Christianity Today has released the winners of its 2021 Book Awards and has announced that Reading While Black has been chosen for the Beautiful Orthodoxy award, and Mother to Son was selected for the CT Women award. IVP titles were also winners in the categories of Christian Living/Discipleship and Theology/Ethics, and three titles received Awards of Merit in the categories of Spiritual Formation and Missions/Global Church.  

“The Christianity Today Book Awards are annually among the year-end lists that my colleagues and I most look forward to, as CT and its judges invariably recognize writing and publishing of distinction,” Jeff Crosby, InterVarsity Press publisher, said. “We are honored and humbled by the Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year award for Esau McCaulley’s groundbreaking project and by each of the category winners and honorable mentions. They join a host of other books of substance and impact published and written by friends in the industry.”

As the Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year, Reading While Black was chosen as the title that “embodies CT’s pursuit of truthfulness and loveliness.” When CT first announced this award in 2016, they wrote, “You might call ‘Beautiful Orthodoxy’ our shorthand for . . . theological, political, and cultural expression that unites truthfulness and loveliness. The way the gospel does.”

In Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope Esau McCaulley calls the church to a dynamic theological engagement with Scripture, in which Christians of diverse backgrounds dialogue with their own social location as well as the cultures of others. Ekemini Uwan, cohost of the Truth’s Table podcast, said, “In Reading While Black, Dr. Esau McCaulley honors the beautifully rich triumvirate of doxology, orthodoxy, and orthopraxy, which has always had its home in the Black Christian tradition.”

McCaulley is assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. He is also the host of The Disrupters podcast. His publications include Sharing in the Son’s Inheritance and numerous articles in outlets such as Christianity TodayThe Witness, and the Washington Post. McCaulley was also recently honored with the 2020 Emerging Public Intellectual Award.

As the winner of the CT Women award, Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope deals head-on with issues ranging from discipleship and marriage to biblical justice. Jasmine L. Holmes shares a series of powerful letters to her young son about her journey as an African American Christian and what she wants her son to know as he grows and approaches the world as a black man.

“These letters are personal and yet applicable to us all,” writes Jackie Hill Perry in the foreword. “With child or without. Brown or white. Married or single. We may not all understand what it is to be her, a black mother with a brown boy, but we all understand what it is like to love, to care so deeply for someone that affection becomes words.”

The CT Book Award winner in the category of Christian Living/Discipleship went to Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience by Sheila Wise Rowe. Dan B. Allender, founding president of The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, said, “Healing Racial Trauma is a magisterial gift for those who have suffered harm as persons of color, and it is also a revelation for those whose whiteness has served as a pair of blinders from racial trauma. Sheila Wise Rowe brilliantly exposes, narrates, honors, and calls forth from Scripture, clients, and her own life, the stories of violation and the power of hope.”

As a child, Sheila Wise Rowe was bused across town to a majority white school, where she experienced the racist lie that one group is superior to all others. Rowe, now a professional counselor, exposes the symptoms of racial trauma to lead readers to a place of freedom from the past and new life for the future. In each chapter, she includes an interview with a person of color to explore how we experience and resolve racial trauma.

The recipient of the CT Book Award for the Theology/Ethics category was “He Descended to the Dead”: An Evangelical Theology of Holy Saturday“Matthew Emerson has ably recovered a theology of Holy Saturday, Christ’s descent into the place of death, for churches that are normally suspicious about ancient creeds,” said Michael F. Bird, academic dean and lecturer in theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia. “He shows that it is biblical, theologically necessary, integral to the work of Christ, and even intrinsic to the very identity of the God we worship. A concise and convincing account of a contested topic.”

The IVP titles that tied for the Award of Merit in the Spiritual Formation category included Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara L. Peacock and The Way Up Is Down by Marlena Graves.

In Soul Care in African American Practice Peacock illustrates how the practices of spiritual formation are woven into African American culture and lived out in the rich heritage of its faith community. Using the examples of ten significant men and women, Peacock helps readers engage in practices of soul care as we learn from these spiritual leaders. “As a spiritual director and a scholar, [Peacock] gives voice and vision to the rich Christian spiritual tradition that has undergirded the sustenance, liberation, and transcendence of African Americans. In so doing, she calls us once again to the fountain of living water that never runs dry,” said Bishop Claude Alexander, pastor of The Park Ministries, Charlotte, North Carolina.

In The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself writer, professor, and activist Marlena Graves draws on the rich traditions of Eastern and Western Christian saints as she shares stories and insights that have enlivened her transformation. For Graves, formation and justice always intertwine on the path to a balanced life of both action and contemplation. Sharon Hodde Miller, author of Nice: Why We Love to Be Liked and How God Calls Us to More, said, “I know of no one who cares less for the superficial ‘worries of this life’ (Mt 13:22) than Marlena Graves. She is a voice calling out in our generation, beckoning us to a vision of Christ that has nearly been drowned out by the rise of self-help pseudo-Christianity. And this book? This book is her heart on paper. If you want to sit under a spiritual giant, and if you want to remember just what kind of freedom we are called to in Christ, do not miss this message.”

The IVP Academic title that received the Award of Merit in the Missions/Global Church category was A Multitude of All Peoples: Engaging Ancient Christianity’s Global IdentityVince L. Bantu surveys the geographic range of the early church’s history, revealing an alternate, more accurate narrative to that of Christianity as a product of the Western world. He begins by investigating the historical roots of the Western cultural captivity of the church, from the conversion of Constantine to the rise of European Christian empires. He then shifts focus to the too-often-forgotten concurrent development of diverse expressions of Christianity across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

“There are very few books we can legitimately call game-changers in the publishing world, that can revolutionize a field of study and transform our ongoing engagement on a topic,” said Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary. “Dr. Vince Bantu has written a game-changer of a book that will rework our engagement with church history, global Christianity, missiology, evangelism, and multicultural ministry. Thoroughly researched while comprehensive in scope, all future discussion on the history of the church and its implication for the future of the church must now go through this book.”

For a list of IVP award winners visit