by Deane Dayton and Jim Dayton
Just as his father, Wilber Jr. did before him, Donald Dayton raised the bar of Christian Evangelical thought, understanding and teaching to new heights. He did so on an academic plane that very few Professors, and dignitaries of the faith have the mind and skills to accomplish. He equipped influential evangelicals throughout the world with the academic knowledge to face its challenges. He was a “mover and shaker” in Christian Evangelical Academia.
The Paul Dayton family had the privilege of spending Christmas with Wilber’s family in about 1957. Don would have been about 15 at the time. When we arrived at their home in Wilmore Kentucky, Don was building a Computer at the kitchen table. In 1957? He was truly a “beautiful mind.”
The following is a Biographical Summary provided by his brother Deane Dayton.
Name: Donald Wilber Dayton
Last Residence: Pasadena Highlands, 1575E. Washington Blvd., Apt. 813,
Birth: August 25, 1942, Chicago, IL
Death: May 2, 2020, CA
Parents: Wilber T. (Jr.) and Donna Fisher Dayton
Wife: Lucille Sider, married June 9, 1969 in the Yale Divinity School
Chapel, New Haven, Connecticut, (Met at Yale Divinity School, divorced in 1980s)
Son: Charles Soren Dayton, born July, 1976
Siblings: Carol Jo Mayer, Deane K. Dayton, Janet Elizabeth Manley
Houghton College, Mathematics & Philosophy, B. A., 1963
Columbia University, Woodrow Wilson Fellow
Yale Divinity School, Woodrow Wilson Fellow, B.D., 1969
Asbury Theological Seminary
University of Kentucky, Library Science and Bibliography, 1969
University of Chicago, Ph.D., 1983
Academic and Ecclesiastical Societies:
President, Wesleyan Theological Society
President, Societal for Pentecostal Studies
Vice President, Karl Barth Society of North America
Member, National Council of Churches, Faith and Order Commission
Representative, National Council of Churches, Harare WCC Convention
Academic & Work Experience:
North Park Seminary
Northern Baptist Seminary
Azusa Pacific University
The best source I know for his professional life is the book “From the Margins: A Celebration of the Theological Work of Donald W. Dayton” edited by Christian T. Collins Winn, published in 2007 by one of Don’s students and Friends. It contains reprints of several of Don’s papers and a few related papers by others. I think the most interesting part is Don’s “Autobiographical Response” and a Select Bibliography of Don’s publications, pages 383-430. The Autobiography is an interesting read and provides a lot in insight into Don’s life. The book is available for purchase from Amazon or free online at: https://books.google.com/books?id=fiD1BgAAQBAJ .
Tributes to Don have been published by:
The Wesleyan Church: https://www.wesleyan.org/a-tribute-to-donald-dayton
Christianity Today: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/may-web-only/donald-dayton-heart-makes-theologian.html
His books include:
The American Holiness Movement: A Bibliographic Introduction. Wilmore, KY: B. L. Fisher Library of Asbury Theological Seminary, 1971.
Discovering an Evangelical Heritage, New York: Harper & Row, 1976 and subsequent editions.
The Evangelical Roots of Pentecostalism. Metuchen: Scarecrow, 1987. (Don’s Dissertation)
He also edited or authored dozens of papers, articles, book chapters and volumes. Partial lists can be found in “From the Margins.” (see pages 381-382, 427-430)
Don was an avid book collector. A large collection of his books and papers are in the Special Collection of the David Allan Hubbard Library, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.
The Donald W Dayton Papers, 1980-2004 document Dayton’s involvement in ecumenical activities, such as participation in scholarly associations and formal dialogues with representatives from differing forms of Christianity. Material formats include Dayton’s published and unpublished essays, correspondence, conference materials, and photographs. The archival collection supplements Fuller Theological Seminary’s purchased acquisition of Donald Dayton’s 22,000 volume library in 1991. The book collection includes strong sub-collections in Holiness and Pentecostal studies, American Evangelicalism, Abolitionism, and Barth studies. The Dayton library was integrated into the Fuller Theological Seminary main collection is available to researchers through local interlibrary loan systems.