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Is postmodernism the antithesis of modernism?

In the Fall 2008 issue, a reader wrote to Robert Huckleberry about his review of Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis that appeared in the Summer 2008 issue:


I don’t think you have defined postmodernism or modernism well. You say that “postmodernism counters modernism as its antithesis.”  Knowing that you did not have space for an exhaustive definition, in your summary of postmodernism and modernism you indulge in an oversimplification that distorts rather than illuminates. Postmodernism is not a monolithic belief that merely stands as some opposite to modernism. I appreciated your review, but would have liked to see better clarity in your terms.

— EE


Response from Robert Huckleberry:

Dear EE, I can’t agree with you more and do appreciate your response. My use of the word ‘antithesis’ is purely academic and not meant to be taken that postmodernism’s position is opposite on all points to modernism. When one introduces a thesis (as in modernism’s stance that science can answer humankind’s ills), someone else counters with an antithesis to point out exceptions and other thoughts for consideration.  Ideally, a thesis and an antithesis create a dialogue in order to form a better conclusion through synthesis.  Consequently, thesis + antithesis = synthesis.  My attempt to introduce Rob Bell’s book as a point to consider (antithesis) in Church’s transformational methodology to preach the Good News in a postmodern context was apparently missed due to my curt statement. Again, thank you for presenting an antithesis of your own to my thesis so we can produce a clearer synthesis!


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Category: In Depth, Winter 2009

About the Author: Robert V. Huckleberry is a professor of aerospace studies at Bowling Green State University and is currently preparing a missional church plant targeting college students.

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