Mark Hall Lead Singer of Casting Crowns: Miraculous Healing or Luck?

casting crowns

Casting Crowns 2013

A few years before I left the ministry, the music group Casting Crowns were one of my favorite groups.Songs like Does Anybody Hear Her?, Who am I, American Dream, and If We are the Body spoke of the dysfunction and incest I saw in Evangelicalism. Both Polly and I cried many a tear as we listened to Casting Crowns. Their music had a way of working its way down to the pain and emptiness that had engulfed us. While I think they have, in recent years, become enamored with their success, I do appreciate the help and encouragement I found through their songs.

I said all of the above so I could hopefully blunt any criticism over what I am going to say next.  Mark Hall, the lead singer for Casting Crowns, was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer. Hall went though surgery to remove the cancer and now the Evangelical community is abuzz with reports of God miraculously healing Hall.

Charisma News, a news site that reports as fact the most ridiculous of miracles, had this to say about Hall’s miracle:

Mark Hall, the lead singer for Casting Crowns, asked his fans for prayer earlier this month when doctors found a solid mass on his right kidney.

God answered those prayers. The doctors successfully removed the cancerous growth and he’s heading back home again.

“The pathology report is in and the news is just as we expected and also an answer to the prayers we have all prayed,” said Melanie Hall, Mark’s wife. “The pathology report confirms that the tumor was indeed kidney cancer but it was fully encased. The findings of the report confirm that the cancer had not spread to the kidney or anywhere else. Glory Hallelujah!!”

Melanie said the cancer was classified as the nuclear level 3 cell type, which is aggressive. That means it was active and ready to spread to other parts of Hall’s body.

“This just makes all of this even more of a miracle,” Melanie said. “I wish that I could explain in words how much of a miracle it was, but it would take too many words. And to be honest, I am too tired.”

Melanie pointed to three circumstances that allowed doctors to find the tumor. First, Casting Crowns is normally never off in March—but was this year. Hall was not experiencing any tumor-related symptoms—gastric problems took him to the doctor. And doctors don’t routinely order CT scans with contrast for physicals.

“God was at work in this before we had any idea. He is good that way. We are thankful for His mercy and grace. We are thankful that He chose to answer our requests in this way,” Melanie said.

“I know that not everyone’s stories have the desired ending. But I also know that God desires us to trust Him with it all anyway. Even still, He says He will work it all together for our good. Thank you again for your continued prayers. For us, in this, the war is won but we still have to fight the recovery battle.”

Is Mark Hall’s successful cancer surgery a miracle? Where’s the miracle component? A competent, qualified radiologist performed the CT scan, a competent, qualified anesthesiologist put Hall asleep, a competent, qualified surgeon removed the cancer, and a competent, qualified nursing staff assisted and took care of Hall before, during, and after his surgery. Pray tell, where’s the miracle? Just because countless Christians prayed doesn’t mean that the Big Man upstairs stopped filling out his March Madness Bracket so he could answer all these prayers and “heal” Hall.

The fact is, it is trained doctors who successfully treated Hall. But, But, But, the Christian says, WHO gave the doctors the skill to successfully operate on Hall?  By all means, please prove to me that you can know the Evangelical God gave the doctors their skill? Which is more likely: a deity giving someone a particular skill set,  or hard work, training, genetic disposition, upbringing, education, and desire giving some a particular skill set? I’m going with the latter.

There’s no miracle to be found here. Hall was lucky. Let me deconstruct Mark Hall’s wife’s explantion of the miracle.

First, Casting Crowns is never off in March and Melanie Hall sees this as providential. Providential, as in God giving Mark Hall aggressive kidney cancer so he could then miraculously “heal” him? Providential, as in God having Casting Crowns take the month of March off so he could miraculously “heal” Mark Hall? Isn’t amazing that any string of events and circumstances can be strung together as “proof” of God’s providence.

Second, Hall went to see the doctor for gastric problems and he was not showing any signs of having a tumor. Yet, the doctor supposedly ran an unneeded CT scan and viola! found the cancer.  Here’s the problem with this scenario. Doctors do order CT scans for gastric problems. How do I know this? Last December, I went to the doctor for gastric problems. What did the doctor order? A CT scan. What did they find? Enlarged lymph glands, a lesion on my pancreas, and a gallbladder filled with stones and sludge. I then had an endoscopic ultrasound. My doctor feared I had pancreatic cancer. Fortunately, the lesion was benign, but I will soon have my gallbladder surgically removed. There is nothing miraculous about a doctor ordering a CT scan on a 45-year-old man complaining of gastric problems.

So then, miracle or luck? Luck. A miracle would have been a CT scan showing Mark Hall’s cancer and then when the surgeon cut him open the cancer was gone.

Melanie Hall’s parting comment to those hoping to be healed like her husband reveals the bankruptcy of praying for miracles:

“I know that not everyone’s stories have the desired ending. But I also know that God desires us to trust Him with it all anyway. Even still, He says He will work it all together for our good.”

You see, most Christians who pray for divine healing from cancers, illnesses, and diseases find out that their God, who supposedly never leaves or forsakes them, is on vacation and can’t be bothered with their petty requests. For every Mark Hall “miracle”, there thousands and millions who will die without their God ever giving them a thought. In their dying hour, they find out that the Great Physician is anything but.

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12 Comments

  1. Geoff

    This kind of pathetic nonsense makes me almost embarrassed to admit to being part of the same human race as these people.

    The arrogance is astonishing. What about 6 million Jews praying to be freed from concentration camps during WW11. Oh, I forgot, they were Jewish so don’t count. Okay, how about the several hundred thousand murdered by Franco in Spain who were devout catholics?

    What about….oh, I give up.

    Good post Bruce

    Reply
  2. John Arthur

    Hi Bruce,

    Isn’t a miracle supposed to be an act of God’s extra-ordinary providence, not an act of of ordinary providence. e.g. an axe head floating on water, a man flying into the sky against the law of gravity, someone rising physically from the dead. Of course, we would need more evidence for such claims as these than for the ability of a surgeon to remove a cancer, provided it is caught in time. We usually attribute ‘miracles’ to mythology, since they don’t have any scientific or real historical evidence to support their claims.

    Charisma news, and its supporters, see miracles everywhere where there are none. When you have people that are willing to believe in any Charismatic propaganda perpetuated by Pentecostal and Charismatic preachers, you encourage gullibility, a willingness to believe in spite of evidence to the contrary, and a confusion of ordinary events as ‘miracles’ that encourages Charismatic fanaticism, often to the detriment of people’s health.

    Fortunately, in this case, medical heap was sought and found in time, but often it is too late or no help sought at all, with disastrous consequences.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  3. Jada

    I’m an 8-year stage 4 breast cancer survivor. My particular cancer is completely estrogen-fed, so stopping the estrogen feed arrested, mostly, the cancer. I’ve got one tiny hot spot in my lung, but it has never grown, and I’ve come to think of it as a little warning signal that will go off if anything changes, letting me know when to move on to one of the other treatments in the tool kit. My body just happened to be a good responder.

    Women who, 8 years ago, were diagnosed at stage 2 or 3, with varying types of breast cancer, went through disfiguring surgeries and harsh chemo – forever damaging their immune systems. Many of those women are dead now; good christian women who had faith and many praying for them. Heathen me with many surgeries, none disfiguring, and a rather benign drug regimen – well, I’m still here. Luck of the draw, nothing more than that. The whole thing is a crapshoot from the get-go.

    Reply
  4. Suzanne

    First of all, let me say that at least on the “Life Song” Cd many of the songs dealt with the broken fake, let’s just call it ‘crap’ that’s wrong with the modern church. I still listen to that Cd every now and then for that reason alone. But if I never have to sing ‘Praise You in the Storm’ over a child’s casket ever again I’d be the happiest woman in Virginia. Too many painful hard times I’ve done just that as part of worship team.

    My husband Jim had that exact type of cancer, aggressive, encapsulated and morphed onto his right kidney twelve years ago. It’s a particularly vicious type in that chemotherapy and radiation do nothing to it at all. Surgery and complete removal is the only treatment for it. I’m not impressed with all the jaw beating about ‘miracles’, this type of cancer has a high rate of returning and killing the patient within five to ten years. Talk to me in ten years about him being cancer free and I’ll call it a miracle. This type is notorious for returning. Jim is one of the few lucky ones and you are right, tests, doctors, hospitals had more to do with his ‘miracle’ than prayer did. Why can’t they just admit that doctors/hospitals can be a ‘blessing’ like they are claiming prayer is?

    Reply
  5. Kim

    I think that God is alive and doing miracles everyday. You have to believe that He lived, He was crucified and He has risen. There are certain things we are not meant to understand or questions we may not get answers to but He loves us and that is why He died so we may live. I think Mark’s healing is an absolute miracle and everyone should stop and listen to their songs. There is a lot of bad in this world and bad things happen to good people but Don’t tell God how big your problems are tell your problems how Big your God is. Prayer and love for everyone.

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      You realize this is a blog written by an atheist, and the majority of the readers of this blog are FORMER Christians? So the platitudes you are saying don’t go very far. Show personal care for people, yes, but don’t preach. (PS, I’m not an atheist.)

      Reply
    2. John Arthur

      Hi Kim,

      I suspect that you are using the word ‘miracles’ very loosely to include coincidences and unusual events which are not contrary to physical laws. These coincidences can be explained without resort to God.

      You don’t know whether a supernatural God answered prayer or not. What you do know is the surgeon was able to remove the cancer in time. Why not give some praise and thanks to the doctor? If the doctors has not been involved, how to you really know that the singer would have been healed by God?

      In any case, this was not a miracle in the sense of being one of God’s ‘extraordinary works of providence”. Please explain to me how this is on the same ‘wavelength’ as an axe head floating on water? I think that the latter is myth, but Fundamentalists believe that it literally happened.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  6. Suzanne

    Kim, come back in ten years and tell me Mark is still cancer free and then it might be considered something of a miracle, or at least good luck. Right now? Nope, not so much, more the skill of the surgeon and the quality of the care he received means he is cancer free for now, not uttered words to an invisible being.

    Reply
  7. Kathy

    I came Mark Hall across this website by accident. Wow. Some of you are downright ugly. Remember, God is the great planner. I’ve prayed through many crises in my life. Sometimes I got what I wanted, sometimes not. My dad did not survive liver cancer. My husband did well after heart and vascular surgeries. But trust is endemic to faith. Someone dies and goes home to be with the Lord because WE ALL DIE. That person’s job on earth is done, and only God knows why. But He makes all things work to the good of those who love Him, but be receptive to His nudging you. He doesn’t do that burning bush thing anymore. Trust that He is in charge. And no, I don’t think Mark Hall had a miracle. He had good medical care, and his job isn’t done yet.

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      Kathy, there is a mix of readership here. There are atheists, agnostics, Unitarians, liberal Christians etc. However, Bruce is an atheist. He is going to write from his perspective. You can respect it, or not. However, PREACHING here is not liked by any of us, no matter WHAT we believe (or not). I certainly understand getting strength from prayer. But to tell people who don’t believe in prayer or God, preaching that they need to trust God, is actually offensive.

      Reply
  8. Suzanne

    Ugly? How is that? The blogger is an atheist former pastor examining the puling and anemic claims of miracles that seem more like good medical care than miracle. Many of we commenters are merely chiming in with stories of cancers healed and health care. How does that make us ugly? What’s ugly is someone coming in here to tell others off for not believing the exact same way as them.

    Reply
  9. Randall McRoberts

    Bruce, I am a Christian (evangelical, I suppose — or maybe more like post-evangelical) and I agree with you. Miracles are rare and we are too quick to identify things that happen in everyday life as miracles.

    I’m sorry for the bad experiences you’ve had in the church. I identify with you though I have taken a different path in response. Thanks for your post.

    Reply

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