Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen concludes his March 23 op-ed with this stunning statement: “Christian conservatives are not judging President Trump by his faith, but by his works. And when it comes to life and liberty, his works are good.”

On life in the literal womb, yes; on life in the womb of Mother Earth, not so much.

On the negative freedom to be against things that place what this segment of the Christian community perceives to be undue burdens on people of faith, yes; on use of the positive freedom still available to flesh out distinctly Christian works of service in science and scholarship, public policy, the arts, medicine, economic and environmental stewardship, etc., Thiessen might have done greater public service by identifying such “good works” as undernourished.

What Thiessen identifies as good is so tainted by the trappings of arrogance and cynical power maintenance as to embody, in principle, the philosophy “the ends justify the means.”

When Jesus said “seek first the kingdom of God” and trust to him to add whatever else is needed, he was advocating means for that “seeking” that were consistent with the healing, justice and human flourishing that Christ’s kingdom embodied, even if that led to suffering and persecution. His healing of the ear of a centurion severed by a sword-wielding disciple desiring to ward off his crucifixion make clear the necessity of means and ends being consistent with one another in any rendering of “faith and works.”

“Faith without works” may, as Jesus’ brother James intoned, amount to a “dead faith.” But works devoid of the integrity of commitment to the totality of his kingdom rule are likewise meant to be subject to judgment. Hence his words of condemnation for those who used his name simply as a means to wield power.

These are not, misrepresentations aside, articles of a cheap, watered-down religion that piously gives out mulligans like indulgences for bad behavior. It’s the consistent holistic life that is being called for, a life that, to be sure, cannot be lived without forgiveness, yet a life in which forgiveness without confession and struggle for a more consistent integrity becomes a mockery of substance.

No good, however it arises, justifies lying, adultery, hush money for porn stars and paramours, name calling, appeals to racism and scapegoating ethnic and religious minorities. And those framing an apologia for such a carnivalesque representation of redemption’s fullness need to come away from this quickly before doing any more damage to godly integrity, the common good and even themselves.