Summary: Within the church there has been a great influx of human psychology mixed with Scripture. This has resulted in a convoluted understanding of the human mind and heart, as they are examined and studied from man’s perspective, rather than from God’s.
The Bible commands the Christian to “set” their “hearts” and “minds on things above, not on earthly things” and “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:1-2; 5-6 NIV)
Human psychology has perpetuated the idea that people are not sinners who need a Savior, but rather, they are victims with unmet needs who require the setting of boundaries so they won’t get hurt again. It is believed that this victimization began as early as in the womb. This conveniently removes all personal responsibility for one’s problems because the cause is rooted deep in the past rather than in the inherited sin nature.
The father of Psychology was a medical doctor named Sigmund Freud. He taught that memories stored in the subconscious mind influenced a person's daily life and that past hurts and emotional trauma must be exhumed and relived in order for emotional and spiritual healing to take place.
The Bible does not teach anywhere that present problems are rooted in the past or in repressed memories that must be stirred up, sought out, and identified in order for them to be illuminated so that healing can come to the inner being.
Because of sin having originally entered the world in the Garden of Eden, people have been both emotionally and spiritually wounded through painful past experiences in some form or another, not just from lies associated with those experiences.
The nature of mankind demands to protect and nourish itself. The human heart constantly attempts to set boundaries in order to perpetuate self- preservation so that its needs are met. Christians are commanded to separate themselves from evil, false doctrine, and to flee temptation, as well as not to set boundaries around themselves. The Bible says that the Christian is to learn how to die to self and serve Jesus, without any boundaries, by relinquishing control to Him. This requires trusting in Him alone. (See Rom 16:17-18; Titus 3:10; 2 Tim 2:22, 1 Cor 6:18)
The Enneagram is a geometric figure made up of a circle with nine points along the circumference, from which are drawn a triangle and an irregular hexagon. Each number represents one personality type, and the lines indicate directions of integration and disintegration. There are those who believe that the Enneagram can enhance a Christian’s participation in normal progressive sanctification as they grow in grace and truth.
The Enneagram is relatively new to the Western world. George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought the Enneagram to Europe in the 1920s, said it originated about 2500 years ago in a Babylonian wisdom school.1 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.2 This implicates the Enneagram with Babylonian astrology since those characteristics would be signified by a point on the Enneagram.
Gurdjieff’s use of the Enneagram also parallels the esoteric cabala’s “Tree of Life” of Jewish mysticism.3 Gurdjieff used the esoteric elements of the Enneagram with his students, but he did not formalize the system in written form. Therefore, others took this task upon themselves.
Oscar Ichazo began teaching the Enneagram in Bolivia in the 1960s and brought his version of the nine personality types to the United States in 1971 as part of his Arica training. He claims to have learned the Enneagram directly from Sufi teachers in Pamir before reading anything by Gurdjieff.4 Ichazo’s Arica training combines Eastern mysticism and Western psychology. The nine points on the circle’s circumference are used to analyze ego types for gaining greater awareness and reaching a higher state of consciousness.5
Psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo learned Ichazo’s system and taught the Enneagram at Esalon, a human potential, New Age center in California. Among his students were several Jesuit priests who began to incorporate the Enneagram into their counseling and into their own personal lives.6 As a result, the Enneagram’s popularity has spread rapidly among Roman Catholics. In fact, two of the most widely read books on the subject are written by a former Jesuit priest, Don Richard Riso.7
Although the geometric figure of the Enneagram remains the same, versions of the Enneagram personality typology differ among various teachers. Riso contends that his “interpretation of the Enneagram . . . diverges from Ichazo’s approach on a number of important points.”8 Helen Palmer, another Enneagram proponent, conducted seminars and wrote books, which also revealed a different emphasis and direction. In fact, her publisher says, “Ms. Palmer has developed theories about the use of the Enneagram in understanding human personality and its relationship to aspects of higher awareness that are different and distinct from those expounded by Mr. Ichazo.”9