“Karl Ludvig Reichelt was a Norwegian missionary to China, and Sharpe characterises him as a "progressive conservative". Although he began as a revivalist, Reichelt's experiences of meeting Buddhist monks led him to reject the notion of the religion as a Satanic deception. Instead, noting Mahayana Pure Land doctrines about the need for salvation and a promised saviour from the West, he came to regard Buddhism as a form of "general revelation" that was fulfilled in Christianity. Further, the "Dao" could be identified with the "Logos" of the Bible. Thus the Buddhist scriptures could be venerated as scripture, like the Old Testament, and Christian worship could incorporate Chinese forms. Inevitably, this was decried as "syncretism" by conservatives, but Reichelt was careful to avoid participating in any form of Buddhist worship. The book tells the story of the development and growth of his Tao Fong Shan centre, which eventually ended up based in Hong Kong.
The book also details his relations with some other figures of his day: he enjoyed the support of Bishop Nathan Söderblom, but Rudolf Otto, to Reichelt's distress, dismissed his efforts as submission to a bhakti movement. Tao Fong Shan also became influenced by Frank Buchman's Oxford Group, and this is the subject of a special appendix. We learn that Reichelt was favourable, but declined to take part in the movement's group confession sessions. In Hong Kong, Reichelt drew closer to Anglicanism through association with Bishop R.O. Hall. There are also encounters with D.T. Suzuki and Francis Younghusband.
Sharpe, as a phenomenologist of religion, is sympathetic biographer, although he is also frank about Reichelt's scholarly shortcomings. However, his discussion of why certain monks chose to convert doesn't really engage with sociological factors, and there some simplistic Jungian ruminations about east and west at the end of the book which he admits to being speculative (This is of a piece with Sharpe's "Comparative Religion" book, which unhappily dismisses Durkheim curtly while going on at some length about Jung)”