Richard Rohr’s Version of the Enneagram

By: Rev. Clete Hux

For many in evangelicalism, the contemplative movement is enhanced by the growing practice of the Enneagram in the church. I know it sounds anti-Catholic, but it is from such background that the contemplative movement has come, and Richard Rohr with the Enneagram is no exception. Rohr has said that “Until someone has had some level of mystical inner spiritual experience, there is no point in asking them to follow in any life changing way the ethical ideas of Jesus or the mystery of the Christian doctrines like the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, Salvation, or Incarnation. We simply don’t have the power to really understand or follow any of Jesus’ ideals such as loving others, forgiving enemies, nonviolence or the humble use of power except in and through a mystical union with God.” 5

To many young evangelical Christians, Rohr has become the new Merton. One of his publishers told Rohr that his single biggest demographic is young evangelicals. Rohr himself was amazed because some of his books were philosophically heavier than that which is typical of young evangelicals! 6

As with other contemplatives, Rohr appears to embrace religious pluralism by championing the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. Basically calling for a religion that needs a new language, he would advocate a one-world religion of mysticism. Using some of the same verbiage of emergent leaders such as Rob Bell and Brian McLaren, Rohr stated “Right now is an emergence…it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.”7

Rohr has promoted new agers such as Marianne Williamson who wrote the very well-known New Age text, A Course in Miracles. This is very understandable because the New Age Movement embraces the same non-dualistic worldview as Rohr. As is pointed out by Peter Jones, this is the same worldview that mystics of all religions embrace and is Eastern in origin, promoting a one is all/all is one worldview. Jones further points out that Rohr, in the fall of 2010, taught a course, “SP761: Action and Contemplation” in the D. Min program at Fuller Theological Seminary.8 Since that time, further penetration of Rohr’s teachings has flooded evangelicalism.

Last year Sean McDowell did an interview with Dr. Chris Berg, a graduate of the Biola/Talbot Apologetics program, who did his doctoral dissertation on the Enneagram. Berg dismissed the belief that the Enneagram came from Christian mystic sources. Instead, he, like others such as Marcia Montenegro, an expert on the occult, show its roots originate with early founders of the New Age Movement which is both pantheistic and panentheistic. In comparing it to the New Age, Berg told McDowell that the advice the Enneagram gives is virtually indistinguishable from advice given by horoscopes, astrology, and numerology. In addition, Berg also shared that Rohr denies a number of essential Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, and of Jesus as the unique Messiah, instead asserting that all people can attain Christ-consciousness (recognition of one’s own status as being a Christ).9

I mentioned earlier that the biggest danger one is exposed to in mysticism is the subtle erosion of the Creator/creature distinction. Consequently, God is viewed as the oneness of all things and synonymous with or dwelling in all things. This is pantheistic, panentheistic, and pagan, not Christian. Doug Groothuis points out Rohr’s panentheistic error as Rohr takes Col. 3:11 out of context as saying “There Is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything.” Groothuis corrects Rohr’s error by sharing the biblical text in context saying, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” As Groothuis points out, the text refers to the unity that all believers have in Christ, not their deity, because believers are not divine. To assert we are divine would mean that one does not need the wisdom of a transcendent Creator who exists apart from His creation, because you have all the divinity you will ever need already within you. 10

Rohr, like others promoting the Enneagram, presents that there are nine ways people get lost and nine ways back to God. However, in looking at Rohr’s theological and Christological views, one would have to say that Rohr’s view of God and his Cosmic Christ is not that of true Christianity. In her blog, Alisa Childers has recorded Rohr saying that the universe is the body of Christ, that it is the second person of the Trinity in material form.11 Rohr’s views about God and Christ are perhaps the reason he authored books such as Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer and Falling Upward.

Consistent with his panentheism, it would mean that everything exists in God and God exists in everything. As if discounting original sin, his book, Falling Upward, takes on new meaning because he seems to imply that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception”.12

What Shall We Say About All This/How Shall We Then Live?

If the teachers of the contemplative movement are consistent with their pantheistic/panentheistic worldview, then there is no need for God or Christ, because we’re all the manifestation of the same. Furthermore, the Enneagram, in being a “road back to God” would become a “road to yourself.” This is mysticism and nothing more than “do it yourself divinity.” It has been said that in the beginning God created man in His image and ever since the fall man has attempted to return the favor. Sometimes the hiss of the serpent from the garden, “thou shall be like God” is loud and becoming louder.

In contradiction to what is being taught in the contemplative movement, the biblical worldview of God’s relationship to man and creation is clearly defined by separation, distinction, and duality. We see this from the start: “In the beginning God…”, not in the beginning all is one or all is divine, or all things (good or bad) fit together as one. Furthermore in scripture there is a clearly taught separation of the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, the righteous from the unrighteous, and those saved and from those not saved. This is so because of the separation of Creator and the creature. In the beginning God created us and yes, we’re made in His image. So, by His grace, let us run toward Him. Let us heed His admonition to come reason with Him!

Perhaps those who are drawn to the contemplative movement ought to listen to what A. W. Tozer, who has been looked at as a mystic, had to say: “Some of my friends good-humoredly–and some a little bit severely–have called me ‘mystic.’ Well I’d like to say this about any mysticism I may suppose to have. If an archangel from heaven were to come, and were to start giving me, telling me, teaching me, and giving instruction, I’d ask him for the text. I’d say, ‘Where’s it say that in the Bible? I want to know.’ And I would insist that it was according to the scriptures because I do not believe in any extra-scriptural teachings, nor any anti-scriptural teachings, or any sub-scriptural teachings”. 13


Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, 2004), p. 72

  1. Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton, My Brother (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1996), pp. 199-200

See: Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New Directions Books, 1975), pp.234-236.

See: Contemplative Prayer or the Holy Spirit—It Can’t Be Both! – Lighthouse Trails Project

Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion isn’t Doing it’s Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Directions, Vol. 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.



See: “Christians and the Enneagram”(An Interview with Dr. Chris Berg) by Sean McDowell, 4/10/2021.

See: A Heretic’s Christ, a False Salvation: A Review of the Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See. By Doug Groothuis


Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2011), p.1x.


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