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Where did the Enneagram come from?

Ever since civilized society has provided spare time and energy, humans have been studying ourselves. What are we about? What traits transcend time and culture? How do we develop?

As an oral tradition, the history of the Enneagram is difficult to trace but basic concepts appear to date back thousands of years. 


Many Protestant and Catholic scholars attribute the Enneagram's origins to the early church desert fathers and mothers in the 3rd century who observed different patterns of vice and spiritual suffering. This wisdom then slowly spread and developed over time and across cultures.

The modern form of the Enneagram was brought forth by Bolivian teacher Oscar Ichazo in the 1950's. In his work, Enneagram of Personality, Ichazo developed nine personality types to match the points on the symbol including principle features, motivations and concerns. 

In the 1970s, psychologist Claudio Naranjo assimilated Ichazo’s model into Western psychological terms. Naranjo also shared the Enneagram with his good friend and Jesuit priest, Father Robert Ochs, who introduced it into Jesuit circles after a period of theological testing. Through his work, the Enneagram found its way into Catholic spiritual direction. 


In the last few years, thanks in part to the book “The Road Back to You”, the Enneagram has swept through the broader church including Evangelical circles.


Today, Enneagram theory continues to develop alongside modern psychology and as different teachers expand the application of these basic archetypes into various fields.

It is important to understand that the modern Enneagram of personality is fundamentally about psychological design. Thus, all humans find it relevant and useful regardless of field, culture, worldview, or religions. The Enneagram is not officially associated with any religion or theology, which allows various interpretations and application. This is why we must be discerning with regard to Enneagram teachers/resources and choose those that are aligned with a Biblical worldview and Christian practice.

The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God. Therefore, any observable truths regarding human design belong to God and will comport with Scripture. Always test! 

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