One of the rapidly growing fads within evangelicalism is the Enneagram of Personality. The Veinots, who lead the discernment ministry, Midwest Christian Outreach, joined by Marcia Montenegro, former New Ager, who ministers through Christians Answers for the New Age, have decided to address this movement. Their conclusions expose the Enneagram as emerging from occult and mystical sources, lacking biblical foundation, and spreading numerous errant theological views, including a false gospel and defective means of sanctification.
This small volume is not a detailed study of the Enneagram. Only in the first chapter is much attention given to the Enneagram as a system, and only on page 40 is an attempt made to detail the meaning behind the nine types that make up the Enneagram. Rather, the contribution made by the authors focuses mainly on the origins, the promoters and the unbiblical claims made by supporters of the Enneagram.
Concerning the origins, the authors reject the assertions by its leading proponents that the Enneagram has ancient roots going back at least to the desert fathers as well as other ancient literature and religions (pp. 23-27). They document that the Enneagram, as it is known today, began with George Gurdjieff in the early 1900s and was revised and spread by some others such as occult teacher Oscar Ichazo. As for promoters, until very recently the teachings of the Enneagram were exclusively in the occult and New Age realms, only breeding into Catholicism in the late 1980s. Through the efforts of its recognized champion Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic priest, it has gained traction within the Catholic community, although most Catholic leaders disavow it (p. 84). Prior to 2016, few evangelicals had ever heard of the Enneagram, but thanks to the writings of some claiming to be evangelicals, principally Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile, who wrote The Road Back to You, and Christopher Heueritz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, both published by Christian publishing houses (Intervarsity and Zondervan), all that has changed (p. 26). The acceptance of the Enneagram is spreading rapidly throughout evangelicalism today.
The authors of the book under review also spend much time identifying the heretical beliefs of both the earlier founders and more recent advocates of the Enneagram. For example, at the heart of the Enneagram is the idea of finding our
“true self,” which is supposedly both divine and perfect. The search for the true self is necessary because most people actually live out their false self (or ego) due to wrong beliefs (p. 64). The need to discover our true self is a view held commonly by New Age teachers but is not found in Scripture. However, finding the “true self” is the crux of what the Enneagram offers, thus the title of Cron’s and Stabile’s book, The Road Back to You (pp. 87-91). By traveling the “road back to you,” one will supposedly find God within. Heuertz is quoted saying, “Type isn’t a ‘type’ of person, but a path to God” (pp. 22, 40). Due to his prominence within the movement, much attention is given to the heretical teachings of Richard Rohr (pp 26-27, 73-80, 84-85). Rohr’s false teachings are encyclopedic, including panentheism (the view that God is in everything, as opposed to pantheism, which claims God is everything) (pp. 72-73), as well as distorted views of Christ and the gospel.
The authors often turn to Scripture, both to provide biblical insight and offer warning concerning the teachings of the Enneagram. Overall, this is an excellent introduction concerning the dangers of the Enneagram, especially as related to origins and faulty teachings.
Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret (Wonder Lake, IL: MCOI Publishing, 2020), 151 pp, paper $12.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/Teacher at Southern View Chapel