Grace vs Works
Does salvation come thru faith by grace or are good deeds required?
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:
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).
In the fifth century a debate took place between Pelagius (an an ascetic) and St Augustine of Hippo.
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,
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.
Wilbore, Hutchinson and Williams moved to Rhode Island, which had become a haven for persecuted religious sects.