The fundamentalist movement was built by young men. Many of the leaders during the modernist-fundamentalist controversy were in their thirties and even their twenties. The most prominent leaders, men like T. T. Shields and J. Frank Norris, were only middle-aged. Younger men are typified by Robert T. Ketcham, who gained a national reputation as a leader in the controversy during his early thirties. To a very large extent, Fundamentalism was a movement of young men.
My own experience as a young man was similar. Before I turned thirty, I had already been given a college professorship and had spoken from a national platform. During a significant controversy, I had published opinions that attracted both praise and ire from prominent leaders of the fellowship. While some men disagreed (vigorously!) with what I said, I was never simply dismissed, and I certainly never felt that I was excluded from the process.
Probably because of my own experience, I suppose that I have assumed that young leaders should and do have a significant voice within Fundamentalism. A recent conversation, however, took me completely by surprise. Speaking with a staff pastor in a large, fundamentalist church, I heard the young man say, “Nobody in Fundamentalism wants to listen to you until you’re forty.”
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