Season: 4 Episode: 044
The enneagram is the hottest personaltiy test in our culture today and it has hit the churches. Many Christians claim the enneagram gives insight into spiritual gifts and is a self-examination tool. They even quote scripture to back it up. But is it? Shanda talks about the truth of the enneagram test and its origin. She also talks about why she thinks it’s comparable to the horoscope and why Christians should be aiming for the fruits of the Spirit instead of a number on a test.
“The enneagram is another spin-off of the ‘me culture'”.
“Is culture invading the church or is the church invading culture?”
“We have become a society that may not say with our mouths that the word of God is not enough, but we say it with our actions.”
“Our souls do not need self-discovery but to be known by God.”
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires. I just want to say that I am so excited about the online class happening this week, “How to study the Bible like a scholar”. If you haven’t registered and are thinking of taking the course, go to shandafulbright.com to register.
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Ok, today we are going to talk about something a little bit controversial.
I’d say it’s equally as controversial as my episode on the self love lie, which if you haven’t listened to that one yet, go check it out. It’s episode 36.
But today we are talking about how Christians are running to the enneagram and why this test has become so hot amongst Christians, but honestly, I think it’s hot with most women, Christian or not.
I first heard of the enneagram on social media (surprise, surprise), and everyone was talking about their number. It was confusing at first because I didn’t know what that meant, but after a dozen posts on the topic by various women, I started to figure out that these women were so happy to get a number that defined certain things about their personalities, spiritual gifting and how they identify with others.
I posted about this on my IG stories a few weeks ago, because progressive Christians such as Jen Hatmaker and others in the church are diving deep into the enneagram. Some will see this as me taking sanctification too far. Others will agree that we’re placing too much emphasis on things like the enneagram and be happy we’re having this conversation.
First, I want to start off by saying that I am not saying the enneagram is evil, or that you aren’t a christian if you’ve taken the enneagram. I am simply bringing awareness to what so many Christians are doing in the church these days and bringing up some of the red flags I see with the infatuation of this tool inside the church.
Today we are going to explore:
- The origin of the enneagram and why we need to understand where it came from to understand why you may want to rethink it.
- What the enneagram is all about and why I think it relates to the horoscope.
- When it comes to self-reflection, what does the church (you and I) need to know?
What is the origin of the enneagram?
If you’ve taken the enneagram at your church or if you have seen it promoted by a religious organization, it did not originate there. The enneagram’s beginning has no roots in Christianity whatsoever.
A quick Google search will confirm this and I went through many different sites to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.
The origin of the enneagram is a bit conflicting, but no doubt it does not have its roots in Christianity.
The man accredited into bringing the Enneagram into common thinking, which is a relic of new age philosophy, is George Gurdjieff, a new age philosopher who lived from 1866-1949.
He believed that humans exist in something called “waking sleep” and that they can awaken the true self … uniting the body, mind and spirit to achieve a higher conscience.
He emphasized the importance of self. Eventually his ideas were spread to the US, but it took a while for them to take off. And that’s when two occultists, Oscar Ichaso and Claudio Naranjo developed the enneagram which is considered a tool for personality analysis.
In the 1970s, Naranjo’s students brought the enneagram to the catholic church, although many in the catholic church do not engage.
And now it is also being embraced by evangelical Christians.
The enneagram is running rampant through Christina universities where the pitch is that self-reflection is a must for improvement. I am not disagreeing with this sentiment. I self-reflect often, and most of the time my self-reflection is done in prayer and taken before the Lord.
However, they also use various scriptures to back up why they believe the enneagram is a tool for spiritual self reflection when they quote verses by Paul in 1 Cor 11.
This is what one student had to say about it:
On my college campus, “What’s your Enneagram type?” became the equivalent of the phrase, “What’s your sign?” Students used their personality types from the Enneagram as a measure for compatibility.
Again, this is in the Christian community. I’m not talking about secular colleges here.
According to crosswalk.com, “We are using this tool to justify that we are to examine ourselves, like Paul says in 1 Cor 11.When we become self-aware, we can know how we work personally, and can fulfill our callings to the best of our ability. The more we know ourselves, the better we work, essentially.”
Ok, let me stop right here and say this is a misuse of scripture.
We can pull a scripture out of the Bible and then say that any test is good for us as self reflection. For example,1 Cor 11:28 put back into context, is saying we are to examine ourselves before we take communion. It’s an examination of the heart … not personality. And there is nothing about the enneagram that reveals the heart. It is a personality test designed by a flawed non-Christian human being.
And this is a Christian organization interpreting scripture this way? I don’t think so.
Verse 31 of that same chapter goes on to say, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” Judged by whom? By God. If you go back and read the context of scripture, the Corinthian church was taking communion without being in right relationship with God. They were getting sick after taking communion because they were not examining their hearts before God and He was judging them because of it.
Do you think if the enneagram was available back then that it would have brought clarity to their sinfulness and they would have realized their error? I don’t.
So this verse is taken out of context and misapplied when it comest to the church’s reasoning for using the enneagram as a self-evaluation tool.
Now, I am also not saying that all personality tests are of the devil and that you shouldn’t take them. But I am saying that this one is not rooted in scriptural truth, and the church is trying really hard to sale this test as though it is.
Furthermore, christianity.com will tell you that it’s more spiritual than psychological.
When you makes claims like that, you have the burden of proof.
And it’s more than just throwing a few verses out with there and calling something godly.
They also say it, and I quote:
“Helps Christians understand their sin struggle.”
“Helps Christians understand other people.”
“Is spiritually based.”
I just don’t see it, I’m sorry.
Let’s just be honest here and say what it is: it’s another spin off on “me culture”. It’s another way to tell the church they need to discover who they are. It’s the church’s way of saying you can find out what your “giftings” are outside of God’s word and perform better in ministry once you discover them.
Do I think taking personality tests are sinful? No. I feel like I have to continue to reiterate this because people will miss the point. But I do think we can become so reliant on things like the enneagram that we change or box in our behavior to fall in line with what this test reveals about us instead of what God reveals about us through his word.
There is an article on churchleaders.com and the writer says personality tests are good to take .. in fact, he says they are essential as a Christian. Here is his wackadoo explanation:
“If I had to give the Bible’s headline, it would be, “Apart from knowing who you are, you cannot know who God is.” Or as one of the leaders of the 16th century Protestant Reformation put it, “There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.”
What Bible is he reading?
You can’t know who God is unless you know yourself? That is not scriptural AT ALL. Nothing gets me more heated than false teachings … nothing. It makes my blood boil.
He then goes on to use Eph 4:22-24 to reinforce his support of personality tests, which once again is taken out of context and is a misuse of scripture.
So, what is the enneagram all about and why do I think it relates to the horoscope?
I don’t know about you, but I have never read my horoscope. I learned from a young age that horoscopes are in line with sorcery and witchcraft. We are looking to the sun and the stars to guide our path and enlighten us.
I stayed away from it. But … as I began to learn more about the enneagram, I saw interesting correlations between it and the Zodiac.
Let me start by explaining the characteristics of the enneagram:
There are 9 personality types portrayed in the enneagram:
Perfectionist, helper, performer, romantic, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger, peacemaker.
Per christianity.com … The Enneagram is a personality test that categorizes those who take it into one of nine types. Although people may have traces of all nine of the types, their personality will most often fit into one dominant category, which is your Enneagram type.
I have seen women on social media refer back to their number and most of them seem surprised and fascinated by what they’ve just discovered about themselves.
And here is the reason I am equating it to the horoscope: because the horoscope reveals things about you that you have no control over as well.
What’s the difference?
Here is the description of a horoscope from horoscope.com:
“As astrologers we refer to the horoscope as the astrological chart of a person or a moment in time, which is calculated from the planetary positions in either the sidereal or tropical Zodiac. The calculations used are based on the date, place and time of birth. That’s why a horoscope is so personal, like a fingerprint.
When an astrologer works with an accurately-timed chart, the energies carried within it are unique to that individual. Be aware that the chart energies of the planets and signs serve as the potential for personal expression within that individual.”
So, this is right in line with the stars revealing your unique potential because of when you were born. It’s a “fingerprint” that offers insight and awareness of your personal potential.
Does this sound familiar?
If not, let me read you the rest of the description and parallel it with what is said about the enneagram:
Zodiac: With its strong influence on your personality, character, and emotions, your sign is a powerful tool for understanding yourself and your relationships. And of course, your sign can show you the way to an incredible life.
Enneagram: It helps you understand yourself, your relationship with others and is more spiritual than it is psychological.
Does that convince you?
What do we need to talk about when it comes to self-reflecting?
I know some people probably think I’m overreacting. And if you’ve taken the enneagram, I am not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. My goal is to get you to think.
Is the culture invading the church or are we invading culture? Because again, there is no scriptural reinforcement of the 9 personality type of the enneagram.
Let me repeat what they are: Perfectionist, helper, performer, romantic, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger, peacemaker.
Show me how these parallel the fruits of the Spirit.
Show me how these nurture the gifts of the spirit. I don’t see it. I just don’t see how knowing you’re a romantic can help you do ministry better. Or be better at serving others, except for maybe your spouse.
Because cultural Christianity loves all the feel good and new fads. We are becoming a society that may not say with our mouths that the word of God isn’t enough, but we say it with our actions.
I am not saying personal reflection and self evaluation is not good or needed. But I am saying that it cannot be done honestly unless it’s before God.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is desperately wicked and deceitful. Who can know it?”
Do you think a man made test is going to reveal what God says can’t be revealed without Him?
Our culture is on a quest to find ourselves. When I talked about the self love lie, I said that people will literally tell you that you cannot love others unless you love yourself first.
We are in a culture that has become lovers of self. We use words like self-esteem, self-love, self-care, self-evaluation, self-help, selfies, and on and on it goes.
The enneagram and all of this self-awareness talk emphasizes looking within before we reach out. And again, the Lord only speaks of vertical and horizontal relationships because our vertical relationship (commandments 1-4), helps us with our horizontal relationships (commandments 5-10).
What this really is is the message of “self-helpism”.
The message is that we need to search within ourselves to find both the cause and the remedy for our brokenness.
We cannot be both the problem and the solution. It’s impossible.
And I am going to share some stats listed in Mama Bear Apologetics about the self-improvement market.
In 2016, the self-improvement market was $9.9 billion dollars in America alone.
It gains a yearly average of about 5.6%, so by 2022, it will be worth around $13.2 billion dollars.
That means people are looking for answers.
People are looking for a better quality of life, increase of self-confidence, less stress and more self-care, and the whole gamut of self improvement.
The problem with self-help is that it points people towards a dependency on self more than relying on God to transform us.
You see, self-helpism and the enneagram and other personality tests we begin to rely on for answers to the deep questions about ourselves, tell us our remedy for brokenness is self discovery.
The problem is that these efforts are the easy way out. They tell us in a few short minutes what studying the Bible and having a relationship with God tell us as we sit at His feet.
And that takes too long.
And in reality, they are deceptive because they will never reveal what only God can with time spent in fellowship with Him.
Self-helpism tells us who we are and helps us “discover” ourselves but it never leads us toward the path of repentance. It doesn’t tell me that I have to take up my cross daily and follow Christ. It doesn’t tell me that I don’t truly live until I die to self.
I know it’s hard. And I know people want answers. I got one for you … Jesus.
Jesus is and will always be the answer. We shouldn’t be striving for a number on a personality test, but we should be striving for the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I want to close this up today by saying again … if you have taken the enneagram or are struggling with self-discovery, don’t feel bad. But take that need before the Lord and trust in Him and what His word says about you. It’s in there!
I also want to encourage you to not use things like the enneagram to ensure you are compatible with someone before you get married.
Remember that sometimes the best relationships are the ones that compliment each other with differing personality types. God made each of us with unique personalities, talents and gifts.
Psalm 139 talks about how known we are by a Creator … the Creator who made us and formed us and knit us together in our mother’s womb.
The need for self discovery is NOT what our souls long for … it’s a need to be known by God.
It’s the need to know that He knows us and to connect with our Creator on an intimate level; to know and be known.
The reason for this episode is to bring to light the sheer fact that culture invades the church so easily and I wonder if we stop to ponder where the things like the enneagram are coming from before we latch onto them and then offer classes to our church congregations.
I pray we are ambassadors for the word of God and see the need for turning to the Word for guidance, transformation and intimacy with God.
That’s it for today’s show. If you do not follow me on social media, you can find me @shandafulbright. I would also truly appreciate you leaving me a star rating and/or review on iTunes to help propel the podcast.
Have a great week and I’ll catch you on the next one!