The answer is “No, you shouldn’t punch a heretic.”
Instead, if he wants to talk here is how you should respond.
1. Don’t let him get you going with leading questions. He’ll probably say something like, “If you were to die tonight are you assured that you would spend eternity in heaven?” or “Have you been saved?” or “Have you been washed in the Blood of the Lamb?” or “Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”
Don’t respond to the question. These questions are as loaded as “Do you still beat your wife?” Furthermore, he is using language which is his particular lingo. All those little catch phrases like “personal Lord and Savior” and “accepting the Lord” or “Being saved” are determined by his theology, his world view, his understanding of Scripture and his tradition.
So challenge him on the use of these words and ask him a question in return, “You know, those phrases you use are your version of Christianity. How would you feel if I asked you a personal question using my terminology?”
You reply, “So, for example, what if I asked you if you had ‘made a good confession’ or if you were ‘in a state of grace’ or if you had ‘made your consecration to the Sacred Heart of Mary.’ or whether you had recently ‘prayed the chaplet of the Divine Mercy.’ You would rightly be bewildered and feel bamboozled. Likewise your neat little questions make me feel bewildered and bamboozled, so I’m not going to be drawn into a conversation on your terms.”
2. You then say that you are not going to swap Bible verses or argue theology. You are not going to discuss whether Catholics worship Mary or whether we pray to statues. Your not going to discuss the Pope or why we light candles in church or whether Catholicism is really the worship of Dagon or the great whore of Babylon. You only have one question for him, and if he can answer it, then we’ll move on.
The question you have for him is, “Why should your denomination be the right one and the other 29,000 Protestant denominations be wrong?” That’s it. You hang on to that question like a terrier and don’t let go.
3. Here’s what he’ll say, “It’s all there in the Bible.” You say, “That’s what the other 29,000 denominations say. Why is yours right and their’s wrong?”
He’ll say, “Denominations don’t matter. We all believe the same essentials. We disagree with the details.” You say, “If they’re all the same, then why do you say Catholics are wrong?” or “If they’re all the same why don’t you just become a Catholic and join us?”
He’ll say, “We Protestants believe the same thing, but we disagree in the details.” You say, “That’s not true. Methodists believe you can lose your salvation, Calvinists say you can’t. Episcopalians believe you need to have sacraments. Baptists say they’re not necessary for salvation. You disagree about major things–not just minor ones. So why is your denomination right and they are wrong?”
He’ll say, “If you just read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to direct your heart and mind you will see that we are right.” You say, “But that’s exactly what the other 29,000 say. They also say their beliefs come from the Bible and the Holy Spirit led them. Is the Holy Spirit a liar? Is the Holy Spirit confused? Why should your denomination be right and theirs wrong?”
He’ll say, “If you just read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and prayers you will see that we are right.” You say, “Dear friend, that is exactly what I have been doing, and the Holy Spirit has led me to become and remain a Catholic.”
Then you won’t have to punch him.
He’ll probably punch you.