When slave owners try to Christianize their slaves, they bring Jesus in two forms — one is as a servant and that’s to say, ‘Hey look, service is good, service is godly so your work service is good.’ But they also present Jesus as master … you have to follow his lead to not lie, not steal. But when slaves take this Jesus, how they reconnect the dots is to say, ‘OK, well if Jesus is master, then my earthly master isn’t my only one, he’s not my most powerful one, in fact I have a master above my master … and that master can challenge the slave owner, can teach a higher law.’ And then when we get to service, when slaves hear that Jesus was a servant, they say, ‘Hey wait a second, he also suffered, he was crucified, but that wasn’t the rest of the story. The rest of the story was he was resurrected and not only was Jesus resurrected, but he resurrected his friends in the story of Lazarus.’
So for African Americans who have death all around them — and not just literal death, but also the death of families, you know when you see your wife or child sent away … Jesus has resurrection power for him and his friends. So what slaves do is they basically take those models of master and of servant and they just connect them differently than the way the slave masters intended and they create basically a wholly new form of Protestant Christianity."