Ghada Melek writes: Will the Sacred Enneagram Infiltrate the Churches?
In today’s world, we navigate through an explosion of ideologies; many of which seem confused and debased, whether in relation to gender or the merging of theological ideas. In today’s world, everything became a hybrid and middle-of-the-road, and everything that used to be a societal or religious anchor has gradually started to shed its identity and move towards nihilism such that we have become an easy prey to any foreign idea and, if not careful to diligently examine the spirits, we could easily lose our way.
Most recently, the topic of a new pseudo science, known as Enneagram, a New Age tool, has dominated the conversation as it started to spread like wildfire across churches of various denominations. It is said to be a personality analysis tool that helps people know their own personality type, “Enneatypes”, and those of others, so that they can better handle them and deal with life.
I wouldn’t have had much concern if this type of study was introduced through the workplace; after all, no employer claims to be guiding their employees towards eternal salvation. But when this material starts making its way into churches, and the Enneatypes become linked to the fruits of the Holy Spirit, it is then that I would become concerned. Indeed, there is a huge leap here that paints the Enneagram with a spiritual brush, and this may be the key reason why I became so curious to learn about its roots and whether it has anything to do with Christianity. Particularly, since the idea of linking each Enneatype to a fruit of the Holy Spirit is novice and not aligned with our belief that all believers can freely obtain all the fruits of the Spirit through baptism and repentance.
History of the Enneagram
The Enneagram is a concept that revolves around a nine-sided geometric shape with each of its angles representing one of the nine personality types. It was originally conceived in the late 19th century by a Greek American occultist called George Gurdjieff who was born Eastern Orthodox but through his travels, met with Sufi Muslims & followers of other faiths and turned to esoteric teachings. Gurdjieff developed the original shape, a 9-point diagram with no connection to personality types, which he called the Enneagon and considered it to be a diagram of cosmic reality. He passed on this knowledge to his disciple, Peter Ouspensky, a Russian occultist who expanded on the shape and added 3 elements to it representing the mind, heart and instinct (the 3 areas of man).
Following Ouspensky’s death, his writings were able to recruit new disciples including Oscar Ichazo who founded the ARICA school in Chile which focused on developing the Cosmic Conciseness. Ichazo was also an esoteric occult teacher and was the one to connect the Enneagram to personality types although he didn’t specify the particular types. Ichazo was also quoted as to saying that he received these teachings through channeling a spirit called Metrotown.
One of the graduates of the ARICA school was Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist occultist who later joined the New-Age-focused ESALAN Institute in California, and rose to prominence there. Naranjo is credited with the development of the 9 personality types (Enneatypes), and in one of his interviews, he explained that his teachings were to be kept secret, but some narcissists in his classes couldn’t help themselves and ended up publishing them. He also clarified that he was the one to authorize the Jesuit priest Bob Ochs to teach his material to a group of Jesuit priests back in the seventies; whereby it started to infiltrate the churches.
From that point on, many authorities in the Christian circles started to bring these teachings into both the Catholic and Protestant churches including the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr who authored the book “Enneagram, a Christian Perspective”, published in 1995, and Don Riso who got hold of a copy of Bob Ochs’s teachings and decided to write his own books before co-founding the Enneagram Institute together with Russ Hudson as a New Age entity.
Linking the Enneagram to Christianity and other ancient religions
There have been unsubstantiated attempts to link the Enneagram to Christianity in order to give it legitimacy among Christian believers. Claims were made that it was part of the teachings of the desert fathers during the 3rd and 4th centuries, and a particular link was drawn to Evagrius the monk who wrote about the eight passions (or 8 deadly sins). These claims of course don’t hold because everything about the Enneagram revolves around the number nine (Ennea means 9 in Greek). Also, the Enneagram is a New Age tool and most traditional churches reject New Age teachings.
Furthermore, Oscar Ichazo and his disciple Claudio Naranjo had previously made statements to indicate that this knowledge was passed down through word of mouth from Babylonian, Sumerian, and Sufi teachings. All such claims were proven a lie when in a 2010 video interview, Naranjo admitted that it was all purposefully made up to add an element of intrigue to his teachings such that the unassuming public would feel compelled to spread them. So where did Ichazo and Naranjo come up with these teachings? In the same interview, Naranjo explains that it was given to them from higher sources through a process called automatic writing (when a person channels a spirit and writes what is being dictated to them).
The Sacred Enneagram
The Sacred Enneagram is a book authored by Christopher Heuertz with a foreword by Richard Rohr. It is considered the most authoritative reference on the topic and therefore should be considered when evaluating such teachings. The book contains some unsettling statements such as: “the Enneagram can’t be reduced to a personality test. It is a path to God,” and “The enneagram is relentless and once it finds you, it doesn’t let you go.” According to Christian scholars who read the book, heuertz used it to promote many false doctrines and misleading religious assertions about sin, salvation the nature of God, the nature of Christ and atonement. For example, in its teachings, the book doesn’t view human nature to be sinful yet elevated by being made in the image of God, but that human essence is basically good. He also teaches that the goal in life is to learn about oneself not about God, and that man can liberate himself, thereby negating the work of salvation.
We all seek knowledge and try to become more learned in every opportunity we have in order to advance ourselves, but is every knowledge good? Of course not. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was the main reason man was cast out of paradise. Furthermore, the bible teaches us that psychic reading, black magic, and channeling are all vices that we must refrain from. Such practices may temporarily add knowledge and supernatural skills that materialistically advance their practitioners, but would eventually destroy them spiritually and lead them to dark places. Given that we live in times of great deception, we need, now more than ever, to ask for discernment and to examine the spirits lest we fall from grace and bring others down with us.
Watch below the interview from 2010 with Claudio Naranjo, founder of the 9 Enneatypes (or personality types) who lived in ARICA Chile and was a student to Oscar Ichazo who founded the ARICA school where this information was taught