Louie Giglio is an extremely popular megachurch pastor and author as well as the founder and leader of the Passion conferences, which have drawn in hundreds of thousands of mostly young people since 1997.(1) On the week of March 16th, Giglio (a Calvinist) was a guest on emergent social-justice “Gospel” advocate Ian Morgan Cron’s Enneagram podcast. A week later, part 2 of the interview took place.
While it of no great surprise that Giglio (who has shown himself to be part of the ecumenical, “new” spirituality in more ways than one(2)) would form an attachment to Morgan Cron’s Enneagram, it is most unfortunate: because of Giglio’s vast following, the Enneagram has now received a substantial thumbs up in the evangelical world, especially among young evangelicals. So not only are Giglio’s followers being influenced by Calvinism and the New Spirituality, they are also being led into New Age-rooted practices.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Enneagram, Lighthouse Trails released a booklet in October of 2019 titled The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception?. Below are the contents of the booklet (written by Lois Putnam and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails):
The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool and an Enticing Deception?
Today, there is an increasing amount of interest by Christians in the Enneagram, a nine-pointed diagram used to determine personality traits and character tendencies. While it may seem harmless and nothing more than a useful tool, the Enneagram is a seducing lure to deception and an example of what the Bible refers to as “the wiles of the Devil.” In this booklet, we hope to show how this tool is drawing participants away from biblical truth and in an enticing but dangerous direction.
A book titled The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson describes the Enneagram, stating:
The Enneagram . . . is a development of modern psychology that has roots in spiritual wisdom from many different ancient traditions. 1
The Enneagram Institute, a go-to website for information on the Enneagram, says:
The Enneagram . . . [is] one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others. At its core, the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge.2
A 2017 Religion News Service article states:
In 1990, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr effectively Christianized the [Enneagram] system for Americans when he published “The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective” in English. This sparked a growing interest that slowly crept into church pulpits and small groups. In 2016, Christianity Today published “An Evangelical’s Guide to the Enneagram” after InterVarsity Press became the first evangelical publisher to release a book on the topic.3
While the Enneagram’s popularity within the Christian church has continued to grow, especially among millennials, there have been those in the church who have voiced their concerns about the Enneagram. Martin and Deidre Bobgan, who have studied psychology from a biblical perspective for many years, say this about the Enneagram:
Although the Enneagram is purported to be an ancient spiritual tradition, it is relatively new to the Western world. George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought the Enneagram to Europe in the 1920s, claimed it originated about 2500 years ago in a Babylonian wisdom school. He taught that each person is born with a “planetary body type” with certain physical and psychological traits. He believed that a person’s physical and psychological characteristics are related to a dominant endocrine gland and to planetary influences on that gland. This implicates the Enneagram with Babylonian astrology, since those characteristics would be signified by a point on the Enneagram.4
Apologist and author Mike Oppenheimer says this about the Enneagram:
Enneagram claims to be an entry point for deep personal healing and renewal. Enneagram is a psychological and spiritual system for a higher consciousness. We are told it will help us understand the personality types and the differences in each other which should reduce unnecessary conflicts (transforming one into a more tolerant person). We can transform our habits by being our own observer in how we think and go from unconscious behavior to conscious behavior. This is done through a series of probing questions called a Personality Profile questionnaire where one learns what his or her type is. . . . The nine lines comprise a perfect triangle and a twisted hexagon contained within a circle. This is a New Age-type mandala, a mystical gateway to personality classification. The drawing is based upon a belief in the mystical properties of the numbers 7 and 3. 5
Richard Rohr’s Role
At the very epicenter of today’s Enneagram movement is Franciscan priest Father Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC). Rohr’s website states:
Seven of the nine Enneagram types are associated with the “capital” or “deadly” sins which originated with the Desert Fathers. But it was not until the late 1960s that Oscar Ichazo began teaching the Enneagram as we know it today. From Ichazo’s school in South America, a group of Jesuits learned the system and brought it back with them to the United States. Richard Rohr learned about the Enneagram from this group and was one of the first people to publish a book about it in English.
The Enneagram gained popularity as a tool within spiritual direction.* Today it is widely taught as a way of understanding personality, addiction, relationships, and vocation.6 (emphasis added)
After Rohr learned about the Enneagram in the 1970s, he shared his Enneagram teaching on ten tapes, later writing his now classic best-selling book, Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey (now titled The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective).
In Rohr’s book, he explains that the underlying premise behind the Enneagram is that each person has a “true self and a “false self,” and with the help of the Enneagram, we can identify our true selves, and thus having identified it, we can now be spiritually transformed to live in that true self. Rohr explains:
[Co-author] Andreas Ebert and I again offer the Enneagram as a very ancient Christian tool for the discernment of spirits, the struggle with our capital sin, our “false self,” and the encounter with our True Self in God.7
When Rohr, who is an outspoken panentheist, says “True Self in God,” he is referring to his belief that the true self is the God within every human being. In echoing the Catholic mystics Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, Rohr advocates the concept of dharmakaya. Rohr states:
God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.8 (emphasis added)
To further understand what Rohr means when he says, “the divine [God] dwelling place is all of creation,” we need to understand his views about Jesus Christ. In an article on Rohr’s website titled, “The Cosmic Christ,” he says that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being:
Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but the title of his historical and cosmic purpose. Jesus presents himself as the “Anointed” or Christened One who was human and divine united in one human body—as our model and exemplar. . . . This Christ is much bigger and older than either Jesus of Nazareth or the Christian religion, because the Christ is whenever the material and the divine co-exist—which is always and everywhere. . . . The coming of the Cosmic Christ is not the same as the growth of the Christian religion. It is the unification of all things.9
For Rohr, Christ and humanity are not separate because Christ is not a person (or God come in the flesh to save man from his sins) but is an energy that exists in everyone and everything. Man’s only problem isn’t that he is sinful; rather, it is that he doesn’t realize he already has divinity within him. This is where the Enneagram comes in, for according to Rohr the Enneagram is a “key to self-knowledge,”10 and the goal for using the Enneagram is “an awakening of true self-love [i.e., the divinity within].”11
Rohr’s Enneagram Disciples
Some of Richard Rohr’s most popular “disciples” who carry on his Enneagram teachings include Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile, and Chris and Phileena Heuertz (though countless others have been influenced by Rohr). Since each of these people has written Enneagram books and are key presenters and teachers of Enneagram programs, let us examine them to further understand the Enneagram.
Ian Morgan Cron’s Road to Self
Episcopal priest Ian Morgan Cron is a best-selling author and psychotherapist. He wrote the best-selling book (co-authored by Suzanne Stabile), The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (published by InterVarsity Press). In chapter one, Cron relates how as a grad student, he found Rohr’s Enneagram book at a conservative seminary retreat. Upon showing it to his professor, he was told to get rid of it. Cron confided:
I was a young, impressionable evangelical, and though my gut told me my professor’s reaction bordered on paranoid, I followed his advice.12
Although, as Cron wrote, he didn’t read the book until later when he was re-introduced to it by his spiritual director, “Br. Dave.” Upon reading it, he tells how he discussed with Br. Dave his initial reactions to the Enneagram. As they talked, Cron shared a Thomas Merton quote with him which read:
Sooner or later we must distinguish what we are not and what we are. . . . We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap showy garment it is . . . We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty, but also in its grand and very simple dignity created to be the child of God, and capable of loving with something of God’s own sincerity and his unselfishness.13 (emphasis added)
The theme of the “self” permeates Cron’s book. In fact, the word “self” is in his book over 160 times (e.,g., “self-knowledge,” “self-aware,” “real self,” “self-understanding,” “authentic self,” the “original shimmering self,” “true self,” “deep knowing of self,” “self-confident,” “self-actualized,” and so forth). Cron states:
[B]y overidentifying who we are with our personality we forget or lose touch with our authentic self—the beautiful essence of who we are . . . we have a God who . . . remembers who we are . . . and he wants to help restore us to our authentic selves.14
Here, when Cron equates the “authentic self” (i.e., true self) with “the beautiful essence of who we are,” he echoes Richard Rohr’s belief that within each person is divinity. Contrary to Rohr’s and Cron’s building up of the “true self” as divine and beautiful, the Bible speaks otherwise:
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)
Cron a “champion of the Enneagram,” and “pioneer in the contemporary Enneagram movement” tells us who he is in his “Manifesto.” He begins with:
Today I will throw my hat into the ring of life. . . . I will stand on my own two feet and live my truth.15
Like so many in today’s post-modern “progressive” Western world, Cron will do his own thing and decide his own beliefs. To the contrary, Scripture reminds us that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” A believer in Christ is not called to live his own truth but rather follow the One who says He is “the truth.” At the end of his Manifesto, Cron declares, “Today I will be my True Self.”16 This is the Enneagram’s goal like the book title says, The Road Back to You. Full of I, I, I.
Cron and Rohr Interview
Ian Cron hosts an Enneagram podcast titled “Typology. In “Episode 014: Richard Rohr, Finally Getting Over Your ‘Self’ with the Enneagram Pt.1,” Ian interviews Richard Rohr. He asks Rohr what has caused the “tidal wave of interest culturally and in church of personality identity”17 using the Enneagram. Rohr says its because we’ve done such a bad job of teaching Christians their “true identity.” We didn’t, he espouses, teach people about their images and their likeness of God. Rohr says most Christians find their identity in their group or denomination and never understand who they themselves are.
The crux of the interview is when Rohr asserts we don’t know our individual “Imago Dei” which cannot be given to us or taken away from us. This idea levels the “playing field of all humanity”18 says Rohr. Distinctions such as black and white, Catholic and Protestant, American and Canadian, or gay and straight do not mean anything. Rohr says that the “true gospel must be proclaimed that everything—humans, animals, or materials—is created in the image of a trinitarian and loving God.”19 Therefore, says Rohr, that settles all questions. For then we are all “universal children of God,”20 and thus, we are in “union” with all other children of God. Why? Rohr says it is because we all have the divine and the beautiful in us from the very start.
How contrary to the biblical Gospel that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that in order to become a child of God, we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. In Enneagramism, it’s not about sinners (“none that doeth good”—Romans 3:12) needing to be redeemed by a Holy God. There is no need for that. Rather, after working through our false self-delusions to find our true selves, we come to the realization that we have always been lovely and good. Ian Morgan Cron’s view of the self stands in stark contrast to the apostle Paul’s description when he says he has “no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
Suzanne Stabile, Cron’s co-author of the book The Road Back to You, is an internationally recognized Enneagram master, teacher, and author. Like Cron, Stabile is a great admirer of Richard Rohr and one of Rohr’s Enneagram disciples. After meeting Rohr, Stabile was so enamored with Rohr’s Enneagram program that she studied under him, consenting not to teach or share the material for five years.
At present, Stabile has conducted over 500 Enneagram workshops over the past 25 years, speaking to audiences at colleges, divinity schools, churches, and health centers. She has also taught at the Center for Action and Contemplation (Rohr’s contemplative center) and even internationally at Assisi with Rohr himself.
In a 2016 Houston Chronicle article titled, “Christians Rediscovering Ancient Enneagram,” Emily McFarlan Miller said she met Cron and Stabile at a Chicago Enneagram conference. Miller noted that Cron “thought the Enneagram was ‘genius,’ and saw nothing in it that conflicted with the gospel.”21 She wrote that Cron found it fascinating that even “the (conservative) evangelicals were completely fine with it.”22 Miller said that Stabile hoped that “teaching people to learn about the way they see the world and eight other ways people see the world will encourage compassion.”23 Stabile told Miller, “Our hope is that the book makes the world a more compassionate, more loving, and more generous place.”24
And this is the promise of the Enneagram, to make people (and the world) more compassionate, generous, and loving. The premise is, if we can somehow gain access to understanding our True Selves (i.e., the divine part of us), then we will become compassionate and loving individuals thus making the world a better place. But can the Enneagram accomplish this? If the premise is correct, then perhaps so. But according to the Holy Word of God, the premise of the Enneagram couldn’t be further from the truth.
Chris Heuertz is another Rohr mentee and Enneagram enthusiast. Heuertz came from a Catholic family that converted to evangelicalism. His parents had six children. An article written by Jason Byassee titled “On the Side of Hope” describes how Heuertz’ parents worked seven jobs at one time just to send the children to private schools. Heuertz graduated from an Assembly of God high school and went on to Asbury College (now Asbury University).
In his book The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, Heuertz states that the Enneagram is a tool for “excavating our essence, our True Self, from the lies, programs, and temptations we’ve wrapped around our identity.”25 (emphasis in original)
Soon after graduation from Asbury, Heuertz joined Word Made Flesh ministry to work with “the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.”26 This was how he landed in Calcutta, India working with Mother Teresa. Here he was later joined by his wife Phileena. Of the WMF organization, Jason Byassee wrote:
Rejecting the idea that missionaries bring salvation and services to benighted poor people, WMF has learned . . . that the poor are Jesus. WMF or ‘Fleshies’ . . . do not necessarily seek to fix poverty or convert people. Their first intention is to seek friendship with the poor. And through that they seek, with their friends, to be converted anew to God.27
Speaking of the “model of missions,” Heuertz states:
If I bring anything, it’s presence and hope . . . We work to recognize the divine imprint in all humanity, then together we are all converted to God. I’m not bringing a poor kid with me to Christ. I’m following their journey to the places in God’s heart that break in the face of such suffering.28 (emphasis added)
The Heuertz’ social justice work with WMF took them to Cambodia where Heuertz encountered the Enneagram. Fascinated, Heuertz later would delve deeply into the Enneagram, abandon his WMF community, establish the Gravity Center, and write The Sacred Enneagram (which we will talk about a little later in this booklet).
Phileena Bacon Heuertz was two years behind Chris at Asbury College. Phileena came from an evangelical family, her father being a Wesleyan Methodist pastor in Indiana. While working with WMF, the Heuertzes began their contemplative journey upon meeting Catholic contemplative priest Thomas Keating of Snowmass, Colorado. From him, they learned centering prayer (a form of contemplative prayer). The more they dipped into this contemplative path, the further they separated from their evangelical backgrounds. Eventually, in 2012, they left the WMF to establish the Gravity Center for Contemplative Activism.
Throwing aside her evangelical Wesleyan past, Phileena converted to Catholicism for she believed its rituals, liturgy, and prayer practices would best enhance her “inner work” to shed her false self and find her true self.29
Along the way, the couple met Richard Rohr, imbibed deeply from his teaching, and locked arms with him. Today, Phileena is on Rohr’s CAC board. Rohr, in turn, wrote the foreword to Phileena’s 2018 book Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation. Phileena is considered one of the top young contemplative prayer activists today. She is a retreat guide, a spiritual director, and a Yoga instructor and has spoken at numerous Christian universities including Biola University and Taylor University.
The Sacred Enneagram
In 2017, Chris Heuertz wrote what became a best-selling book, The Sacred Enneagram (published by Zondervan). In the foreword, written by Richard Rohr, Rohr writes:
Chris Heuertz, my dear friend and confidante, has gone on his own journey of transformation, I am most happy to recommend his excellent book on the Enneagram to you. In its pages you will find excellent content, many new insights, and the compassion that genuine spirituality always provides . . . You will not be the same after you read this book.30
Rohr is also an integral part of the Heuertz’ Gravity Center, serving as a founding board member much like Phileena serves on his CAC board.
In two chapters of Heuertz’ book, he unlocks his agenda for the reader to couple the Enneagram to contemplative practices to achieve finding one’s true self.
A Sacred Map?
Throughout the book, Heuertz uses terms such as “sacred experience,” “sacred Enneagram,” and “sacred map.” He says:
When we give ourselves to the hard work of integrating what we have come to learn about ourselves, the Enneagram becomes a sacred map of our soul, one that shows us the places where we have vulnerabilities or tendencies to get stuck as well as the possibilities of where we can go for deeper freedom and inner peace.31 (emphasis added)
Here we can see that Heuertz has exchanged what gives true freedom and peace for a powerless substitute—the Enneagram! There is only one true “sacred map,” and that is the Word of God.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
We do not find freedom and peace by identifying our “personality types” and discovering our “true selves.” The fact is, our true selves are our sinful, fleshly, carnal selves. It is only found in the person of Jesus Christ, who promises to come into our hearts and commune with us if we invite Him in and put our trust in Him (Revelation 3:20). Our Father in Heaven promises to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness (our fleshly carnal selves) into the kingdom of Light (through being born again into Christ).
[God] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)
The Enneagramites have missed the mark bigtime. They see the key to an abundant meaningful life lying in ourselves when in fact, it is quite the opposite as John the Baptist said when he proclaimed, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). Paul, the apostle, said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). How interesting (and sad) that Chris Heuertz uses the term “Fleshie” to describe himself. Fleshies put the emphasis on how good their true selves are. “Believers” put the emphasis on believing in the finished work of the Cross (how good Jesus Christ is).
The Inclusive Kingdom
Chris Heuertz’ book, The Sacred Enneagram, uses The Inclusive Bible (authored by “Priests for Equality”) for all its Scripture quotations. Billed as the first egalitarian translation, a blurb on Amazon says:
. . . it is a re-imagining of the scriptures and our relationship to them. . . . [offering] new and non-sexist ways to express the same ancient truths. . . . Priests for Equality is a movement of men and women . . . where sexism and exclusion are left behind.32
Leaving “exclusion” behind is another way to reject the Bible’s message that says the kingdom of God is exclusive to “whosoever” believes on Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is the opposite of “inclusive,” which is the teaching of universalism (all are saved) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God). This inclusivism is what the New Age is all about.
The True Self
In Heuertz’ The Sacred Enneagram, the term “True Self” (capitalized to show the supposed divine attribute) is used over sixty times such as in the following quote:
The Enneagram offers much more under the surface. Its various facets—the names and needs, the Holy Ideas and Virtues—give us practical handles to better identify and understand our type. By digging deeper into the why behind each type we start to unravel the mystery of our True Self and essential nature. This is the real substance we aim for.33 (emphasis added)
Again, in Scripture, there is nothing good about our “essential nature.” The late Ray Yungen, who studied the New Age for many years, explains:
The New Age and Christianity definitely clash on the answer to the question of human imperfection. The former—the New Age—espouses the doctrine of becoming self-realized and united with the universe, which they see as God but in reality is the realm of familiar spirits. On the other hand, the Gospel that Christians embrace offers salvation to humanity through grace (unmerited favor). Romans 3:24 boldly states: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
This gift is not earned or given as a reward for earnest or good intentions as Scripture clearly states: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This Scripture that tackles the issue of pride sharply distinguishes all of man’s religions from Christianity. Religion persuades us that man is innately good and, therefore, can earn his way to Heaven through human perfectibility or, better yet, through the realization of his own divinity. Christianity emphatically states the opposite view that man needs to humbly recognize his own sinfulness and fallibility, and consequently needs salvation through grace.
The Holy Spirit, through the Scripture, convicts the sinner of his sinful and lost condition and then presents God’s solution—salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Ephesians 1:7 and Romans 10:9-10).
It all comes down to the preaching of the higher self [i.e., “True Self”] versus the preaching of the Cross.34
Essential Virtue and Purity
Throughout The Sacred Enneagram, there are over one hundred diagrams of Enneacircles and Enneacharts. One of these (on page 108) is titled “Virtue Structure.” Of this chart, Heuertz writes:
I . . . emphasize Virtue because when we do return to our essence [i.e., True Self] . . . Our Virtue is the lingering fragrance of our essential purity; it is what makes each of us beautiful. . . . Of course, returning to our Virtue is familiar, like a homecoming, because it is who we have always been.35 (emphasis added)
God loves humanity. It is why He sent His Son to die on a Cross so that any person who believes on Him would be reconciled to God. And God does value us (He would never have sacrificed His Son to save us if He didn’t). But He does not love us or value us because we are pure or holy or virtuous; rather, He loves us and values us in spite of the fact we are not those things. He loves us because His very nature is love, forgiveness, and holiness; and no matter how much we learn about “ourselves,” we can never come close to matching the nature of God (although He does promise the born-again believer that we can be partakers of His nature—2 Peter 1:4. But being a “partaker” is not the same as owning it yourself. It is someone else’s, and you are given access to partake in and benefit from it).
You see, the Enneagram is the very antithesis of the Gospel. With the Enneagram, man is glorified; with the Gospel, God is glorified. And if we love God, how can we not desire to glorify Him who alone has done so many incredible and awesome things and will continue to throughout eternity. How can we, who cannot even create a speck of dust, glorify ourselves and not our Creator? Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
Contemplative Prayer and the Enneagram
It is important to note that the majority of those who teach the Enneagram are proponents of contemplative prayer. In chapter ten of The Sacred Enneagram, “An Invitation to Inner Work,” Heuertz introduces the reader to three prayers that can be used “as an on-ramp to the . . . Christian contemplative tradition.”36 Introduced first is centering prayer: “Praying with the Feeling Center.” Of its relationship to the Enneagram, Heuertz states:
Centering prayer. . . is easily aligned with each specific Enneagram type, but even more so, it may be among the most effective in confronting the root additions of each of the Enneagram’s Intelligence Centers.37
Second is St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “The Examen: Praying with the Head Center.”38 Last is, “The Welcoming Prayer: Praying with the Instinctive Body Center” whose creator was Mary Mrozowski. Mrozowski was a Catholic mystic and lay contemplative who in 1983 attended the first ever “Centering Prayer” retreat experiment at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico.** It was she who helped found the Contemplative Outreach Ltd. She was also founder of the Chrysalis House which became “an incubator” of contemplative prayer practices, especially centering prayer.39 She was close to and encouraged by the late Thomas Keating.
In Phileena Heuertz’ book Mindful Silence, she explains how “incredibly helpful” the Enneagram is for “spiritual development.”40 She assures her readers that using the Enneagram is a crucial part of “expanding consciousness.”41 She says:
The Enneagram is a powerful resource for the contemplative path, for as it deconstructs the false self, it simultaneously reveals your true self.42
“Waking Up,” the last chapter, describes Phileena’s ongoing search “to live into your divine nature”43 as she took time for a hermitage at the Lama Foundation.*
In the foreword of Mindful Silence, Richard Rohr praises how quickly “contemplative teaching is occurring in our time.” He then says that “we are building on the Perennial Tradition.” Rohr describes what he means by “Perennial Tradition” in a 2015 article on his website:
The things I teach come from a combination of inner and outer authority, drawn from personal experience and a long lineage of the “perennial tradition” . . . The Perennial Tradition points to recurring themes and truths within all of the world’s religions.44 (emphasis added)
The Perennial Tradition (or Perennial Wisdom as it is also called) is the belief that all the different religions in the world are interconnected through metaphysics (mysticism). The fact that the “father” of today’s Enneagram movement (Rohr) promotes the Perennial Tradition in a book written by one of his foremost disciples—openly welcomed in mainstream evangelicalism—should not be overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant; nor should the Enneagram’s compatibility and connection with contemplative prayer and mysticism.
Christian Leaders Promoting the Enneagram
With the growing popularity of the Enneagram in the evangelical church, many well-known Christian leaders are coming out in favor of it. One of these is Mark Batterson, the senior pastor of a mega church in Washington, DC. and the author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. Lighthouse Trails released a booklet in 2017 titled Circle Making and “Prayer Circles” Versus The Straight Line of Truth, which addresses Batterson’s teaching on “circle making,” a practice he popularized inspired from rituals of an ancient mystic name Honi. Our 2017 booklet states:
[Batterson convinces] people that if certain rituals or methods are performed, then things can be changed. In his 2017 book Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God, Batterson continues with this mystical focus (i.e., contemplative spirituality). In one section, he gives a lesson on Lectio Divina, a practice that involves taking a word or phrase from Scripture and repeating it slowly, which is said to facilitate hearing God’s voice (in reality, Lectio Divina is a gateway practice to full-blown eastern-style meditation).45
Knowing Mark Batterson’s mystical propensities, we were not surprised to learn that Batterson had endorsed Ian Morgan Cron’s 2016 book on the Enneagram, The Road Back to You. Of Cron’s book, Batterson states:
Ian Morgan Cron, partnering with Suzanne Stabile, has gifted us with another timely and brilliantly written book. We’ve long needed a fresh, spiritually grounded approach to helping people grow in self-knowledge and compassion. This is a winsome and thoughtful primer!46
On a podcast called Typology, hosted by Ian Cron, Cron interviewed Batterson on October 24, 2019. The show’s title was “The Blessings of the Enneagram” where Batterson talked about he and his wife’s “journey” with the Enneagram.47
Numerous other evangelical leaders are rallying behind the Enneagram as well. New York Times best-selling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries Lysa TerKeurst was on Cron’s podcast in June of 2019 talking about how much the Enneagram means to her.48 Other evangelical figures who promote the Enneagram are William P. Young (author of The Shack), Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers), Aaron and Shawna Niequist (Shawna is Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels’ daughter), and Anita Lustrea (co-hosted Moody Radio’s Midday Connection program for 15 years).
The Enneagram or The Word of God?
The Enneagram focuses endlessly on the self through self-awareness, self-observation, self-motivation, self-knowledge, self-love, self-wound, self-this, and self-that. For as 2 Timothy 3:2 states, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves.” Through the “Sacred Enneagram,” it is said we’ll discover that underneath all our failures of our false selves, we’ll uncover our essence—that true self enabling us to make our world a better and more compassionate place.
On the other hand, God’s view of our “selves” is that at our core, we are sinners as Romans 3:23 declares, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Therefore, we need to believe not in the power of the Enneagram or the voice heard in contemplative prayer but in a Savior who can save us from ourselves and our sins. Scripture says:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9; emphasis added)
In the end, it is through the Word of God and the sacrifice on the Cross by Jesus Christ, not the Enneagram, where we can find out who we are and what we must do. In 1 Corinthians 2:5, Paul tells us:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
And as Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom . . .” not the Enneagram! We pray that this enticing tool of deception will be rejected by Christian believers, pastors, and leaders.
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)
*Spiritual direction or spiritual directors are terms used in the contemplative prayer movement (i.e., Spiritual Formation movement). Contemplative spirituality is an ancient mystical prayer practice in which the participant goes into what is called “the silence” by repeating a word or phrase so that the mind is no longer distracted with thoughts. In this altered silent state, one can supposedly hear the voice of God and be spiritually transformed. Spiritual directors are utilized to help the contemplative meditator “discern” the voice and messages received during meditation. Rohr’s statement above reveals to us that the Enneagram and contemplative prayer (both based on mysticism) are very compatible with each other.
**The Lama Foundation is tied to a well-known spiritual teacher and New Age Hindu guru Ram Dass who wrote Be Here Now.
Endnotes to the first 2 paragraphs of this post.
1. According to Wikipedia, the Passion Conferences have drawn over 1 million university students since 1997. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louie_Giglio.
2. Check out the following articles: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-significance-of-youth-filled.html, https://pulpitandpen.org/2017/03/13/louie-giglio-goes-new-age, https://coercioncode.com/2019/04/30/louie-giglio-as-you-never-knew-him.
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission; design by Lighthouse Trails)