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Does salvation come thru faith by grace or are good deeds required?
This question has been debated for centuries.

The Bible:
In [Galatians 2:15-21], Paul says, "We ... know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ ..
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--" [Ephesians 2:8]

James says, "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?" [James 2:14]

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ:
For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Christ] the many will be made righteous. [Romans 5:19]

James is the primary book of the current New Testament which promotes works for salvation.

The controversy of whether or not to incude the book of James in the New Testament canon was part of the Grace vs Works controversy.

The first "canon" of the New Testament, the Muratorian Canon, which was compiled in A.D. 170-190 did not include James and several other books (Hebrews, James, 2nd Peter, 2nd John, 3rd John, Jude, & Revelation).
The Council of Laodicea (363-364), The Council of Hippo (A.D. 393) and the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) added these books.
Read more:
How and when was the canon of the Bible put together? | GotQuestions.org
Should the Book of James Be in the Bible? | ChristianDataResources.com

In the fifth century a debate took place between Pelagius (an an ascetic) and St Augustine of Hippo.
Pelagius said mankind had the power to do good, to convert themselves from sin by their own power, and the ability to work out their own salvation.
St Augustine said Pelagius's seemingly optimistic creed in fact burdens weak mortals with a burden too great to bear.

John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536 expanded and further developed these Augustinian themes. A central doctrine of his was Irresistible Grace.

Later in the 16th century, Martin Luther made an attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon (notably, he perceived them to go against certain Protestant doctrines such as sola gratia and sola fide), but this was not generally accepted among his followers. However, these books are ordered last in the German-language Luther Bible to this day.

In 1547, the Council of Trent, sought to address and condemn Protestant objections to the Roman Catholic Church. They said,
The grace of justification ( God's act of removing the guilt and penalty of sin) may be lost through mortal sin, but can be restored by the sacrament of Penance.
"With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man."

In 1637 one of my ancestors, Samuel Wilbore a leading merchant in the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had donated the land that is now boston commons, was banned from Boston because of his association with a religious group lead by Anne Hutchinson, her brother-in-law, the Reverend John Wheelwright and possibly Roger Williams.

This was referred to as the Antinomian Controversy, also known as the Free Grace Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. They supported the free grace theology of Puritan minister John Cotton. A Covenant of Grace over a Covenant of Works, being taught by Puritan clergy at the time.
The Antinomians in the colonies as well as England, believed that the moral laws as taught by the Church of England were of no value and that the only law that should be followed was that of the Gospel and that Christians are freed by grace from the necessity of obeying Mosaic Law. The Quakers eventually merged with the Antinomians.
There were many groups which separated from the Church of England in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The Puritans were one.

Wilbore, Hutchinson and Williams moved to Rhode Island, which had become a haven for persecuted religious sects.
Wheelwright, with a group of followers, crossed the frozen Merrimack River and established the town of Exeter, New Hampshire.

Grace Works
Paul James 1st Century
Muratorian Canon Council of Laodicea, Hippo and Carthage 2nd-4th Century
St Augustine Pelagius 5th Century
Martin Luther Church of England 16th Century
Protestants Roman Catholic Church 16th Century
Anne Hutchinson
Rev John Wheelwright
Governor John Winthrop
Reverend Thomas Shepard
17th century

Grace - Wikipedia
Luther on Good Works
Should the Book of James Be in the Bible?
Religion in Colonial America

last updated 10 Nov 2013