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This month, we’re launching a brand new podcast called Things We Couldn’t Say. It’s one-part journalism, one-part therapy and one-part campfire conversation. Check out our first episode where we unpack all the things we couldn’t say about the recent LTN episode “The Truth About the Enneagram.” Want to know how Jesse and Anna changed their minds about the enneagram? Find out here.

The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is the show YOU help us make for everyone. Things We Couldn’t Say is the show WE make for you as a thank you for your support.



Things We Couldn’t Say (About the Enneagram)

Note: The Love Thy Neighborhood podcast is made for the ear, and not the eye. We would encourage you to listen to the audio for the full emotional emphasis of this episode. The following transcription may contain errors. Please refer to the audio before quoting any content from this episode. 

AUDIO CLIPS: Love Thy Neighborhood… Discipleship and missions for modern times.

JESSE EUBANKS: Hey guys, it’s Jesse. So this week on the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast, we have a special surprise for everyone. So today you’re gonna hear the first episode of our brand new podcast, and it’s called Things We Couldn’t Say. Things We Couldn’t Say is a podcast just for our Patreon supporters. You know, the truth is that we get to the end of every episode and we just have like a laundry list of things that we want to include but just couldn’t because of time, so we just decided we needed another place to continue those conversations. And here’s the thing – Things We Couldn’t Say – it is totally different than the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast. You know, on the LTN podcast, Anna and I really try to stay out of the way in the story, so we don’t talk a whole lot about our personal feelings and thoughts on things, uh, nearly as much as we probably would like to. There’s a ton of data and research and stories, thoughts and feelings that we are processing as we go through an episode and often we get to the end of recording an LTN episode and we just realized there is so much more that we still are processing about it. So we decided we should do something about that. We recorded our very first episode of Things We Couldn’t Say, uh, in response to the episode about the Enneagram. You know, we got all the way to the end, and it almost felt like a therapy session. It felt like closure. Uh, and the truth is that Anna and I – we’re a lot more present in this podcast, unlike the LTN podcast where we edit and edit and edit. Things We Couldn’t Say is designed to be unedited. It’s just a conversation between Anna and I and a variety of special guests, with us just kind of wrapping up all of our thoughts. Uh, you know, it’s one part therapy, one part journalism, one part campfire conversation. So this is it. This is our very first episode of our brand new podcast. We hope that you will enjoy it, but honestly we also really hope that you will make the decision to join us over on Patreon and support us monthly. For as little as $5 a month, you can get this podcast. You can head over to, and once a month you’ll get to hear Things We Couldn’t Say. In addition to that, we have a variety of other perks for different tiers. Head over to, and we hope that you will enjoy this very first episode of Things We Couldn’t Say.


JESSE EUBANKS: Hey everybody, it is Jesse, and I’m here with Anna. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, yeah. So, hey, thanks to all of our Patreon supporters, uh, for supporting us month after month. And so what we’re gonna do now is, uh, we’re gonna have a follow up conversation. So we just released our episode, “The Truth About the Enneagram.” If you listen to it, you heard at the very beginning that Anna and I wanted to go on that journey to –

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm.

JESSE EUBANKS: – begin to kinda work through some things. You know, um, I talked about in the episode that you and I are not exactly on the same page, at least at the beginning. 


JESSE EUBANKS: We were not on the same page. Um, and that part of the journey was us kind of, you know, trying to work through a bunch of questions – you know, what do we do with this and this and this and all these details related to the Enneagram. And, uh, one of the things that you said at the very end of the episode is you admitted, like, we both have changed our opinions on some elements. 


JESSE EUBANKS: You know, within this. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. It’s been quite the journey I feel like. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Um, but I think that even before we get to that – ’cause I do wanna answer that.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: I want us – that’s gonna be the big thing we’re gonna talk about today, but I think there’s a handful of things that I’d like for us to talk about before we get there. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So the first thing I wanna talk about is this – uh, for you, what did you learn in this episode that really felt important as it relates to the Enneagram?

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. I mean, before, you know, embarking on this, like, episode, I really didn’t have that many questions about origins, like most of my concerns weren’t even related to origins. It was, like, related to, like, applications slash, like, use, but, like, once I did hear people’s concerns about origins, I’m like, “Oh, that is something that I could be concerned about.”


ANNA TRAN: Um, so like all of the pieces that we talked about in the episode from, like, Zach’s course, how, like, especially how it’s modern, that was probably one of the biggest, um – 

JESSE EUBANKS: Like, revelations. 

ANNA TRAN: Like, yeah, revelations that like, “Oh, like it’s not, um, some like ancient Mesopotamian – “ 


ANNA TRAN: Like, um, yeah, like spiritual, like, um, yeah, thing that came from like whatever BC. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, but that, like, it was like during the 1900s, which is really recent –


ANNA TRAN: – um, that it came about. I think that’s, that was really important to, to learn and to know that it’s like – uh, it was, it was a big part of like demystifying where it came from.


ANNA TRAN: Essentially. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, it just like, like moved a lot of the dust off of, um –


ANNA TRAN: – the, uh, questions about or like where, um, the modern Enneagram that we’re talking about came from. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, and like, okay, so let me use like Michelle’s language she used at the very tail end of the episode. She talked about, uh, like the balance sheet. You know, for you, um, finding out that it’s was not ancient and actually that the whole ancient thing was just a lie, it was all made up. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, but that it actually was modern. Did, did that affect the balance sheet in any way for you? Like, was it like, “Actually that worked in its favor,” or was you like, “Actually it started to work in its favor, but then actually it didn’t” – like, I’m just curious, like, how that worked out for you.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, I do think there was a little bit of both. It was like, “Oh, yeah, like in favor.” Like, okay, so it’s like modern. Check. Like, okay, like, gives me a little bit more like comfortability – 


ANNA TRAN: – let’s say with like, um, using it ’cause there’s like, I don’t know, like kind of a, um – like it’s not some sort of super mysterious, like – 


ANNA TRAN: – clandestine, uh, thing that someone was trying to keep secret for a while, but then also like on the negative side was like – why were people like lying about its origins or, like, why did someone, essentially Naranjo, like, need to lie about him creating it if he just made it up? It’s like, um, hearing the, uh, clip when he was talking about Oscar Wilde, the Oscar Wilde quote. He’s like, “If you want something to be famous, just like make it up,” and I’m like, well –


ANNA TRAN: – like, you’re not like helping me out here when it’s like –

JESSE EUBANKS: Right. Right.

ANNA TRAN: If like, it’s, if he were here, it’d be like, “Hey, like I want you to like use this.” I’m like, “Well, like, do I wanna use something that you’re just like lying about and trying to make like essentially more, um, have it be in, like, your favor?”


ANNA TRAN: So it was like a both/and.

JESSE EUBANKS: Sure. Totally. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, ’cause we didn’t get to it in the episode, you know, but there’s a lot of reason to speculate. There’s just questions around his ability to be an honest person, uh, because the other thing too that was happening behind the scenes was that he was being, he’d just gone through this huge lawsuit. Uh, he’s like, at that point in his life, he’s trying to make a public claim that he’s the owner of the Enneagram because he was trying to financially benefit off of it.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And the courts had actually ruled that, uh, that the Enneagram was universal knowledge, like it was sort of like the law of gravity. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Like no one can copyright that. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And so he’s real irritated about that. So he is, he’s also got these motives to say, “Well, actually the ancient thing’s made up, and I made it up.”

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah. It’s just like still much muddy there. Yeah.

JESSE EUBANKS: You know, like there’s a lot of, there’s motives there. Yeah. And so, and we didn’t even have time to like go into all that drama. Um –

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah, and so kind of like his back and forth is like honestly just like a lot to kind of like sift through. 


ANNA TRAN: And it’s like too much work to –


ANNA TRAN: – decide like, oh, like, I have, if I have to sift through like all of this, he, uh, this is his claim, this is what other people are claiming is like universal, like, knowledge and stuff like that, I might as well just like, it’s not like that important to me. 


ANNA TRAN: To, um, like to suss it out and to really go for it.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Totally. Yeah, I think for me, um, you know, when I think about some of the, like, the important things that I learned – I mean, absolutely hands down the fact that it was modern and not ancient. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s, that’s a big deal. I mean, even in my own book – like I released my book in January, and it’s a really unfortunate thing. One chapter I talk about the fact that it’s mysterious, but then I had written this other chapter like months and months earlier –


JESSE EUBANKS: – where I was still under the impression that it was ancient and was holding to that. 


JESSE EUBANKS: So I make reference to it as an ancient thing, and understandably some people that have reviewed the book, you know, they hit me for that, and, and I get that.

ANNA TRAN: Sure. Sure. Yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, so yeah, I think that that was a, a pretty big revelation. And then of course, like these are really troubling guys. Like, you know, the, these guys are just, um –

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, it doesn’t help, like, their case of like –

JESSE EUBANKS: It doesn’t, no. 

ANNA TRAN: – how helpful the Enneagram can be if like they, um, they themselves were like essentially like lying to people. 


ANNA TRAN: Or like seeking their own, like, interests –


ANNA TRAN: – of like ownership and like money and finance and all of that. 

JESSE EUBANKS: I think, I think the other thing too that, um, you know – and I, and I won’t go too far down this path, but, like, the other thing that – just another question that arises for me is just like – Michelle went to this, to their, her bookshelf, right? She’s going through all the books, and they’re like, “ancient, ancient, mysterious, unknown source.” 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And then ultimately we find out, ultimately we find out that Rohr makes his comment in the book and all – like, there’s, there’s a part of me that is really troubled by the idea that so many people told this story about it being ancient.


JESSE EUBANKS: Without really being able to verify that and the idea that, you know, it, it turned out to be true, like Christians bought in at some level – 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: – because they believed it to be ancient. And there’s this question – would the Enneagram be as popular as it is within Christendom if we did not initially believe the story that it came from the desert fathers?

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And so there’s a level where like, uh, I feel really bothered. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Because, um, a lot of people have benefited off of that story. Um, and, uh, and so that, that troubles me. And, and so anyway, so that troubles me, and at the same time I’m still, I’m still trying to look at the thing –

ANNA TRAN: Itself. 

JESSE EUBANKS: – independent on its own, regardless of all of this, these shenanigans, you know, that sort of surround it, you know.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah, I, like, think about – like I wonder how much like Rohr knew about, like, what he was citing ’cause like what Tyler had said or like somewhere in the episode it was like – I forget if this was in the episode or not actually – but it’s in, you know, Tyler’s course that, like, it shows up in his book once. 


ANNA TRAN: And then in like the next edition it’s like gone. 


ANNA TRAN: So like, at some degree, like someone knew, if not Rohr himself, that like the citation was just like a bad citation. 


ANNA TRAN: And, like, poor writing. And it’s like –

JESSE EUBANKS: Or the flip side, which is Rohr told the truth initially. 


JESSE EUBANKS: But then Rohr saw that the Enneagram was so, from his perspective, so beneficial to people, “I’m not gonna trouble them with that detail.” So it was like, so he withdrew it, not because he doesn’t think it happened, but because he’d rather people not know about it, you know.

ANNA TRAN: Mmm. Right, yeah.

JESSE EUBANKS: I don’t know. But it’s all speculation, right? Like, we’re sitting here, and we’re like, “maybe this, maybe this, maybe this.” Uh, yeah.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah, it’s tough ’cause it’s like, um, a lot of like Christian, like Enneagram kinda like teaching does flow out of like Richard Rohr’s stuff. Um, not all of it, but like, it’s one of the books that is cited the most often. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, and like granted, you know, 1900s is not that far off. So it’s like all this stuff is really new.


ANNA TRAN: Um, but yeah, like, kind of in retrospect, I like wonder for like yourself or like other people who were like introduced to it, like, um, and have like, like taught it, have learned about it for a while – yeah, like how much time was spent, like, believing that it did come from kind of like those desert fathers and –

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh, no, I mean, a hundred percent. The, the guys that trained me in it, who, who I deeply respect – I mean, these are not, you know, these are not like, I don’t know, snake oil salesmen. Like these are, these are really wonderful godly people. But they believe that as well and that’s the story that they relayed also to me and then, and then of course that’s what I spent years telling as well because I trusted them and they trusted the people before them and so forth.


JESSE EUBANKS: So I think, uh, it also shows like just how effective a good lie can be. You know, like if you tell it often enough –

ANNA TRAN: I guess, like, the Oscar Wilde quote was really, was pretty solid.

JESSE EUBANKS: It was true. Yeah. Right, right. Which is like super messed up. 

ANNA TRAN: I know. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, so, okay, let me, let me move on to, uh, to this next, uh, section I wanna do in this conversation, which is basically all about, like, unresolved questions, like things that I really had hoped we were gonna get to talk about. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. So much.

JESSE EUBANKS: We were just outta time. I mean, this is all – it’s already the longest episode we’ve ever produced for the LTN podcast, so we started having to, like, throw things out, right? 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah. We’ve had other long episodes. This is like, this is up there for sure. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, I mean an hour and 10 minutes – it’s a, it’s a pretty lengthy one.


JESSE EUBANKS: So, um, so I wanna just like, I wanna kind of click through a handful of questions, uh, here. So, uh, one of the questions that we did not get to really explore very thoroughly – is it scientifically valid?

ANNA TRAN: Mmm. Yeah, that’s something – we talked about this a lot. Yeah.

JESSE EUBANKS: You know, people look at it, say psychologically it’s valid. And you and I had a whole bunch of conversations off the mic.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: About that. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, ’cause that’s one of your questions, right? 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it was like a question essentially that I was asking based on other people’s questions, like, online and, um, people who are skeptical. 


ANNA TRAN: So it’s like when it comes to, uh, the body of scientific, like, research, how much of that exists? Some people claim – I haven’t, like, dived deep into this so, grain of salt – like some people claim that, like, there’s no scientific research that’s been –

JESSE EUBANKS: It’s basically like pop psychology. They think it’s just sort of –

ANNA TRAN: Like based off of people’s observations. It hasn’t been, like, studied at the academic level.


ANNA TRAN: Et cetera, et cetera. So, and I know there’s probably responses to that. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. And there, there are, there, so there’s a few things. Yeah. So there are some very famous psychologists who think the Enneagram is laughable. They, they just think like, it’s, it’s not helpful, it’s not true, that it actually hurts people. These aren’t even Christians. These are just sort of, they’re psychologists. But then it, it gets confusing because then there are also really well-respected psychologists, uh, who, you know, they’ve – you know, Dan Siegel wrote like the foreword to an Enneagram book that came out like a couple years ago. And, um, and then even on our own show on The EnneaCast, like we’ve had, you know, uh, Dan Allender, you know, and then you get Adam Young, Dr. Alison Cook, like it’s all these really brilliant folks. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. They’re well studied. They’re like professionals in their field. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So one of the things that Tyler pointed out, ’cause I asked him that question in, in the interview I did with him, was like – what do we do about this question of validity?

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And he pointed out, you know, once, once the courts ruled that no one could own the Enneagram because it, it was more akin to the law of gravity than it was to like the five love languages – that’s basically, that’s where the, the courts ruled. It was more like, “this is just truth.” Um, once that happened, all like financial incentives were suddenly kind of killed at the giant corporate level. And typically when something is being tested, it’s because somebody stands to gain billions of dollars, like that’s kind of how it works. “We’re gonna test this thing and test this thing ’cause we’re all gonna make a whole bunch of money off of it.”

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, and because of the way that the Enneagram is sort of utilized by a ton of like mom and pop kind of scenarios, there’s not somebody out there, there’s not a big corporation that’s like, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna – “

ANNA TRAN: Like there’s no huge company that’s like dumping R and D into –

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s exactly right. So there’s a whole bunch of people that are making really comfortable occupations out of the Enneagram, but that still is not the same as, you know, somebody that owns like the Myers-Briggs, like that – it’s just, you can do way more financial investment. 

ANNA TRAN: Does someone own the Myers-Briggs?

JESSE EUBANKS: I think so. I don’t know. I dunno if it’s Myers or Briggs. I don’t know who owns it. Yeah, I’m not sure. But I think that somebody does own the Myers-Briggs and as, as a result, like, they, they financially benefit in ways that the Enneagram’s just, it, it can’t be utilized in that same way.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So Tyler just pointed out that reality that, um, we, there is preliminary research. So let me, let me clarify that too. In my research for the episode, I did come across a variety of, uh, psychological journals of people doing preliminary research regarding the Enneagram. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. I’m not like a – I don’t do, like, scientific research. So is that like a first level status? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. So the ones that I like – there’s one that comes to mind in particular that I found and I wish I could remember the citation, but I’m going off memory here. But they said, uh, in this particular journal that the Enneagram does meet the threshold for, uh, validity because it has a predictive index to it.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, it has a certain degree of reliability in terms of outcomes. Um, it, it like clicks off a few different things that are necessary in scientific experiments, and it says it meets those. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Now, the one area that it, that often the Enneagram doesn’t meet the threshold is related to tests. So, um, the Enneagram at the narrative level – meaning that you self-identify, you’re working through it, you’re thinking through it, and you go, “You know what? I am a type blank because of this.”

ANNA TRAN: Test as in, like, people who take an Enneagram test?



JESSE EUBANKS: So if you like – so, like, I think at one point like Buzzfeed, like, had, like, an Enneagram test. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Like if you go to Buzzfeed and you take their free Enneagram test. 


JESSE EUBANKS: You know, this journal would be like, “That’s not gonna be very reliable.”


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, and in fact, in fact – I’m gonna be careful how I say this ’cause I don’t want somebody to come after me – there is a very, very popular Enneagram test that is out there. A friend of mine who is a leading research in the realm of psychology, uh, he ran it through all of the, the rigor that he does as ’cause he wants to be able to have measurable data, and he said that this very popular test – that I’m not going to name ’cause I don’t wanna get sued – uh, he said is two steps away from somebody drew it on a napkin and just started charging for it. He said it is very, very low. That being said, he ran the WEPSS through the same criteria and he said the WEPSS – he went from being actually an Enneagram skeptic to a believer. He became a guy that actually really encouraged me to write my book, and this is somebody that, um, his whole world is overseeing other psychologists. I mean, this is somebody that’s – and, and not just sort of in Christendom and not like a little practice – like this is, this, yeah, anyway. So all that to say is, um, um, I suspect that over the next decade we’re gonna see increasing amounts of validity.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: On the scientific level. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. So, but at the time, at this time right now, it’s still a little bit inconsistent when it comes to the testing and stuff like that. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, ’cause you gotta think of like, it really didn’t hit mainstream until 2017. Up until that it was, it’s all been underground by and large. Um, if you even look at the volume of books published, not very many exist before 2017. They slowly start building until finally in ’22 and ’23, I mean, it’s just tons. 


JESSE EUBANKS: I mean, there was a time at which I think I owned every Enneagram book out there because they were so finite. 


JESSE EUBANKS: And now, I, I couldn’t afford that anymore. Like it, it’s, there’s too many books. 


JESSE EUBANKS: And so, um, so I think that as we continue to go in that direction, you know, we’ll –


JESSE EUBANKS: We’ll see more in that regard. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. So it definitely sounds like it’s still emerging.

JESSE EUBANKS: In process. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Uh, next question. If something becomes overused or abused, is the wise response to throw it out? And I, you know, we didn’t really get to talk about this, but I was sort of just thinking about that question. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And I think it’s a universal question. Like, if I am reading too much and I’m not paying attention to the people in my life, if I’m, if I’m looking at my screens too much, if I’m eating too much, if I’m, whatever it is, fill in the blank, if I am doing blank too much, is the wise response to throw it out? And I think that the answer is sometimes. I think there are, are a lot of scenarios in which, you know, Jesus calls us to remove a certain thing from our life, especially if it’s sort of dominating. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. Like taking over our affections and like –


ANNA TRAN: – we’re essentially, uh, like worshiping it.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yes. But I also think there’s a lot of times where we’re actually not called to remove it. We’re called to redeem it. We’re called to actually put it back in its proper place. So let’s say that, you know, there’s a guy that, um – sorry, not to stereotype – but let’s say that there’s some guy that like every Sunday afternoon, like he loves watching football and the whole family knows he’s kind of a grouch because if his team loses and don’t interrupt him while he’s watching and, you know, there’s all these things that need to happen on a Sunday afternoon and he’s not doing any of them, whatever – is the response that he needs to, like, give up that hobby? That might be true. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: But is it also possible that he needs to start inviting friends in and that he needs to make sure he takes care of certain things before he engages with it and so on? Like I think that a lot of times Christians move so fast towards “we need to jettison this thing” instead of first attempting to do the work of what does it look like to actually redeem it and to give it to the Lord and to trust the Lord to let me have a healthy relationship with it. But I also think there are scenarios absolutely where people just need to go, “This is not good for me, and I just need to get rid of it altogether.” 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, so I, I, and I think that the dilemma we run into as we approach this question, I think that far too often we as Christians, uh, when we’re giving counsel to others, say, “You need to get rid of that thing,” like we jump to the, you know, we start enforcing rules on other people, “You need to get rid of that,” or we start enforcing license on others where we’re just kind of like, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not that big a deal,” but if that person’s feeling a conviction –

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: – we need to pay attention to that.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So, I dunno, what comes to mind, mind for you like in terms of, you know, if something – like the Enneagram gets overused or abused, is that enough reason alone to throw it out? 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, um, I mean, based off of that, like, prompt, um, like that’s under the assumption that, like, it’s good to begin with, and I think that’s the thing that we talked about though, is that, like, for some people that’s like the dividing line that we talked about. 


ANNA TRAN: It’s like for some people it’s not even good to begin with, so it’s like, um, you can’t say the same thing. It doesn’t apply to something like, like murder that – super extreme example, but it’s like, “Oh, like, if, if you only do it, if it’s like harmful to you, then it’s like – ”


ANNA TRAN: – um, something that you can – if it’s harmful to you, then you, like, you need to stop. So, sorry, that was really convoluted, but essentially it applies to things are good to begin with. And for me at least, like I, my, like, gut right now is like, it’s pretty neutral. Like the Enneagram’s pretty neutral. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, as it is like a thing. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, and so like, yeah, when it comes to like the application slash, like, um, like, use of it, if it’s not, um, healthy to like someone who’s using it or like how you are presenting it to people, like it’s either like hurting others or like hurting yourself, then, yeah, like, definitely needs to be, like, examined again. 


ANNA TRAN: And, like, checked, um, to see if it’s like healthy for the, the people using it. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, yeah, that’s like, um, for me like that question, um, is pretty broad. So like, um, yeah, I think a lot of times, um, fear is a big thing that causes people to jettison stuff. Like, let’s say reading, um, a book about, um, like a fictional book about, like, fantasy that’s like, you know, this, like these elves from this, like, kingdom go on an adventure. It’s like, do I believe that, like, elves are real and is that gonna harm my, like, spiritual life? Like, not necessarily, but if I like find myself getting sucked into that world and like finding comfort and like, um, like, uh, let’s say like, like so much affection for, like, the characters in these worlds that are actually like fictitious, um, and not like being present in the world around me and like the present reality, um, then yeah, like that would be something that isn’t healthy for like my overall like, um, yeah, like, just like spiritual and like personal health. Um, so I think with like, yeah, like the Enneagram, um, it’s like, uh, pretty easy to jump to like –

JESSE EUBANKS: Just get rid of it?

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, well, like if it’s, if it has like, harmed, um, then, like, don’t use that at all. 


ANNA TRAN: And we’ve talked about this, like, or if it’s like super beneficial, then everyone has to use it. 


ANNA TRAN: Like, that’s like the, um, like the easy kind of path.

JESSE EUBANKS: To impose, impose either direction.

ANNA TRAN: To impose. Sure.

JESSE EUBANKS: To say, “either get rid of it or you need to utilize this.” Yeah. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah. So I think like, um, for Christians at least – and I’m talking like stereotypical, kinda like evangelical culture – um, fear – 

JESSE EUBANKS: Imposing is our thing. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Well, fear is something that like drives, um, a lot of, um, I think like content that’s generated online about things and like commentary and like statements about X thing.

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, because it is, um, seen as dangerous. And that’s not to say that it’s not true, that it isn’t dangerous, but like, um, it just kind of like reveals I think like, um, like the lack of trust that people have to, um, yeah, to like allow God to like help them examine it without like, um, tossing it out right away.


ANNA TRAN: And if someone’s conclusion is to like toss something out ’cause it’s not beneficial or it’s dangerous, then like, um – yeah, like, if you trust the Lord, like God’s gonna lead you on like those paths of righteousness to like, um, so that it like honors the Lord and honors other people and honors like your own health as well.


ANNA TRAN: Um, yeah, those are some things that came to mind. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Yeah. Well, these, these next two things I wanna talk about, they, they kind of go hand in hand. And, uh, and I’m gonna, I’m gonna confess on the front side, like I’m, I’m bringing receipts on this, so I’m gonna ask a question, but I’m like, it’s a setup for me to, like, talk about something very specific that I wanted to talk about. I just didn’t have the time. 

ANNA TRAN: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and this is the time for it though, so yeah.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay. So one of the things that I talked about with Tyler that we just didn’t have time to get into was this idea of like how should Christians relate to the culture. It’s like this big philosophical question. And Tyler actually developed this sort of, this spectrum. Uh, there’s four spots on the spectrum, and it goes all the way from, uh – well, let, let me, let me tell you the, the spots, okay? So four different possible responses, uh, related to Christians engaging the culture. Okay? Um, on the one end of the spectrum, you have the conformist. 

ANNA TRAN: Okay. Conformist.

JESSE EUBANKS: So the conformist is of the world. So it’s like there is no difference. 

ANNA TRAN: They’re taking it wholesale. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Taking it wholesale. So they may even use God, Jesus, Bible lingo, all that stuff, but in their functional day-to-day life there’s absolutely no difference in their values, in their decision making, in their affections. They look absolutely just like everybody else. No difference. Okay? So that’s one option. The conformist. Okay. Uh, then – if, if you’ll forgive me, I’m gonna, I’m gonna skip the two in the middle – let’s go all the way to the other end. So if the conformist is one end, the other end is the fundamentalist and the fundamentalist is against the world.


JESSE EUBANKS: So these people are all about like, “I’m, I’m buying it wholesale.” The fundamental, the fundamentalist is, “I’m rejecting it wholesale.” Like, “it is me against the world. We need to fight against the world. The world is here to corrupt us. We’re gonna push back at every opportunity in turn.”


JESSE EUBANKS: And they’re sort of stuck in a perpetual fight mode, and, and a lot of what you talked about a moment ago, this idea of that fear is, it’s a really motivating factor. And in a lot of cases, the fundamentalists are selling fear. It’s like – and lemme say too, like, fundamentalists, uh, show up in both, uh, as both conservatives and progressives. Like, this is not –


JESSE EUBANKS: – but it’s this idea of like, “it’s us against, against, against, against.” Okay, so those are the two spectrums. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay. Those ends. Okay. Let’s talk about the two in the middle. 

ANNA TRAN: I’m curious what this is. I don’t, I haven’t heard of this. (laughs)

JESSE EUBANKS: What, what’d you say?

ANNA TRAN: I’m curious what it is. I haven’t heard of it.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. So come one step back from fundamentalist and you get the separatist and these folks are outside the world. Okay?

ANNA TRAN: Outside. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So outside the world. So it’s this idea of, “Well, we’re not gonna fight everybody all the time, but we’re also not gonna live in culture.” So if you get the fundamentalist, the fundamentalist is, you know, for lack of a better term, they’re gonna be culture warriors. Separatists are gonna be Amish. (laugh) You know what I’m saying? Like, and so, so on the one side, you’ve got folks that are like, “We’re gonna fight constantly.” But then the other folks go like, “I don’t wanna fight all the time, but I also don’t feel okay about being a part of the world so we’re gonna go build our own society.”

ANNA TRAN: Okay. Sure. 

JESSE EUBANKS: “We’re gonna go, like, build our own culture and be away from it.” And a lot of Christians are attracted to that, you know, this sort of utopian vision.

ANNA TRAN: And they do look different. 


ANNA TRAN: Like if you think of Amish culture –


ANNA TRAN: – and like the way that people dress and –


ANNA TRAN: – the way of living. It’s, it’s very different.


ANNA TRAN: So it’s pretty obvious that they’re like separate from something. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay. So, uh, okay, so before I tell you the final category, just think about this as it relates to the Enneagram. Fundamentalists – they ain’t gonna be into the Enneagram. Right? Because they’re gonna see it as, “It’s part of the world. We’re gonna fight against the Enneagram.” 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Separatists are probably also not gonna be into the Enneagram because they’ve got their own thing going. Like, we have, we have the Bible. Why do I in the world do I need any of this other stuff? 


JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, then all the way on the other end, the conformists – they don’t care. They’re fine with everything. So it’s like, it’s all good. So Tyler proposes the people that, uh, typically wanna engage with the Enneagram the most are the final category, and those are the transformists. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And those folks are in the world. So they would say, “We are in the world, but not of the world.”

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And these are folks that typically are gonna approach things, uh, generally philosophically. It’s like, “anything, God can redeem it,” you know, even if it comes from these broken origins, you know. So this is like a, a really – I don’t know, I dunno if this is the best example – but it makes me think of like ancient, uh, you know, these ancient religious temples that were built in the shape of Thor’s hammer and then as the Christian church begins to rise they take the same sort of blueprint that those, you know, that architecture was based on but now the sanctuaries are in the shape of the cross. Like –


JESSE EUBANKS: But it’s this idea of like, um, God’s beauty and truth is so permeable and so at work in the world that we can look for him anywhere and that there’s opportunity for him to redeem. So if Southern Baptists became Southern Baptists originally because they wanted to own other human beings as slaves, uh, the transformists would look at it and go, “Hey, there’s an opportunity here actually for us to repent of that and to change this institution.” Um, and so, uh, so, so he says the folks that tend to be the most in, into the Enneagram as Christians, they take the transformist approach.

ANNA TRAN: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really interesting. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, is that something he developed or something that he like pulled from other places?

JESSE EUBANKS: I don’t know. I don’t know where, yeah, I don’t know where he got it. I’m gonna say yes so he feels brilliant. I don’t know. Yeah.

ANNA TRAN: It just sounds very like Keller slash like –

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah.

ANNA TRAN: Something very similar to Keller.

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, okay, so lemme, lemme just like do it in chronological order ’cause I did it in real weird order. So on the one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the fundamentalists who are against the world, then you’ve got the separatists who are outside the world, you have the transformists who are in the world, and then you have the conformist who is of the world.

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So those are the four categories. So with that being said, this is, these, here’s, here’s the receipts. This is the illustrations I wanted to do. There’s this big question of – can Christians redeem something from non-Christian origins? And so a lot of people hear the history of the Enneagram, and they go like, “I’m out. Like there is no way.” Um, uh, Beth and Jeff McCord on their website, if you go to, uh, they have a bunch of illustrations of God’s people working as transformists. So examples with that, of that would be God used the Hittite, uh, Suzerain – I’m so sorry if I’m saying that wrong – Suzerain, uh, Treaty, an accepted form of creating a covenant in its time, to signify his relationship with Abraham and his offspring. So he’s using something that is culturally done by lots of people in order to illustrate his relationship to his people, but they did not necessarily – it’s not like – they did not create it. It was something that was already happening.


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, okay, in the book of Daniel, we see Daniel bring his faith to Babylon and while remaining faithful to the Lord, uh, learn the Babylonian culture and language. Psalm 104 has parallels to the Great Hymn to Aten, which was from the 14th to 13th century BC. Psalm 29 appears to be a Baal worship song that was adapted for Yahweh. The Genesis creation story appropriates significantly from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Uh, in the book of Proverbs, a whole paragraph draws on an Egyptian wisdom text called the Instruction of – 

ANNA TRAN: Mmm I’ve heard of that one. 

JESSE EUBANKS: – Amen – Amen – Amenemope. Amenemope. 

ANNA TRAN: Something like that. Yeah, I’ve heard of that one. Yeah.

JESSE EUBANKS: But the basic idea that, that is, is functionally the truth is that a lot of times we come to the Bible and we go like, we want the Bible to be totally insular, uncorrupted, apart from all other everything when the truth is that, um, oftentimes we are actually seeing, uh, elements that all people are in culture. Jesus was in a culture. He had a culture. The people of God throughout the Bible had a culture and they were exposed to the broader world, but God was at work even through those cultures, uh, doing things and redeeming things. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

JESSE EUBANKS: So, um, so that’s my philosophy as it comes to the Enneagram is like, I can totally – it does not – I think a lot of people are like, “Doesn’t it bother you that these -” and I’m – not really, you know, it doesn’t bother me. And so, yeah. 

ANNA TRAN: Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Any thoughts on any of that? 

ANNA TRAN: Um, yeah, I think it’s like really cool, um, that, yeah, there are like examples. I think, um, making those parallels I think is really interesting. Um, I think that, um – yeah, I don’t know. I don’t have that many thoughts on it, honestly.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, that’s okay. That’s okay. Yeah. 

ANNA TRAN: Just laid it out, and I’m like, “Okay. Looks good.”

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay, well let me turn the corner then to just our last few questions I wanna talk about. So let’s, let’s start with this one. Uh, and, and I’ll ask it – you answer first, and then, and then I’ll respond.


JESSE EUBANKS: Uh, so in what ways do you believe the Enneagram can be helpful as people try to follow Jesus? 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, um, I remember one time we were talking about, um – this was like, uh, and this didn’t, this didn’t go into the episode, I don’t think – which was, um, for anyone who is more like anti-Enneagram, like how will you, like, take the responsibility of being, uh, like self-aware? Um, and I think like another way to say that is like – how can you take responsibility to self-examine? ‘Cause like self-awareness, like, it’s just like a different word or way to say, like, “examine your heart.” 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Right. 

ANNA TRAN: And that’s like in the Bible a lot. Um, like you say you judge people, but, like, what about you?


ANNA TRAN: Um, or – I forget, what does Paul say? It’s like “you’re judging people, but why don’t you judge yourself?”


ANNA TRAN: “And examine your own heart.” Um, so I think, like, with other like systems, like personality tests, and like, um, I think that it just prompts to, like, make someone aware of how they move and operate in the world. Um, it’s like helpful. 


ANNA TRAN: So it’s like, okay, like if the Enneagram helps, like, someone, um, like, identify this is like, um, yeah, like a pattern in which that, like, I mistreat others, like this is how I tend to, let’s say, um, like out of like an insecurity or something like that, um, like lash out in anger or, um, or be unresponsive to someone’s pain, um, ’cause it’s like – let’s say like, uh, things that Jesus teaches like about, um, uh – well, let me just rephrase that. Like how Jesus lived, like, um, and his, uh, lifestyle essentially is like him being, like, attentive to other people’s needs while also having, like, righteous anger. Um, and so like how can we put, like, anger in its like rightful place? So just like essentially knowing, um, how Jesus lived and like, um, seeing how different parts of yourself like doesn’t – does or does not line up with that. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, that’s something that comes to mind. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. Yeah, I think that for me, um, you know, and I – this is funny. I, I think this might be just be part of my personality. Like I actually see the Enneagram most helpful in its, in its ability to locate the negative parts of who we are. Uh, I think that the positive stuff’s helpful. Great. Yes. Obviously. But like, but I don’t necessarily come to the Enneagram because things are going great. I’m coming because, like, I’m trying to figure out what’s, what’s not working. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, and I think that what the Enneagram offers that’s really beneficial to us in our relationship with Christ is that it shows us the schemes and patterns by which we avoid trust and we avoid intimacy, and, um, because we’re so clever as people. And I think in particular one of the things that the Enneagram is really beautiful, uh, in its execution of is this idea that all of us have a deadly sin and that it’s – the deadly sin is so permeates who we are that it doesn’t feel evil, it doesn’t feel dangerous, it doesn’t feel destructive. It actually feels very rational and reasonable. And, um, and I think that that, that, uh, is only an additional affirmation of the truth of Scripture, the extent of, of, of which, you know, how sin permeating us and keeping us from trusting the Lord, keeping us to have intimacy with him and other people and ourselves. And, um, so I think the ability for us to – I think the Enneagram offers an ability for us to see our brokenness with a level of specificity that at least in a lot of Christian vernacular we can sometimes avoid. We’ll talk in big category. We just say “sin,” and we just mean, like, this big thing. And I think the Enneagram helps us just get a little more specific in exactly the patterns of how that sin is playing out. Um, but then, and then on the flip side would be, man, the beauty of Jesus in, in response to that – like, I mean the, there’s these moments where like if you really kind of dig into certain aspects of the Enneagram and you have to wrestle and contend with “this is how I move in the world in these broken ways” and then you really begin to realize like, “Oh my gosh, Jesus has always been abiding with me amidst that and has responded to me in these particular ways.” Like, yeah, so I think, um, I think one of the, the greatest benefits is that it can show us the ways in which we subtly and cleverly try to avoid trusting God at a deep level, um, and, uh, and not having to have intimacy with him and other people. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, okay, so let’s flip the question. 

ANNA TRAN: Flip it. Yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Okay. So then on the flip side – so if, if there, these are some of the ways the Enneagram can be helpful, what are some of the ways that you believe the Enneagram can hold people back from following Jesus?


JESSE EUBANKS: And let, lemme say this too – let’s just say in what ways can the Enneagram, even the, even a Christian approach to the Enneagram.

ANNA TRAN: Uh-huh.

JESSE EUBANKS: Because it’s one thing like – I don’t even, we don’t even necessarily need to talk about a secular approach, like that’s devoid of Christ altogether. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So I’m not worried about – I’m, I shouldn’t say I’m not worried. (laugh) I’m, I am worried about that. That’s – 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, but for the sake of this conversation.

JESSE EUBANKS: But it’s a totally different conversation. For this conversation, even a Christian approach to the Enneagram, in what ways do you think it can hold us back? 

ANNA TRAN: Um, hmm. I think, um, kinda like one thing, like, I’ve thought about – I’ve also like heard other people talk about, so it’s not an original idea – but it’s like getting stuck in, um, like always like thinking there’s some, like, work to be done. And there is – like, there always is work to be done and like continuous sanctification. Um, but kind of like, I think sometimes Christians can get stuck in like a loop of, um, like believing there’s always something that needs to be, uh, like constantly like strived for. And I don’t think that’s like a bad thing to be like continuing to work on themselves, but there is like freedom that we have, um, like in Christ where, like, it’s not just about, like, me working on myself but like trusting that God’s gonna do the work in me so I can kind of, like, relax a bit, to not, um, like always have to be like – it’s not on me all the time to be self-aware.


ANNA TRAN: Like we have people in our communities slash like brothers and sisters of Christ who can help us also like be aware of ourselves.

JESSE EUBANKS: This is fascinating. This is, this is not the response I thought you were gonna say. Uh, it’s, it kind of fascinates me. 

ANNA TRAN: Oh, yeah. Well this is just like something I’ve thought about. 


ANNA TRAN: So I think it’s like, um – ’cause I’m thinking of, like, legalism essentially.

JESSE EUBANKS: Sure, yeah, yeah. Totally. 

ANNA TRAN: It’s like getting stuck in, like, working really hard, and that’s something –

JESSE EUBANKS: Like legalism attaches itself to anything. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: So if it attaches to the Enneagram –

ANNA TRAN: And that’s like part – a big part of, like, my, like, story and, like, personality is too is like getting really stuck in like the constant like striving and stuff like that.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, yeah. 

ANNA TRAN: So it’s like, yeah, like, um, for this conversation – we believe in Jesus and like Jesus is gonna do a good work in us – so it’s like, um, if you are like the most like, like knowledgeable about, like, the Enneagram and how, like, every single, like, part of it works, like that’s wonderful, but then like you can also – you don’t have to, um, like, learn all of that for Jesus to be doing a good work in you.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, totally. Totally. 

ANNA TRAN: So it’s like, um, I think like anything like take it too far, right? But then like with any kind of, like, system of, like, understanding and, like, knowledge, it can be easy to be like, “I can – what’s like the next thing I need to figure out so that I’m better? What’s the next thing to figure out so that I’m better?”


ANNA TRAN: But I think there’s a degree that we can just, like, relax a little bit and like be like, “Okay, I’ve like done this amount of, let’s say like self-examination and um, uh, yeah, like looking at my heart – like, ultimately, like, and the Bible talks about like we can’t change our own hearts ultimately.


ANNA TRAN: Like, it’s like God’s work in us and the Holy Spirit, um, like revealing these like, um, let’s say like sinful things in our hearts, and then like the Lord’s gonna do the work, um, in us. So there is kind of like this dual personal responsibility and trusting that God’s gonna do the work too.

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Yeah. It’s like grace makes room for both diligence and acceptance, and like there’s – both those things kinda have to be at play, where it’s gotta be, “I, I have to be able to accept this is where I am and God accepts me as I am because of Christ.”


JESSE EUBANKS: And I also continue to strive, uh, and, and it’s this strength that – you know, it’s problematic. If I rest for too long, that’s an issue.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. You become like lethargic. Yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And if I’m constantly obsessively striving, that’s another issue. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: And so, yeah. Yeah. That’s good. 


JESSE EUBANKS: That’s not – I don’t know. That’s not what I thought you would say. So I like that. I really appreciate that. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah, that’s one thought. 


ANNA TRAN: What, what about you?

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, I think, you know, I resonate a lot with what you just said. I mean, I, I have had – um, I do, I have that tendency to wanna just – I mean, it’s kind of in my disposition, like, uh, you know, I tend to want to have heavy conversations. I can get kind of serious at times and –


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, like I struggle to make just sort of light social conversation. Like I, I’m just kind of a prober. I just always want to go a little deeper. And, um, and there have been times in the last couple years where loving friends of mine have just said, “Um, hey, you know, you’re always gonna find something. You know, if you look for what’s the next broken thing inside of you, you’re always gonna find something.”


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, and, and they said – um, they really encouraged me, like, slow down, let it go for a while, focus on Christ. And the Enneagram was one piece of the issue that was at play, but it was really, that was more it was my disposition. 


JESSE EUBANKS: And, um, you know, because the same thing would show up in my twenties. It wasn’t the Enneagram at that time. It was actually Scripture. I would sort of plow through Scripture and what’s going on with my heart and what do I need to work on. And, um, so, uh, I think that one of the ways that the Enneagram can be, um, dangerous – you know, you and I have had this conversation, um, and it is just sort of this idea that, uh, the Enneagram is a really potent tool. Um, it, it has a lot of – lemme say it this way, it has a lot of explanatory power if you give it that degree of explanatory power. And I think that there can be a real temptation for people to give the Enneagram more explanatory power than it is actually due.

ANNA TRAN: Sure. Could you gimme an example? 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. I think that, you know, there can be a temptation to, to begin to literally only see people in sort of within Enneagram dynamics instead of realizing people are just infinitely more complex than the – the Enneagram is, is, you know, um – we interviewed Jon Collins recently from The Bible Project, and this is one of the things that, that we talked about with him was this idea that, you know – he talked about this idea that the Bible is attempting to explain the infinity of God, like, and it’s take, it’s taking this sort of the infinite and putting it into finite language because, and he said like basically ’cause we’ll go insane if, if we don’t, and he said that the Enneagram is attempting to do the same thing. It’s taking sort of this, the infinite of humanity – like it’s way, we are way more complicated than we realize – and, and bringing order to it. And there’s a danger on both ends of those spectrums. If you attempt to go, “I’m gonna, I’m gonna control the way I see other people and the way that I’m understood by making it just about the Enneagram, and I’m gonna put it all on a tight box,” um, I think that’s one level of danger. And then the other side is, go, “All of that’s stupid. You can’t, you know, make, quantify anybody in any way, and there’s no patterns to anything.” Well, that’s a level of chaos that I think is also really dangerous. But as it relates to, like, how can it harm people, I do think that there can be a sense in which our fascination with the Enneagram and, uh, if we buy in too much, if we give it too much explanatory power, we can turn away from Jesus accidentally. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. I, I mean, we’ve talked about too – you’ve told me about, like, examples and, like, uh, ministry settings that people have, like, wielded it really like poorly. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Oh, yeah, totally. Yeah. 

ANNA TRAN: And, and it’s like, um, knowing people’s like, uh, like tendencies and like patterns and then essentially like abusing that.


ANNA TRAN: Um, and so like that is very, that’s like a – when it comes to like a story too that we didn’t get to cover, like I think there are a lot of stories –


ANNA TRAN: – um, out there similar to that storyline where someone essentially used like, um, like the Enneagram and knowing about someone else’s personality with very, um, like strong and like powerful explanatory language.

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: And then it can lead to like manipulation. 


ANNA TRAN: Because they didn’t – the other person was unhealthy and had bad motives. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah because there’s a level where like, you know, if we know somebody else’s Enneagram type, we are also aware of what they are most afraid of and most ashamed of. 


JESSE EUBANKS: And, and, and so yeah. I think there’s a lot of people man that they can – and, and there’s probably moments that I’ve been guilty of it as well. I have probably, you know, not utilized that knowledge with the most wisdom at times. And so, yeah, so I think there’s, I think there’s a lot of ways that, you know, we just get our eyes off Jesus, you know. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah, and I think going back to the question – it’s like, that’s like using something that’s in service for the self or like in service for someone’s personal gain or like desires. Um –

JESSE EUBANKS: It’s service of the self at the exclusion of others. Like, you know, like it’s like I’m serving myself and it’s not actually in a way that’s good for community. It’s not actually in a way that’s leading to flourishing. 

ANNA TRAN: It’s not like edifying. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, ’cause I also know that’s a whole other thing is like Christians will be like, “You shouldn’t think about – ” and that – we have seen what happens when Christians don’t think about themselves at all. They lose all self-awareness and they begin to act out in ways that are contrary to their convictions and they have no idea they’re doing it. 

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Because they’re not paying attention. And so it’s, yeah. Yeah. All things in balance, right? Yeah. 

ANNA TRAN: Trying. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. (laugh) Okay. So let me, let me land the plane here. So this is the big question. So last question – what changed for you regarding your attitude toward the Enneagram or its application?

ANNA TRAN: Mm-hmm. Hmm. Um, I mean, like, definitely from the onset – because I didn’t have any kind of, like, frame of reference of, like, origins, um, before starting the episode or just like, kind of like, the pre-production part of the episode, um, there is like a good bit of, like, fear, um, in me that’s like, um, like I would not wanna participate in anything that has, um, essentially like evil intent. 


ANNA TRAN: That’s just like – well, I don’t know anyone who really wants to do that. 


ANNA TRAN: Or, like, does it on purpose. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, so I think there, there’s a pretty like natural, like, bucking against, um, or just like wall that’s kind of like, uh, put down for, like, safety, you know, that’s like just in case.


ANNA TRAN: Um, and I think therefore my, like, attitude was definitely more like, like hands off and like, um, kind of like – I dunno how to describe it. Like just not wanting to, like, touch it. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Because of the potential. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, because of potential –


ANNA TRAN: – like danger and stuff like that. Um –

JESSE EUBANKS: Like, “There might be a murderer in that room. I’ll go enjoy all 10 other rooms.” 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, it’s like why would I wanna go –

JESSE EUBANKS: Why would I wanna go into that room? Yeah. Yeah. Sure.

ANNA TRAN: – into a room with a murderer if I can just kinda, like, hang out here and wait for the murderer to come to me. (laugh) And then once that situation comes, then I’ll like, you know –

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

ANNA TRAN: – face that head on and stuff. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, so I think, um, probably just like the things that have changed the most is just like the, the process of it, like of engaging with, um, like wrestling with, um, one, like the topic with you and then with other people in the office, um, listening to a bunch of different, like, perspectives, like, online and stuff like that. Um, when it comes to, like, what changed my attitude, I think it just like was really humbling to engage with, um, like people who are willing to have the conversation, you know? 


ANNA TRAN: People who are like, um, yeah, like not, uh, afraid to approach it, but also, um, are willing to, uh, like offer charity and grace to like wanting to understand, uh, like an opposing side. 


ANNA TRAN: So I think, um, that, um, was something that like happened throughout this process.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, ’cause and let me clarify too – uh, again, we record so much stuff that never goes in an episode, so like there’s whole conversations like you and Lindsey Lewis had –


JESSE EUBANKS: – And it didn’t make it in, you know.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. That was like 45, well, half an hour. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. And, and Lindsey, um, I’m gonna imagine at some level Lindsey’s one of the people you’re referring to about that exchange back and forth. 

ANNA TRAN: Sure. I mean, there’s like probably every conversation that I had had something to do with it.


ANNA TRAN: Um, yeah, I think, um, hmm. Well, gimme another minute if you could. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, you can give it a shot and then if there’s something else I’ll add to it.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, ’cause I am curious because I do wanna – I, I would be curious for you, like, if, if there’s like a final verdict. So let me, let me – I’ll respond, and then, and then, yeah.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, I might need a minute for –

JESSE EUBANKS: So, um, I think the biggest thing that changed for me, I think I had, um – you know, you and I talked a little bit about this, um, very early on in the production for this episode is like, um, I have a, I have a certain degree of hurt from the church over the last several years and a certain degree of feeling betrayed by Christians and in particular people that I really respected through the years. And I think that I didn’t realize it ’til it kind of came and went, but Jackie Hill Perry’s comments really caught me off guard, um, because the truth is I had worked for years on trying to, you know, write this book and get this publishing deal and, you know, it was a big deal for me and it was a big sacrifice for our team for me to go. And not that, you know, my book rises and falls according to everything that she says or, but I think I was really surprised by how much it hurt me. And I think that in response to that, I think that there are moments where I just really wanted to throw punches harder than what was wise, um, as, in reaction to that. Um, and I think that through this process what I definitely experienced was just a softening toward people that have deep worries and concerns and convictions. And, um, and I think that as opposed to maybe my initial tendency would’ve been to kind of like, you know, dismiss those viewpoints, I think that through the, this process I think there’s a real sense of, I, I, I feel a greater responsibility that, especially if I become aware that somebody’s really not comfortable with it, to be very thoughtful about the way I dialogue about it, um, if at all, you know.


JESSE EUBANKS: In some cases don’t even bring it up. Um, and, uh, and so I think I just feel a greater sensitivity around that and I think, um, a deeper sympathy for why some Christians really do feel troubled, um, by it. You know, my wife pointed out – she was like, she was like, “You know, imagine if I was quoting from Joel Osteen all the time,” you know. She’s like, “Wouldn’t you have concerns about that?” And, and the answer is, yeah, I would. Like, I think that was really weird ’cause I think he’s, you know, got horrible theology. And so I, I think recognizing that some Christians, that’s the equivalent for them. Um, and, uh, so I think that for me the biggest shift would be I feel a lot softer towards people that don’t share my view of it, um, and a greater responsibility for how I dialogue and utilize it. And then the third piece would be, um, over the course of this, like we’re gonna do some rearranging even in terms of how it’s applied in the Love Thy Neighborhood program for our young adults.


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, and, uh, and really kind of try to approach it with a little bit of a lighter touch, um, and, and see if that can be a little more helpful for folks. 

ANNA TRAN: Mmm. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really interesting. I think it’s like cool that, um – I dunno, I’m just like encouraged to hear that and, like, it’s like really encouraging I think hearing that from someone who’s like a leader. Um, and that like, um – yeah, it’s encouraging ’cause it helps, it helps me like trust you more and like helps me to like really trust that, um, like you – and I already know that you have like a high, like, level of care, um, and like you care so much that like you’re being sensitive to um, like your approach – not just like where you land on something, but like how something is, like, (unclear) the process in which, um, you think about things and like approach people. So that’s just like really encouraging for me. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Well, good, good. I’m glad.


JESSE EUBANKS: I’m glad to hear that. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, you were gonna ask about the final verdict. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah, okay. So yeah, for you, for you, if you kinda had to make like a final verdict, if you go, “Okay, this is kind of my summary of where I land,” like what’s your summary of where you land with the Enneagram?

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Oh gosh. Summaries are tough for me, like for real. Um, I could borrow Michelle’s balance sheet language ’cause that’s actually really helpful for me. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, I would say, yeah, like plenty of things got resolved when it comes to like, um, yeah, concerns about like origins and stuff like that. It’s not as concerning for me anymore. Like, um, let’s say, uh, like that it wasn’t ancient, but it’s actually modern. That’s not as concerning. Um, it’s still like, does like sketch me out of like, like the way that it was kind of brought about essentially. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, when it comes to like the New Age, um, uh, like people that it came from, um, ’cause I think there’s, there’s still, like, concerns about like, um, like adjacent teachings from the New Age essentially being combined with like the Enneagram because it has like, um, been like, because it kinda like came from that. So there’s like – when it comes to ancient, modern, that’s like, “Okay, yeah, it’s modern? Great.” Um, so it’s like there’s still a little bit concerns about like how in some ways like – I don’t know how to describe it. Like teachings kind of just get carried over – New Age teachings could get, like, leaked over. Um, but I think if, like, from a Christian perspective, if, like, Christians are really, um, like, intentional and like, um, with like a lot of care, like, using it to point people to, like, be like Jesus, to like, um, acknowledge, like, sin in their life and like the world, um, and like if it’s used to like really like, with like a desire to be like Jesus and then do what Jesus tells us to do –


ANNA TRAN: – um, then, like, I feel a lot more comfortable with it. 


ANNA TRAN: Um, even, like – let’s say it being used here at Love Thy Neighborhood. I’m like, “Okay, yeah. I feel, like, more comfortable with it being used.” 

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, because I trust that the people who are like teaching it want the people who they’re teaching it to to be more like Jesus.

JESSE EUBANKS: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

ANNA TRAN: Um, so that’s my shot at a summary. Um, yeah. 


ANNA TRAN: That’s kinda where I land on that. 

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s, that’s, yeah, that’s great. Um, so I don’t know, for what it’s worth, the one thought that does come to mind is I think it’s a very reasonable thought – and I say this, you know, for anybody that’s listening to this, I think I say it for myself, for you as well – that question of how much of the New Age teaching, New Age teaching is kind of continued onward.


JESSE EUBANKS: Um, but I think that around that, the, the, the burden does come back to us to, to, um, to name with specificity what that might be. 


JESSE EUBANKS: Because I think a lot of times, you know, I would listen to anti-Enneagram folks and they use these big categorical phrases. You know, it’s like, “it’s a this and it’s this,” but, um, specificity is really important in that conversation. 


JESSE EUBANKS: So, because I think in a lot of cases I would actually contend that actually a lot of these New Age folks were borrowing from Christendom. Like all we’re doing in a lot of cases is taking it back. 


JESSE EUBANKS: I don’t, I don’t, I think a lot of the ideas that they’re toying around with, um – and we just didn’t have the time to go into it, you know – but I mean there’s just so much that comes from ancient Christian theology and, uh, and so I think these folks are, were taking it and twisting it and I think that it’s an opportunity for us just to go, “No, I think we’re gonna take that back and we’re gonna, you know, look at it correctly.” So, um –

ANNA TRAN: Yeah. Yeah, and that takes a little while to parse out ’cause it’s like –

JESSE EUBANKS: It does. Totally. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, like, if it was like borrowed from a long time ago and then used and then – 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yep. It’s a game of telephone. 

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, yeah. 

JESSE EUBANKS: It kind of gets, like, messed up as it goes on. Yeah, yeah.

ANNA TRAN: Yeah, yeah. Maybe, uh, maybe Tyler can do something like that. 


ANNA TRAN: That’d be helpful. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Um, okay, my final sort of statement around the Enneagram – I think that, um, I really, um, I do like the phrase that the, the Enneagram is an ego reduction tool. I think that that was a – I actually think that’s a helpful phrase. I think that’s a really helpful way to sort of think about the Enneagram. Um, and in terms of its application and its usage, um, I definitively stand here, uh, feeling even more confirmed it does not have the transformative power of Jesus himself. Um, no system, no tool can ever do what God himself can do. Um, and I do understand why some people feel like that’s enough, um, but I, uh, I think that in all of our brokenness, God in his kindness gives us lots and lots of things to help us begin to understand what’s going on, so, uh, everything from, you know, if somebody gets Alzheimer’s – and hopefully there’s more advancements to help us understand what’s going on there – all the way to, you know, uh, the alphabet. Like, but I think that there are just a lot of gifts that God gives us that are not necessarily tied directly to issues of salvation. Um, uh, but I think that, um –

ANNA TRAN: Mmm. Yeah, I think that’s a good call out. 


ANNA TRAN: It’s like – when we are saved, we are saved, and then, like, how does God work out that salvation and continued sanctification in us? 


ANNA TRAN: There’s like a lot of, like, beautiful, um, and, like, diverse ways that the Lord does that all over the world.


ANNA TRAN: Like not just with, like, personality systems. 


ANNA TRAN: But, um, in different cultures, in different countries, the way that, like, God redeems, um, like a village that, like, used to worship idols and stuff like that but still retains their like, uh, like dance culture or like –

JESSE EUBANKS: That’s right. 

ANNA TRAN: – their um, uh, like, textile, like, cultures and like the way that they work and stuff like that.

JESSE EUBANKS: Yep. Yeah. Totally. So, um, so yeah, I, um – and, and then let me say this too and I think I’ve made it clear – you know, um, I think it is a, it is wrong and a tragedy that, that so many Christians were sold on the lie that it came from Christendom. And, um, and I think that that’s something that is worth paying attention to, but I would also flip it and say, um, there is so much, uh, there is so much truth – not capital T Jesus truth, like not Jesus himself as the truth, but just not lies, things that are true to reality that are in the Enneagram – and they’re pulling, they’re pulling from the truth of God, even if they don’t realize it. Um, and, um, so yeah, so I think the Enneagram can be a very helpful tool for people. Um, but as all tools go, it needs to be held in its proper place. It’s not salvific. It is not the gospel. It is not Jesus. Like all tools and all things that we enjoy, we tend to let it run away and get a little too big. Uh, but I would encourage before you throw it out – um, you know, take some time to actually try to put it back in its proper place. And the other thing – let me, one last thing, one last thing – would be this. Um, if, you know, for folks that have not, I would encourage folks to really, honestly take time and to meditate on some of the specifics related to their type – like what is this deadly sin doing to my life and how can I see it at play? But then as a response to that, what is the invitation to see the goodness of Jesus responding to that? He always has been. Um, so, um, yeah, so in the end, uh, I would love to see people utilize the Enneagram, but I’m also – it’s okay if they don’t. Uh, tons of Christians throughout the, the ages have followed Jesus faithfully without, without it, and that’s just one option.



ANNA TRAN: Well, yeah, thanks so much for listening, um, and for joining us on Patreon. Um, feel free to, um, share what you’ve heard –


ANNA TRAN: – on this, um, kind of like conversation. 

JESSE EUBANKS: Yeah. Yeah. So thanks everybody. And uh, yeah, we’ve got some more episodes coming up soon.


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Senior producer and host is Jesse Eubanks. Co-host is Anna Tran.

This episode was produced and edited by Anna Tran.

Music for this episode comes from Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear.