Should Christians Use The Enneagram? I have to admit, until very recently I wasn’t aware of the Enneagram. I knew there was some controversy about using it in the Church. But I had never taken the time to dive into it. Now that I have, I’m not comfortable with it.
On the surface, the Enneagram appears to be a simple personality test. A questionnaire is given to help determine which of the 9 personality types you are. Each personality type has strengths (virtues) and weaknesses (vices).
The Enneagram draws from New Age philosophy and teaching. Like many new age ideas, the origin of the Enneagram is hard to pin down. It seems to have its roots in the in the ideas taught by an early Christian mystic named Evagrius Ponticus.
In the modern area, Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo are the most common names associated with the movement. They developed the Enneagram system and the 9 personality types that have become synonymous with the movement.
The Enneagram seems to have entered the Christian world through a Jesuit priest named Richard Rohr. Rohr is a universalist (believes all are saved and will go to heaven). He has promoted many other teachings that are not in line with Classical Christianity. Other authors that champion the Enneagram are Elizabeth Wagele, Helen Palmer and Don Richard Riso.
So What’s The Problem?
Not only is the Enneagram strongly associated with the New Age philosophy, but it has its origins in the occult. Naranjo and his teacher, Oscar Ichazo, publicly claimed for many years that the Enneagram was an ancient Babylonian teaching. But in recent interviews, Claudio confesses that they both knew this to be a lie. Instead, Naranjo claims to have received the 9 Enneagram personalities from a process called “Automatic Writing”.
Many adherents to automatic writing claim that their hand is being guided by spirits, while others simply believe that the writing experience is simply occurring from the persons own subconscious. The practice is often used by psychics and mystics.
Gnosticism In The Enneagram
Gnosticism is a Greek term meaning “having knowledge”. The teaching was popular in Christianity in the first and second centuries A.D. The main idea was that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was insufficient to work redemption. What was needed was a personal spiritual knowledge along with Jesus. Conveniently enough, these groups possessed that special knowledge. And if you joined their group, you could obtain it as well.
In much the same way, the Enneagram claims that there is a true self and a false self. The true self is being obscured by the false self. And through the study of the Enneagram of personality, one can unlock the true self. This allows you to live as a fully divine person. You, in essence, become god.
What About Science?
Finally, there is no basis in science or psychotherapy behind the Enneagram. The few studies that have been done to test the validity of the Enneagram have been either non-conclusive or have discredited the teaching.
Christians should understand the deeply troubling past of how the Enneagram came into being. We need to understand that the roots of the movement are founded clearly in the occult. There is no scientific evidence showing a benefit on a secular level either. Understanding this, it’s not just Christians that should be avoiding the Enneagram. I don’t see any reason non-Christians to use it either.
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