Each religion has it’s own set of doctrinal statements that congregants abide by. These are accepted statements of faith that are not routinely challenged. These principles have to do with life, how it’s lived and why we are to behave and believe in a certain way. They tell us about the deity we believe in and how we should interact with that deity. When a person fears the prospect of challenging the doctrine of their belief system they are said to suffer from Heresyphobia or Hereiophobia.
This fear suggests that any deviation from the stated doctrine could result in anything from excommunication from the church to an eternity in hell. In that respect the doctrine of a religious order for some is sacrosanct. It cannot nor should it ever be challenged or revised.
What Causes Heresyphobia?
The fear of deviating from a stated doctrine is in many cases something that was emphasized in childhood. Parents or religious instructors might have made it very clear to children that the doctrine presented was pure and true and that any deviation might result in the wrath of God poured out on those who leave its path.
For those who had no such instruction, but have studied the religious writings of their faith there can be a pervasive feeling that the words, meaning and emphasis of the words should not change no matter how much society might. The more fervent the belief in the doctrine the more fearful one can become about the potential that the belief system could alter according to the will and whim of those who disagree with the original doctrine.
An individual might also have observed a revision in doctrine in the past and then noted a negative alteration in the attitudes and actions of others who embraced the new understanding. This, too, can lead to fear.
Symptoms of Heresyphobia
One of the most predominant symptom of Heresyphobia is a panic attack especially when it is suggested by some that the doctrine should be changed. For this individual it may be like assigning new terms to an existing contract without permission from the other party. Since the other party is designated as divine and powerful they may consider the entire idea negative to their well being.
Other symptoms may also include:
- Air hunger
- Elevated heart rates
- A sense of control loss
Religious belief is one of the more difficult things to successfully challenge if a person is prone to a fear of the divine.
How to Overcome Heresyphobia
This is a fear that wrestles with belief. This can make it a bit more difficult to manage. A therapist can, at the very least, help you move from a fear to a general dislike for changes in doctrine within your faith perspective. The truth is even if someone determines to alter the accepted view of a doctrinal belief you do not have to accept that alteration on a personal level. However, embracing fear may be antithetical to the faith you wish to express.
The fear of challenges to official doctrine is also referred to as:
- Challenges to official doctrine fear
- Radical faith deviation fear