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Can the Enneagram be Redeemed?

The theology and philosophy of the Enneagram is significantly contrary to the orthodox theology of the Christian church, and shows significant signs of syncretism with the New Age. Is the Enneagram Christian? In addition, there are significant concerns with the principle teachers of the Christian Enneagram that render the teachers unreliable. Concerns with Christian Enneagram Teachers? Still, can Christians use the Enneagram in a Christianised manner? Can we separate the practice of it from its theological and philosophical roots? Can the Enneagram be redeemed?

Christopher Berg, professor of Theology and Apologetics at Grace College of Divinity and Ecclesia College, Pastor of Spirit of Truth Church, says this questions are the single strongest rebuttal to such a theological assessment. He therefore provides the following response. [1]

If the practice of the Enneagram meets any of the following conditions, it is not suitable for Christians to use. 

  1. If the practice of the Enneagram goes against Biblical morality.
  2. If the Enneagram uses terms explicitly reserved as being defined by special revelation.
  3. If the practice of the Enneagram necessarily acts as a substitute for a biblically proscribed practice.
  4. If the practice of the Enneagram presents a moderate risk of engagement with the philosophy or theology.

The following will show use of the Enneagram meets all of these conditions. 

Does the practice of the Enneagram go against Biblical morality?

Yes. 

The Bible prohibits the use of occult practices. The Enneagram is an occult practice in three respects. It is numerology in fresh clothes, and it is astrology. 

Numerology

While the use of numerological signs is not explicitly forbidden in the Bible, neither is it nor approved of. 

However, when we understand Numerology as a practice that is involved in predicting the future, or a method by which people obtain counsel, and rely upon for wise instruction, it falls under the umbrella of those practices that God has forbidden in Deuteronomy. 

Deuteronomy 18:9-14
"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so."

See also Leviticus 19:46. 

“The detestable ways of the nations” are the forms of superstitious usage by which the heathen sought to procure the favour of their deities, to obtain from them direction and counsel, and to penetrate into the hidden future of events.

The Enneagram also shares other similarities to Numerological philosophy. In anthropology, they both intend to discover the “self” and thereby “know the universe and God.” [2] That “the average person is often two people”[3] Numerology’s “external self” is equivalent to the “False Self” of the Enneagram, expressing thoughts and behaviours freely and “cultivated to defend out sensitivities,” to “build up a psychological wall”. [4] Numerology’s inner or high self, the equivalent to the Enneagrams “True Self,” is the highest for of expression, the God within.” [5] By integrating these selves a person can becomes capable of expressing “true love,” “the greatest depth of personal freedom,” and a “depth of wisdom that is almost legendary in human expression.” [6] There is significant overlap with Numerology when its comes to its the personality types, and use of symbols. 

Christians should therefore treat the Enneagram as they do Numerology – as a practice that goes against Biblical morality. 

Astrology

The Enneagram also has significant overlap with horoscopes and astrology, in its heavy use of symbols, and how they both understand the different personalities as being influenced by an esoteric, universal energy-force. 

The type and style of information reported by the Enneagram is comparable to astrology. With symbols of animals, colours and so forth, platitudes and generalisations are given that could apply to anyone at ay any time, with just enough truth to elicit a confirmation of its reliability to vulnerable minds.

Second, the idea of the personality type exerting significant control or influence over a person’s life is compatible to astrology. Both have a concept of a mystical energy that governs a person’s positive and negative traits, and determines your actions. 

The Bible explicitly forbids any form of astrology as a false spirituality.   

Isaiah 47:13-14
You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. Behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself is this, no fire to sit before!

See also 1 Chronicles 10:13-14; 2 Kings 21:6.

Moreover, Jesus tells us not to worry about the future, or let worry of the future govern how to live. 

Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ..

Trusting in something other than God for your future is idolatry, and thus biblically immoral. It displaces Jesus from his rightful place as the Lord and Saviour of your life. It is only the guidance of the Holy Spirit that can free you from worry, and break the hold of this brand of controlling witchcraft.

Does the Enneagram use terms explicitly reserved as being defined by special revelation?

Yes. 

The Enneagram redefines terms and presents an alternative vision of certain concepts, such as what it means to be human. But are those terms and concepts explicitly reserved by special revelation? 

Take “sin” as an example. The Bible defines “sin” as wrong-doing, law-breaking, moral-failing, disobedience, or missing-the-mark. The word stands in for the concept of what is wrong with the world at large, including the problem that plagues human relationships—especially the relationship between God and Man. By reconceptualising the cause of those problems to something opposed to the Bible, (namely, obsession or addiction to the use of one’s innate gifts, or ignorance of your True Self and acceptance of the delusion of your False Self,) you deny the Scripture’s authority and dishonour the God of Truth (another moral failing).

The same is true for other terms and concepts, including revelation, sanctification and salvation as outlined in the previous theological evaluation. 

Does the practice of the Enneagram necessarily act as a substitute for a biblically proscribed practice?

Yes. 

The Bible recommends we be not only hearers of the word, but be doers of the word also (James 1:22). It also recommends we submit to the Scripture’s authority (Psalm 119:11; John 15:3; 2 John 1:9). These are biblically proscribed practices. Above we saw how the teachings of the Enneagram reconceptualize terms reserved for the Bible, which entails a denial of the Scriptures supreme authority. Therefore, following the teachings of the Enneagram necessarily does entail a substitute for biblically proscribed practices. We may adopt the teachings of the Enneagram, but in doing we would be the fullness of what the Bible recommends to us.

Additionally, among the terms the Enneagram has redefined is sanctification. Biblically speaking, sanctification is the process of being made holy, transformed into the likeness of Christ and carried out as a work of the Holy Spirit. The redefinition of sanctification as “bring[ing] us to our true Essence,: [7] by the means self-reflection with the Enneagram already hints at how the practice of the Enneagram is a substitute for what the Bible proscribes. 

Rather than rely on the Holy Spirit we are to rely on the Enneagram “as a map for self-liberation” which leads to “deeper freedom and inner peace.”[666] Rather than focusing on the character of God we are to focus on the self, with the Holy Ideas and Virtues associated with your assigned personality type. Rather than being “washed with the water through the word,” (Ephesians 5:26) of through “the truth of the word” (John 17:17), or “because of the words [Christ] has given,” allowing the revelation held in the Scripture to transform our minds and hearts, we adopt a works-based system for our spiritual growth to integrate our Holy Ideas and Virtues. This instills a works-based mentality which is the antithesis of the Bible’s prescription. 

Does the practice of the Enneagram present a moderate risk of engagement with the philosophy or theology?

Yes. 

After selecting 60 theological topics under the headings; Spirituality and the Enneagram (17), God, Creation and the Enneagram (13), Sin, Salvation, and the Enneagram (10), The Nature and Purpose of Humanity and the Enneagram (9), Means of Revelation and the Enneagram (11), 70% (42) showed syncretism with New Age philosophy. 18% (11) were unorthodox, and 12% (7) were irrelevant. None were orthodox.[8] Such an evaluation shows that the risk of engaging the philosophy or theology of the Enneagram when practicing it is more than moderate.

In addition to this statistical analysis, the main thrust of the Enneagram is to look inside yourself to discover truth about yourself. The Bible teaches to do the opposite. To discover truth about yourself you must look to God. The human heart is deceitful and the image of a Christ is the better mirror of who you were designed to be. Understanding this we see that the Enneagram is the worst type of misdirection: it has got people looking at themselves instead of at Christ. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the practice of the Enneagram meets all four conditions for being unsuitable for the Christian, any one of which would have been sufficient to establish the point. It is biblically immoral; being Numerology dressed in new clothes and a controlling form of witchcraft like Astrology. To engage with it is to engage in the idolatry of self, which displaces the centrality of Christ, the Divine, with a person’s True Essence, the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death on the cross with a false gospel of self-improvement, the Spirit’s work of sanctification with your own effort. The teaching of the Enneagram gives a different vision of sin, the fall and human nature, scripture, sanctification, and salvation, and thereby subverts the authority of Scripture. As a form of worldly wisdom does not fall under the redemption mandate, and therefore is simply syncretism with the New Age and dangerous to the spiritual health of the Christian believer.

The next post regarding the Enneagram can be found here:

Can Adopting the Enneagram be Justified?

Footnotes

[1] Christopher Berg, The New Age Trojan Horse: What Christians should know about Yoga and the Enneagram (Beyond Publishing, 2021), 163-164. 

[2] David Phillips, The Complete Book of Numerology: Discovering the Inner Self (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 1992) Kindle, 70. 

[3] Ibid, Kindle, 94. 

[4] Ibid. 

[5] Ibid, Kindle, 173

[6] Ibid. 

[7] Heuertz, The Enneagram of Belonging: A Compassionate Journey of Self-Acceptance, Kindle 2540. 

[8] Berg, The New Age Trojan Horse: What Christians should know about Yoga and the Enneagram, 220. Especially, Chapter 15

The above critique relied heavily upon the work of Dr. Christopher Berg, and his excellent book on the topic, The Trojan Horse: What Christians should know about Yoga and the Enneagram.

The Trojan Horse: What Christians should know about Yoga and the Enneagram, By Christoper Berg, PhD.

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