Can I still be a Christian if I don't believe that God loves himself above all?
If you said that to me... if we were one on one and you said, "I've heard you say that God loves his glory above everything—God esteems himself more than he esteems me, and God seeks his own exaltation more than he seeks anything else—and I'm having trouble with that. Can I be a Christian?"
I would say, "Well, what do you mean by saying, 'God doesn't love himself above all'? What do you mean?" My guess is that if this person is a real Christian they would answer in a way that would not make them not a Christian.
In other words, they would say something like this: "It just seems selfish! It just seems, you know, kind of ugly. It just seems...."
And I think my response to that would be, "OK. If that's what it seems to you, then you can't affirm it! God's not selfish, he's not ugly, he's not a megalomaniac. If my theology in your head means that God is damnable, then don't believe it!... yet."
I believe that about Calvinism. I believe it about the atonement. I believe that about everything. I don't want somebody to just espouse sentences which in their head are indicting God! You can't! That's a terrible thing!
So then I would take their "buts" ("but it seems..., but it seems...") and I would try to answer them.
Now, if they said, "God does believe humans are more important than he is," I would say that a Christian can't believe that. That's absolute idolatry. Infinite idolatry. Damnable idolatry.
So what they mean would matter.
I don't ever want to take one sentence and say, "If you say that sentence, you're damned." I want to say, "Tell me what you mean by it." Because it's what's going on in your heart and in your head as you struggle that will signify whether the new birth has got a hold on you and you're just trying to sort it out.