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W. R. Inge

Anglican Platonist author and professor of divinity at Cambridge

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Summary

William Ralph Inge was an English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, which provided the appellation by which he was widely known, "Dean Inge."

Born
Died
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Importance
June 6, 1860
Crayke
February 26, 1954
Wallingford, Oxfordshire
Church of England, Criticism (interpretation), Great Britain, History, Literature
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Biography

 W. R. Inge
Source: Wikipedia

William Ralph Inge was known to the public as ‘The Gloomy Dean’ for the sharp cultural criticism of his columns in the Evening Standard. He was a passionate Christian Platonist known in the academy for his work on mysticism, Plotinus and a synthesis of Christianity and Platonism.

William Ralph Inge was born 6 June 1860 in Crayke, Yorkshire, England, into a family of clerics. His father was an Anglican curate and provost of Worcester College, Oxford, while his mother’s father was the Archdeacon of Cleveland. After education at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, Inge returned to his alma mater as Assistant Master at Eton in 1884. The year 1888 marked the beginning of Inge’s twin paths of scholar and churchman as he was elected Fellow and Tutor at Hertford College, Oxford, and ordained Deacon in the Church of England. His early work at Oxford centered on Christian mysticism, and his Bampton Lectures on the same theme were published in 1899.

Inge remained at Oxford until 1905, when he became vicar of All Saints’ Church, Knightsbridge. In 1907 Inge was installed as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Fellow of Jesus College at Cambridge, where he taught until becoming Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1911. Inge delivered his two sets of Gifford Lectures on ‘The Philosophy of Plotinus’ in 1917–1918 while at St Paul’s. He retired in 1934 to a life of writing and study. Inge married Mary Catharine Spooner in 1904, and they had three children. He delivered a number of lectureships in the United Kingdom and the United States and received honorary degrees from the universities of Aberdeen, Durham, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Oxford and St. Andrews. He died 26 February 1954.

Inge wrote over thirty-five books in the areas of mysticism, Christianity, Platonism, ethics and contemporary issues. A number of his books were collections of his essays, including two series of Outspoken Essays, a title that betrays much about its author. For Inge was a controversialist, even a contrarian. In theology he was a liberal, in politics something of a reactionary. A supporter of animal rights and the arts (serving as trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1926 to 1951), he was a constant critic of the state of modern civilization, particularly in its democratic form. It was this criticism in the form of regular columns in the Evening Standard (1921–1946) that earned him his reputation as ‘The Gloomy Dean’.

Yet Inge’s reputation as public gadfly is tempered by the depth of feeling in his writing on the mysticism of Christian Platonism. His integration of and apology for Christian Platonism took the form of an impassioned commendation of humanity’s ascent to God. His at-times overappreciative analysis of Plotinus is understandable in light of his express desire to offer Plotinus as not only ancient philosopher but also contemporary teacher. Inge undoubtedly accommodated the Christian and Platonic mindset to one another, but not uncritically. As a Christian, he spoke of the transcendentals of Truth, Goodness and Beauty as attributes of a personal God rather than abstract Forms. Whether and how far Christianity and Platonism are compatible is a still-searing question. But one must admire the embodiment of an attempt to articulate a universal cosmic movement from and to God that is to be found in W. R. Inge.

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Quotes by W. R. Inge

"GOD is nameless, for no man can either say or understand aught about Him. If I say, God is good, it is not true; nay more; I am good, God is not good. I may even say, I am better than God; for whatever is good, may become better, and whatever may become better, may become best. Now God is not good, for He cannot become better. And if He cannot become better, He cannot become best, for these three things, good, better, and best, are far from God, since He is above all. If I also say, God is wise, it is not true; I am wiser than He. If I also say, God is a Being, it is not true; He is transcendent Being and superessential Nothingness. Concerning this St Augustine says: the best thing that man can say about God is to be able to be silent about Him, from the wisdom of his inner judgement. Therefore be silent and prate not about God, for whenever thou dost prate about God, thou liest, and committest sin. If thou wilt be without sin, prate not about God. Thou canst understand nought about God, for He is above all understanding. A master saith: If I had a God whom I could understand, I would never hold Him to be God. (318) God is not only a Father of all good things, as being their First Cause and Creator, but He is also their Mother, since He remains with the creatures which have from Him their being and existence, and maintains them continually in their being. If God did not abide with and in the creatures, they must necessarily have fallen back, so soon as they were created, into the nothingness out of which they were created. (610)"
Topic: God's Imminence | Source: Light, Life, and Love
"THE masters say: That is young, which is near its beginning. Intelligence is the youngest faculty in man: the first thing to break out from the soul is intelligence, the next is will, the other faculties follow. Now he saith: Young man, I say unto thee, arise. The soul in itself is a simple work; what God works in the simple light of the soul is more beautiful and more delightful than all the other works which He works in all creatures. But foolish people take evil for good and good for evil. But to him who rightly understands, the one work which God works in the soul is better and nobler and higher than all the world. Through that light comes grace. Grace never comes in the intelligence or in the will. If it could come in the intelligence or in the will, the intelligence and the will would have to transcend themselves. On this a master says: There is something secret about it; and thereby he means the spark of the soul, which alone can apprehend God. The true union between God and the soul takes place in the little spark, which is called the spirit of the soul. Grace unites not to any work. It is an indwelling and a living together of the soul in God. (255) Every gift of God makes the soul ready to receive a new gift, greater than itself. (15) Yea, since God has never given any gift, in order that man might rest in the possession of the gift, but gives every gift that He has given in heaven and on earth, in order that He might be able to give one gift, which is Himself, so with this gift of grace, and with all His gifts He will make us ready for the one gift, which is Himself. (569) No man is so boorish or stupid or awkward, that he cannot, by God's grace, unite his will wholly and entirely with God's will. And nothing more is necessary than that he should say with earnest longing: O Lord, show me Thy dearest will, and strengthen me to do it. And God does it, as sure as He lives, and gives him grace in ever richer fulness, till he comes to perfection, as He gave to the woman at Jacob's well. Look you, the most ignorant and the lowest of you all can obtain this from God, before he leaves this church, yea, before I finish this sermon, as sure as God lives and I am a man. (187) O almighty and merciful Creator and good Lord, be merciful to me for my poor sins, and help me that I may overcome all temptations and shameful lusts, and may be able to avoid utterly, in thought and deed, what Thou forbiddest, and give me grace to do and to hold all that Thou hast commanded. Help me to believe, to hope, and to love, and in every way to live as Thou willest, as much as Thou willest, and what Thou willest. (415)"
Topic: Grace | Source: Light, Life, and Love
"YOU should know, that that which God gives to those men who seek to do His will with all their might, is the best. Of this thou mayest be as sure, as thou art sure that God lives, that the very best must necessarily be, and that in no other way could anything better happen. Even if something else seems better, it would not be so good for thee, for God wills this and not another way, and this way must be the best for thee. Whether it be sickness or poverty or hunger or thirst, or whatever it be, that God hangs over thee or does not hang over thee—whatever God gives or gives not, that is all what is best for thee; whether it be devotion or inwardness, or the lack of these which grieves thee—only set thyself right in this, that thou desirest the glory of God in all things, and then whatever He does to thee, that is the best. Now thou mayest perchance say: How can I tell whether it is the will of God or not? If it were not the will of God, it would not happen. Thou couldst have neither sickness nor anything else unless God willed it. But know that it is God's will that thou shouldst have so much pleasure and satisfaction therein, that thou shouldst feel no pain as pain; thou shouldst take it from God as the very best thing, for it must of necessity be the very best thing for thee. Therefore I may even wish for it and desire it, and nothing would become me better than so to do. If there were a man whom I were particularly anxious to please, and if I knew for certain that he liked me better in a grey cloak than in any other, there is no doubt that however good another cloak might be, I should be fonder of the grey than of all the rest. And if there were anyone whom I would gladly please, I should do nothing else in word or deed than what I knew that he liked. Ah, now consider how your love shows itself! If you loved God, of a surety nothing would give you greater pleasure than what pleases Him best, and that whereby His will may be most fully done. And, however great thy pain or hardship may be, if thou hast not as great pleasure in it as in comfort or fulness, it is wrong. We say every day in prayer to our Father, Thy will be done. And yet when His will is done, we grumble at it, and find no pleasure in His will. If our prayers were sincere, we should certainly think His will, and what He does, to be the best, and that the very best had happened to us. (134) Those who accept all that the Lord send, as the very best, remain always in perfect peace, for in them God's will has become their will. This is incomparably better than for our will to become God's will. For when thy will becomes God's will—if thou art sick, thou wishest not to be well contrary to God's will, but thou wishest that it were God's will that thou shouldest be well. And so in other things. But when God's will becomes thy will—then thou art sick: in God's name; thy friend dies: in God's name! (55)"
Topic: Surrender | Source: Light, Life, and Love
"A GREAT teacher once told a story in his preaching about a man who for eight years besought God to show him a man who would make known to him the way of truth. While he was in this state of anxiety there came a voice from God and spake to him: Go in front of the church, and there shalt thou find a man who will make known to thee the way of truth. He went, and found a poor man whose feet were chapped and full of dirt, and all his clothes were hardly worth twopence-halfpenny. He greeted this poor man and said to him, God give thee a good morning. The poor man answered, I never had a bad morning. The other said, God give thee happiness. How answerest thou that? The poor man answered, I was never unhappy. The first then said, God send thee blessedness. How answerest thou that? I was never unblessed, was the answer. Lastly the questioner said, God give thee health! Now enlighten me, for I cannot understand it. And the poor man replied, When thou saidst to me, may God give thee a good morning, I said I never had a bad morning. If I am hungry, I praise God for it; if I am cold, I praise God for it; if I am distressful and despised, I praise God for it; and that is why I never had a bad morning. When thou askedst God to give me happiness, I answered that I had never been unhappy; for what God gives or ordains for me, whether it be His love or suffering, sour or sweet, I take it all from God as being the best, and that is why I was never unhappy. Thou saidst further, May God make thee blessed, and I said, I was never unblessed, for I have given up my will so entirely to God's will, that what God wills, that I also will, and that is why I was never unblessed, because I willed alone God's will. Ah! dear fellow, replied the man; but if God should will to throw thee into hell, what wouldst thou say then? He replied, Throw me into hell! Then I would resist Him. But even if He threw me into hell, I should still have two arms wherewith to embrace Him. One arm is true humility, which I should place under Him, and with the arm of love I should embrace Him. And he concluded, I would rather be in hell and possess God, than in the kingdom of heaven without Him. (623)"
Topic: Contentment | Source: Light, Life, and Love
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Works by W. R. Inge

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External Work.
20 editions published.

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No description available.

External Work.
8 editions published.

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External Work.
16 editions published.

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External Work.
8 editions published.

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29 editions published.

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External Work.
9 editions published.

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This book has everything a reader needs to explore the world of German mysticism. William Inge begins with an introduction of histories, biographies, and summaries of the movement, and his scholarly articles will prove useful for the student of mysticism. Then he includes in the book many examples of the writings of the 14th century Dominicans, the Friends of God. These friends were an informal group of Catholics who strove to deepen both their communal relationships as well as their inner spirituality. Eckhardt, Tauler, and Suso were the major proponents of this theology, and each is represented in Inge's collection. This book is a unique and convenient volume that will assist readers interested in the fascinating movement of German mysticism.

External Work.
14 editions published.

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11 editions published.

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No description available.

External Work.
19 editions published.

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External Work.
17 editions published.

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External Work.
20 editions published.

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4 editions published.

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External Work.
4 editions published.

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