Lyman Pierson Powell

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Lyman Pierson Powell
Powell 4408112599 c506c285b2 o.jpg
BornSeptember 21, 1866
DiedFebruary 10, 1946
OccupationEpiscopal clergyman, writer

Lyman Pierson Powell (September 21, 1866 - February 10, 1946) was an American Episcopal clergyman and college president.


He was born in Farmington, Delaware. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1890, studied at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Divinity School where he graduated in 1897. He was ordained a priest in 1898. He became president of Hobart College and of William Smith College (Geneva, New York) in 1913.

He died in Morristown, New Jersey at the Morristown Memorial Hospital on February 10, 1946.[1]

Fellow minister Rev. Dr. Charles S. Macfarland wrote a biography of Powell in 1947.[2]

Christian Science[edit]

Powell wrote a critical book, denouncing Christian Science in 1907. The book described Christian Science as "neither Christian nor scientific."[3] Powell's own biographer, Charles S. Macfarland, wrote that this first book on the subject "it was clear, had been written in a spirit of extreme irritation."[4]

Powell later changed his position, stopped being antagonistic towards Christian Science, and wrote another biography of Mary Baker Eddy in 1930 which presented her and the religion she founded in a much better light.[5] This change seems to have been gradual, apparently as a result of interactions with Christian Scientists. Before writing the new book, Powell told Macfarland, "Mary Baker Eddy should be made known to the world - through the medium of one who was neither her disciple nor her enemy."[6] He traveled to Boston, and despite his previous negative book, the Mother Church gave him access to their extensive archives; perhaps in hope that the biography would rebut the recent criticisms of Edwin Franden Dakin.[3]

The new book became an authorized biography printed by the Christian Science Publishing Society and was sold in Christian Science Reading Rooms.

Ernest Sutherland Bates, a critic of Christian Science, negatively reviewed Powell's 1930 biography commenting "His method of vindicating Mrs. Eddy is simply to ignore all the charges against her including those which he himself has made." Bates noted that Powell's criticisms of Eddy that he made in 1907 such as the accusations of indebtedness to Phineas Quimby do not appear in his later biography.[7]



  • American Historic Towns (four volumes, 1898–1902): Southern States, Western States
  • Current Religious Literature (1902); Devotional Series (three volumes, 1905–1907)


  1. ^ "Rev. Dr. Powell, Author, 79, Dies. Retired Episcopal Clergyman, Former President of Hobart College, Was Noted Lecturer". New York Times. February 11, 1946. Retrieved 2010-03-05. Dr. Lyman Pierson Powell, retired Episcopal clergyman, author and one-time president of Hobart College, Geneva, NY, died this afternoon in Morristown, NJ [at] Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. His age was 79. His home was at 100 Hanover Road, this place. ...
  2. ^ Mead, Sidney E. (1948). Reviewed Work: Lyman Pierson Powell: Pathfinder in Education and Religion by Charles S. MacFarland. The Journal of Religion 28 (1): 76.
  3. ^ a b Corey, Arthur. (1950). Christian Science Class Instruction. The Farrallon Press. pp. 257-258
  4. ^ Macfarland, Charles S. (1947). Lyman Pierson Powell: Pathfinder in Education and Religion. New York: Philosophical Library. p. 215
  5. ^ Gottschalk, Stephen. (1978). Christian Science. University of California Press. p. 211. ISBN 0-520-03718-9
  6. ^ Macfarland, Charles S. (1947). Lyman Pierson Powell: Pathfinder in Education and Religion. New York: Philosophical Library. p. 220
  7. ^ Bates, Ernest Sutherland. (October 25, 1930). Before and After Taking. The Saturday Review. p. 268

Further reading[edit]

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