Over the past several months, I’ve gotten a LOT of questions about the Enneagram. It’s pretty common knowledge how much I love personality assessments, so naturally, everyone assumes the Enneagram is one of them.
Until recently, I avoided it like the plague.
I know many people – and many Christians – who are super into the Enneagram, but I’ve been wary of it since hearing several years ago that it has occultic origins. That was a major red flag for me.
Then…fate struck. Or was it temptation? During a free trial of Amazon Prime (I’m far too cheap to pay for a membership 😉), I noticed a “Christian” Enneagram book that was available as a complimentary download for Prime customers. A Christian book? That seemed safe.
What do I have to lose? I rationalized. It’s free! I guess I can give the Enneagram a chance.
Side note: I may do an entire blog post about this someday, but I’m finding that more and more “Christian” books are decidedly NOT what I’d call Christian – they don’t line up with Scripture but are being issued by well-known Christian publishers. I’ve learned this the hard way: you need to be careful and discerning about everything you read, even if products are marketed as “Christian” from retailers you feel are trustworthy.
I was riveted from the first chapter of the Enneagram book. I knew instantly which of the nine types I was (a perfectionistic, self-critical, never-good-enough One – no question!), I was already typing every person I’ve ever met, and I was completely fascinated by how accurately each of the nine numbers described me or someone I know. I highlighted, screenshotted, shared paragraphs with others, and chuckled to myself as I read. This book was so interesting.
As fascinated as I was, though, a few things troubled me. For starters, the history of the Enneagram that I’d previously heard about still weighed on me. If this personality test was truly connected with New Age thought, I didn’t want anything to do with it.
Then there were red flags in the book itself. The author says he was raised Evangelical, but he talks about getting counsel from his “spiritual advisors” – Jesuit priests and non-evangelical sources. Several other words and phrases made me uneasy, too, such as:
Despite all this, nearly every Christian review and publication that I came across sang the Enneagram’s praises. Since I was having doubts, I figured other Christians must be, too, but I couldn’t find a whole lot in opposition to the Enneagram.
And then I remembered Alisa Childers. A friend recommended her podcast to me after I read another very well-known “Christian” book that felt SO off to me, but as I researched it and read reviews, every other Christian seemed to be raving about it. Except Alisa Childers. She analyzed various parts of the book that sounded good and seemed legit but that actually contradicted Scripture, and she provided evidence to back up the gut feelings I had about this book but didn’t consider myself equipped enough to defend. She’s an apologist who frequently breaks down faulty theology in popular culture on her podcast, and although I am admittedly not a regular podcast listener (I’m not much of an auditory learner), hers is worth listening to.
Oh, and if she seems familiar and you can’t figure out why? You must’ve been a ZOEgirl fan back in the day! 😄
On a whim, I Googled Childers’ name along with the word “Enneagram.” Lo and behold, this podcast popped up. It doesn’t include the word “Enneagram” in its title but discusses it at length, and after listening to the podcast, I cannot in good conscience support the Enneagram.
The podcast outlined several problems with the Enneagram from a Christian perspective, but the one thing that really convinced me is the fact that Claudio Naranjo, who is credited with creating the nine Enneatypes (after learning about the Enneagram from Oscar Ichazo), stated in an interview that the specifics of each type came “mostly from automatic writing” (3:46 in the video) and were then confirmed by his observations.
Automatic writing? Um, HUGE red flag. Everything about that phrase screams “demonic” to me. Automatic writing is an occultic practice in which people channel other spirits (aka demons) to write through them.
Hear me loud and clear: I am a firm believer in the gift of prophecy, and I believe that God is always speaking. One of the ways he can speak is through writing, something I have personally experienced. However, there can also be counterfeits and false prophets. When someone who is not a true Christ-follower claims to receive insight through automatic writing and other spirits, they are summoning demons. That is divination, and the Bible forbids it.
Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their 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 spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.Deuteronomy 18:10-13 NIV
God gives us his Word to be our standard, and he also gives us discernment to help determine what’s of him and what isn’t.
I haven’t come across any statements from Claudio Naranjo proclaiming faith in Christ, nor did his life seem to indicate that he was a believer in any way; instead he was said to have an interest in all religions (source).
So much surrounding the Enneagram seems questionable to me, but when it comes down to it, the phrase “automatic writing” alone tells me that, as a Christian, I need to stay far away from the Enneagram.
Honestly, guys? I really wanted to love the Enneagram. I closed myself off to it for so long on principle, but once I cracked that door open just a little bit, it was so interesting that I wanted to let myself love it. I talked about it for three weeks straight. I had stimulating discussions with other Enneagram fans. I felt so validated while reading the description of my type. I tried to rationalize that the whole Enneagram thing wasn’t as “off” as I suspected it was.
I wanted to sing its praises, too.
But I can’t. My conscience won’t let me. My desire to line every part of my life up with God’s Word won’t let me. The Enneagram may seem great on the surface, but it ultimately doesn’t sit right with me.
So, this is me, avoiding the Enneagram like the plague once again. I totally get why you might like it. I wanted to like it, too! But I just can’t allow myself to jump (or stay) on that bandwagon. And now you know why.
Here are some resources that helped influence my decision:
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[…] research on the Enneagram, the book, and the author. (Read more of my thoughts on the Enneagram here.) Once again, I was disappointed in myself and in the publisher who marketed this book as […]
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