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Nine points of personality

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Nine points of personality

Is Enneagram theory a key to spiritual transformation?

The Bible says every human being—unborn or born, young or old, male or female—bears the image of God. But like fingerprints, no two persons, not even identical twins, are truly identical. God creates each person unique, and the Holy Spirit possesses the unique power to transform sinners into the likeness of Christ.

Or maybe all you need is the right personality test.

According to the Enneagram Institute, the Enneagram is a personality inventory developed with “components from mystical Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, and ancient Greek philosophy.” Oscar Ichazo, a Bolivian-born philosopher-mystic, developed contemporary Enneagram theory in the 1960s. Based on Ichazo’s belief that the ego becomes stuck in childhood, the Enneagram identifies ego fixations that inform nine basic personality types. Variants of Enneagram theory abound—including Christianized versions—but undergirding each is the belief that self-knowledge empowers personal transformation.

Some evangelicals agree. Frank Powell, a blog editor for Bayside Church, a multisite congregation in Sacramento, writes, “The Enneagram is about transformation.” Powell suggests, “The first step in transformation is self-awareness,” and asserts, “You can experience heaven right now.”

In three posts about the Enneagram, Powell fails to mention the presence, power, or necessity of the Holy Spirit but affirms, “The Enneagram is about spiritual transformation.”

Likewise, Otter Creek Church, a 1,500-member congregation near Nashville, Tenn., offered a weekend Enneagram conference last spring. The conference advertised the Enneagram to Christians as a way to help them “fulfill Jesus’ mission of loving God and loving others.”

Both Bayside and Otter Creek churches confess the power of the Holy Spirit for spiritual transformation in their respective statements of faith. But they also ascribe transformative power to the Enneagram.

A search on the website of Christian Book Distributors yields more than 15 titles applying the Enneagram to Christian counseling, parenting, or church work. And even recently offered “The Enneagram for Pastors,” furnishing shepherding advice to each Enneagram type based on that type’s purported weaknesses.

A personality test may offer true personal insights, but according to the Bible, only the Holy Spirit renews a human mind to live according to God’s “good and acceptable and perfect” will (Romans 12:2). The Bible, not a personality test, reveals His will. While the Holy Spirit may use the Enneagram for spiritual good, He has promised to use the Word, sacraments, and prayer.

Only the Holy Spirit turns information into transformation. Self-knowledge is interesting, but apart from the Holy Spirit it is also impotent.

(Rachel Beatty)

Leaven and Lent

In the Christian tradition, Lent and self-deprivation go hand in hand. During Lent, Christians remember Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice, and in small ways emulate it by choosing to forsake something—whether chocolate or Facebook—while also renouncing personal sin.

At least that’s the way it used to be.

On Feb. 14 the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the teaching arm of America’s largest LGBT advocacy group, launched its third annual daily Lenten devotional. The LGBT-affirming religious meditations serve HRC’s mission to “create a world where nobody is forced to choose between who they are, whom they love and what they believe.”

Jesus, though, demanded exactly that decision. He called a rich young ruler to forsake his money and an adulterous woman to forsake her adultery. Every Christian must forsake himself, take up his cross, and follow.

HRC, by affirming homosexual behavior, offers what Jesus never did: Have your sin and have Him too. —R.S.J.


  • Paul Petry's picture
    Paul Petry
    Posted: Mon, 03/12/2018 01:30 pm

    Another carryover from the 1960s based on "ancient philosophy"? Like astrology?

    So now, in the 21st century, when introducing yourself you no longer say, "Hi. I'm an Aquarius. What sign are you?" You say, "Hi. I'm a Type 5. What is your type?"

    Type 1. Mercury/Virgo - need for order, discipline, logical, neat-freak
    Type 2. Moon/Cancer - similar need to "mother" the world
    Type 3. Sun/Leo - desire for the spotlight & to be superior, etc.
    Type 4. Neptune/Pisces - artistic, sometimes suicidal, highly creative
    Type 5. Uranus/Aquarius - the inventor, the oddball, etc.
    Type 6. Saturn/Capricorn - need for security, strong role models, etc.
    Type 7. Jupiter/Sagittarius - expansive, gregarious, scattered, etc.
    Type 8. Mars/Scorpio - need to dominate, to lead, to have control
    Type 9. Venus/Libra - easygoing, loving, lazy, aesthetic appreciation

    Does calling this new form of astrology or personality inventory system "sacred" make it so? Or is this just another fad that makes it easier to accept occultic/pagan teachings and practices into our day-to-day lives?

  • AlanE
    Posted: Mon, 03/12/2018 12:39 pm

    "You can experience heaven right now"?

    Wow, I hope that quote improves with a bit of context. Imagine how the gospel has languished for some 2000 years now before the emergence of the Enneagram. :-)

    I do agree, though, that the first step in true transformation is self-awareness. We are wretched sinners in need of grace both before and after transformational programs of men.

    Posted: Mon, 03/12/2018 07:40 pm

    Regarding the Enneagram, Dr. Peter Jones of edited a book titled "On Global Wizardry: Techniques of Pagan Spirituality and a Christian Response." Chapter 13 "Pagan Contemplative Techniques" has a section about the Enneagram (p.198). Is the Enneagram Gospel Truth or a Pagan Lie? Alice Fryling thinks it's Gospel Truth, but Jones, et al, conclude that it is a Pagan Lie - a case of "fallen mankind on the quest for self-deification through the forbidden fruit of esoteric knowledge" and that "[t]hrough contemplative mysticism, the church is being baptized into the interreligious [inter-faith], global mind as evidenced by [so-called] Christian contemplatives like Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating and Richard Foster" (p.202). The concluding sentences wrap it up bluntly: "To use the parallel of Dr. Peter Jones, the pagan Lie tells us that mysticism opens the spiritual portals to union with God through transcendence of consciousness. The Gospel Truth is that only through the blood of Jesus Christ do we find 'confidence to enter the holy place' (Heb 10:19)." AMEN!

  • Bob C
    Posted: Tue, 03/13/2018 10:25 am

    I was almost taken in by the Luscher personality colour test in 1971.  Since most of you have no idea what I am talking about, obviously it ended up in the dustbin of history, where it belongs.  Given some time and testing I am confident the Enneagram will end up there as well.  The God’s Word has withstood over 2,000 years of severe testing and has been proven to be trustworthy.  I will stay with the Bible.     

  • Janet B
    Posted: Tue, 03/13/2018 11:00 am

    Personally, I am tired of personality/spiritual gifts/strengths tests.  I don't want to have to fit in to a personality "type." I just want to be a maturing child of God.