Sep 05, 2017 by Isabella Cox

A Look at the 'Enneagram' and Its Growing Popularity Among Christians

An obscure, mystical method of personality typing called the 'Enneagram' is slowly gaining popularity among Christians, and a new book is shedding some light into what is so alluring about the ancient spiritual tool. 

Religion News' Jonathan Merritt recently interviewed Chris Heuertz, who is the author of The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. Heuertz instructs workshops on the Enneagram around the world and believes it is an important tool towards spiritual self-discovery, a term many Christians would resist. 

In his words, the Enneagram "illustrates the nine archetypal human character structures, the nine beautifully flawed ways of being us. The Enneagram shows us our ego’s set of coping addictions that we’ve wrapped up around a childhood wound so that we don’t have to be truthful about the pain it’s caused us. Until we’re honest about this, we lie to ourselves and others about who we really are."

The Enneagram is often depicted using a diagram of overlapping circles, which represents the different personality types. Heuertz believes this system can be used to grow spiritually and connected us deeper to God, regardless of our religion. 

"As a sacred map to our soul, the Enneagram is a blueprint for developing character that each of us carries throughout our life, but one that we don’t open until we discover our type."

These are the nine Enneagram personality types, which are typified by "needs". 

1. The Need to Be Perfect
2. The Need to Be Needed
3. The Need to Succeed
4. The Need to Be Special (or Unique)
5. The Need to Perceive (or Understand)
6. The Need to Be Sure/Certain
7. The Need to Avoid Pain
8. The Need to Be Against
9. The Need to Avoid

When asked what makes the "map" sacred, rather than simply another personality test like the Meyer-Briggs, Heuertz believes the Enneagram gives us insight into not just what type of person we are, but what we can become. 

"I believe it’s sacred because as a map of our soul it’s a compassionate sketch of possibilities," he says. "The Enneagram is less about nine “types of people” and more about nine paths back to our true selves and nine paths to divine love."

The Enneagram's origin is unknown, however, it has been associated with and used in spiritual thought from Peruvian shamans to Sufism to Buddhism. As mystic and new age as the Enneagram is, it is gaining surprising popularity among conservative evangelicals. Heuertz believes this comes from a sort of "boredom" evangelicals have with their religious traditions. 

"I sort of wonder if the evolved evangelical is getting a little worn out from the same old literal bible study interpretations of stuff," he says. "At least Catholicism can appeal to tradition and saints. I wonder if some evangelicals have gotten bored with what their tradition offers, and therefore, they find a deeper and more contemplative system like the Enneagram appealing."

Follow us on Facebook: