Zhang entered Shantung Wenhua College in 1914 and accepted Christ around that time. During World War I, he went to France and assisted the Allied Forces in translation work. After returning to China in 1919, he was convinced that only armed forces and science could save China; however, his endeavor came to naught. From 1927 to 1929, he worked as assistant editor in Shanghai for the Christian Literature Society. From 1930 to 1933, he studied at Nanking (Nanjing) Theological Seminary. After graduating, he established Tian Jia Zhuang in Cheeloo University and founded the magazine Tian Jia Bi-monthly. He worked as director cum chief editor for 16 years. The aim of this periodical was to serve farmers and to help in the modernization of farms. Its circulation came to several hundred thousand subscribers.
In 1937 Zhang went to the United States for study and earned his doctorate in sociology from Cornell University. He returned to China in 1940 and taught in Cheeloo and Yenching Universities. He also served as chairman of Service to Border Area, and led the team to train teachers stationed in the border area. In 1944, together with some intellectuals who supported democracy, he formed a September 3 Society. After the war against Japan, he returned to Peking (Beijing) and taught at Peking and Yenching Universities. Later, because of his political stance against dictatorship and civil war, he was forced to leave China again; he returned in 1949. He was one of the five representatives from the religious sector to participate in the National Political Consultative Meeting. Zhang supported the idea that Chinese churches should be self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating and have their own cultural characteristics.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved