I admit it, I got caught up in all the excitement.
I mean, half the world has been trying for centuries to find themselves, and now all you have to do is take a 5-minute test to know who you are? Umm, yes, please!
Besides, it was fun to find out who I was most like among my friends. As a bonus, the test also told me what my strengths and weaknesses were, giving me the opportunity to focus on bettering myself. Plus, it helped me understand and relate to my husband and kids!
I’m a number 6, The Loyalist. I was pretty proud of that, too. Until a friend recently challenged my excitement and got me thinking.
When God created the Earth, He created it with a lot of variety. No two blades of grass are the same, no two sunrises are the same. Each is different down to the tiniest detail. All you have to do is google “snowflakes up close”, and you will see that God put a lot of thought and care into the design of everything He made. Mankind was not exempt from God’s creativity, and even those who were born twins have their own unique identity, right down to their fingerprints.
So, it stands to reason we are all made up of different personalities, right? So, what’s wrong with the current Enneagram trend in Christianity today?
It’s Origination: Oscar Ichazo (1931) was responsible for creating the modern-day Enneagram personality types. While studying Inner Work (the belief that one can “find” their inner self through the exploration of physiological and spiritual practices) in Argentina, Ichazo developed theories on human behavior based on ancient wisdom traditions. Desiring to form a systematic approach to his theories, Ichazo journeyed through Asia, searching for answers. In 1968, he founded the Arica Institute (an Inner Work school) in Chile, before settling into the United States in the early 1970s as a professor in his school.
The Enneagram was “Christianized” in 1990, by Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr, author of the book “The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective”. Since then there has been a growing interest in this Inner Work philosophy in churches across America. Rohr forgot something when he wrote his book, however. As children of God, we are warned to not get caught up in the vain philosophies of this world. We are not to be deceived by this worlds “ancient traditions”. In fact, that is what ended up bringing the Children of Israel down, time after time. They would look at the traditions and cultures around them, get entangled in them, and eventually, they were worshiping other gods!
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” – Colossians 2:8
It’s Philosophy: The idea of the Enneagram is to learn what your own personality is. The test reveals your strengths and weaknesses, allowing yourself the opportunity to better yourself. Some people use their Enneagram number to excuse their bad behaviors and habits. However, if you search your Bible, you will quickly see that this idea is not exactly Biblical. Scripture is filled with prayers from the authors for God to search their hearts. God is the seeker of our hearts, not ourselves. God is the only One that really knows us. Our own hearts lie to us, and we can’t trust ourselves or our own opinion of ourselves. If you want to know what quality traits you need to improve on, why not ask the One who created you, and knew you before you were even formed in your mother’s womb? As Christians, we don’t need to know our Enneagram number to find out how to live better lives, we only need to know our Scripture!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:” – Psalms 139:23
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jeremiah 17:10
Maybe you’re thinking, “so what? This stuff is science! What’s the harm in finding my Enneagram number?”
Well, nothing! Like I said, I know my number! But now that I know where the Enneagram came from, I know that as a child of God, I need to be cautious. There are a few dangers that every Christian should be aware of.
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” – 1 Timothy 6:20
Self-Centeredness: Something I have talked about a lot in my articles on anxiety is that it is not healthy to always be thinking about how you feel. If you are obsessed with your Enneagram number and are reading every book and article you can about your number, well, maybe you’ve got a problem. As Christians, we need to be obsessed with living for the Lord. We do that best when the focus is not on trying to determine why we did or said something, but on the Word of God. Too much self-reflection leads to self-centeredness, and that is one of the leading triggers/causes of anxiety.
Replacing the Bible with Man’s Wisdom: One of the dangers in taking the Enneagram too seriously is when we use the world’s philosophy to explain away our sin. We need to remember that sin is sin, and we shouldn’t make excuses for it. Back in the days when I was still learning about anxiety, I came across a book called “The Spirit Controlled Temperament”, by Tim LaHaye. In this book, LaHaye has a test you can take that tells you which of the 4 temperaments you are. Like the Enneagram, he explains what your temperaments strengths and weaknesses are. However, instead of turning to philosophy to explain away these behaviors, LaHaye turns to the Bible. He points out how our weaknesses can lead to sin if we are not careful to control our spirits through Christ. In Christ, we all can have victory over sin!
So, can you still be a follower of Christ and know your Enneagram number? Sure! Just be careful. Don’t obsess about what your Enneagram number “means”. Despite what number we are, Christ working in us can help us to overcome the weakness we have.