Book Review: “Whole Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)Holistic Human Thriving”

Dr. Jerome D. Lubbe, Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)Holistic Human Thriving (Dr. Jerome D. Lubbe, 2019), 101 pages.

I have spent the past few days working through Dr. Jerome D. Lubbe’s work Whole-Identity: A Brain-Based Enneagram Model for (W)Holistic Human Thriving. I was intrigued to receive the name of the work, and having dabbled in personality tests for a few years (thanks to a dear friend and mentor), I thought I would give it a read.

OVERVIEW

The work seeks to build upon the Enneagram model from a neuroscience perspective. The goal is to utilize the Enneagram model for “integrating physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual growth through the universal common denominator of brain function.” (under disclaimer) The overarching idea, weaved throughout the entire work, is to achieve wholeness. That goal is kept at the forefront, as Dr. Lubbe discusses the historical development of the Enneagram, its functions, its tests, and its practical applications.

The basic structure of the work follows under seven headlines (there are actually eight, but the final section is for suggested resources). The first section addresses the acknowledgements and disclaimers that any work of this type would necessitate. The second section explains and develops the history and growth of the Enneagram. The third section provides an explanation of the nine numbers, their natures, their wings, and their relative descriptions. The fourth section provides a practical example of how to figure one’s scores and understand their meaning. The fifth section provides incredibly practical ways to develop and enhance the individual’s nine numbers. The sixth section illustrates the lifelong development as a whole individual. The seventh section encourages further research for the Brain-Based Enneagram model and understanding.

STRENGTHS

  1. The first strength of the work is its accessibility.

    I do not have a science degree, yet I found the descriptions completely within my grasp. There are times when I read academic works, and it is an intense labor. Dr. Lubbe provides the language and understanding for the average individual to grasp.

  2. The second strength is its beauty.

    There is an inherent beauty to the work. The book itself displays varied pictures and icons for understanding It is graphically pleasing. But more than that, there is a beauty for self-improvement. I always strive to be better, and this book helps break down the Enneagram model in a way that provides an encouraging push in that direction.

  3. The third strength is its practicality.

    Many times, works such as Dr. Lubbe’s exist in a heavenly realm, unreachable to the average person. There is a difficulty when producing works as academics. The difficulty comes with bringing the knowledge to a level on which the average individual can consume it, but also with regards to how one can use that information for one’s life. Dr. Lubbe provides a step-by-step guide, giving examples and even providing a blank template to develop one’s Enneagram’s identity. The action steps he offers (section five) are all practical.

WEAKNESSES

Perhaps the greatest weakness of Dr. Lubbe’s work is its lack of Christian foundation. As a Christian, I seek to bring every thought under the Lordship of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I understand that Dr. Lubbe is not writing from a conservative Christian standpoint, but I am evaluating his work upon it. Thus, the failure to include a treatment of one’s standing before God limits the wholeness that is sought.

Another weakness of the work is its view of the history of the Enneagram model. Though it is certainly not written from an academic standpoint, it would be nice for there to be more and clearer information regarding the development of the Enneagram. (For a treatment of this from a conservative Christian standpoint, see Kevin DeYoung’s blog post on the topic.)

LAST WORDS

With the strengths and weaknesses briefly evaluated, I think it is a fascinating tool. I have personally benefited from studying my own and others’ personalities. This, as I see its usefulness, helps bridge out that study into the way the brain relates to the personality. If you are interested, grab a copy of it. Let me know what you think, what you found helpful and/or dangerous, and how you would use it in your life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 4)

Affliction is good. 

You may read those words and, like me, say “What?” The concept of affliction is one that immediately brings forth feelings of discomfort and dread. We are creatures that love our comfort.

We love for the comforts of a fire on a cold and wet day. We long for the warmth of our beds. We leap with joy when we can shed our work clothes and don our sweats. But affliction? It is the troll under the bridge, baring our way on the road to comfort and ease. It is the dragon guarding the gold of comfort hidden in the cave. We dislike comfort in the most intense way imaginable.

So how in the world can affliction be good? 

David pens this conundrum,

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71, NASB)

There are a few things that are important to note at the outset. These thoughts will then, I hope, help to provide an explanation of how affliction can be good.

IN THIS VERSE, AFFLICTION IS A PASSIVE EXPERIENCE

David states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted.” That is, he experienced affliction. He received it. He endured it. People and circumstances afflicted David. He was the receiver, not the instigator.

In our own lives, we do not willingly set out seeking affliction (those who do usually have other issues). It is thrust upon us, like the breaking waves crashing on the seashore. We receive the bad report from the doctor. Our employer gives us the pink slip. That one person continues to drive us crazy.

Our afflictions usually come to us, not the other way around. Why is this important? First, we must remember that God is sovereign. He is in control, and regardless of how deep the affliction may be, it comes from God’s hand. The unimaginable comfort brought by the truths of Romans 8:28-29 provide wells of encouragement. Secondly, it also helps us realize that there are times when we can do everything right and still experience affliction. It is a theological error to think right behavior will bring blessings (read through the book of Job to have this view corrected). However, when we experience trials, we can take comfort that it may not be from our own fault.

IN THIS VERSE, AFFLICTION INCREASED LEARNING

I remember hearing in chapel this same thought. One of my professors would say, “You’ll learn more about God through conflict than you will from a systematic theology book!” I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “This guy is insane. There is no way that would happen.” Enter life and ministry, and the lesson holds true.

David realized that affliction brought a deeper intuition to God’s truth. The affliction David experienced enhanced his learning of God’s Word. He learned God’s statutes. Learning requires repetition and interaction. David’s love for God’s Word provided a rich environment in which affliction could yield positive fruits. But it was only enhanced by affliction.

This can help us endure affliction. Rather than dreading it, we can learn from it. We can grow through it. But only as we seek God’s Word. That is the key difference of Christian suffering. God’s Word is a unique tool, inspired by God, to provide growth toward Christlikeness. Affliction is an enhancer of growth. It is a growth activator, if you will.

IN THIS VERSE, AFFLICTION IS TEMPERED BY GOD’S WORD

The last point that stands out in this verse is the fact that God’s Word tempers our affliction. It is only by God’s Word that we understand that all things, including affliction and suffering, are used for good in the Christian’s life (Romans 8:28-29). Affliction turns us away from ourselves, our own accomplishments and abilities, toward God and His truth.

Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

In his exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20, William Gurnall notes the need for the Christian to wear armor. He plainly writes, “The Christian must be armed for the War.” (Gurnall, 45)

In his opening discussion of Ephesians 6:11, he provides the importance of regeneration. Without God’s saving grace, the individual is in “a Christless graceless state.” (Gurnall, 45) He goes on to describe this terrible situation, “A soul out of Christ is naked and destitute of all armour to defend him against sin and Satan.” (Gurnall, 45)

CONSIDER THE ENEMY

This thought should immediately strike fear into our hearts. Satan is no thin, red devil running around with a pitchfork. He is the prince of darkness (Eph. 6:12, cf. Col. 1:13), and the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). He has vast power, so much so that even Michael would not bring an accusation against him (Jude 9). He walks around like a lion “seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, ESV). While Christians should fear God, we must be careful not to approach the great enemy of our souls in a haphazard manner.

CONSIDER THE STATE OF THE UNREGENERATE

As Christians, our greatest privilege is to share the Gospel with people. We seek to evangelize the lost, to see Satan’s kingdom of darkness overcome with the light and love of Jesus. But in our efforts to preach the Gospel, we must remember the state of those to whom we preach.

Gurnall offers four “notions” of those in this Christless state. (Gurnall, 46)

“IT IS A STATE OF ALIENATION FROM GOD” (Gurnall, 46)

Paul encourages believers to remember their hopeless state before Christ (see Eph. 2:12). All people, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, political view, economic status, or any other class, who have not been born again at in a state of alienation from God. Gurnall states their sad case, “He is without God in the world; he can claim no more protection from God, than an out-lawed subject from his prince.” (Gurnall, 46) The people to whom we communicate the Gospel have no protection from the God of heaven.

“THE CHRISTLESS STATE IS A STATE OF IGNORANCE, AND SUCH MUST NEEDS BE NAKED AND UNARMED” (Gurnall, 46)

This spiritual war, unobserved to the natural eye, wages all over. The sad state is one of complete ignorance. Gurnall remarks, “He that cannot see his enemy, how can he ward off the blow he sends?” (Gurnall, 46) As we share the Gospel, the Christless people of earth have no idea of the enemy’s attacks. They are open, exposed, like a nerve without a tooth. They experience great pain, but are unaware of the enemy’s affliction. Let us pray that God will deliver them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light!

“THE CHRISTLESS STATE IS A STATE OF IMPOTENCY” (Gurnall, 47)

The souls to whom we preach are impotent. They cannot fight their own flesh, let alone the devil. What hope have they? They have no armor, nor a Protector. They have no weapons, nor a Defender. Gurnall describes their plight, “What the Spirit of God doth in a saint, that in a manner doth Satan in a sinner. The Spirit fills the heart with love, joy, holy desires, fears; so Satan fills the sinner’s heart with pride, lust, lying.” (Gurnall, 47) Imagine the desperate plight of these bearers of the image of God!

“THE STATE OF UNREGENERACY IS A STATE FRIENDSHIP WITH SIN AND SATAN” (Gurnall, 47)

The state of Christless souls is one of friendship with sin and Satan. Remember  James’ words, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4, NASB). No Christless soul can be a friend of God, nor can it be an enemy of Satan. Gurnall even discusses the possibility of when an individual seems to be fighting against sin and Satan. He writes, “Sometimes indeed there appears a scuffle between Stan and a carnal heart, but it is a mere cheat, like the fighting of two fencers on a stage. You would think at first they were in earnest, but observing how wary they are, [and] where they hit one another, you may soon know they do not mean to kill; and that which puts all out of doubt, when the prize is done you shall see them making merry together with what they have got of their spectators, which was all they fought for.” (Gurnall, 47-48)

CONSIDER OUR DUTY

As Christians, we are to don this armor in order to fight our own wars. We still have indwelling sin, and we are told to fight against it in the power of God’s might. We must remember, consider, meditate upon the destructive nature and devilish desires of our enemies.

As Christians, we are to fight against the powers of darkness through the grace of God. Gurnall discusses the weapons of our warfare later, but for now we need to remember the plight of the Christless soul. What are we doing to tell people the Gospel? How are we evangelizing the lost?

May we be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!

 

MORE IN THE SERIES

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 3)

Psalm 119 has seven verses that mention the word affliction. These references help form a framework from which the believer, the child of God, can endure, learn from, and thrive in, affliction.

Of course this idea seems to be a complete contradiction. But as we mentioned before, God’s workings are quite beyond our ability to comprehend (see Isaiah 55:8-9). The fact that we can endure affliction and thrive and learn in it is astounding.

Our second verse is Psalm 119:67. David writes,

Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (KJV)

This single verse provides an interesting timeline of events. Like the Order of Service printed on a church bulletin, this verse shows the progression of David’s experiences in affliction and the result of facing them.

MISLEADING AND DECEPTION

David plainly states, “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” That is, before David experienced trouble, he went astray. The phrase went astray is an interesting one. It comes from one Hebrew word, and though there are several shades of meaning, the basic concept is one of deception.

Another was to describe this is misled. Misleading can come in a variety of ways. For example, David experiencing a form of misleading when he was transporting the Ark of the Covenant. In II Samuel 6, David decides to take a large number of people (30,000, according to 6:1), to retrieve the Ark. It must have been a thrilling experiencing! All of those people celebrating the return of the Ark, surrounded by music and joy (6:2-5)!

Then something terrible happened. Tragedy struck a man named Uzzah. As they (Uzzah and Ahio, brothers, 6:3) drove the cart, the Ark slipped and began to fall and “Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it…And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (6:6-7).

Can you imagine how David, and the people, felt? It seemed as if they were doing everything right and then tragedy struck.

MISLEADING AND US

Does that not happen to us? Do we not proceed with life thinking we are doing well, but like Uzzah we face some affliction? The question is, “Why?”

Why did God strike Uzzah down? After all, he was trying to save the Ark. Why would God do that?

Affliction was a tool used in Uzzah’s, the people’s, and David’s life to remove that misleading. We are human beings, prone to deception and faulty thinking (see Ephesians 2:3; 4:17-18, for example). We believe we are doing right. We may think our motives are right, and therefore justify the means. We may think the end is right, and therefore justify the means.

This is what happened during the transportation of the Ark. David, leading the people, thought that by bringing the Ark back to the land they were doing good. This affliction, no doubt, drove David to consider God’s truth about the Ark. He would have been sent to the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) in which he would have read Numbers 4:15, 16, and 20.

And this is what happens in our own lives. Far too often we justify unbiblical ways of doing deeds, thinking thoughts, or spreading speech by the motive, the ends, and even the means. And, perhaps unbeknownst to us, we sin.

MISLEADING AND CORRECTION

However, God in His infinite mercy and marvelous sovereignty, uses our failures and deceptions to conform us to the image of His dear Son and our Savior, Jesus (Romans 8:29; cf. Gen. 50:20). David, brokenhearted and confused, “was afraid of the LORD that day” (II Sam. 6:9). Before David experienced this affliction he went astray. He was deceived.

Like us, we often need affliction in order to be driven to the God we worship. Like bumper bars in a bowling lane, affliction keeps us, like it did David, from being misled into the gutters of sin.

MISLEADING AND GOD’S WORD

Affliction is a unique tool in the hand of our sovereign, good God. He uses it so that we, like David, can say, “now I have kept thy word.”

Brothers and sisters, let us keep the Word of God! Let affliction be our guides to read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word!