Edward Everett Thornton, pastoral educator, was born in the Philippines to Baptist missionary parents on December 23rd, 1925. His family returned to the United States in 1926, and Thornton was educated at Oklahoma Baptist University (B.A., 1947), the University of Oklahoma (M.A., 1948), and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (B.D., 1952 and Ph.D., 1961).
Thornton was licensed to preach at age 17 and became pastor of the Snomac Baptist Church in Oklahoma at age 18. He married Betty June Raburn in 1948 and became pastor of the Little Chief Baptist Church soon after. His first experience in pastoral care was in 1950, when he began working as a psychiatric aide at Norton Memorial Infirmary in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1958, he was appointed Professor of Pastoral Care at the Institute of Religion, Texas Medical Center, Houston, Texas.
Thornton remained at the Institute until 1963. He went on to hold pastoral theology and clinical pastoral education appointments at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania (1963-1970) and at Colgate Rochester / Bexley Hall / Crozer Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York (1970-1975). In 1975 he was named Professor of the Psychology of Religion at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Thornton remained there until his retirement in 1994.
Among Thornton's published works are several books, including Professional Education for Ministry: A History of Clinical Pastoral Education (1970), Being Transformed: An Inner Way of Spiritual Growth (1984), and The Christian Adventure (1991). He is also the editor of A Love That Heals: One Man's Journey with Christ (1984), written by his father, Everett W. Thornton. Thornton also published numerous book chapters, articles, and reviews. He served on the editorial committee for the Journal of Pastoral Care from 1969-1983.
Thornton's professional affiliations include the Society for Pastoral Theology, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and the American Association of Marital and Family Therapists.