This question keeps coming up in connection with the Enneagram. What biblical principles should guide us here?
I don’t think it’s wise to make a blanket statement such as “God can use anything” because one should look at the particular issue in question. Often this phrase (or “God can redeem anything” which is meant in the same way as “use” in these cases) is given to defend questionable practices.
First Principle: God’s Character
God does not go against his character. For example, God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). God’s nature is truth, goodness, and just so he cannot lie, do evil (Psalm 5:4; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5), or tolerate sin but instead has wrath on it (John 3:36; Romans 1:18; Revelation 19:11-21, 20:15).
Would one who argues that God can use/redeem anything mean that we can use the following?
The Ouija Board
Energy healing like Reiki
If the answer is no, then we see that there are limitations on the idea of using anything.
Second Principle: God’s Use Does Not Mean Approval
In the Bible, God uses bad people and bad situations but he does so without endorsing their character or bad actions. For example, God used Balaam, a diviner and false prophet, to bless Israel (see account starting in Numbers 22). Balaam was trying to curse Israel.
In no way does God’s use of Balaam indicate that God was okay with Balaam’s profession or actions. In fact, the New Testament gives us 3 condemnations of Balaam:
2 Peter 2:15
They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.
Woe to them! For they have traveled in the way of Cain, have abandoned themselves to the error of Balaam for profit, and have perished in Korah’s rebellion.
But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.
CANA: God used the Magi but by doing so, he did not endorse astrology, for example.
God used Joseph being sold into slavery to bring about his purposes for Egypt and his people (Genesis 50:20), but he did not endorse the actions of Joseph’s brothers nor the oppression by Egypt’s rulers.
God used Assyria and Babylon to capture Israel and Judah as a form of discipline for his people, but God did not endorse the beliefs or powers of those kingdoms.
God used a “thorn in the flesh/messenger from Satan” to humble Paul, but God does not endorse this messenger (whatever it was) and it was God’s choice to do this. Paul was not using anything from Satan.
There is a distinction between God’s use of a person or situation and God’s endorsement of evil.
Third Principle: There is also the distinction between what God does and what we can do. In all of the examples in which God uses an evil ruler, Balaam, the Magi, etc. God is the one who decides whom and what to use. Even if “God can use anything” that does not mean we can use anything.
Fourth Principle: God abhors certain practices connected to pagan worship and spiritual activity. In Deuteronomy 18:10-14, God names and forbids several practices that were done in conjunction with worship of false gods.
It is evil and forbidden to contact the dead; therefore, using a Ouija Board or consulting a medium is wrong (God also specifically condemns consulting mediums). God brought back Samuel to reprimand and pronounce judgement on Saul, and God allowed 3 disciples to see Moses and Elijah with Jesus. But God did this by his power at his initiative.
None of these situations involve a person contacting the dead (the medium did not bring up Saul; God did) nor do these events indicate that God has “redeemed” the practice of contacting the dead, an activity which God has forbidden. In fact, in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, God states clearly that one reason Saul was killed was because he consulted a medium:
“So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the LORD, because of the word of the LORD which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the LORD. Therefore He killed him and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.”
CANA: Is it okay to use divination such as tarot cards or astrology as long as one is not worshiping a false god? No, God does not give that exception. Such practices are forbidden, period.
Will God Redeem Everything?
God’s word is quite clear that God will redeem those who have trusted Christ, and he will redeem creation (make a “new heaven” and “new earth”) but he will cast other things into the lake of fire: Satan, his angels, death, and those who have rejected him (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 20:14-15; 21:8).
Will witchcraft be redeemed? No.
Will sorcery be redeemed? No.
Will astrology be redeemed? No.
The list could go on. See Revelation 21:8 and 22:15.
The Enneagram is not valid, so it has no worth even in the field of psychology. It is therefore useless and offers nothing but deception. (See Christian psychologist Jay Medenwaldt’s article on how the Enneagram fails scientific criteria at http://www.jaymedenwaldt.com/2019/01/the-enneagram-science-and-christianity.html).
The Enneagram is a direct product of Gnostic, occult, and New Age beliefs going back to Gurdjieff and then through Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, all of whom engaged in practices forbidden by God.
From there, New Age therapists and counselors added their layers of New Age spirituality to it so that it became a very satisfyingly complex tool for those with a New Age worldview. The New Age does not care about objective standards and does not even accept the idea of objective truth. So an invalid tool like Enneagram, is ideal in the New Age because it is flexible and malleable. Many Christian Enneagram teachers had New Age teachers and were certified by New Age Enneagram organizations.
Having myself been involved in the occult practice of astrology, contacting the dead, using divinatory tools (numerology, astrology, Tarot), having spirit guides, I can say with 100% confidence that nothing that is a product of these practices or of New Age beliefs is beneficial for anyone and it is always spiritually harmful at the very least.
The Enneagram is not spiritually neutral.
The Final Twist
The final twist on the Enneagram, to make it more deceptive — at least to Christians — was to put it into the hands of someone who would be perceived as Christian: Richard Rohr.
Rohr departs from the faith once given to the saints in almost all of the essentials of the faith: man’s sin and need for redemption; God and creation; the nature of Jesus Christ; and the atonement. Rohr’s teachings on these are contrary to the historic Christian faith and present a false Jesus and a false gospel.
Rohr is why and how the Enneagram came into the church; first in the Progressive church, then the church at large. It has sped along due to books by Rohr’s students/disciples (he mentored Christ Heuertz of _The Sacred Enneagram_ and Suzanne Stabile, co-author of_The Road Back to You_.
When a practice or tool arises solely from a pagan, occult, or New Age spirituality and with no credentials for its claims, it must be rejected.
But “It Helped Me”
Those who believe they are helped by such a tool should consider that they are putting experience over facts. This is why astrology is popular — millions believe they are helped by astrology. I was a professional astrologer and all my clients thought I was helping them by reading their birth chart.
One can be helped because 1) things one already knew were read into the Enneagram; 2) all deception has bits of truth, coincidentally or deliberately; 3) the Enneagram gets a person thinking and talking about himself and others which helps him think more about issues; and 4) several psychological effects that cause one to think the profile (Enneagram or astrology) is valid such as: confirmation bias, the Barnum Effect, group-think, poor self-evaluation, and other factors (see Medenwaldt’s article on these effects at http://www.jaymedenwaldt.com/2019/01/the-enneagram-science-and-christianity_17.html).
An experience is powerful but should not overshadow the truth. If one wants to claim that something is valid due to one’s experience, then one cannot tell those who follow astrology that astrology is invalid since so many claim it is true about them and helpful for them. “Your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth” is quintessentially New Age thinking. This is why anecdotal evidence is a fallacy.
Can One Make the Enneagram Christian?
Some have argued that one can remove the New Age worldviews and insert Christians ones. But how does that work with a tool that is invalid in the first place?
The perfect analogy is astrology. One could redefine the zodiac signs and planets with certain positive biblical traits (like the fruit of the Spirit), but how would that make astrology valid?
To use a tool with no psychological validity designed in the occult for occult purposes and developed by New Agers cannot give truth, useful information about you or God, nor help anyone grow closer to God. This applies not just to the Enneagram but to any technique designed with an occult purpose such as astrology, the Ouija Board, Tarot cards, or other similar practices.
The optimal information for what one needs to know about the self is in Scripture. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) so all are separated from God and need reconciliation (Romans 5:11). That reconciliation is offered through faith in Christ, who is the resurrection and the life:
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.'” (John 11:25-27).
One who is in Christ is then conformed to the image of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 3:21).
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30