Does the Enneagram Belong in Church?

I am going to take a break from my usual blogging on Ephesians today to cover a topic that’s been on my heart. It does fit with the verse we covered a couple of weeks ago, so I’m not getting too far off! Paul warned the church at Ephesus not to let anyone deceive them with empty arguments. I wrote about Gnosticism, and how the Gnostics believed that the spirit was good, and the body was evil. They believed that acquiring a special, mystical knowledge was the means for gaining salvation. They also believed that humans contain a piece of God (a divine spark) within themselves. It’s important to set this stage before we discuss the Enneagram.

The Enneagram has taken the world by storm in the last few years. But it is not new. In case you are not familiar with it, I’ll briefly (and I mean very briefly) explain what it is. It is a system that describes personality as number of interconnected personality types. It consists of a nine (ennea means 9 in Greek) point diagram made up of three elements. The outer part is a circle, inside of that is a triangle and then an irregular hexagon. It represents 9 personality types. It gets very complex, and includes 27 subtypes, as well as three key centers focused on action, feeling, and thinking.  In order to discover your type, you take a test to find your dominant personality type. You would also have adjacent types. The goal is to find out your own personality and how to relate to other people.

So far, other than being focused a little too much on “self”, and the fact that people get so engrossed in the study of the Enneagram and what it means, is there something that makes it off limits to the church? I do think that the verse in 2 Timothy where it says we will become “lovers of self” in the last days fits here (2 Timothy 3:2-7 if you want to read the whole passage) but there is far more that concerns me about it. In order to explain it, I am going to do a timeline of the Enneagram along with explanations of the people and things as I go.

Timeline of the Enneagram

George Gurdjieff (1879-1929)- Russian (of Greek and Armenian descent) philosopher, mystic, and spiritual teacher. He originated the idea of the Enneagram. He claimed he learned it from the Sufis. It was a symbol of 9 stages of enlightenment. A person would move from their “ego” to their essence. A person’s essence is that same being within them that has the same divine nature as God. (Sound familiar?)

P.D. Ouspensky (1878-1947)- Gurdjieff’s pupil. He wrote about his ideas on the Enneagram and called them “The Fourth Way.”  There were no personality traits associated with the Enneagram at this time.

Oscar Ichazo (1931-2020)- Ichazo ran the occult Arica school in Arica, Chile. Rampart magazine wrote in 1973 that the school used “A body of techniques for cosmic consciousness-raising and an ideology to relate to the world in an awakened way.” He adopted the Enneagram as a way to understand the mind. He claimed to have contact with two spirits, Metatron and Green Q’Tub, who helped him.

Claudio Naranjo (1932-2019)- Naranjo learned about the Enneagram from Ichazo. He was a New Age psychiatrist and spiritual seeker. He added the personality types to the Enneagram. He did this partly from “observation” but mostly from automatic writing. You can see interviews online where they discuss the channeling and automatic writing.

Let’s take a minute to discuss these two things. What are they? Channeling is the practice of a person’s body being taken over by a spirit for the purpose of communication. Automatic writing is the psychic ability to write words without being consciously aware. The ability is believed to come from spiritual, subconscious, or supernatural sources. What does the Bible say about this?

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable customs of those nations. No one among you is to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a spiritist, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these acts is detestable to the Lord, and the Lord your God is driving out the nations before you because of these detestable acts” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

These things are detestable to God and we are to stay away from them! But let’s keep going.

Claudio Naranjo took his teachings to Eselen, a New Age retreat center in Big Sur, California which focuses on humanistic alternative education. Jesuit priest, Bob Ochs, went to Esalen and learned the Enneagram from Naranjo. He took it to the Catholic Church where he taught it to other priests. It is not endorsed by the Catholic Church.

The Enneagram made its way into the New Age movement from Esalen, and became big business starting in the 1980’s. Initially it was used to uncover your “divine self.” (Again, we see the Gnostic roots).

Richard Rohr– He is a Franciscan priest, author, and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation. He learned about the Enneagram from Ochs and wrote a book in 1992 called “Discovering the Enneagram.” He has since written a second book called “The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective.” As progressive Christianity has grown in the last 5 to 10 years, interest in Richard Rohr and his books (especially his books on this) have grown. It is important to note that Rohr denies original sin, the atonement, and the exclusivity of Christianity. He is a panenthiest, which means he believes that God is in all, and all is in God, but God transcends the world. Many in the Catholic church warn against his teachings. He is the one who has introduced the Enneagram into mainstream Christianity.

I looked up “Christian Books on the Enneagram” and I found quite a few books in my search, so I know this is something that is a growing trend. I know that there are those who will say that it has helped them, so how can it be bad? What if the Ouija board helps? What if reading your daily horoscope helps? The only reason that these personality types were the ones picked (think about it, there are so many!) and placed on the chart in the order that they are, is because someone channeled a spirit (and I am going to be blunt and call it what it is-demonic) and placed them there. We are introducing a dangerous practice into the church when we bring in New Age and occultic practices and try to Christianize them. It does not work. So, to answer my original question, does the Enneagram belong in the church? My answer is an emphatic No!

I feel that I have barely touched the surface of this topic, and to be honest, I really didn’t want to spend a lot of time getting into the research. A lot of what I was researching was occult, New Age, and strange. I didn’t want to expose myself to this too much when I know that there are others who have done a lot of work on this. I did not take the Enneagram test, because once I found out the origins of it, I decided to steer clear. If you need to find out more about this for yourself, there is a lot of information out there. Here are some links for you to start with. From the Occult to the Church: How the Enneagram Became Part of Christian Culture- The Alisa Childer’s Podcast Why the Enneagram is a dangerous new age tool- Doreen Virtue Cultish: Decoding the Enneagram Pt. 2 (The audio link for Part 1 is embedded in the comments of the second video).

I will be back to Ephesians with my next post. I’m finally starting on the last chapter. I sure am enjoying this journey with you all!

Grace be with you!


One response to “Does the Enneagram Belong in Church?”

  1. At first i thought the Enneagram was just another personalty test like Myers Briggs. But, you have such great insights into the spiritual force behind the Enneagram. It is NOT just another personalty quiz. Thank you for your wise words!

    Sent from my iPhone



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