I wonder if anyone could assist me regarding a question that touches on church history and perhaps religious anthropology.
I have read, from an older book on the Conquistadors (The Conquest of Mexico by William Prescott, 1922) the theory that the Aztecs of 1519 came under divine judgment, a judgment orchestrated through the Conquistadors.
The theory runs that the Aztecs had in their writings a prophecy that one day invaders would come from afar to destroy them, a prophecy that they took to be fulfilled in the Conquistadors. The mystery is where this prophetic notion came from.
I am not necessarily defending the Conquistadors here. I suspect the idea would be that just as God used, eg the Babylonians, to bring judgment in 586BC on Israel, so God can use the wicked to bring judgment on another wicked people.
I may have misread it, but Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto seemed to me to be alluding to a similar idea: of the invasion of the Conquistadors as a form of divine judgment on the Aztecs, a race who by the turn of the 16th century seemed to have lost moral compass in many areas, not the least of which was human sacrifice and butchery.
I believe there is a counter-argument that runs that the Aztecs received such prophetic notion from Christian missionaries, who had begun to work higher up in the Americas shortly after the Columbus arrival of 1493.
This does, on the surface, seem a little specious. Twenty years since Columbus’ arrival seems scant time for a belief to be so entrenched in a given group that it becomes lore as such.
A further argument runs that general ideas of divine judgment, a special day of wrath and prophecies of destruction run through many religions by virtue of mutual contact of one people with another. I.e., that the prophetic idea of a special race that would come and destroy one’s own civilization may be fairly common in various religious traditions; thus the argument from uniqueness is diluted and may lose force.
All of which may well be bound up in the ongoing debate about how religions influence one another and whether Christianity can claim uniqueness among them.
However, my knowledge of all this is fairly limited. I read of it in the above history of the Conquistadors and was intrigued. I was wondering if anyone has done research on this question and can perhaps provide assistance.