The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective
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356 of 363 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2003
Many Christians feel uneasy about the Enneagram as a way of deepening self-awareness; this is mostly because the test has some connections to the Sufi religion and new age thought. That makes this book by Richard Rohr necessary and helpful to be able to gain the insight of the enneagram from a source that is operating from a Christian worldview. This book has sections on where the enneagram came from, what it is, what the 9 enneagram personality types are, and how Christians can benefit from it without adopting non-Christian ideas. The most helpful part is part II of the book which goes into depth on the 9 types, from a Christian perspective. Most helpful, Rohr identifies the root sin of each type, and how God can redeem that sin into a beautiful gift. He also talks about what gifts the types naturally have, and how we can grow in those. I have heard that the enneagram does not put people in boxes, rather, that it helps people identify what boxes they are already in and how to get out of them. This book is very helpful for understanding yourself and others, and for getting out of the boxes that are keeping you from living in a full and redeemed way.
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142 of 146 people found the following review helpful
This updated version of DISCOVERING THE ENEAGRAM is truly a gem. It does a good job of explaining Enneagram theory and an excellent scholarly job of looking at the history of the Enneagram. In addition, its descriptions of the 9 Enneagram types are well done and insightful. Each of these sections also contains many interesting historical references to important figures and event in Christian history.

I have read a lot of Enneagram books including some that were written from a Christian perspective. Within the Christian subset of books, I feel this one is "hands down" the very best. It is also in general agreement with Riso and Hudson, Helen Palmer and Sandra Maitri on the characteristics of the types. These are three of the biggest names in Enneagram study and each has a useful perspective to offer.

Rohr sees the Enneagram as both a useful psychological and spiritual tool for self growth. Psychologists and spiritual directors will really appreciate his rigor and depth. Another Christian author who uses the Enneagram for spiritual direction is James Empereur. His book THE ENNEAGRAM AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTION is also quite good.

If you are a psychologist you may also want a copy of PERSONALITY TYPES by Riso and Hudson. This book covers the 9 developmental levels of each type in detail and the associated psychological pathologies. For a general audience, THE WISDOM OF THE ENNEAGRAM by the same authors may be better because it has a more broad focus on theory and keeps the detail on each developmental level to a minimum.

Another point worth mentioning is that this updating version of Rohr's DISCOVERING THE ENNEAGRAM (retitled) covers new discoveries about the history of the Enneagram. This includes its use and possible origins in Early Christianity. This section is well-researched and you can find a lot of good references here on the history of the Enneagram.
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120 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2007
As a fan of Richard Rohr, i must confess I found this book quite disappointing. Having engaged in coursework on the enneagram I entered this book with some familiarity with the lens it provided.
I was very disappointed in Rohr's generalizations and use of stereotypical terms such as "Jewish mother" which I find inflammatory. I also found his assumptions as with certain types having had abusive childhoods (when this is not necessarily true). It appears that either Rohr or the other author has some personal issues with the two and seven types. As the tone of these chapters is much more negative than the rest of the book. Incidentally, in the chapter entitled "The enneagram and Jesus" there is disproportionately less space devoted to how Jesus was an enneagram 2 than any other type.
As the book appears to be translated from German and is a republication of a 1989 german edition, I give Rohr the benefit of the doubt and give him 3 stars when I really believe it worthy of only 2 stars. There is some worthwhile information presented but the manner it is presented is questionable at best.
Regardless of the author or teacher, the enneagram is a none too gentle wake up call to take a long hard look at our compulsions. Studying it is always painful if one truly invests in its philosophy. However I urge extreme caution in reading this book as I find it to have more potential for traumitization.
For a more gentle yet credible introduction to the enneagram I reccomend anything by Riso and Hudson especially THE WISDOM OF THE ENNEAGRAM. Similarly anything by Helen Palmer is excellent. For brief bare bones essentials on the enneagram, THE ESSENTIAL ENNEAGRAM by Daniels and Price will suffice. For an excellent and gentle read on the Enneagram and its relation to Kabbalah look into the two books by Rabbi Addison.
For an excellent book by Rohr read HOPE AGAINST DARKNESS: THE TRANSFORMING VISION OF SAINT FRANCIS IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY.
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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful
I first discovered the Enneagram from Richard Rohr's earlier work, both the first edition of this book and some tapes. It has been life changing for me and I highly recommend it.

This book takes a very clear stand as spiritual approach, so if psychology alone is your goal, you may not like this.

Even with its religous tone, I find this a great life tool. Not only has it been so helpful to me in self healing and discovery, it has helped me so much in the workplace and social arenas.

Richard Rohr is a singular person and I recommend almost all of his works!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2008
I first encountered Enneagram literature in the early '90s, and became engrossed, but soon felt bogged down in belly-gazing and type-analyzing, and somewhat depressed by the way the types seemed locked into their weaknesses, according to the sources I was reading at the time. Rohr and Ebert's book, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air. The "Christian perspective" in this book is a perspective of redemption and transformation. Knowledge of one's type becomes a key toward growth and transformation, rather than a stimulus for belly-gazing. Also, the book's treatment of "wings" and different "centers" (gut, head, heart), as well as its discussion of factors that lead to type-confusion (a person of one type taking on the characteristics of another at a certain point in his/her life), helps account for the unique variations and complexities found in individual personalities. I also found it better than some of the other sources I'd read at pinpointing the essential issues of the types, and after having mis-typed myself for years, I finally made the correct identification.

A suggestion to any newcomer to the Enneagram: Explore different discussions to gain a nuanced understanding of it (as well as to avoid the pitfall of narrowing people into rigid categories). One of the beauties of the Enneagram is its complexity. Although the insights in this book were the most constructive to me, other helpful sources have been: audio recordings of Enneagram workshops led by Rohr; The Enneagram Made Easy by Baron and Wagele (a fun quick-reference, and there's a brief but interesting cross-reference with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator); [...] and [...]
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2002
The Enneagram is more than just a form of personality typology, it goes to the roots of our motivations and perceptions. For this, I have always felt secure in using the Enneagram to explore my insecurities and thusly, life lessons to be learned.
Through my years of struggling to find a simple clear message from the Christian faith, I find this book to be challenging without being offensive nor condescending. I had to put the book down several times just to mull over a single paragraph. This book is an excellent source for learning the Enneagram and, as a bonus, explains the Christian faith in a nonthreatening manner.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2012
I have been studying the enneagram for more than twenty years and have accumulated quite a number of books on the subject. Having said that, I now state that this book (for me, at least) has been the most helpful.

Through the years, I have taken several tests and have been evaluated by an "expert". Results that seemed to fit - at the time - for other positions, were confusing because they did not resemble each other and did not continue to "fit" me after awhile. Although many sources instruct that the Nine will see herself in (nearly) all the positions, I was hesitant to accept this wisdom because the descriptions of Nine did not "fit like a glove".

I read this book, literally without interruption, in two days. I am now firmly convinced that I belong in the Nine position on the enneagram. I do not know if clarity came from the language or style that was used; perhaps I am (finally!?) willing to consider thoughts about my approach to life and experiences from a clearly different approach.

The authors do not provide a test to determine one's position on the enneagram. Instead, "we recommend that readers take another approach first: it makes sense to begin by reading through all nine descriptions. To some, it will be immediately clear where they are "at home". Others will need a little time. A good criterion is the following: if, in reading the description of a type, I get uneasy or am even humiliated, it could be that I am on home ground."

I found myself "uncomfortable" in many of the descriptions, but it was when I read the Nine description that I came to the humiliated part. I could resonate to the authors' earlier comment in the preface: "It seems that human beings cannot see what they are not readied to see. We cannot hear what we have not been prepared to hear. The 'obvious' seems to have little correlation with our acceptance of it".

I am guilty as described; guilty, but encouraged. Now, I not only know my faults, strengths, and sins (there's that troubling word!), the authors provide insights and suggestions (based on Scripture and from their pastoral experience of many years) to change behaviours and thoughts to grow to personal maturity and development.

The authors are very plain-spoken about the difficulties one may expect on this path: "After many years in pastoral care-giving, we are both convinced that there is nothing on which people are so fixated on as on their self-image. We are literally prepared to go through hell just so we don't have to give it up. It determines most of what we do or don't do, say or don't say, what we occupy ourselves with and what we don't. We're all affected by it". Each enneagram point experiences different challanges to this surrender.

The discussions of the "instincts", "wings", and "arrows" are the clearest explanations of this vocabulary I have encountered and are a great aid in helping to distinguish one's enneagram point.

If one approaches this book with humility and a true desire to know in order to grow, the tools of positive transformation are in their hands. I appreciate the fact that the authors use Scripture and illustrations from the life and ministry of Jesus without preaching from the proverbial soap-box. Their tactic is very much like a trusted physician who tells you what you need to know to become healthy or what changes need to be made to regain your health. Sometimes, it calls for a tweak in a lifestyle; sometimes, major surgery is required. "Whatever it takes" is the most beneficial attitude to the work suggested in this book.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2007
This book hit my personality type totally! With jaw-dropping accuracy, it brought my natural inclinations to light as a typical personality type. All of a sudden, I was not alone and there was reason for my tendencies. This book was great because it bridges the gap between your natural inclinations and where you should go as a Christian. Highly recommended!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2013
Overall I was not impressed with this book. My biggest issue was that there was more time spent telling me what a type would look like or do, rather than how a certain type functions. In my opinion the Enneagram is not about what personality traits people have, but what makes them tick and why they react to thing differently. I felt this author merely used the Enneagram as a type caster instead of a way of understanding people and I did not think he was always very accurate. There were several types I felt the author didn't really understand. I thought it would be interesting to get a Christian perspective, and he did have a few interesting things to point out. On the whole however, I would not recommend this book.
If you are interested in getting a good basic introduction to the Enneagram, I would recommend Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Having heard about this book at a religious retreat, I was eager to see what the Enneagram is all about. I was not disappointed with the thoroughness of Rohr's work in presenting the Enneagram in an instructional and insightful way, and am sure that I am benefitting personally from what I learned about the types. My only misgiving is that there are several locations in the book where Rohr makes pretty strong references to Western culture's exploitation of the Third World, and seems to advocate mass redistribution of wealth to correct this injustice. These are brief assertions, and don't dominate the book in any way. However, obviously, the world is far more complicated than a simple answer like this to social economic differences. I found this position particularly striking in light of the fact that he himself states that Third World people tend to be type NINEs, which he says is common for those not yet affected by civilization. He even suggests that such people may be happier than us. I would still recommend this book, but keep in mind that Rohr has a perspective unique to his history, just as we all do. So don't accept his opinions regarding social justice at face value. It's okay to have your own view.
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