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Concerns with Christian Enneagram Teachers?

The previous post Is the Enneagram Christian? exposed and compared the theology of the Enneagram as expounded by the following teachers. This left some remaining concerns regarding their theological method and syncretism with the New Age.

Richard Rohr

Franciscan Father Richard Rohr poses for a photo with Oprah Winfrey on the set of “Super Soul Sunday” during the taping of the show Nov. 12, 2014.

Richard Rohr is an American born author (b. 1943) and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he serves at the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) as founding director and academic dean. He is the author of many books, including The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (1995). Frequently cited by protestants promoting the Enneagram, a recent critique has stated  “one cannot disconnect the Enneagram with Richard Rohr.”[1] His broader theology therefore requires review, as it is deeply intwined with the tapestry of the Enneagram.

His views include a denial of orthodox teaching on God, creation, the Trinity, incarnation, atonement and revelation. Being critical of orthodoxy, he writes “Christians are inclined to speak with great gusto about how grace alone is efficacious, but we have no answers when people ask how they can experience this redeeming, life-changing grace.”[2] This leads him to turn to Eastern spiritual teachers and non-Christian influences, including Bhuddhism, Hinduism, and Carl Jung.

Two examples follow. In merging God with creation, Rohr asserts that “Christ represents God and hence the essence of the world, it’s true being.”[3] This is a pantheistic view of God, where nature and the divine are one substance, rejecting the distinction between Creator and creature that has been the hallmark of historic Christian thought. The Bible teaches that “God created the Heavens and the earth.” (See Genesis 1). It follows from Rohr’s thought that we ourselves are divine, as in the Enneagram teachings. How did he arrive at this bizarre conclusion, so against the confessional traditions of his Catholicism?

He depersonalises and mystifies God by saying things like “we have to press through to God, the Totally Objective, who for Christians is at the same time Totally Ours, since he has committed himself to our world and become part of it.” [4] Revelation becomes something different. Instead of God’s unveiling information about Himself to us, in Scripture, his word, and his Word, Jesus Christ the Son, Rohr says, “the mystery of God’s revelation is hidden inside, and in each of us in a different unique way (at least nine general God images).” [5] This then changes the nature of Jesus. Instead of Christ being the God-Man, both completely human and completely divine, he is merely “the Human One who believed the divine image in himself, who trusted it, followed it, and told us to do the same.” [6] Thus Christ has no more privileged ontological status than the one he shares with all of us. So a distorted image of God and his revelation has bent out of shape Rohr’s Christology (view of Christ) and Anthropology (view of humans). 

The Anglican theologian Ian Paul, in a review of The Universal Christ, criticises his exegetical practice, saying “I did not find a single biblical text which was cited with any plausibility; every single one was either misread, or taken out of context, or even cited with errors.” He concludes “Rohr is leading us down some very odd paths and a long way from orthodox Christian faith at numerous points.”[7] Douglas Farrow writes, “Like the gnosticism of old, this syncretistic pseudo-scientific neo-paganism can be dressed up in Christian language, given Catholic sacramental trappings, and successfully marketed to those who want to be religious without genuine conversion to God through Jesus the Christ.”[8] 

His personal justifications for adopting the teaching of the Enneagram is discussed further here.

Christopher Heuertz

Christopher Heuertz

Christopher Heurtz is an American born student of Richard Rohr and author of The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, and The Enneagram of Belonging: A Compassionate Journey of Self-Acceptance. For 20 years he served with the Word Made Flesh community, and then went to be a founder of Gravity (2012), where he is involved in ministering non-traditional liturgical ceremonies, and teaching, writing and contemplative activism on Enneagram. 

Heuertz redefines revelation away from the centrality of Scripture and towards eternal archetypes and laws of the universe. The three laws he finds common to every religious are the Law of One, the Law of Three, and the Law of Seven. The first law refers to the general “eternity, unity, wholeness, and inclusivity of all things.” Instead of the distinction between Creator and creature affirmed by Christian monotheism, you have in Heuertz’s theology a pagan pantheism, which divinises creation. The Law of Three is that there are “three forces [that] guide everything in motion: active, passive, and neutral.” Instead of God as the sole Sovereign and personal sustainer of the universe, Heuertz finds a set of three impersonal forces which are co-eternal with God. The Law of Seven asserts that all things exist on a spectrum, often with “seven” parts [9]. This relativises truth and contradicts binaries the bible affirms, such as right and wrong, male and female, clean and unclean. It is clear therefore that Heuertz’s adherence to Enneagram philosophy trumps Scripture. 

Further, Heuertz’s teaching subverts the priority of Biblical revelation with a sensorial revelation. He instructs his readers to “trust the voice of God that speaks in our hearts… listen to God in our minds… learn to sense God at work in our bodies,” rather than reading the Bible and studying the Scriptures.[10] He argues that “each of these Intelligence Centres offers us a different way of experiencing the loving presence and voice of God.”[11]

Kenneth Berding, Professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, concludes, “Christopher Heuertz is promoting many false doctrines in his book The Sacred Enneagram.  I write this with great grief and deep sorrow.  The Sacred Enneagram is full of incorrect and misleading religious assertions.  His teaching does not match what the Bible communicates regarding sin, salvation, sanctification, and probably also other core doctrines such as the nature of God, the person of Jesus Christ, and the atonement.  He portrays the Enneagram as sacred, powerful, searching, alive.  He mixes false religious ideas together with Christianity, and seems unconcerned about the Enneagram’s syncretistic origins.”[12]

Cron and Stabile

Ian Morgan Cron is an Episcopal priest, psychotherapist and speaker. Suzanne Stabile a prolific speaker on the Enneagram. They are both co-authors of The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. Theological and philosophical reflections on the Enneagram are less important to them than its usefulness to them, in understanding themselves and other people. It is this pragmatism which led them to promote the Enneagram and write their book on what they admit is “and archaic, historically questionable, scientifically unsupported personality typing system.”[13] 

Again we see that the major Enneagram teachers have untethered themselves from the Bible, preferring a flawed methodology; the experience of the interior-man over divine revelation and cross-examination of Scripture as a guide to ultimate truth. A preference likely to bring about flawed doctrine, and open the door to syncretism with the New Age thinking. 

The next posts regarding the Enneagram can be found here:

Can the Enneagram be Redeemed?

Can Adopting the Enneagram be Justified?

Footnotes

[1] Don Veinot, Joy Veinot, and Marcia Montenegro, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret (Wonder Lake, IL: MCOI publishing, 2020), Kindle, 315. 

[2] Rohr and Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, Kindle 173. 

[3] Ibid, Kindle, 5302

[4] Ibid, Kindle, 748

[5] Ibid, Kindle, 1276

[6] Ibid.

[7] Paul, Ian (2019-04-10). “Is Richard Rohr’s ‘Universal Christ’ Christian?”. Psephizo. Cited 21 September, 2021. https://www.psephizo.com/reviews/is-richard-rohrs-universal-christ-christian/

[8] Douglas Farrow, “The Pachamama Rohrs”, Catholic World Report. Ignatius Press. Cited 20 September, 2021. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/11/17/the-pachamama-rohrs/

[9] Heuert, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, Kindle, 724-755. 

[10] Ibid, Kindle, 1431.  

[11] Ibid, Kindle, 1413.  

[12] Kenneth Berding, (2018-11-05), “The Not-So-Sacred Enneagram: A Book Review of The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz“. Kindle Afresh. Cited 21 September, 2021. https://kennethberding.com/2018/11/05/the-not-so-sacred-enneagram-a-book-review-of-the-sacred-enneagram-by-christopher-l-heuertz/

[13] Cron and Stabile, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, Kindle, 77. 

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Trojan-Horse.jpg
The Trojan Horse: What Christians should know about Yoga and the Enneagram, By Christoper Berg, PhD.

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