The enneagram is finding its way into evangelical churches and organizations almost unabated. Some are writing about the matter. Don Veinot, Macia Montenegro, Doug Groothuis, and others have written and spoken extensively on the origin and character of the enneagram.

To summarize the situation, the enneagram is a framing of human character based on nine points built around supposed personality traits. The popularization of the enneagram began with Richard Rohr in the 1990s and entered evangelical circles through “The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, published by Intervarsity Press.

The claim is made, by some, that the enneagram is merely a secular tool bearing no significant difference from such language as “introvert” and “extrovert” that also attempt to, albeit obtusely, describe human attitudes. The same comparison might be made to a Myers-Briggs personality test.

The follow-up questions to this claim are these:  Does enneagram thought come any some baggage that would be opposed to Christian teaching? Does the enneagram have an affect on any of our doctrine, even though that be (what are commonly called) second-tier doctrines? And if so, does this problem extend to the core doctrines regarding God, Christ, and salvation?

Let’s begin with the nine enneagram types are:

The Perfectionist

The Giver

The Achiever

The Individualist

The Investigator

The Skeptic

The Enthusiast

The Challenger

The Peacemaker

These are supposedly the nine basic personality traits of every individual. They are presented as existing as three sets of three (Heart, Head, and Body types), where each set has a primary, a dominant, and a recessive trait. The goal is to lift up the recessive trait to enrich one’s life, even one’s spirituality.

Richard Rohr has a series of videos available on YouTube. When you listen to them you’ll find a dominant theme: The goal of knowing yourself is to create a better world through self-understanding. He does not come from an evangelical point of reference and as such frames spirituality differently.

Suzanne Stabile makes a direct connection between these traits and spiritual growth. She makes no appeal to the Word. She makes no appeal to a sound theological system of any sort. Rather she says that it is necessary to find a proper balance by identifying one’s “repressed” area and boosting it. How does one boost it? By “spiritual practices.”

Notice that these spiritual practices are built around the enneagram as the starting point. The Word is absent and “spiritual practices” are the methodology used to advance this methodology.

Melissa Moore takes the same approach. Spiritual maturity is reduced to changing coping mechanisms and behavior patterns.

Now, it is easy to see this through the lens of psychology. The world is better, the church works better, when people get along better. The NT instructs people to proper behavior. For some this is merely a way to achieve that goal. But that is both short-sighted and contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

So, what major theological impact does the enneagram have?

First, it bypasses the work of the Spirit and exchanges human will for it. In none of the Moore / Wicks / Rohr videos is the work of the Spirit placed above this knowledge and understanding of self. This decimates the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and Sanctification. In this the Spirit is subject to the methodology and a person’s choices becomes the course for spiritual growth.

One might object to this point by saying that “We make choices to do right and wrong. How is this any different?” First, many believers do live by their choices apart from obedience to God and the promptings of His Spirit.  In that they are the same.

When it comes to those seeking to obey God, the difference may be described like this:  The choice by these principles is made the determinative factor in maturity. Spiritual practices are employed to serve these choices. The idea that self-improvement is identical to spiritual maturity serves as an affront to the work of the Spirit. There are many mature people outside of the faith, people who connect well with others, who work well with others, and who are otherwise moral and decent people. The attaining of such goals is not an indicator that the Spirit has redeemed that person or brought that person closer to God. Choice is placed above the work of the Spirit rather than serving the work of the Spirit. This is evidenced by the near complete lack reference to Scripture and the complete lack of submission to Scripture in any of the presentations of the enneagram.

Second, it places the focus on the individual instead of on God. If one wished to identify a consumerist version of spirituality within evangelicalism this would be it. We live in a world of self-indulgence, a world where we can have whatever we want by whatever method one might choose. Spirituality is yours for the taking. Today you can have the spirituality that you want just by following a simple set of instructions. Rearrange your personality priorities and there you are – spiritual. Amy Wicks herself calls it a “fast track to spiritual health and growth.”

The enneagram takes the position of being a special type of knowledge that is useful by those taught in it in order to achieve this enlightenment. This is plain and simple Gnosticism. There is no way around it. It is among the worst of heresies.

added 1:15 2023/05/30:

One example of this is a description of sin and how sin in resolved

When you’re living without that unconditional love from God you live with a victim mentality, you grow resentful, and you grow bitter, which causes you excuse your manipulative behaviors.

But when you begin to live with awareness …

The Gnostic problem is clear in this language.

The real issue is how believers, even pastors and teachers, are adopting this heresy and removing people from local church life who might disagree with this course. Heresies are deceptive and it takes little effort to fall into many popular errors.