Prior to Luther's Reformation, has the matter of salvation - whether it is by works or by faith alone - ever been considered on any councils of the Catholic and Orthodox churches?
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The first big controversy on this topic emerged with the teachings of Pelagius. His doctrine (about salvation from deeds and about Adam and Christ only "giving example") were condemned on local councils of Diopolis and Carthage and on the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. Search the web for the term 'pelagianism' to learn more.