Indeed, the place of Jesus in black Christian thought cannot be divorced from the black social experience, particularly in America. The meaning of the Redemption and of Jesus' teachings must be found in the context of such experience, or no meaning can be found. Cone cites the divine apparition at the time of Jesus' baptism to explain that the miracle of the descent of the Holy Spirit shows that Jesus understood "the prophetic character of his vocation as well as the presence of something entirely new in his person" (Cone 67-8).
This new thing was Jesus' recognition that the dawn of the time of salvation, inaugurated by the return of the Spirit, was inseparable from his person and also that this new age was identical with the liberation of the poor and the afflicted. . . . [T]hrough his words and deeds he became the inaugurator of the Kingdom, which is bond up with his person as disclosed in his identification with the poor (Cone 68).
Positioning Jesus in the vanguard of social liberation is consistent with Cone's description of black Christians who do not consider Jesus "as a thought in their heads to be analyzed n relation to a similar thought called God," in the tradition of classical theology but rather "as a Savior and friend" (Cone 5). This position is to be distinguished from the view of Jesus that emphasizes his suffering but does not sufficiently stress his freedom le