John Douglas Drysdale was such a unique figure in the history of the modern church and something of a maverick. As a young Scottish Preacher, he settled in Birkenhead in the North West of England in 1916. He began to attract the interest of those seeking a more vital Christianity, with his strong views on holiness (he taught the doctrine of Entire Sanctification) and uncompromising approach to Evangelism, it wasn't long before he founded Emmanuel Church in Cloughton Rd and later Emmanuel Bible School, of which he was Principal.
In his book "The Price of Revival," Drysdale wrote, "Don't let us pander to worldlings...Save us from soft sentimental preaching!" His rejection of worldliness was unrelenting and almost an obsession. He condemned "those men who are hunting for all sorts of entertainments... to bring people into the church." His solution? "Tell them their sins until they loathe them, and turn to our adorable Saviour who is able to heal them, and fill them with His own joy and peace."
Yet for all the radical language, there was an incredible gentleness and tender love with Drysdale. He was a lifelong Pacifist, at a time when it was not popular, even for a Christian to be so. His compassion for souls meant that he would often spend hours in prayer, sometimes rolling on the floor as if in agony, crying out to God, "just one soul Lord, just give me one soul!"
In his most famous book, "J.D. Drysdale - Prophet of Holiness," he explained his distaste for what has been called cheap grace: "One lesson impressed upon me in my study of the Gospels, is the fact that Jesus never made converts on the cheap...He always challenged them to count the cost."
Drysdale operated a system in his own church, partly based on John Wesley's "Rules for Societies-Bands," that worked on the basis of church membership.
"It is required of all who desire to unite with us and thus walk in fellowship with us, that they shall show evidence of salvation from their sins by a godly walk and a vital piety; that they shall earnestly desire to be cleansed from all indwelling sin and that they shall evidence this..."
He always valued cleanliness of heart and life, over the size of his congregation.
Drysdale was author and Co-author of a number of publications, such as;
A Work of Faith
Fourteen Years After
After his death, Emmanuel Bible School was eventually swallowed up by The Nazarene Bible College and much of its library found its way into The Nazarene Theological College in Didsbury, Manchester.
The mention of Drysdale in Christian circles today (unless they are Wesleyan/Holiness circles) is, I imagine, almost none existent. He was not a Wesley, a Spurgeon, or a Lloyd-Jones, and yet in his own time and place, he was the epitome of the faithful shepherd; and in his own small way, he left a legacy of faith and practice that was radical, brave and God honouring.