Three more problems with the Enneagram

Three more problems with the Enneagram.  I’ve written several articles lately on the Enneagram.  What many believe to be a simple personality test is actually something much more serious.  It has its roots in New Age teaching, and was arrived at by some pretty bizarre methods.  

As I said previously, the Enneagram is new to me.  I had never run across it before in either a religious or secular format.  I began seeing people talking about it online and decided to try and figure out what all the fuss was about.  The more I find out, the more troubled I become. In addition to my two previous posts, here are three more problems with the enneagram. 

Original Sin

Some teachers of the Enneagram have linked original sin to the point when a young child chooses their ego type.  What then follows is the idea that we can “fix” our original sin problem through spiritual work.  In essence, the Enneagram of personality becomes a works-based means of salvation.  

On this view, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross becomes insufficient to deal with the sin problem.  We ourselves become the means to our own salvation.  We correct our thinking and our shortcomings based on the test, and we remove our sin in the process. While this might help us in our sanctification, it can’t be confused as a way to actual salvation

What Does It Say About Jesus?

Have you noticed that everyone, no matter what their belief system, will try and get Jesus on their side?  While not everyone believes Jesus is God, they still want to show their view is validated by the great and wise teacher. So what does the Enneagram say about Jesus?

Three more problems with the Enneagram

According to Enneagram teachers, Jesus actually possesses all 9 of the personality virtues. This seems like an impossible thing to determine.  Typing a personality is a difficult thing.  It requires years of training and extensive study of the patient to come up with an accurate analysis.  

Determining a personality type for Jesus based on the Gospels is problematic to say the least.  Jesus did not write the Gospels.  He did inspire their writing, but did not dictate them.  The individual authors are telling the story from their own unique perspective, not Jesus’.  

Furthermore, the purpose of the Gospels is not to have an accurate understanding of Jesus’ psychology.  The purpose is to offer evidence that Jesus was who He said He was, and that His offer of salvation from sin is therefore also valid. The authors never intended to offer a work that be used for this purpose.

This isn’t to say that we can’t draw some conclusions about what type of person Jesus was.  It simply means that we can’t psychoanalyze Him based on a limited view of his personality. 

Science? 

Obviously from a Christian perspective, the Enneagram is not something we would want to engage in.  But what about secular or non-religious people?  If you remove the spiritual aspects from it, does the Enneagram at least have a basis in science? The answer to that is, no.  There is no scientific validity to the Enneagram of personality. 

Three more problems with the Enneagram

There have been a few studies related the Enneagram that show it has helped some people with ego development and personal growth.  One study found it comparable to the more widely accepted Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (also known as the MBTI).  But none of these studies fully validates the Enneagram as a valid psychological tool. 

Fr. Mitchell Pacwa had this to say when he researched the Enneagram:

“If anything of psychological value can be redeemed from the enneagram, its practitioners must thoroughly purge the system of unchristian elements. If any true insights within the system are to be useful, it requires psychological testing and control. Otherwise counselors will roam through the church, subtly taking people away from Christ their Lord and perhaps doing damage to their psyches. I recommend avoidance of the enneagram industry until the day it can be made completely compatible with Christian faith and sound scientific methodology, if indeed that is possible.”

Conclusion

I tend to agree with Fr. Pacwa.  In my research I haven’t found anything that would make the Enneagram something that should be used by Christians, or for that matter, secular individuals.  There is no spiritual or scientific value in using the system.  

Have you had an experience with the Enneagram of personality?  We’d love to hear from you! 

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