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IVP receives two Gospel Coalition 2019 Book Awards

WESTMONT, IL—With nearly three hundred books reviewed each year between their academic journal Themelios and their regular book review section, The Gospel Coalition has chosen two IVP titles among its top twelve books of the year. The Gospel Coalition 2019 Book Awards went to He Descended to the Dead and A Big Gospel in Small Places.

TGC editor Ivan Mesa said, “At the end of each year we take stock of the most helpful titles across various categories, using the following fourfold criteria:

  • offers gospel-centered argument and application;
  • includes faithful and foundational use of Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament;
  • fosters spiritual discernment of contemporary trials and trends; and
  • encourages efforts to unite and renew the church.”

He Descended to the Dead: An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday by Matthew Emerson was the title that best fit these criteria for the Academic Theology category of the TGC Book Awards. “Matthew Emerson has brought light to an often dark topic,” the judges wrote. “This book is a lovely blending of academic, systematic, and pastoral theology that deals with a neglected, misunderstood, and important creedal topic. It also models how evangelicals can engage and retrieve Patristic theology under the authority of Scripture.”  

A Big Gospel in Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters by Stephen Witmer was one of two TGC Book Award winners in the Ministry category. This title was also recently included on the shortlist for WORLD magazine’s Best Books of the Year. The Gospel Coalition judges said this about Witmer’s book, “In recent years, church planters and revitalizers have been drawn in increasing numbers to urban areas. But what about those out-of-the-way places where rural folks need to hear the gospel and sound doctrine? Stephen Witmer provides a compelling theological case for why those places matter and offers a keen, biblically sound strategy for the small places. Focusing on the city may seem strategic, but Witmer shows how Jesus is often unstrategic. Witmer argues, in beautiful prose, why ministry in the country remains an urgent and fulfilling necessity.”

For a complete list of IVP award winners visit

Founded in 1947 as an extension of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, InterVarsity Press serves those in the university, the church and the world by publishing thoughtful Christian books that equip and encourage people to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord in all of life. For more information, visit