Psychology is the study of the soul, but since psychologists cannot see the soul, they extrapolate and guess what is going on from outside observation and from listening to what people say about themselves. In contrast, God and His Word see right into every person:

“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. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:12-13).

God sees into the very soul of every individual and makes a distinction between two types of persons: the first is the natural human (descendent of Adam), who has inherited corruption (depravity); the second is the person who has been given new life with a new identity in Jesus through the new birth by grace through faith. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17).

Manmade psychology looks at the self to determine the nature of the soul and has come up with various typologies and tests to determine nature and motivation of each individual. Numerous Christians believe they can gain great insight into themselves and others by studying the personality characteristics of the four temperaments, or the twelve astrological signs, or the four categories of the DiSC (“Dominance,” “Influencing,” “Steadiness,” “Compliance”)[1], or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis (TJTA), or the Enneagram, which is the current rising star among Christians. These all constitute a form of psychoheresy because they are departures from the fundamental truth of the Bible regarding the nature and soul of mankind. Psychoheresy is the use of the unproven and unscientific psychological and often sinful opinions of men instead of maintaining absolute confidence in the biblical truth of God regarding the soul.

We describe and challenge each of these systems in our book Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing[2] and point out the typology problems and the poor validity of these tests. But the worst part of these tests besides being subjective and deceptive, is the very fact that Christians are focused on themselves, much like Narcissus gazing at himself in a pool of water. He became so absorbed in his own image that he drowned in the pool.

Christians have been given new life in Christ. In fact, Christ is their life (Gal 2:20), so that the best way for them to grow spiritually is not by looking at themselves, but by looking at Christ. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18). Instead of trying to understand ourselves through personality tests and types, believers are to be: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).

Besides sinfully focusing on self and evaluating others by using manmade typologies and tests, there is further danger in using these systems, namely that many of them can lead believers away from Christ and into the occult—into New Age so-called higher consciousness.

The Enneagram[3]

The Enneagram is an esoteric typology that claims to lead one to self-understanding, personal growth, and transformation, but is, instead, a prime example of an occult system of self-knowledge and spiritual growth that may seem harmless in its demonic subtleties. Using the Enneagram can ultimately lead believers away from Christ and into spiritual danger. Although it is purported to be an ancient spiritual tradition, it is relatively new to the Western world and is an occult New Age system.

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought the Enneagram to Europe in the 1920s, claims it originated about 2500 years ago in a Babylonian wisdom school.[4] 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.[5] This may implicate 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.”[11] Helen Palmer’s seminars and books also reveal 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.”[12]

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. The following chart gives the types according to Riso’s and Palmer’s type titles and according to Ichazo’s personality “fixations”:

Riso Palmer Ichazo
1 Reformer Perfectionist Resentment
2 Helper Giver Flatterer
3 Status Seeker Performer Go
4 Artist Tragic Romantic Melancholy
5 Thinker Observer Stinge
6 Loyalist Devil’s Advocate Coward
7 Generalist Epicure Planner
8 Leader Boss Venge
9 Peacemaker The Mediator Indolent

Of course there are extensive descriptions of each type so that everyone can find himself and fit or squeeze into a type. Like other typologies, these are arbitrary categories.

The Enneagram is as bad as the four temperaments for all of the same reasons. It has the same problems with subjectivity, generality, trivialization of people, false assumptions and so on. It also incorporates the same dangers. It is directly related to the occult in its origins, its goals, and its present use, including attempts to reach higher states of consciousness. One Enneagram critic says:

“Its occultic roots have not been thoroughly purged (if they can be), and it has opened itself to theological error and social and psychological misuse. The lack of scientific investigation means there are not controls to determine who actually is an expert, nor which advice is helpful or detrimental, nor whether the goals of the Enneagram system are sound.”[16]

The Enneagram is another gospel. It is a path of counterfeit salvation and should not be used by Christians.


Validity is the soul of any test that purports accuracy in what it claims to measure. In other words, can you trust the test to do what it claims to do?

In spite of the extensive use of the Enneagram tests for spiritual purposes, there is no evidence for its accuracy. We looked extensively in the academic literature and found no listing for any of the Enneagram tests for spiritual purposes. This includes the Mental Measurements Yearbook, Tests in Print, the Test Collection Bibliographies, and various academic data bases. We shared such information with a University of California professor who specializes in testing and measurement. The man is not a Christian, but his response is interesting. He said, “I would estimate the validity of such tests to be somewhere between reading tea leaves and the I Ching,” which is an ancient Chinese divination (occultic) text. When we asked him what he meant by that, he said one should never trust any psychological test that had not been subjected to the usual critical reviews— including a look at its validity

Jay Medenwaldt looked at the Enneagram from a psychometric point of view. Psychometrics is the study regarding theories and techniques of psychological measurement, including measuring intelligence, knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits, particularly having to do with individual differences. In his article “Is the Enneagram Legitimate for Spiritual Growth,” Medenwaldt addresses the claims of the promoters of the Enneagram and concludes:

“Is the Enneagram legitimate for spiritual growth? That is a question that is highly dependent on our own views of what is or is not legitimate. The overwhelming majority of scientific evidence shows that the Enneagram does not accurately describe how people are, how they think, how they act, or how they grow. It has negative effects that are often overlooked while most of its apparent positive effects can be explained through other psychological mechanisms.”[17]

Medenwaldt does a psychometric evaluation of the Enneagram in two articles titled “The Enneagram, Science, and Christianity.” He concludes Part 1 by saying, “For those who have studied psychometrics, it’s a no-brainer that the Enneagram simply cannot do all its proponents claim it can.” [18] And he concludes Part 2 by saying, “I think one of the draws of the Enneagram is that it’s self-help made easy, but unfortunately, there are no shortcuts for most changes (unless God supernaturally intervenes).”[19]

Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret

Between the time of our four temperaments book and now, there has been a skyrocketing interest in the Enneagram. Don and Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro examined Richard Rohr’s teachings and use of the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual growth and were alarmed. They realized that someone had to address these occult teachings being promoted for spiritual growth and wrote the book Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret. They do a commendable job of revealing the present-day popularity of the Enneagram and demonstrating biblically that it is forbidden fruit for believers.

Sixteen leading evangelicals have written endorsements for the book, and H. Wayne House, Distinguished Research Professor of Theology, Law, and Culture, has written the Foreword to the book. In his concluding paragraph he states:

“The teaching of the Enneagram is so far removed from the teaching of Scripture, that it becomes problematic to understand why evangelical publishing houses would even print these New Age books, unless they are just publishing what sells and not what follows Scripture and moves the Christian to be spiritually mature. Every major Christian doctrine regarding God, Jesus, salvation, and sanctification, et al, is denied, distorted, or assaulted by this occult religious teaching that attempts to robe itself in Christian dress. I commend Don and Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro for faithfully addressing and explaining this heretical departure from the Christian faith in the spirit of the Christian apologists of past centuries.”

We encourage you to click on the following URL: Scroll down and click on “Read Chapter 1—The Road Map” to read Chapter 1 of Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret.

We pray that many will examine these concerns about using the Enneagram for self-knowledge and/or spiritual growth, recognize the spiritual danger, and, if applicable, repent of falling prey to yet another deception from the serpent—the liar from the beginning who excels in the subtleties of psychoheresy.

[1] “What is DiSC,”

[2] Martin and Deidre Bobgan. Four Temperaments, Astrology & Personality Testing. Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 1992.


[4] Don Richard Riso. Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1987, pp. 12-13.

[5] Walter Sheer. “The Cosmology of the Fourth Way,” Gnosis, Summer 1991, p. 27. 48.

[6] . Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi. “Gurdjieff & Kabbalah: How Gurdjieff’s System relates to the Tree of Life,” Gnosis, Summer 1991, pp. 42-45.

[7] Riso, op. cit., p. 16. 50.

[8] Martin and Deidre Bobgan. The Psychological Way/ The Spiritual Way. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1979, pp. 104-108.

[9] Riso, op. cit., pp. 16-17.

[10]Ibid. and Don Richard Riso. Understanding the Enneagram: The Practical Guide to Personality Types. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1990.

[11] Riso, Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery, op. cit., p. 16.

[12] Helen Palmer. The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991, p. xvii.

[13] Riso, Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery, op. cit., p. 30.

[14] Palmer, op. cit., p. 38. 57.

[15] Arthur Hastings. With the Tongues of Men and Angels. Chicago: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1991, p. 95. 58.

[16] Mitchell Pacwa. “Tell Me Who I Am, O Enneagram,” Christian Research Journal, Fall 1991, p. 19.

[17] Jay Medenwaldt, “Is the Enneagram Legitimate for Spiritual Growth?”

[18] Jay Medenwaldt, “The Enneagram, Science, and Christianity,” Part 1,

[19] Jay Medenwaldt, “The Enneagram, Science, and Christianity,” Part 2,