Review of “Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr”, by the Rev. Michael Cocks
By Bruce Scott-Hill
I believe there is justification to consider St Stephen’s teachings an important valid adjunct and modern update to Biblical teachings.
Having read many “teaching” mediumistic type books over the years, of which the Rev. Michael Cocks’s ‘St Stephen book’, is a good example - never have I encountered such a book as this. Having now read it multiple times, I believe it to be nothing other than what most of us have always hoped for, namely an update and adjunct to the Bible, but appropriate to today’s world. While it obviously could never be regarded as a replacement for the Bible, its coverage as a single book and teaching source, is suitably vast (with 5 parts, some 149 teachings/chapters, within a book of 322 pages). It also has merit for a reader - in that it comprises a comprehensive unambiguous consistent teaching - compared with the multiple sources of a notable variable quality and provenance one encounters in the Bible. It is also a modern teaching well suited for today, as it goes beyond Biblical teachings to explain and correct many things mentioned in the Bible, some examples of which are covered below.
Unfortunately, it languishes under a rather correct but uninspiring title, which has meant that it has no doubt gained little attention to date. In my view it warrants instead, a more appropriate and fully deserved title or subtitle such as: - “Modern medium updated Biblical teachings - from a Saint who lived at the time and knew of Jesus”.
It is unfortunate that today we, and particularly all Christian churches; have become deaf to the reasonable expectation that it was always God’s will - that prophets would continue advising us all of God’s message, and in a manner more suited to our times. It surely therefore seems illogical to revere all prophets of the Old Testament without question, yet ignore completely all those of today. Probably this deafness has resulted from too much notice since biblical times of the fearful exhortations of the Old Testament to mete out the most appalling treatment (including immediate death) to psychics and mediums i.e. those who call up “spirits” (references are given below). As if this could possibly be sanctioned by a God of love?
In complete contrast, the New Testament says nothing of that, and instead says, “I will send them prophets and messengers” (Luke 11, 49). Also, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 declares, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good.” There are many other such New Testament quotes  . The following Old testament quote though has particular relevance to the St Stephen book, “I have also spoken to the prophets. And I gave numerous visions, and through the prophets I gave parables.” (Hosea 12:10). The mention of parables is of particular significance, as St Stephen’s teachings uses parables continuously! Another pertinent and interesting relevant quote, (in this case from esoteric literature) is, “But because the children of tomorrow will be at a higher standard stage of evolution, the truth that is revealed to them must be more progressive than the truth that is revealed to you today.” (medium – Maurice Barbanell) “Teachings of Silver Birch”, Pg. 101).
From the above, the use continuously of parables by St Stephen can itself be surely regarded as an initial striking ‘test’ for the validity of his teachings as being those truly of a saint (but now as a higher being in an afterlife). As one continues to read, for myself the conviction becomes overwhelming. First one becomes aware of not only the quality - including the rationality, depth and wisdom of all his teachings; but also the wonderful and careful explanations (unusual and helpful) that St Stephen gives for each of them. Understandably, this is likely to be far more helpful and acceptable in today’s world, where education makes one more readily accept reason, rather than assertions encountered in some questionable old Biblical texts. While continuing reading, one soon also becomes aware of the fact that St. Stephen while introducing many areas himself; in contrast, on almost every occasion, invites questions from those in attendance on any matter whatsoever - but never failing to provide a meaningful and helpful answer. Surely, this is yet another validity test, as any attempt to answer random questions would be a suicidal approach that no fraudulent medium would ever contemplate, let alone attempt. Thus, any contention that that the relatively uneducated trance medium “Tom” (who had no tertiary education), made this all up as he went along and is therefore a fraud - would be absolutely ridiculous. Likewise, none of the group who followed the mediumistic teachings of St Stephen for as long as eight incredible years, could be expected to be other than honest; this included Tom Ashman, a London Jew, his wife Olive, a Catholic, the author, the Rev. Michael Cocks, (an Anglican vicar), a Liberal Catholic priest [it's a church denomination] and a Buddhist astrologer - all of whom who would surely be expected to honour truth, not falsity. Mentioned also in the book was that when channeling first commenced St Stephen often began sessions with the same Latin phrase - the English translation of which is; “Thus, in the Church, speaks the Holy Spirit” [sic ecclesia Spiritus Sanctus]; later, on two occasions he spoke a little in a Greek dialect current in ancient Thrace and Galatia - which was duly tape recorded. It took 30 years of research to fully understand the implications of the words. Tom himself had no knowledge of either language. As St. Stephen explained in the book; he spoke no English during his lifetime, only Aramaic and Greek. He explained that he used the language in the mind of the entranced Tom to communicate with the group. This led to some of St Stephen’s teachings being in a somewhat archaic form of English, and a few teachings being somewhat difficult to understand. All of which further suggests its authenticity. Finally, for anyone who might still question or doubt its veracity in any way (particularly regular church goers and the clergy), it will be recalled the need to test prophets was quoted above (in Thessalonians). This is again repeated elsewhere in the New Testament, as follows: - (1 John 4.1) “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”. However, John goes further, by advocating a specific “test” which must be used to validate prophets, (1 John 4.2-3) “By this you know the spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” St. Stephen meets this test again and again throughout his teachings by speaking of Christ almost continuously. Even introducing Christ in this manner in his first teaching, “ ….the message that you all have been given and you must learn with greater clarity is the message of our Lord Jesus Christ …….”.
Moving on to the teaching themselves, some of the teachings that appeal particularly to myself with my strong interest in science (this is deliberately brief, since as readers you will have your own favourites) are as follows: -
1 St Stephen (Ref. Ch136) confirms with Olive, that eternal life is available to all and says, “Nothing on earth could keep us from that life eternal with the Father”. At the beginning of his explanation he says that: “Christ spoke the simple statement that this was so” - 2000 years ago”. Christ may well have said this some 2000 years ago, but this is not what it says in the Bible - as I have studied exhaustively there its every written occurrence of references to eternal life. In contrast, all I have found, bear some qualification or other. The most frequent is that one must first believe in Jesus Christ. Others don’t mention this and instead suggest a sinless life is necessary. For those acquainted with Quantum physic properties (obviously unknown in Biblical times), in non-physical reality, time does not exist or form part of quantum equations. Therefore, St Stephen’s modern claim that we will all enjoy eternal life – regardless! would align with modern science expectations for an afterlife in a fully quantum non-physical timeless reality.
2 (Ref. Ch137), A similar situation applies to the key Christian concern regarding “salvation”, where there is even confusion over a consistent definition, but most definitions generally suggest it means freedom from ‘sin’. St Stephen though regards ‘salvation’ somewhat differently, and instead provides an even more advanced and updated modern concept – as attaining eventual reuniting with God for the majority, but not for the minority that do not wish this. This contrasts markedly with the understanding most have in their interpretation of the Bible verses - as concluding that salvation is intended - but for a few. St Stephen - well aware of this, nevertheless states (with a detailed explanation), that this is a misconception.
3 St. Stephen continually emphasises throughout all his teachings of the interconnectedness of us all as – one, with each other, and with God. Again, this is supported by a modern science discovery that the Universe is holographic, which inherently means everything is interconnected. Our sense and perception of separateness is therefore considered most likely an illusion restricted to our physical environment.
Finally, none of the above is of course meant to denigrate the Bible in any way, as It is well known (from scholarly research) that some Biblical teachings have inevitably been distorted from what Christ most likely actually said in biblical times - as a result of inevitably using in many cases second hand only verbal and therefore imperfect accounts, translation issues, bias etc. (adding of course to perhaps even more inevitable errors over the course of time in documentation/copying etc. of the Old Testament.)
Cocks’s book is in competition for attention with a welter of many other books which claim mediumistic channelled comfort type messages only, supposedly from those who have passed over. These seem continually popular, but teach little in comparison.
I personally cannot speak highly enough of this book, if one were to read it I am sure they would come to the same conclusion as mine, as to its great worth. I therefore recommend it to everyone, and consider it essential reading for all.