Richard Rohr and the Enneagram

This chapter on the Enneagram is a summary of the book, Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret, by Don & Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro, published by MCOI Publishing LLC in 2022, followed by material from Wikipedia. 

The word Enneagram is pronounced like “any-a-gram.” The symbol for it is a geometric design that can be seen on a page or two ahead. I will not speak much to the meaning of the design but will leave that to Wikipedia. There are any number of websites that present the Enneagram in detail. 

The Enneagram has garnered a lot of attention in recent times. There are many who have found atheism unattractive and empty, agnosticism also empty, mainline Christianity unappealing, evangelical Christianity political and divisive, Pentecostal Christianity a bit too much, but the psychic and the occult spiritually interesting, even exciting. The Enneagram is not necessarily spiritual, but has strong spiritual, even, psychic connections. 

The Origins of the Enneagram 

As to the origins of Enneagram, and more will be presented about this, those who promote it say it is an ancient practice thousands of years old and only recently becoming popular and attractive. Some say it goes back to the Desert Fathers, Evagrius Ponticus, or Ramon Llull, but this is considered to be a fictional claim. It is likely that attention to the Enneagram began with George I. Gurdjieff (1866–1949), and his followers claimed he learned it from a secret Sufi brotherhood, but this idea is likely false, though he did have a drawing of a circle with lines drawn within it, like the modern-day Enneagrams but without numbers. 

P. D. Ouspensky (1878–1947) accepted Gurdjieff’s ideas, expanded on them, and the result was his “The Fourth Way.” 1 

1 See Don and Joy Veinot & Maria Montenegro’s book, Richard Rohr and The Enneagram Secret, pages 24–25. Also Gurdjieff’s work was  continued or adopted by Oscar Ichazo (1931–2020), who operated an occult-oriented school in Arica, Chile. Ichazo expanded on both Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s work. 

Then more recently, Claudio Naranjo, a new age psychiatrist, learned the Enneagram from Ichazo, and it was he who added the personality types and this via automatic writing, which is experienced while in a trance. So who then is the real author of the writing? My position, based on many accounts from those who experienced automatic writing, is that it was a demonic spirit who “wrote” while they were in a trance state. And this is the whole of it: the Enneagram is essential from Satan, though it is far different from the obvious magical and mystical. 

Things went south however when Naranjo brought the Enneagram, as it was then, to Esalen, a kind of New Age think tank in Big Sur, California in the 1960s, and this is where the Enneagram developed into a pseudo-psychotherapeutic-psychic event, with the promise that it would uncover one’s true divine self. 

At Esalen was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest named Bob Ochs (1930-2018) who learned the Enneagram from Naranjo. It was Ochs then who introduced it to the Roman Catholic Church where it was adopted by other Catholic priests. The Roman Catholic Church however, never endorsed it. 

Now enters Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest, Franciscan Order, who wrote a book about the Enneagram, and in it he mentions Helen Palmer, a psychic/ intuitive who was involved with the Enneagram. 

Another Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest, Mitch Pacwa (1949- ), wrote the book, Catholics and the New Age: How Good People are Being Drawn into Jungian Psychology, the Enneagram and the Age of Aquarius, and he did this in order to make others aware of the spiritual danger of it all. 

In the years to come, two books would be written by students and followers of Richard Rohr. One by Ian Cron, an Episcopal priest and Suzanne Stabile, both of whom were mentored by Rohr. They authored The Road Back to You, published by InterVarsity Press in 2016. Two, Christopher Heuertz (1971- ) wrote the book The Sacred Enneagram, and this was published by Zondervan in 2017. Richard Rohr wrote the foreword for this book. 

It is a shame that two established Christian publishers, InterVarsity Press and Zondervan, would present these books to the Christian public. In 1973, Zondervan published my first book, A Manual of Demonology and the Occult, but Zondervan today is far different from the Zondervan of the 1970s. And InterVarsity, up to the publication of the Cron and Stabile book, disappointed a host of Christians. 

Richard Rohr, despite being a Catholic priest, denies the biblical doctrines about human beings, sin, creation, salvation, and of God. Rohr even says the Enneagram diagram is called “the face of God.”174 Pathways to Darkness The Enneagram is similar to numerology, astrology, and other forms of for- tune telling that rely on mystical, occultic forms of thinking. What is the Enneagram? It is said to be “sacred” by Christopher Heuertz and is able to give people their own unique spiritual path. It is said to be “The Road Back to You.” The supposition underlying the Enneagram is that people act as they do because they are living their “false self,” and the goal is to get people back to the “sacred” path – the road that leads to our true self, and the Enneagram is the way to this true self. (Figure 1 below) Above is the essential Enneagram, with its nine points. The numbers are treated differently by “spiritual directors.” Below is a chart explaining the nine points. Point 1 Reformer The Perfectionist The Need to be Perfect Point 2 Helper The Giver The Need to be Needed Point 3 Achiever The Performer The Need to Succeed Point 4 Individualist The Romantic The Need to be Special Point 5 Investigator The Observer The Need to Perceive Point 6 Loyalist The Loyal Sceptic The Need to be Sure Point 7 Enthusiast The Epicure The Need to Avoid Pain Point 8 Challenger The Protector The Need to be Against Point 9 Peacemaker The Mediator The Need to Avoid The person working with a “patient” will use the Enneagram by analyz- ing the numbers and combinations thereof to come up with how a person can experience a trnsformation of consciousness and thus get back toe their true self. And unhappily, some evangelical Christians are looking to the Enneagram for this.

2 Christopher L. Heuertz. The Sacred Enneagram (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017). 3 Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile. The Road back to You. An Emmeagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Downers Grove IL; InterVarsity Press. 22016)175 

This quote from Wikipedia, on July 22, 3-2022, 4:50pm, speaks to how a practitioner goes about it: 

As a typology, the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes called “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which indicate connections between the types. There are some different schools of thought among Enneagram teachers and their understandings are not always in agreement. 

Practitioners use various means to determine if a person is a point 1, 2, and so on, and then connect the various points, and a chart develops, which describes how it is that a person can come back to their true self, and these vary widely. And it all depends upon spiritual, mystical truths long hidden. 

My opinion, after a little more than 50 years in the pastorate, is that unknown numbers of people sitting in the pews of Christian churches, everything from moderate to evangelical to Pentecostal, have unwittingly and unknowingly experienced false conversion and are thus open to new spiritualities, something to fill in the dead, empty space inside. 

The authors, Don and Joy Veinot and Marcia Montenegro, note that those who promote and teach the Enneagram to Christians have a sincere desire to help them. But the real issue is directing others to the Enneagram really helpful? Or is it, in fact, dangerous? 

My opinion again is that the Enneagram opens a person up to a spirituality that is not at all biblical, that is not something revealed by our Creator, but is a turning to something entirely different. 

There is in fact another spirituality present in the universe and that is the kingdom of Satan, which presents a false spirituality, and at the same time, a very real spirituality. Indeed, the channelers, the mediums, the psychics, and much more, have tapped into a powerful and alluring reality. 

That which Emerges from Within 

Richard Rohr and many others identify with some form of Christianity and thus have a broad audience before them. Our authors point out that such was the case in 1st century Ephesus. Paul, in Acts 20:30, said “from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” And this is the case with the Enneagram. Rohr himself, perhaps the most significant presenter of the Enneagram, is a Franciscan priest in the Roman Catholic Church, who played a key role in introducing the Enneagram to Christian churches, including evangelical ones. 

The same can be said for many others, including InterVarsity Press, Zondervan, and others, publishing books that promote the Enneagram. 

Dating the Enneagram 

Some like to claim that the Enneagram pre-dated Christianity, some say it emerged out of Christianity. It is suggested it originated in Egypt, or that it was known prior to Homer and his Odyssey. Some point to a Evagrius of Pontus, 345-399 A.D. But the Veinots and Montenegro state it can be shown that the Enneagram did not exist prior to 1916, but that the “link between the symbol and the text can be fairly confidently dated as occurring for the first time in c. 1969.” 

That the Enneagram did not emerge out of any form of Christianity is quite clear. 

Christopher Heuertz writes, “Regardless of whether the Enneagram has its roots in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, we do know that it wasn’t until the early 1900s that an Eastern Orthodox man, G. I. Gurdjieff, introduced the modern form of the Enneagram to the Western World.” 

4 Christopher L. Heuertz. The Sacred Enneagram (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 2017), pg. 43, Kindle Edition. 

What Rohr Says about the origin of the Enneagram 

Richard Rohr teamed with Andreas Ebert, in 1990, to write the book Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey. It was published by Crossroad Publishing Company, New York. In the preface to that book Rohr calls the Enneagram “a very ancient Christian tool for the discernment of spirits, for the struggle with our capital sin, our ‘False Self’ and the encounter with our ‘True Self’ in God.”5 

5 Page 71 in Richard Rohr and the Enneagram Secret.

Rohr is convinced that the Enneagram is another “sword of the Holy Spirit,” and so this has greatly impacted significant bodies of Christians and opened them up to working with Enneagram. 

It is well established that Rohr is panentheistic in his theological views, that is, one who believes that God is in all, or that Christ is actually in everything, even plants, animals, and every person regardless of what the people believe. Rohr does not hide the fact he is a panentheist, but he claims it, and that by working with the Enneagram, this can be realized. And a big part of that elucidation is that the only real sin is thinking we are separated from God: the truth is that everyone is in Christ, Christian or not. 

Necessarily then Rohr teaches that there is a difference between Jesus and The Christ, and he began saying this in 2009. There is the historical Jesus, which is the subject of the Gospels, but Paul speaks of the Christ. Jesus is the microcosm while Christ is the macrocosm. So then, Jesus is limited, he is born in time, while The Christ is eternal. 

Richard Rohr, besides being a panentheist is also a perennialist, meaning that there is one Divine Reality at the center of all religions. This means that no one needs any kind of salvation since all are “in Christ.” Indeed, all the world’s religions have the same truth and all that is needed is for people to realize this. And the Enneagram can move one toward this ultimate concept. 

A group of Catholic apologists called Catholic Answers says the following about Richard Rohr: 

The Christ whom Rohr preaches is not the authentic Jesus, and his related proclamation of the gospel is not the one that the Church has proclaimed and safeguarded for 2,000 years with the power of Holy Spirit. As a result, Rohr remains an unreliable and spiritually dangerous guide for Catholic and non-Catholic alike.6 

6 Tom Nash. “A Primer on Richard Rohr” Catholic Answers website; https://

Conclusionary statement 

The primary reason for the inclusion of this chapter on the Enneagram, featuring Richard Rohr, is due to his popularity in what may be called Progressive Christianity and which is now spreading into evangelical Christianity. 

It is not a simple thing to criticize, debunk, and accuse persons and organizations that are within the broad Christian family. Yet we find both Jesus and other writers of Scripture, mostly Paul, and other great followers of Jesus down through the ages, finding it necessary to stand against error. This entire book you are reading is engaged with this task, because so many well-meaning and loving people have fallen prey to strange belief systems— thus warnings must be sounded, and this out of love and concern. 

Before moving on to material found on Wikipedia, Richard Rohr is also hoping to connect with 12 Step Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. There is a spiritual dimension to these programs that is not truly Christian, but adopting what Rohr is offering will, in my opinion, spiral participants into a dangerous, albeit spiritual, dimension, even further from Biblical truth. 

Excerpts from Wikipedia 

Wikipedia, July 17, 2022 

The Enneagram of Personality, or simply the Enneagram (from the 178 

Greek words ἐννέα [ennéa, meaning “nine”] and γράμμα [grámma, meaning something “written” or “drawn”]), is a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. 

Although the origins and history of many of the ideas and theories associated with the Enneagram of Personality are a matter of dispute, contemporary Enneagram theories are principally derived from the teachings of the Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo from the 1950s and the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo from the 1970s. Naranjo’s theories were also influenced by some earlier teachings about personality by George Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way tradition. 

As a typology, the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes called “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which indicate connections between the types. There are some different schools of thought among Enneagram teachers and their understandings are not always in agreement. 

The Enneagram of Personality has been widely promoted in both business management and spirituality contexts through seminars, conferences, books, magazines, and DVDs. In business contexts it is generally used as a typology to gain insights into workplace interpersonal dynamics; in spirituality it is more commonly presented as a path to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment. Both contexts say it can aid in self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-development. 

There has been limited formal psychometric analysis of the Enneagram, and the peer-reviewed research that has been done has not been widely accepted within the relevant academic communities. Though the Enneagram integrates concepts generally accepted in a theory of personality, it has been dismissed by some personality assessment experts as pseudoscience. 

The Enneagram has also received criticism from some religious perspectives. In 2000, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine produced a draft report on the origins of the Enneagram to aid bishops in their evaluation of its use in their dioceses. The report identified aspects of the intersection between the Enneagram and Roman Catholicism which, in their opinion, warranted scrutiny with potential areas of concern, stating, “While the enneagram system shares little with traditional Christian doctrine or spirituality, it also shares little with the methods and criteria of modern science… The burden of proof is on proponents of the enneagram to furnish scientific evidence for their claims.” Partly in response to some Jesuits and members of other religious orders teaching a Christian understanding of the Enneagram of Personality, a 2003 Vatican document called Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. A Christian Reflection on the ‘New Age’ said that the 179 

Enneagram “when used as a means of spiritual growth introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith”. However, on July 1, 2022, Pope Francis expressed enthusiastic support for the work of Catholic Enneagram author Richard Rohr. 

To find out how the Enneagram works, go to the following website: 

It is a complex progress and too lengthy to be included here. 

Wikipedia, July 15, 2022 

Richard Rohr, OFM (born 1943) is an American Franciscan priest and writer on spirituality based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. In 2011, PBS called him “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world”. 

According to Douglas Groothuis, professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary, Rohr is basing his teachings on Eastern mysticism rather than biblical Christianity by preaching to find our “true self” instead of knowing a savior distinct from the self. Groothuis argues that Rohr’s fundamental claims about the “universal Christ” and Pantheistic worldview subvert the “biblical worldview with most egregious errors”, he adds, Rohr manipulates the scriptures to support his pantheistic or panentheistic worldviews, rather than monotheism i.e. creation and creator or God are different entities with infinite separation according to Christian theology, however Rohr contradicts this doctrine, states Groothuis. Groothuis further says that the writings of Rohr parallel New Age christologies which, he says, misread the biblical texts. Rohr’s reference to creation as the first incarnation of “the universal Christ” was highly criticized by Groothuis who argues that this contradicts the biblical doctrine. Groothuis says that Rohr distorts the gospel since his emanational metaphysics is based on perennial tradition. 

Erwin Lutzer, an evangelical pastor, has criticized Rohr for promoting universalism and a New Age spirituality which eschews specific doctrines and basic biblical teaching. Regarding Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance, Lutzer says the book “is not about the Trinity, but rather Rohr imaginatively uses Trinitarian language in order to give a backdrop to his own eclectic spiritual teaching”. 

William P. Young, a Christian author, has commented on Rohr’s ideas, saying that people who are frustrated with their churches might misread Rohr’s works as advocating a vague spirituality which is disconnected from the orthodox and scriptural understanding of Christ. According to Young, “The danger of universalism is nothing matters, especially Jesus”. He adds that “Some of Rohr’s followers can read it that way”. Furthermore, Rohr shares an incident where a group of local Catholics secretly recorded his sermons to have him excommunicated. They delivered the tapes to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then Archbishop of Cincinnati, who reviewed them and determined that they were within the bounds of the Church’s teachings. 

According to Rohr’s teachings, a person does not have to follow Jesus or practices of tenets of any formal religion to come by salvation, rather just have to “fall in love with the divine presence, under whatever name” which, he says, is welcomed by people who are disillusioned with the conservative churches which preaches that nonbelievers would go to Hell. The Perennial Tradition, or Perennial Philosophy, forms the basis of much of Rohr’s teaching; the essential message of his work focuses on the union of divine reality with all things and the human potential and longing for this union. Rohr and other 21st-century spiritual leaders explore the Perennial Tradition in the Center for Action and Contemplation’s issue of the publication Oneing

Influences on Rohr outside of Christian sources include Buddhism and Hinduism, Gandhi, Carl Jung, Spiral Dynamics, the Enneagram of Personality, and Integral Theory. 

If you, the reader, are interested in learning more technical details about the Enneagram of Personality, they are readily available on the internet at

Leave a Reply