Why the Enneagram - Part 2 - Christianity and the Enneagram

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As I am a Christian, and I have been a pastor and leader in a number of churches, some friends who know that I teach about the Enneagram asked me to share my take on the Enneagram and Christianity.

You may or may not be aware that some Christian leaders have written articles against the Enneagram, discouraging their Christian readers from following Enneagram teaching.  Here are a few articles along that line

And, just to balance things out, here are a few articles from Christian leaders more in favor of Enneagram teaching

So, what’s my take, how do I bring Christianity and The Enneagram together? 

I start with the obvious fact that all human beings have an inner-life.  I don’t mean something mystical or magical by this, I simply mean that everyone has stuff going on inside that they don’t show on the outside.  Feelings, thoughts, sensations, memories, imagination, motivations, pain, sorrow, etc.  These are all going on behind the scenes for everyone.  And, while some of this certainly shows up for the camera, there is a lot that people will never know if they are not told.  Plus, there is much going on in our inner-lives that we don’t understand, some that we aren’t aware of, and some don’t acknowledge even to ourselves.

We all live a physical or external life which includes eating, sleeping, wearing clothes, interacting with people, interacting with our environment, and accomplishing jobs and tasks.  But, at the same time that all this is going on, it is accompanied by inner experiences, conversations, reactions and responses to life.  And, in reality, these are not two lives, but one life with different pieces, that, because of their nature, can be classified as more inward or more external.  The is a lot of blurring and subjectivity between the inward and external, but it is still helpful to make this distinction because it is largely what happens in our inner-life that determines our true happiness, character, and maturity.

The Enneagram is focused on our inner-lives, not only our personalities, but our motivations, desires, joys, callings, fears, shame, anger, inner strengths and vulnerabilities, etc. The Enneagram diagram and the different pieces of each Enneagram type help us understand where we are at in our inner-lives.  They give us a map and place us on it.  It is not pinpoint accurate like a GPS location, we are still navigating by stars when it comes to our inner-lives, but the Enneagram provides us with the constellations and compass points to guide us.  This description may make the Enneagram seem like a fortune teller, but it’s important to remember that the “destinations” and “landscape” of the inner-life are concerned with character growth and personal development rather than particular circumstances or futures.  The Enneagram helps us make more sense of our inner-lives and Enneagram teachings like awareness, being present, self-acceptance, balance, virtue and vice give us tools and direction toward more inner health.

Christianity and the Bible also place a lot of focus on our inner-lives, not just our eternal salvation.  We find references to the inner-life all over the Bible. The name Israel means “he struggles with God.”  (Gen 32:28) Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for not cleaning their inner life as well as their outer. (Matthew 23:25-26) and Paul despairs over the conflicting motivations within him and their resulting behavior (Romans 7:14-25). These are just three of the thousands of scriptures relating to our inner joys, motivations, pains, struggles, fears, and growth.  And, as with everything in the Bible, these scriptures need personal interpretation and personal context in order for us to bring them into our own lives.  The Enneagram can help provide that personal interpretation and personal context for applying the Biblical teachings to our lives.

The scripture I mentioned above in Romans 7 is a perfect example of this.  In this scripture Paul struggles with patterns of sin in his life when his heart’s desire is to do good.  Many Christians have experienced this along with the deliverance Paul proclaims in Jesus, only to find themselves right back in the pattern in a few days, months, or years.  The Enneagram teachings on ways we think and feel in our various life survival strategies help us understand why we keep falling back into our old patterns and even help us catch ourselves in the act of doing it.  This helps us to, eventually, let go of the patterns, truly abide in the deliverance of Jesus, and truly receive the teaching that comes next in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”

The Enneagrams is not the be-all end-all in personal and spiritual growth, it's likely to be just one of many tools the Holy Spirit uses in our journey with and toward Christ, but, in my experience, it can be a very good and helpful tool.

Photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

Read 789 times Last modified on 21.01.2019

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