Teacher and sociologist, was born in Dorset. The family moved to London, where hisI father became a chauffeur to Bishop Davison and later a taxi-driver and a revivalist preacher at Hyde Park, having been converted under the preaching of Gypsey Smith. The family lived in Mortlake and attended Barnes Methodist Church. David was baptized at Westminster Central Hall by Dinsdale Young.
After leaving East Cheam Grammar School, he trained as a teacher at Westminster College just before it moved to Oxford.. While still teaching hetook his first degree by correspondence course with Wolsey Hall, Oxford, followed by a doctorate in 1964 at the LSE, published in 1965 as Pacifism: A sociological and historical study. Two years as a lecturer at Sheffield University led to a lifelong career as lecturer, reader and ,from 1971 until retirement in 1989, professor at the LSE and a prolific list of 24 books and numerous contributions to other titles on the sociology of religion. In 2000 he received an honorary doctorate from Helsinki University.
In his work he challenged the prevailing emphasis on secularisation and contributed significantly to the study of Pentecostalism in South America. He was a devotee of the language of the King James Bible and the Prayer Book, a skilful pianist and a lover of English poetry. From 1953 to 1977 he was a Methodist local preacher. After attending theological studies at Westcott House, Cambridge, in 1979 he was ordained into the Anglican Church and served as a non-stipendiary Assistant Priest at Guildford Cathedral. He died on 8 March 2019.
Hs many books included A Sociology of English Religion (1967), Tongues of Fire (1990) and Pentecostalism: the World their Parish (2002) .His autobiographicalThe Education of David Martin: the making of an unlikely sociologist,was published in 2013.