1 Nephi 10:11 — LeGrand Baker — To “dwindle in unbelief.”

1 Nephi 10:11 

11. And it came to pass after my father had spoken these words he spake unto my brethren concerning the gospel that should be preached among the Jews, and also concerning the dwindling of the Jews in unbelief. And after they had slain the Messiah, who should come, and after he had been slain he should rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles.

A phrase that is frequently used in the Book of Mormon that means to be in the state of apostasy is “dwindle in unbelief.” Since “dwindle” is a word that is not much used in our culture, the impact of the phrase is often overlooked. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of “to dwindle” is: “to become smaller and smaller; to shrink, waste away, decline; to decline in quality, value, or estimation; to degenerate; to reduce gradually in size, cause to shrink into small dimensions.” So dwindling in unbelief is not a static state of apostasy. Rather, it is a state of ever diminishing understanding of what is truth. Alma uses that same concept to describe individual apostasy and to define the “chains of hell” (Alma 12:9-11). An example of this type of apostasy being widespread over an entire culture is found in 4 Nephi. That example is followed almost immediately by a description of a different kind of apostasy: “they did not dwindle in unbelief, but they did wilfully rebel” (4 Nephi 1:34, 38).
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