The Enneagram and Gospel Freedom
Beth McCord, creator of Your Enneagram Coach, has this to say:
"This ancient symbol has been around for thousands of years, and people have interpreted it in many different ways. In fact, when I was first introduced to the Enneagram back in 2000, there was only one Christian Enneagram book in existence! We are lucky that today there are a few more Gospel-centered Enneagram resources.
Why do I think it’s so important to approach the Enneagram with our faith in Jesus front and center? I’m glad you asked! To be honest, without grace, the Enneagram could be downright depressing for every Type. It’s because this tool illuminates our hearts’ intent. While it reveals each of our strengths, motivations and heart longings, it also reveals our core fears, weaknesses, insecurities and sin tendencies. Those parts are not so flattering, acting as our Achilles’ heels and causing pain and frustration in our hearts and relationships.
As an Enneagram Coach, I could guide you in how to discover your Type, accelerate your growth and move forward with integrity and knowledge until we’re both blue in the face, but the only reason any of my tools and truths work is because of Jesus and what he did for us. It’s not enough to know our personalities and why we do the things we do without heart transformation, and that only comes through the perfect, completed work of Christ. In short, we have to know not only who we are, but also whose we are in order to experience true growth and freedom.
Who Am I?
Through His Word, God shows us time and again that he deeply cares about our hearts’ motives. That’s why we use the Enneagram to look not just at our external behaviors, but also our interior worlds. In Mark 7:1-23, the self-righteous Pharisees believed that if they ingested uncleanliness from the outside it would make them unclean, or corrupt, on the inside. But Jesus pointed out that what is unclean is already inside of each of us, our sinful hearts. As Pastor Matt Chandler put it, “You don’t do sinful acts that make you a sinner. You’re already a sinner, so you do sinful acts.”
Matthew 15:18 says, “but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” We must realize that the heart of our problem is the problem of our heart! The role of the Holy Spirit is to reveal truth, both the wisdom of God’s Word and our need for Jesus Christ. As we “walk in the Spirit,” we participate in transformation. We can fall into the same error as the Pharisees if we only focus on obeying externally without understanding our hearts.
Whose Am I?
Once we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are in Christ, making us his Beloved sons and daughters and heirs to His throne. When we know that we’re all made in His image, we can explore the amazing variety of personality types he gave us with grace and forgiveness instead of shame and condemnation. The Enneagram is a powerful tool we can use to better understand ourselves and others, and view life in a more meaningful way. But it’s only through finding our identity in Christ that we’ll experience true freedom in everyday life and relationships.
The Enneagram and Gospel Hope
I believe that once we know ourselves more intimately, we will be able to understand the Gospel in deeper and richer ways. The Enneagram can help us hear the Gospel and its truths in our “mother tongue,” or our personality Type’s language, helping our heart to better receive it. This brings tremendous power to our walk with God! I have been on this Enneagram journey for nearly 18 years now, and I continue to find beauty and experience transformation as I look at myself and others through a Gospel lens.
My prayer for you is that you will first know, believe, and trust in your identity in Christ. In Him, you are completely forgiven and set free. When God looks at you now, he is satisfied by Christ’s finished work and he sees his most cherished child. This knowledge will radically change you and spill over into all your relationships.
I also pray that as you explore the Enneagram, you’ll see yourself with astonishing clarity and break free from self-condemnation, fear and shame because of the unconditional love, forgiveness and freedom you have in Christ. I hope you will see how apart from Christ, each personality Type is running away from its Core Fear, running towards its Core Desire, stumbling over its Core Weakness, and thirsty to hear its Core Longing.
When we’re not resting in the Gospel, we think, feel, and behave in particular ways that harm ourselves and others. But by the grace of God, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us navigate our internal worlds and bring our personality Types back to their healthiest paths. God reveals to us, both in knowledge and experience, the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As the Gospel penetrates our hearts, we can find soul refreshment despite any of life’s burdens or trials." (See Your Enneagram Coach.com for more.)
AJ Sherrill in The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation, says, "The real gift of this personality theory is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the gateway to almost all life change. Although not salvific, self-knowledge is immensely helpful as we endeavor toward transformational growth....The Enneagram is a theory that yields self-awareness by providing a window into one's self, a means of peering into one's motivations and fears. With this critical self-understanding, one can then orient daily practices and regular rhythms with the possibility of transformation into Christlikeness...
the Enneagram is not a New Age tool. Nor is the Enneagram a "Christian" tool. The Enneagram is a human tool. Think of the Enneagram like we think of money. Money is a tool. It is neither evil nor good. Money is neutral. It all depends on how you use it. Regardless of race, religion, gender, culture, socioeconomics, or orientation, the Enneagram can be helpful to anyone, anywhere. Although it is not distinctly Christian, the Enneagram can be leveraged to cultivate the Christian life." "It is not Jesus." It is not the solution to life's riddles. It is not the decoder of the deep mysteries. It is not "your best life now." But as a tool, it has proven to be incredibly useful in revealing what motivates our behavior as humans and in showing whether our choices are leading to health and wholeness."
There are 4 podcasts on Your Enneagram Coach Podcast that address: The Christian Approach to Using the Enneagram #64 #65 #66, What is the Enneagram Without the Gospel? #79.
Here's a helpful article about Christians using the Enneagram: