,” Boggs writes:

While it’s tough to say where the Enneagram originated, I’m not compelled to try to convince you that it was rooted in Christianity or to defend its origins.7Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 3). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

That is a wise choice since it certainly isn’t rooted in Christianity, and we do know where it originated. Boggs went on to recite the origin story invented by Claudio Naranjo. The story has no evidence to support it, and in Naranjo’s video interview in 2010, he admitted to making up the history to give it credibility. For commentary purposes, Dr. Ron V. Huggins numbered five false statements in this quote from Boggs’s book:

[1] There’s not a lot of clear evidence about its origins, [2] since it began as an oral tradition. [3] The roots of the Enneagram can be traced back to fourth-century Desert Fathers and Evagrius Ponticus, [4] a Greek Christian contemplative whose works contained Enneagram-like symbols [5] and the “eight evil thoughts,” which later become known more famously as the “seven deadly sins.” The ancient wisdom of the Enneagram was derived from a time period in the Middle East when there was comingling of many religious influences including Christian, Hellenistic, Sufi, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions.8Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (pp. 3-4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition, number added for clarity of the comments to follow

Dr. Huggins commented:

Interestingly, not a single claim in the passage above is even remotely true.  I have numbered the claims, with claim 5 being rather expansive.  No matter what you think of the Enneagram as a personality thing, what is the point of continuing to publish untrue claims in support of it?

Boggs next claim is partially true:

George Gurdjieff is attributed with reintroducing the Enneagram symbol to the modern world; however, his work did not incorporate personality types.9Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

Gurdjieff did not “reintroduce” the symbol but introduced the design he created and claimed answered all the questions in the cosmos through the use of numbers.10See Dr Ron Huggins — Enneagram Genesis In Search of Enneagram Origins It is also true “his work did not incorporate personality types.” Gurdjieff’s work was little more than a form of numerology. The personality types were later added by Naranjo through the occult practice of automatic writing.11Recently Zach Tyler of Gospel for Enneagram tried to downplay the automatic writing issue. Our response in “Defending the Idol” may be helpful

After mentioning the “spiritual leaders”12Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition that influenced and shaped the Enneagram, Oscar Ichazo (occultist), Claudio Naranjo (psychiatrist, occultist and shaman whose preferred hallucinogen was Ayahuasca), Richard Rohr (Panentheist & perennialist ), Helen Palmer (New Age psychic), the Enneagram Institute (New Age) “founded by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson”13Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition (both New Agers) Boggs admits:

Most early teachers did not subscribe to a biblical worldview.14Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 4). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

Boggs is correct, but what a colossal understatement! Occultists, Shamans, Panentheists, New Age Psychics, and other just plain old New Agers rarely subscribe to a biblical worldview — let’s just guess NEVER. So absolutely, the early teachers of the Enneagram did not hold to a biblical worldview. For unclear reasons, all pro-Enneagram authors turn to the world of the occult to find answers about themselves, how to have relationships with one another, and grow spiritually, all of which are presumably lacking in the word of God.

After repeating the oft-told false history of the origins of the Enneagram, Boggs writes:

Some will argue that the Enneagram is fully rooted within the Christian tradition, but it isn’t.15Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 5). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition, italics added

It seems she could have started this chapter with this statement and followed up with, “but for those who would like to hear the fairy tale that has been made up about its origins, read on!” She also removed any doubt that she and Thomas Nelson Publishers are unaware of our book (and probably our articles and online conference), which exposes the origins and occultism when she wrote:

If you want to go down a deep rabbit hole (for all my type Fives reading along), check out Marcia Montenegro and Don and Joy Veinot, who are boisterous opponents of the Enneagram based on some of what we know about these teachers.16Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (pp. 4-5). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

This obvious knowledge of the Enneagram critiques written by us and others leaves Boggs and others without excuse for foisting these falsehoods on the sheep in the Body of Christ. (A side note: Marcia Montenegro and Don Veinot may very well exhibit over-the-top boisterousness much or even most of the time, but Joy Veinot is only mildly boisterous even under intense provocation and otherwise is a perfectly staid individual with no unwarranted boisterous outbursts at all🤣)

Boggs, like other Enneagram proponents, goes on to appeal to Calvin’s Institutes in an attempt to validate the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual growth:

John Calvin spoke to the importance and interconnectedness of self-knowledge and knowledge of God in The Institutes of the Christian Religion17Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 5). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

We addressed this claim at length in Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret.18We devote a lengthy section in Chapter 2, pages 41-44 Calvin was working through the question of what comes first ─ a true knowledge of self or a true knowledge of God. Do we discover “self-knowledge and knowledge of God” through taking personal inventory, or do we gain true knowledge of ourselves when we see our utter sinfulness against the holiness of God?

Boggs follows up with:

The Enneagram can bring about tremendous self-knowledge and awareness, which is why I believe there has been such a deep resonance with it.19Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (p. 5). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

Here the deception shows itself. The Enneagram guides us to focus on ourselves and provides tools for us to attempt to fix ourselves. There is nothing in the Enneagram that exposes us to true the knowledge of our utterly bankrupt evil nature and the good gifts which come only from the God Who is truly holy. The Enneagram doesn’t reveal our sinful condition, separation from God, His holiness, His love for us, and provision for salvation.

Meredith Boggs spends a little time outlining claims that the Enneagram doesn’t lead to the New Age or occult practices and concludes with:

In my fifteen-plus years of learning, teaching, and writing about the Enneagram, I have yet to encounter one person who has converted to New Ageism, who started engaging in occult practices, or who walked away from the Christian faith for the mystical, metaphysical spiritual realm due to the Enneagram.20Boggs, Meredith. The Journey Home (pp. 9-10). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition

Without hesitation, Dr, Ronald V. Huggins responded:

When Boggs writes that in 15 years of teaching the Enneagram, she has never met anyone “who started engaging in occult practices,” it is like someone saying, “in 15 years of teaching people to bow down to statues, I’ve never encountered anyone who started engaging in idolatry.” Occult beliefs and practices are baked into the Enneagram. Any Christian who seriously says: “I’m an eight, so my security point is two and my stress point 5,” or “my dominant wing is….” is tacitly affirming the occult numerology underlying those claims, e.g., that 142857–the flow of the arrows on the Enneagram– isn’t just a mathematical curiosity, but really and truly does map the course of all the cosmic forces.

Following suit with some of the other popular Enneagram teachers, Bogg’s also includes Gurdjieff’s occult “three brains” teaching under the more euphemistic name, “triads.” In “The Enneagram’s Occult Remainders: Two Key Examples” Dr. Ron V. Huggins wrote:

One thing the current enneagram preserves that ought to have given Christian enneagram teachers pause is its scientifically reductionistic, unbiblical, occult/New-Age idea of the makeup of the human person, namely Gurdjieff’s doctrine of three brains. Gurdjieff taught that worms have one brain (instinctual), sheep two (instinctual and emotional), and humans three (instinctual, emotional, and intellectual). Ichazo claimed that these three brains reside in separate parts of the body, the first in the head, the second near the heart, and the third “about four finger-widths below the navel.21 John  C. Lilly and Joseph E. Hart, “The Arica Training,” in Transpersonal Psychologies (ed. Charles C. Tart; New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 332

We have only highlighted a few of the issues within the pages of The Journey Home in this review. We cannot discern the motives or intent of individuals, so we will end with a question we posed early on in this review. Is Meredith Boggs deceived, or is the Enneagram TRULY a spiritual tool God uses to supplement the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the word of God? The reader will have to decide.Ω

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