The Role of Catholic Communities in Forming the Image of the Merciful God
Keywords:attachment, image of God, community, compensation hypothesis, correspondence hypothesis
In this article we will attempt to show and explain the connection that exists between the Christian community and a believer’s idea of a merciful God. We will make use of attachment theory and try to apply it to the relationship between the believer and God. We will try to use it to explain the dynamic that brings someone to experience God as benevolent and merciful while someone else perceives God as a strict judge or has become indifferent to God. With the help of the compensation and correspondence hypotheses we will try to explain the correspondence (or continuing) and compensation (or substitute) role of the Catholic community in forming the image of a merciful God. Considering the results of past investigations which confirm the connection and similarity between the relationship of a child with its mother and that of a believer with God, we will attempt to connect the concepts from attachment theory such as attachment figure, safe haven and safe base with the Catholic community. We want to show that the Catholic community can also be a substitute attachment figure, a safe haven and a safe base for the believer. If the believer truly experiences it as such then it is our hypothesis that the conditions have been created for his/her possibly not so positive image of God to have changed into a more positive image of God who is close and who supports him/her. We verified and confirmed this hypothesis with semi-structured interviews of 10 members of the Catholic Emmanuel Community.