What Enneagram Type is Jesus?
As the Enneagram has become wildly popular within some Christian circles, the question eventually comes up: What Enneagram type is Jesus? However, it’s a question fraught with difficulty for numerous reasons – including the proscription against typing other people. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking or thinking about, though. I mean, it’s Jesus – how could we not be curious? So, let’s explore multiple perspectives on the topic.
When I first learned the Enneagram, I assumed the goal was to transcend the whole unfortunate business and become personality-free. After all, the personality is the false self, right? And don’t we want to become our true selves? Which meant, to me, escaping the Enneagram symbol altogether.
Ah, if only it were so. I know now that once humans have a personality, they always have it. Though we can ascend the Levels of Development – get more emotionally healthy, aware and present – we cannot stop having a personality.
The premise of the Enneagram is that personality arises as we experience fear in young childhood. It’s still unknown whether we’re born with our type or it develops in response to our experiences.
But if Jesus has no personality, then how could it be said that he was tempted as a human in every way (except, of course, without sin – see Hebrews 4:15)? It would suggest that he had never known fear. The Gospels make it clear that Jesus didn’t perform his first miracle until he was an adult, which gives him about three decades to experience a lot of human stuff as a human would. He was God incarnate, but let’s also remember that “incarnate” means “in the flesh,” with a body and all that this entails. All of us with bodies know what fear is – the fear of injury, and illness, and death. This is why I have to reject the premise that Jesus had no personality type.
I tend to equate the personality with being in possession of a fallen nature – or at least, if not fallen, then not ideal. Personality is the mind’s best approximation of the ideal state of being, what some call essence or essential self. This is problematic, since Jesus did not have a fallen nature. You see how this question ends up getting pretty theological?
Yet each type has a redeemed quality, what some teachers call the Holy Virtue. I think of it as the particular character quality of God. These are:
Type 1: Righteousness
Type 2: Love
Type 3: Excellence (Glory)
Type 4: Creativity
Type 5: Wisdom
Type 6: Steadfastness
Type 7: Joy
Type 8: Justice
Type 9: Peace
Isn’t Jesus the living embodiment of each of these qualities?
Personality is the point where you get stuck. It’s one of nine perspectives on the world. For us mere mortals, we have all nine Enneagram types in us but identify most strongly with one of them. This limits our perspective on the world. If Jesus were one personality type, then how could he exemplify all of human experience?
So, here’s a thought: what if Jesus is ALL NINE Enneagram types?
What if he is the one, complete person that the Bible speaks of in, among other ways, the sense of human personality?
In his truly wonderful book, Head Versus Heart and Our Gut Reactions, Michael Hampson makes the same assertion. Here’s a great scripture he uses to illustrate the point:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work… Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 12
Now, of course I’m not saying Paul wrote this verse to prove the Enneagram is true! But it’s a good illustration, I think, of the point I was trying to make earlier about Jesus being the one complete human. It takes all Enneagram types working together to form his one body, because he contains all of them.
Hampson then goes on to show with scenes from the Gospels how Jesus exemplifies the redeemed version of each type:
Type 1: The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5)
Type 2: Washing the disciples’ feet (John 13)
Type 3: Building, leading and inspiring a team (throughout the Gospels)
Type 4: The Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22)
Type 5: Jesus talking with religious leaders at the temple when he was 12 (Luke 2)
Type 6: The loyalty of Jesus as he yield his will to God, the supreme authority (Luke 22)
Type 7: Optimism in the face of a pain-filled world (Luke 17:21)
Type 8: Calling out the pharisees as blind guides and hypocrites (Matthew 23)
Type 9: Jesus sleeps peacefully in a boat during a raging storm (Mark 4)
Here’s another example of the same argument. Russ Hudson discussed the mystical Jewish Tree of Life during one of the certification courses I took. He spoke about how the Tree is depicted as a 10-pointed symbol. Nine of the points correlate to the nine Enneagram types, but what of the tenth? It sits above the rest of the symbol and is called the “crown.” Russ wonders if perhaps that crown symbolizes Jesus…
So, as my husband would say, Jesus is a 10 on the Enneagram! (That’s the answer he typically gives when people ask him his what type he is.)
Ultimately, we don’t really know. Fortunately, not knowing doesn’t lessen the awesome of Jesus one tiny bit. If you have other ideas that have a scriptural basis and are well considered, I’d love to hear them! Or if you want to challenge any of my assertions in this blog, let’s talk. Use the comment section below.
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