In a time where Christians have very little knowledge of other spiritual beliefs and the occult it seems that we are being challenged to be transformed along with the rest of the world that does not know Christ. The question we need to ask those who are promoting these methodologies: is Christ sufficient or deficient?
The newest breakthrough trend on spiritual life/personality casting is ENNEAGRAM, this is supposed to be a tool for discovering more about one’s strength's and weaknesses in our personality. The word 'Enneagram' comes from two Greek words Ennea meaning 'nine' and Grammos meaning 'point'. The Enneagram consists of a system that holds that there are nine approaches to the perception and response to reality.
This is a system of spiritual psychology that is supposed to find one psychological orientation of strengths, talents and advantages as well as limits, pitfalls and blind spots. It is supposed to reveal why you sometimes think and act the way you do as you see the world shade your daily actions and relationships.The Enneagram system claims to introduce a sacred agenda of being one with all beings. It is used to identify the hidden motivators our thought patterns that form beliefs that drive our behavior, exposing the true motivations for actions and illusions developed regarding himself and regarding how to deal with the world. In other word it is supposed to enable a person to gain knowledge of his true self, and help fine-tune ones self.
Of course there are practical ways to gain understanding and learn of ones self to change bad habits and improve self. On the Enneagram institute website this book “The Wisdom of the Enneagram” presents the Enneagram as “a map of the soul.” It integrates precise knowledge of the nine types with wisdom teachings from a variety of spiritual sources around the world, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Sufism, and Fourth Way Teachings.
So we see that it has a conglomeration of spiritual beliefs as its source of inspiration.
The self-help and personal growth movement have mostly popularized Enneagram. Therapists, teachers, psychologists, managers, and business people also use it. Now we see this being introduced elsewhere:CINCINNATI, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- An ancient tool for interpersonal understanding, self-awareness and personal growth, the Enneagram now holds a significant place in the personal and spiritual development movement, in therapy and the mental health care field, in business communication, in jury selection and in the creation and casting of motion pictures.
From August 6 to 8, 2004, practitioners and students of the Enneagram will head to Arlington, Virginia, for the 10th annual conference of the International Enneagram Association (IEA), on the theme, “Using the Enneagram Creatively: Waking Up to New Possibilities.” Major highlights of the conference include a keynote speech by postmodern theologian Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and 23 other books, a series of sessions on personality subtypes by world-renowned Enneagram pioneer Claudio Naranjo, M.D., presentations by leading Enneagram teachers, including some of the founders of the IEA, and a diverse program featuring the latest Enneagram work.
Many will recognize the name Matthew Fox whose books are incidentally sold in some Christian bookstores. Fox is a New Age ex-Catholic priest that has promoted a “religious awakening,” Fox “wants to birth the Cosmic Christ in each and every individual” (Matthew Fox, The Coming Of The Cosmic Christ, p. 122). He has written books such as The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, The healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a global Renaissance. He is a mystic who does not adhere to the Christian faith.
We need to watch for the New Age coming in the door of the Church as personality profiles are becoming popular again. A number of churches are seeking new ways of doing things and open to new trends.
Enneagram claims to be an entry point for deep personal healing and renewal. Enneagram is a psychological and spiritual system for a higher consciousness. We are told it will help us understand the personality types and the differences in each other which should reduce unnecessary conflicts (transforming one into a more tolerant person). We can transform our habits by being our own observer how we think, and go from unconscious behavior to conscious behavior. This is done through a series of probing questions called a PERSONALITY PROFILE questionnaire one learns What their Type is.
The Enneagram symbol is a nine-pointed, star-like figure. The nine lines comprise a perfect triangle and a twisted hexagon contained within a circle. This is a New Age type mandala, a mystical gateway to personality classification. The drawing is based upon a belief in the mystical properties of the numbers 7 and 3.
The Enneagram is chart or diagram with many points and lines inside and touching a circle. The enneagram symbol itself is a circle along whose circumference appear nine equally spaced points marked by the numerals 1 through 9 in succession. The chart purports to describe nine different personality types, and a automatic or mechanical response to life.
There are lines that connect some of the points on the circumference of the circle, an arrangement based on what are taken to be the mystical and cosmological properties of the numbers three and seven. Mixtures with numerically adjoining types are particularly frequent, called “wings.” A 5's wing will either be type 4, or type 6 (or occasionally both). A 9's wing will either be type 8 or 1.
The enneagram describes nine core personality types, which spring infinite varieties of ways people demonstrate the basic behavioral patterns. These types define the way people's personalities inhibit their choices, growth and connection to their essence or true nature. By doing the enneagram it offers ways to escape automatic responses so our lives can continue to evolve
1. the Achiever - an intense, hard working, focused perfectionist.
2. the Helper - an empathetic, service-oriented, flattering rescuer.
3. the Succeeder - an image-oriented, accomplished, efficient performer.
4. the Individualist - a self-absorbed, sensitive, creative overanalyzer.
5.the Observer - a noncommittal, deliberate, reflective loner.
6.the Guardian - a responsible, opinionated, community- oriented moralist.
7. the Dreamer - an analytical, entertaining, self-indulgent fantasizer.
8. the Confronter - a competitive, blunt, passionate maneuverer.
9. the Preservationist - a secretive, unemotional, affable problem solver for others.
Not everyone has the same list and some assign animals to explain the personality.
1.Reformers. (Perfectionist the Eagle) The underlying motivation of the 1 is to be RIGHT, and to avoid being WRONG.
2.Helpers. (The Giver - The Lassie Dog) Helpers focus their lives on giving and receiving love.
3.Motivators (The Performer - The Peacock) admire success, and want others to admire their successes. Threes are often impressive people with impressive credentials, accomplishments.
4.Romantics (The Cat) Fours combine emotional intensity, sensitivity, and intuition all in one person. Romantics don't settle for the ordinary.
5. Thinkers. (The Observer - The Owl)
Type five is the most mentally intense, maximum use of their intellectual capacities. think before they act, thinkers are excellent investigators, sharp observers
6. The Skeptic. The Devil's Advocate - The Wolf Sixes are both affectionate and skeptical. They like people, They value trust, and when they trust someone they are extremely loyal to that individual
7.Adventurers. (The Epicure - The Otter) Sevens hate boredom and love stimulating activity. Hence they are adventurous, and accumulate wider and wider experiences as they get older.
8.Leaders. (The Boss - The Tiger) assertive, blunt and fearless; they speak their minds, independent.
9.Mediator. (the Bear) The underlying motivation of type 9 is achieving peace of mind. problem-solvers and impartial judges. Essentially a peace-makeA number of years ago the church had another personality profile system run through it called the 4 temperaments. It defined ones Personality Types as Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic temperaments. This was promoted by Tim LaHaye in his book “The Spirit Controlled Temperament.”
Florence Littauer also popularized this system saying, “Usefulness and validity remain the same today as they were in ancient Greece” (Your Personality tree p.40).
The facts showed that 4 temperaments were based on astrology, not the Bible or even science. The twelve signs of the zodiac are arranged according to the elements (fire, earth, air, and water), the humors (yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm), and the temperaments (choleric, melancholy, sanguine, and phlegmatic), in a cycle repeated three times. This “Christianized” form of astrology had entered the church under personality test. This is one of several behavior-oriented theories that modem psychology has adopted from ancient schools of philosophy. Those who have researched this field have stated personality tests have been proven to have no adequate statistical validity. (For an analysis of the worthlessness of personality testing see the Bobgan's book Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing, pp. 131-172).
“physicians and philosophers used their understanding of the four humors (body fluids), the four temperaments, and signs of the zodiac to treat diseases and understand individual differences in people” ( FOUR TEMPERAMENTS ASTROLOGY & PERSONALITY TESTING by Martin & Deidre Bobgan.)
The 4 temperaments have similarities to Enneagram in that it analyzes the person to bring the desired results. While it may work to a certain extent, as many things often do. We as believers in Jesus Christ do not exchange our spiritual walk for psychological pragmatic methods. We don’t accept it because of any benefits that seemingly are there. The only reason one would use such a system, based on humanistic philosophy is either they are completely unaware of what this is or they are not growing in Christ by the Spirit of God.
The reasons for using this technique is to discover your own unconscious motivations, it is to reveal the patterns in our thinking, feeling and behaving. It reveals these patterns of unconscious behaviors and make us conscious of them giving us more control. Thus it eliminates self-defeating behavior and improves one self. It claims to also help you achieve your goals and reach your FULL potential.
No doubt everyone can fit into one or more of these categories since it lists almost all the traits of human personality. But how accurate is the assigned numbers and diagnosis of your personality? If we have behaviors and conditions that blind us what makes us think how we interpret this can also be misdiagnosed.
The Enneagram's underlying structure is based on testable ideas about motivations and emotions but there has been no independent or unbiased scientific study on the accuracy or helpof the enneagram.
Mitchell Pacwa had reviewed enneagrams and come under fire for tracing it to a Sufi origin (Sufi is a mystic form of Islam, they are known as whirling dervishes, who spin themselves into an altered state of consciousness.) They also believe in a design hidden under their own appearances. Many say the Mitchell Pacwa tracing it to a Sufi origin is wrong. I don’t know enough on this to comment, as many people are saying different things about its origins. However, there are others who have done and published their research. While I do not endorse this book the reviewers comments should speak for themselves.
Moral Healer's Handbook: The Psychology of Spiritual Chivalry
(God's Will Be Done, Vol. 2)
Another reviewer writes- Although not necessarily the definitive work on the subject, it does present a Naqshbandi (Designers) Sufi use of the symbol. This is important because both Gurdjieff and Oscar Ichazo, the two major channels through which the enneagram has entered the West, claimed to have studied with Sufis of this very school http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1871031397/104-8718300-3754303?v=glance
We do know one of the main archetechs of enneagram Ichazo, borrowed from Sufi, Buddhist, Taoist and Christian sources. (Oscar Ichazo Interviews with Oscar Ichazo (New York: Arica Institute Press, 1982).
What we know of enneagram from the many people who teach on it, it is a syncretistic mixture of various sources, mostly types of esoteric knowledge, ie. Sufi mysticism, the Kabbalah, and astrology, (Ichazo correlates certain personality tendencies with the signs of the Zodiac. (See Lilly and Hart, “The Arica Training,” 342-44. Cf. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, 366-67.)
Some claim the Enneagram had been used in Central Asia for fortune telling through numerology. Some of these and other claims may be hard to prove; regardless, we do have a direct correlation to the occult through others.
The Root of the Tree
A Christian does not judge an idea as good or bad only by its association with people, but if the idea is biblical, not if it works. However in this case we find those who were into the occult and were anti Christian were looking to it as another way. George Ivanovich Gurdjieff used it calling it The Work or the Fourth way. Gurdjieff repeatedly said, “All I'm doing is teaching esoteric Christianity.” Gurdjieff considered the enneagram to contain the key to knowledge of all that is in the cosmos. Gurdjieff claimed the enneagram is very ancient, originating in the Babylon or Mesopotamia of 2500 B.C
The roots of the enneagram being used in modern times are traced back to two men in particular: George Gurdjieff and Oscar Ichazo. Both men were involved in occult pursuits. Gurdjieff was into eastern mysticism (1879 - 1949) and collected many different concepts and techniques and put together a system of principles about psychological and spiritual transformation. This technique of personality can be found in the writings of Ouspensky and J. Bennett. Ouspensky was a mathematician who had worked with Gurdjieff, and worked a lot with the mathematics, and the planets and the colors and sound. You can say they were open seekers of all sorts of spirituality.
George Gurdjieff in his late teens set out to pursue these occult “sciences,” traveling throughout central Asia, the Mediterranean basin, Egypt, Tibet, and India. Fascinated with the occult he experimented every which way. Astrology, mental telepathy, spiritism, and fortune telling. He did not listen to his priest's warnings on this. Gurdjieff contacted a spirit that he used to call “the pillar of time,” he who sought to use it to foretell the future. Gurdijeff also spoke of the planets and the moon as living beings. In “Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson” Gurdijeff stated that Beelzebub is not the Prince of Darkness found in Christian theology, but a member of the Cosmic Council. This means he was in contact with what we know as the Ascended masters that have been an influence through other spirituality in the course of history and many famous people have been contacted. Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Ballard’s, Benjamen Creme etc., all of whom are against Christianity.Gurdjieff found “ The Sufis had used the enneagram for numerological divination. (Numerology is an occult “science” which holds that the characteristics of people and virtually everything in the universe are determined by numbers, and that such characteristics can be divined if the people or things' individual numbers can be identified [e.g., from their names or dates of birth] and the meaning of those numbers can be determined.) The Sufis searched for the mystical meanings of the decimals .3333..., .6666..., and .9999... (based on dividing the number one by three), and of the decimal .142857... (based on dividing the number one by seven and containing no multiples of three). The multiples of three correspond to the triangle inside the circle, and the decimal .142857 (derived by dividing seven into one and resulting in a repeating decimal that never contains three or its multiples) corresponds to the points on the circle that connect the six-sided figure. (CRI Journal 1991)
We find that the mathamatics in the enneagram was the ultimate way for mankind, Ouspenskywrote: “All knowledge can be included in the enneagram and with the help of the enneagram it can be interpreted. And in this connection only what a man is able to put into the enneagram does he actually know, that is, understand. What he cannot put into the enneagram makes books and libraries entirely unnecessary. Everything can be included and read in the enneagram. (P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the miraculous)
Ouspensky records that Gurdjieff developed his own synthesis of ideas drawn from the various sources he encountered in his travels and in his studies and began teaching his doctrines in Russia and Western Europe, by 1922 eventually settling in Paris, where he taught “esoteric Christianity.” (Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, p.102).
It is said Ichazo learned of the enneagram through Ouspensky's <http://skepdic.com/ouspensk.html> writings of Gurdjieff <http://skepdic.com/gurdjief.html>. Ichazo was brought up as a Catholic and as a teenager (1940’s) began an exploration of esoteric knowledge. Ichazo claimed to have discovered the personality type meaning of the enneagram while in some kind of ecstatic state or trance under the influence of some spirit or angelic being: the Archangel Gabriel, the “Green Qu’Tub” [a Sufi spiritual master] or Metatron, the prince of the archangels. Ichazo was deeply involved in the occult, used psychedelic drugs and he has studied mysticism and yoga in India and Tibet. Oscar Ichazo is in contact with the ascended masters and is himself an ascended master. In the 1950s, he began to travel in the East, Hong Kong, India, and Tibet, studying martial arts, the higher yogas, Buddhism, Confucianism, alchemy, and I Ching. Ichazo claims to have been trained in the mystical arts of Sufism, the cabala <http://skepdic.com/cabala.html> and Zen, and to have studied martial arts, yoga, Buddhism, Confucianism, the I Ching <http://skepdic.com/iching.html> and alchemy <http://skepdic.com/alchem.html>. Ichazo had a spirit guide called Metatron, he was given the Enneagram personality types by his spirit, Metatron. He and members of his group are guided by an interior master, the Green Qu'Tub.
From an interview with Sam Keen, “A Conversation about Ego Destruction with Oscar Ichazo,” that originally appeared in Psychology Today (July, 1973) and was reprinted in Interviews with Oscar Ichazo (New York: Arica Institute Press, 1982), p8.)
In the 1960’s, in Bolivia Ichazo first developed a theory of nine personality types corresponding to the nine points of the enneagram. He later went on to teach the system through the Arica Institute in New York. Ichazo through his work at the Esalen Institute, a center for “alternative education,” devoted to merging various philosophies from East and West. The training offered at Ichazo’s Arica Institute includes preparation for and means of contacting various higher beings, such as Metatron, with whom Ichazo himself has been in contact. One of the aims of training offered at Arica Institute is for the advanced student into contact with an interior master, the “Green Qu’Tub.”
The leading figure in the enneagram movement today is Chilean Psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo. The Enneagram we have now was brought to America by Naranjo who was associated with <http://www.watchman.org/cat95.htm>Esalen Institute a new age hotbed for ideas. (He first put together modern personality disorders based on the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.)
Apparently Naranjo, belonged to Gurdjieff groups, but found them wanting. On a visit home to Chile in the late 1960’s met Ichazo. He then helped Ichazo develop the enneagram and disseminate it in America. Naranjo contributed to the personality descriptions and correlated the Freudian defense mechanisms to each of the nine types. Then, in 1970, he brought a group of 50 Esalen students, including John Lilly and Joseph Hart, to Arica, Chile for Ichazo's training in the enneagram. When they returned to California Naranjo taught the enneagram to Esalen students -- including Helen Palmer, Kathleen Riordan Speeth, and Fr. Robert Ochs, S.J.
Naranjo also taughtHelen Palmer during the 1980s, Helen Palmer, Don Richard Riso and other authors popularised the Enneagram of Fixations as a psychological typology and profiling system, adding their own perspectives to Naranjo's work. Psychic Helen Palmer writes in her book, The Enneagram, that “The teaching can help us to recognize our own type and how to cope with our issues, understand our work associates, lovers, friends, and to appreciate the predisposition that each type has for higher human capacities such as empathy, omniscience, and love.” Enneagram is one of the few models of consciousness that addresses the relationship between personality and other levels of human capability.(p. 3).
To sum this up Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo were both disciples of Gurdjieff, and together (according to Naranjo) originated the enneagram of personality types. Many of the people exposed to Naranjo’s teaching have written and lectured about enneagram since the early 1970’s. The Ochs introduced it to the Catholic community.Many try to adapt the enneagram to Christianity making it a neutral tool for personal spiritual development. The enneagram system is contrary to real spirituality. Those who promote this technique in the church are reinterpreting Christianity in a way that is incompatible with Christian beliefs. Taking words and concepts from Christianity and changing their meanings to adapt to the enneagram as a tool for personal spiritual development does not work. How can some thing that has its roots in the tradition of the occult, be used in the process of Christian growth and development? Paul says 1 Cor 2:4-6 “your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
We are told Enneagram as a technique to better understand yourself, but neither sin nor Redemption fits in the enneagram theory. All humans inherit original sin; enneagram teaches we learn our bad traits when we are young (there is some portion of truth to this but it excludes why we learn them). There is openness to what one can find in these nine lines. The weaknesses or strengths of undesired personality types become the focus to change. The problem is that we as humans can be strong in a certain facet one day and weak the next or vice versa. If one does not have relationship with Christ and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit this and other psychological techniques often make sense. Knowing about Gurdjieff and Ichazo’s involvement in other spiritual practices should immediately stop a Christian from pursuing enneagram. Unfortunately many do not know the background of the enneagram.
The claim is a transformation to a better self by self - discovery. Jesus taught us to die to self not find what type you are and then do self - diagnosis to change. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”(2 Cor. 5:17). We are already given a new life , what we need to do is learn to walk in it.
Some even claim that the Enneagram is a modern discovery of ancient Christian ways to realize the hidden knowledge at the heart of the ancient church.
They support this by quoting apostle Paul, one writer says our “minds are remade and our whole nature transformed.” Ignoring the context that Paul said it is done by the word of God not by a worldly method. Explaining how it works the writer says: According to enneagram theory and St Paul we have both a lower and higher self. Experience and even abide in this higher self our essential nature, our higher self, the real “I.” This is twisting the scripture to connect this to enneagram. Scripture not only does not speak of this methodology but actually speaks against is. But when you quote Rudolf Steiner and others into mysticism and the Occult one can find support.
The postmodern mindset says, “truth is in the eye of the beholder” “What is true for me may not be true for you” so we have an amoral way of living.
On the Enneagram Institute website says (of the nine points)
In other words you decide what is good or bad or beneficial or not. This becomes amoral and subjective to the culture you are brought up in. Its all relative to what you think, there are no absolutes of right or wrong for anyone, you decide. Therefore this is a non - Christian and even anti Christian method of assessing ones self. This method is a way to transform peoples thinking. One can adopt new ways that fit well with the current cultures genre and accept all others who may not agree with their standards. In other words it promotes tolerance without any standard but ones own. What makes this conflicting is that people can like or dislike their (or another’s) personality and what seems negative someone may call positive, we are left swimming in a collection of subjective likes and dislikes. These are all based on other opinions and even our own. Only God’s standard can be used for what is acceptable and not acceptable.
This technique is trying to revitalize, strengthen or change us by the old by man’s strength. In Christianity we are new people, all things become new and we are being changed daily into the Son of God’s likeness daily by reading and understanding the word and surrendering our old nature to be ruled by the new. It's our weakness not necessarily our strengths God uses. In fact the Bible tells us we are new creatures in Christ so whatever personality category one tries to peg us in is wrong. We are conformed into the image of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit who alone knows the human heart, not by self -evaluation and human power.
The most important thing to understand is that not just anything can be adapted to fit Christianity. The source of all truth for matters of faith and practice is the word of God so we cannot accept this as method as valid. Col. 2:2-4 Christ, “…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.”
Christians are not to be seeking the philosophy of the time or the ways of man but the things of God. Jer. 10:2 Thus says the LORD: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles”
The natural man goes toward creation (Rom.1) not the living God. Col. 2:8-10 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” Christ is what we need -- He is the answer to any problem, including flaws in our personality. No method no matter how seemingly useful can replace the wisdom of God.
I guess by doing this review I can be categorized as a type Five, who is perceptive, innovative, or provocative. Type Six as engaging, and suspicious, and type Eight is willful, and confrontational. At least that’s what they would assess me as among other things, but it doesn’t matter because I’m the one who has my personality and there is no right or wrong.
Enneagram is NOT the Way, the Truth nor the life, Jesus is. Christians should spend more time with Jesus in His Word and they would not need spiritual psycho techniques to analyze their personality for self- improvement.
Let the world have their ways if they want, using man made philosophies. We have a superior way -- the way of the Spirit revealed in Scripture, no Christian should go for these new trends.
Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991 (www.equip.org)