The Muddy Waters of the Enneagram
Unfortunately, as we look at the list of many of the sources5, Eubanks lists that he draws upon for his knowledge of the Enneagram, his worldview and his understanding of the word of God. He primarily draws from heretics, New Agers, and non-believers who are the leading lights in the Enneagram movement. This alone would show that the material in this book is not informed by scripture – but rather, scripture is interpreted through the New Age spiritual sources who created the Enneagram.
One of the newest books promoting the Enneagram to Christians is How We Relate: Understanding God, Yourself, and Others through the Enneagram by Jesse Eubanks.1 We will grant that Eubanks probably has good intentions and very likely desires to help his readers understand themselves and their relationships. However, we must ask, is the Bible insufficient for faith and practice? Is something needed to fill the void God left in His word regarding human relationships? Is that special something to be found in the Enneagram?
Since its introduction into the Evangelical church by IVP in 2016, the Enneagram has been racing through the church and has become the go-to resource for Christians. Pastors are using it for a nine-week sermon series. It is used for marriage counseling, retreats, church membership classes, and discipleship. It provides opportunities for the budding new growth industry of Enneagram “coaching.” One can be trained by such New Age luminaries as Ginger Lapid-Bogda or Beth McCord, who received her training from five popular New Age teachers.2 About five years ago, Marcia Montenegro and MCOI warned this would happen. At last count, Christian publishers have produced over 160 Enneagram titles.
In the Introduction of How We Relate: Understanding God, Yourself, and Others through the Enneagram, Eubanks includes comments on the origins of the Enneagram:
The origins of the Enneagram are mysterious and often contested. Some say it came from the early church in the fourth century. Others say it was primarily developed in the last hundred years. It’s not really clear, but what is clear is that, with such a broad list of contributors (both Christian and not), the Enneagram is best understood not as a ‘Christian’ tool but as a human tool.3
Actually, we do clearly know the Enneagram’s origins, but its promoters have obfuscated and changed their stories as a result of our exposure.4 Eubanks is proposing another strategic change, calling the “Enneagram a “human tool,” and not a “spiritual tool.” Of course, the Enneagram is a “spiritual tool,” originating from occultic spiritual sources, and NOT Christianity. Besides that little detail, it has no validity as a beneficial “human tool.” After performing a psychometric test, Jay Mendenwaldt concluded in his report, “The Enneagram, Science, and Christianity – Part 1,” that it does not perform for the purpose for which it is being used:
For those who have studied psychometrics, it’s a no-brainer that the enneagram simply cannot do all its proponents claim it can. Any scientist who studies personality would simply look at the reliability scores and conclude the test is not accurate enough to be helpful, and therefore, they wouldn’t use it because the potential for harm will be too high.
Even if it were a valid “human tool” used to inform us about how to relate to God and others (the premise of this book), it would have to be subjected to Scripture as the final authority for faith and practice of Christians. Non-Christians have the choice to opt for whatever tool that strikes their fancy, but Christians are and have always been tied to a biblical foundation for life and practice. Unfortunately, as we look at the list of many of the sources5, Eubanks lists that he draws upon for his knowledge of the Enneagram, his worldview and his understanding of the word of God. He primarily draws from heretics, New Agers, and non-believers who are the leading lights in the Enneagram movement.
- Richard Rohr, Franciscan Monk,6 (Contemplative mystic)
- Russ Hudson (New Age)
- Don Riso (New Age)
- Brennan Manning, Franciscan7 (Contemplative mystic)
- Beth and Jeff McCord (Trained by five New Agers)
- Ian Morgan Cron (associate of Richard Rohr and has taught at Rohr’s Center)
- Suzanne Stabile (Mentored by Richard Rohr)
- Beatrice Chestnut (New Ager)
- Sarajane Case8
This alone would show that the material in this book is not informed by scripture – but rather, scripture is interpreted through the New Age spiritual sources who created the Enneagram.
In the Introduction, Jesse Eubanks describes his once-growing resentment toward God due to:
The gap between my dreams of how life could be and the reality I was trapped in had grown bigger than I could hold.9
Struggling with our life circumstances has been an issue for the people of God all down through history. We find examples of how the heroes of the faith wrestled with life’s disappointments and yet stayed focused on the faith. David would cry out to God in the Psalms, asking why those who hate God seem to be prospering while he was suffering. We then see how his focus shifts, often within a few verses, from his present circumstance to God as the center of his attention. God gave Elijah a great victory over the prophets of Baal, but when threatened by Queen Jezebel, Elijah turned his focus from God, fled into the wilderness, hid in a cave, and prayed to die. God refreshed Elijah and reminded him of the greatness of God and of His preservation of His servants. (1 Kings 19:1-18). We could write a book on these examples, but then we already have one – the Bible. We often need to turn our focus from our present circumstances to God and His word.
Out of his struggle, Eubanks poses a question:
“What is the purpose of life?”10
This is a great question, perhaps the most important question in life. He then proposes an answer:
If I could be so bold, I would like to humbly submit my answer: The purpose of life is relationships11
The answer the Enneagram provides sets the “purpose of life” bar far too low. An analogy may be helpful. Something we learned about driving a semi (and all vehicles, really) is to “AIM High in Steering.” (Smith System 5 Keys to Driving) The simple explanation is to not focus our primary attention on what is immediately in front of us but on what is down the road 15 or more seconds ahead – perhaps a quarter or half a mile. In so doing, we take in everything in between our present position and the point we are looking at down the road. If something happens that far ahead, we can safely prepare for our next move. We remain aware of what is immediately in front of us, of course, but we also take into consideration what waits ahead of our immediate view.
King Solomon concluded that the purpose of life is to,
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)