The Enneagram: An Enlightening Tool or An Enticing Deception?
Chris Heuertz, in his book The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, states the Enneagram is a tool for excavating your essence or an enlightening tool to find your way back to yourself. Surely, this suggestion is but a lure to seduce one to enter into the Enneagram entanglement leading one to unbiblical deceptions.
Exactly what is an Enneagram? Marcia Montenegro in her excellent article: "The Enneagram GPS: Gnostic Path to Self" defines an Enneagram as: "An increasingly popular tool of personality analysis, … a diagram depicting numbers one through nine, with lines connecting each number to other numbers."
While some maintain the Enneagram has been around for centuries, its history can be traced to various areas and teachers. It's important to note that it has occult and devious origins.* However, the point of this article will not be to unravel its past use but to expose its present popularity.
Some Enneagram Experts
At the very epicenter of the current Enneagram movement is Franciscan priest Father Richard Rohr founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC). Back in the 70s, it was he who learned it from a Jesuit teacher. Rohr then shared his Enneagram teaching on ten tapes later writing his now classic book: Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey. Rohr avows it was the Enneagram that made him well-known.
Rohr has "disciples" that drink in his every word including: Ian Cron, Suzanne Stabile, Chris and Phileena Heuertz to name four. Since each of these has written recent Enneagram books or are key presenters or supporters of Enneagram programs, each of these Rohr mentees will be examined.
Who Is Ian Cron?
Episcopal priest Ian Cron is a best-selling author and psychotherapist. Along with Suzanne Stabile, he wrote the book: The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery. In chapter one "A Curious Theory of Unknown Origins," Cron relates how as a grad student he found Rohr's Enneagram book at a conservative seminary retreat. Upon showing it to his professor he was told to get rid of it. Cron confided, " … I was a young, impressionable evangelical, and though my gut told me my professor's reaction bordered on paranoid, I followed his advice." (p.14) Although, as Cron wrote, he didn't read the book until later when he was reintroduced to it by his spiritual director Br. Dave. Upon reading it, he tells how he discussed with Br. Dave his initial reactions to the Enneagram.
As they talked, Cron shared a Thomas Merton quote with him which read, "Sooner or later we must distinguish what we are not and what we are. … We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap showy garment it is … We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty, but also in its grand and very simple dignity created to be the child of God, and capable of loving with something of God's own sincerity and his unselfishness." (p.18)
Cron recalled how Br. Dave prayed a prayer using Irish John Donohue's poem: "Blessing for Solitude." (p.230) In the prayer Br. Dave repeated this phrase: "May you learn to see your self with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment." (p.19) Does scripture teach this? Not at all, for God sees us as sinners in need of a Savior or saved sinners in need of His direction.
Cron mentions "... by overidentifying who we are with our personality we forget or lose touch with our authentic self--the beautiful essence of who we are." (p.23) Cron continues, "... we have a God … (who) remembers who we are, the person he knit together in our mother's womb, and he wants to help restore us to our authentic selves. But the Bible tells us otherwise stating in Psalm 51:5: "Behold , I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
In summary, Cron a "champion of the Enneagram," and "pioneer in the contemporary Enneagram movement" tells us who he is in his "Manifesto." He begins with, "Today I will throw my hat into the ring of life." He continues, "I will stand on my own two feet and live my truth." Like so many, Cron will do his own thing and decide his own beliefs. Once again scripture reminds us that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me." A true believer does not get to live his own truth. Full of I, I, I, at the end Cron declares, "Today I will be my True Self." Reader, realize that this is where the Enneagram takes you--to find your own true self--this is its goal like the book title says The Road Back to You.
https://ianmorgancron.com/about/ and https://ianmorgancron.com/books/
The Enneagram Typology Podcast Episode 14
Ian Cron hosts an Enneagram podcast titled "Typology" for the nine personality types named in an Enneagram circle. In "Episode 014: Richard Rohr, Finally Getting Over Your 'Self' with the Enneagram Pt.1" Ian interviews Rohr. In his intro, Cron says of Rohr, "You are the preeminent voice in the pioneering of the Enneagram both in the world of the church and in the world of faith communities … and well beyond it."
To begin, Ian questioned Rohr as to how he came to play such a prominent role in the teaching of the Enneagram. Rohr responds that it was because he learned it so early (70s) through his spiritual director Fr. Jim O'Brien. At that time Enneagram teaching was kept within the Jesuit spiritual director world, but once Helen Palmer wrote her book, Rohr says the secret was out. And thereafter he went on to teach it.
At 11:58, Ian comments there's been a "tidal-wave of interest culturally and in church of personality identity" using the Enneagram. Ian queries, "What accounts for this?" Well, responds Rohr, its because we've done such a bad job of teaching Christians their "true identity." We didn't, he espouses, teach them about their image and its likeness of God.
Rohr goes on to say most "Christians" find their identity in their group or denomination and never understand who they themselves are. Rohr (This is the crux of this interview!) asserts we don't know our individual "Imago Dei" which cannot be given to us or taken away from us. This idea levels the "playing field of all humanity" says Rohr. Distinctions such as black and white, Catholic and Protestant, American and Canadian, or gay and straight do not mean anything. For the "true gospel," declares Rohr, "must be proclaimed that everything: humans, animals, or materials, is created in the image of a trinitarian and loving God." Therefore, avows Rohr, that settles all questions. For then we are all "universal children of God," and thus we are in "union" with all other children of God. Why? Because, says Father Rohr and his disciples, we all have the divine and the beautiful in us from the very start.
How contrary to the Biblical gospel that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that in order to become a child of God we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. In Enneagramism we don't have to, for it leads us to know we all, after working through our false self delusions to find our true selves, have always been lovely and good. Thus, there's really no need of a Savior nor his death on the cross.
Hear the podcast here:
Who Is Suzanne Stabile?
Suzanne Stabile, Cron's coauthor of the book The Road Back to You, is an internationally recognized Enneagram master, teacher, and author. Like Cron, Stabile is a great admirer of Father Richard Rohr, and one of Rohr's Enneagram disciples. After meeting Rohr, Stabile was so enamored with Rohr's Enneagram program, she studied under him consenting not to teach or share the material for five years.
Stabile relates she grew up in a loving Texan home where she attended a United Methodist Church. Later on she joined the Catholic Church for a time. Today she is married to Rev. Joseph Stabile who is a former Roman Catholic priest and now a United Methodist pastor.
At present, Stabile has conducted over 500 Enneagram workshops over the past 25 years speaking to all sorts of audiences at colleges, divinity schools, churches, and health centers. Besides, she's taught at CAC Rohr's contemplative center and even internationally at Assisi with Rohr himself.
In the Houston Chronicle article "Christians Rediscovering Ancient Enneagram" (Oct.8, 2016), Emily McFarlan Miller recorded that the Enneagram, an ancient personality system, had exploded in popularity in Christian circles. Miller met Cron and Stabile, authors of The Road Back to You, at a Chicago Enneagram conference.
Miller wrote that both authors encountered the Enneagram two decades ago through Franciscan priest Richard Rohr's book. Miller noted that Cron, at the time, "thought the Enneagram was 'genius,' and saw nothing in it that conflicted with the gospel."
Miller related Cron found fascinating, at the time of her writing, that even "the (conservative) evangelicals were completely fine with it." Stabile, Miller said, hoped that "... teaching people to learn about the way they see the world and eight other ways people see the world will encourage compassion." Stabile told Miller, "Our hope is that the book makes the world a more compassionate, more loving, and more generous place."
Who Is Chris Heuertz?
Chris Heuertz, a Rohr mentee and admirer, is another Enneagram enthusiast. Huertz, who hails from Omaha, Nebraska, came from a Catholic family that converted to Evangelicalism. Heuertz's parent's had six children. According to Jason Byassee in "On the Side of Hope" Heuertz's parents worked seven jobs at one time just to send them to private schools. Heuertz graduated from an Assembly of God high school and went on to Asbury College (now Asbury University).
Soon after graduation from Asbury, Heuertz joined Word Made Flesh ministry to work with the world's most vulnerable poor. This was how he landed in Calcutta, India working with Mother Teresa. Here he was later joined by his wife Phileena where they endeavored to save the world--not individuals. Ever after their Mother Teresa encounters, they promoted her belief the poor already had Jesus in them, and there was nothing one had to do but give them a dignified death. Therefore, no salvation gospel message need be shared.
Of the WMF organization Jason Byassee wrote: "Rejecting the idea that missionaries bring salvation and services to benighted poor people, WMF has learned … that the poor are Jesus. WMF or 'Fleshies' … do not necessarily seek to fix poverty or convert people. Their first intention is to seek friendship with the poor. And through that they seek, with their friends, to be converted anew to God."
The Heuertz' social justice work with WMF took them to Cambodia where Heuertz encountered the Enneagram. Fascinated, Heuertz later would delve into the Enneagram deeply, abandon his WMF community, establish the Gravity Center, and write a book entitled The Sacred Enneagram.
Who Is Phileena Heuertz?
Phileena Bacon Heuertz was two years behind Chris at Asbury College. Phileena also came from an evangelical family, her father being a Wesleyan Methodist pastor in the town of Beech Grove, Indiana.
While working with WMF, the Heuertzes began their contemplative journey upon meeting Father Thomas Keating of Snowmass, Colorado. From him they learned "centering prayer." The more they dipped into this contemplative path the further they separated from their evangelical backgrounds. Eventually, in 2012, they left the WMF to establish the Gravity Center for Contemplative Activism.
Throwing aside her evangelical Wesleyan past, Phileena converted to Catholicism for she believed its rituals, liturgy, and prayer practices would best enhance her "inner work" to shed her false self and find her true self.
Along the way, they also met Father Richard Rohr, and imbibed deeply from his teaching, and locked arms with him. Phileena today is on Rohr's CAC board. Rohr in turn has done the foreword to Phileena's recent book Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation. (2018-IVP Books)
Chris Heuertz' Book: The Sacred Enneagram (Zondervan, 2017)
In 2017, Christopher L. Heuertz wrote The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. (Zondervan). Its foreword was written by Father Richard Rohr, O.F.M. Rohr writes, "Chris Heuertz, my dear friend and confidante, has gone on his own journey of transformation, I am most happy to recommend his excellent book on the Enneagram to you. In its pages you will find excellent content, many new inisghts, and the compassion that genuine spirituality always provides … You will not be the same after you read this book." (p.11) Rohr also is an integral part of the Gravity Center, serving as a founding board member much like Phileena serves on his CAC board.
The afterword is written by Ryan O'Neal a singer-song writer of Sleeping At Last. O'Neal shares that Chris introduced both he and his wife to the Enneagram. As he became more interested in the Enneagram, he went on to create nine songs written for the nine Enneagram types. O'Neal opines, "I congratulate you … for having picked up such an important and life-giving book … Your heart will grow more empathetic toward yourself and others … and I believe you will find it easier … to see God's grace in the nine complex and endlessly beautiful Enneagram types which God so lovingly created." (pp.237-239) Notice that O'Neal speaks of the Enneagram as one might speak of the very Word of God. But, God did not create the Enneagram-- for the Enneagram is nothing but the work of men.
Heuertz' book is divided into three parts having ten chapters in all. Part III especially unlocks his agenda for the reader marrying the Enneagram to contemplative practices to achieve finding your true self. Chapter nine: "The Way Home: Mapping the Nine Types with New Ways to Pray" and chapter ten: "An Invitation to Inner Work: Getting Started in the Contemplative Journey." At the end Heuertz includes an "EnneaGlossary" which defines various Enneagram terms.
Further Examination of The Sacred Enneagram
Sacred Book? Sacred Enneagram? Sacred Map? Not! For there is but one book that is holy and sacred, and that is the very word of God. As Hebrews 4:12 reminds us: "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."
Scripture Quotations: A closer examination of the book shows that scripture quoted within its pages comes from The Inclusive Bible, c.2007 by Priests for Equality. Billed as the first equalitarian translation, a blurb on Amazon Books says "... it is a re-imagining of the scriptures and our relationship to them." It adds, "... it is a non-sexist way to express the same ancient truths." The "author" Priests for Equality is a movement of both men and woman that leaves sexism and exclusion behind for "equality."
Compare Chris' use of John 9:1-3 (IB) to (KJV): "As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, was it this individual's sin that caused the blindness, or that of the parents?" "Neither," answered Jesus. "It wasn't because of anyone's sin--not this person's or the parents' Rather, it was to let God's works shine forth in this person." (p.55) Here is the same passage in the KJV: "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answer, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
Rohr and More Rohr: Father Richard is featured in its foreword, in its pages, and on its back cover. Most certainly Rohr is and was the most influential mentor mentioned.
True Self: Of all the words repeated throughout the book, the term "true self" is the most often noted. For the very core of the book's message is to hammer home that through the Enneagram and contemplative practices one may excavate one's essence or true self finding it virtuous and beloved.
Diagrams, Charts: Throughout the book there are over one hundred diagrams of Enneacircles and Enneacharts. And there's even more in its "Appendix 2." Of them all, the one that caught my attention is "Virtue Structure." (p.108) This "map key" consists of five balls with the top ball labeled on the left "Essential Nature (True Self)" and on the right "Original Virtue." The bottom ball is labeled "Passion or Fixation" on the left and "Virtue Addictions" on the right. Of this chart, Heuertz writes, "I … emphasize Virtue because when we do return to our essence … Our Virture is the lingering fragrance of our essential purity; it is what makes each of us beautiful. ... Of course, returning to our Virtue is familiar, like a homecoming, because it is who we have always been." (p.109)
Contemplative Prayers: In chapter ten, "An Invitation to Inner Work," Heuertz introduces the reader to three prayers one may use "as an onramp to the … Christian contemplative tradition." (p.227-234) Introduced first is Centering Prayer: "Praying with the Feeling Center." Of its relationship to the Enneagram he states, "Centering prayer … is easily aligned with each specific Enneagram type, but even more it may be among the most effective in confronting the root additions of each of the Enneagram's Intelligence Centers." (pp.228-229) Second is St. Ignatius of Loyola's "The Examen: Praying with the Head Center." Last is, "The Welcoming Prayer: Praying with the Instinctive Body Center" whose creator was Mary Mrozowski.
Further reading reveals that mystic Mrozowski was a Catholic lay contemplative who in 1983 attended the first ever "Centering Prayer" retreat experiment at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico. It was she who helped found the "Contemplative Outreach Ltd." She was also founder of the "Chrysalis House" which became "an incubator" of contemplative prayer practices especially "Centering Prayer." She was close to and encouraged by the late Father Thomas Keating. Notice all three prayers, no where taught in Scripture, were man's creations Centering Prayer: Keating, Pennington, Meninger; The Examen: Ignatius; and The Welcoming Prayer: Mrozowski.
The Gravity Center
To unpack the Heuertz' Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism is to know why the Enneagram, and all their teachings are far anything Biblical. Of "Gravity," its web page reports, "grounds social change in contemplative spirituality, to do good better."
Its site touts three types of retreats that help cultivate "mindfulness and rest:" Grounding, Deepening, and Enlightening. In addition Gravity provides "Spiritual Direction" for companionship and guidance for one's journey. Besides, Gravity offers "Enneagram One-on-One" to dismantle one's illusions about one's self or revelation of one's True Self or Essence. To top that, there's "Weekly Contemplative Prayer Sits" every Wednesday at 4:00PM CST.
The site highlights Chris' "Enneagram Exploratory Workshop" which they claim will help one reveal their best and truest self to help heal a world in need. Billed for: "... the Enneagram curious to the seasoned enthusiast, The Sacred Enneagram one-day is for anyone who cares about nurturing a deep spirituality rooted in self-awareness."
Gravity also lists "Enneagram Experts" with whom appointments may be made. Just a glance down the list of so-called specialists would raise flags for a discerning Christian. Here's a description of one--"An Interspiritual Unity minister that believes in innate wholeness, perfection, and divinity of all people--irrespective of one's belief or religion, background or age, race or nationality, gender identification or orientation."
Phileena Heuertz' Book: Mindful Silence (IVP 2018)
Phileena came out with her own book, Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation. Its foreword, just like her husband's book, was written by Father Richard Rohr, OFM. Now, this book is not specifically about the Enneagram but she highlights it, and one must remember that for every Enneagram type they are suggesting you use one of Phileena's contemplative practices. Not only that, this book gives one a window into the world of who Phileena and Chris have become today.
Mindful Silence* has eight chapters bookended with Rohr's foreword and Kirsten Powers' afterword. The chapters begin with "Sleepwalking" and ends with "Waking Up." At the start of each chapter Phileena quotes a scripture verse and below a quote from a contemplative master. Each chapter highlights a specific spiritual teacher or mentor as well as specific prayer practice to explore.
* Christianese for secular term: "mindfulness."
In "Sleepwalking" she features her mentor teacher Father Thomas Keating. At the end of the chapter is its "Practice: Be Still." This simple prayer introduces us, admonishes Phileena, to "the posture of letting go", a key to all contemplative practice. This is the prayer using: "Be still, and know I am God." This begins by praying the whole phrase, and finally ending with: "Be!" Incidentally, Phileena says she learned this prayer from Father Richard Rohr. However, to pray this verse in this way is no where taught in scripture. Jesus in the Gospels gave us the "Lord's Prayer" to pray prefacing it this way, "After this manner pray ye...." And it wasn't to take us into stillness! (pp.28-29)
In this chapter she also puts in a plug for the Gravity Center's Enneagram program explaining how "incredibly helpful" the Enneagram is for "spiritual development." She assures one that using the Enneagram is a crucial part of "expanding consciousness." She says, "While the Enneagram reveals your personality, it is different from other personality profiles in that is links to your 'childhood wound.'" She also avows, "The Enneagram is a powerful resource for the contemplative path, for as it deconstructs the false self, it simultaneously reveals your true self." (p.23)
The following chapters: "Withdrawing to Engage, Finding Liberation by Discernment, Discovering Darkness Is Light, Exploring a Deep Well, Dying for Life, and Unknowing to Know," which she labels "touchstones of contemplative spirituality," highlight Thomas Merton, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Clare of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and the unknown author of The Cloud of Unknowing. (p.27) Ending each chapter she describes either breath prayer, the prayer of examen, lectio divina, labyrinth, the welcoming prayer, or centering prayer for readers to investigate. (p.28)
"Waking Up," the last chapter, describes Phileena's ongoing search "to live into her divine nature" as she took time for "a hermitage" at the Lama Foundation a spiritual community near Taos, New Mexico. However, the Lama Foundation is tied to a well-known spiritual teacher and New Age Hindu guru Ram Dass who wrote Be Here Now. For more on Lama and Dass read Phileena's blog: "'Hermitage Part 4: "What Is the Lama Foundation?'" Just this blog alone shows how Phileena has delved into numerous devious practices, so far removed from the gospel, that any one listening to or reading either her teaching or her husband's materials should be warned of their deceptions.
Gravity Retreat Showcasing Mirabai Starr's Wild Mercy
While a July 19-21, 2019 Gravity Enlightening Retreat* to be held at The Benedictine Retreat Center in Schuyler, NE, is not about Enneagrams, but about introducing retreatants to mystic and contemplative Mirabai Starr's new book Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Mercies of the Woman Mystics it further exposes where contemplative activism has taken Chris and Phileena in their quest to find their "truest selves," or "Godselves."
*Listen to the short (4:30) video "Hearing the Voice of Love" with Phileena here:https://gravitycenter.com/join/retreats/enlightening-retreat/ Scroll down to read about the retreat.
Wild Mercy speaks of women mystics from every religious background -Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Mary Magadalene, Sophia, the Shekinah, Song of Songs, Rabia, Fatima, Tara, Quan Yin, Kali, and indigenious Mother goddesses. Upon viewing the list, three words from I Corinthians 10:14 jump out: "Flee from idolatry!" Incidentally, Chris and Phileena spoke along side of Mirabai Starr at a Richard Rohr 2015 "Conspire Conference" at CAC. And Phileena writes glowingly of listening to Mirabai and being moved to tears in her blog "Tears and Kale."
It's heart breaking that Chris and Phileena, once Evangelical, have slipped so far as to be inviting a mystical teacher such as Mirabai Starr with a book foreword by New Age Carolyn Myss, to a retreat. This is where contemplative prayer practices can lead. For Phileena reminds one of author Sue Monk Kidd, a Baptist Sunday School teacher, who after reading Father Thomas Merton and engaging in silence, contemplation, and monastery trips later found herself honoring a Pagan goddess.
In the End: The Enneagram or The Word of God?
The Enneagram claims to teach one their personality type from Type One: "The Perfectionist" to Type Nine: "The Peacemaker." (The Road Back to You p.7 ) It focuses endlessly on one's self through self-awareness, self-observation, self-motivation, self-knowledge, self-wound, self-this, and self-that. For as II Timothy 3:2 states, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves." Through the 'Sacred Enneagram' it is said at the end, we'll discover that underneath all our failures of our false selves we'll uncover our essence, that true self enabling us to make our world a better and more compassionate place.
On the other hand, God's view of ourselves is that at our core we are sinners for Romans 3:23 declares, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: …." Therefore, we need to believe not in the power of the Enneagram, but in a Savior who can save us from ourselves and our sins. Scripture says: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9)
In the end, it is through the Word of God, not the Enneagram, where we can find out who we are and what we must do. In I Corinthians 2:5 Paul tells us: "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." And as Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom …" not the Enneagram!
Learn to Discern Granny Verse: Colossians 2:8
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."