A Brief Doctrine of Man
There can be no better place to start concerning the doctrine of man than God's view of him at the beginning. Too often our view of man begins with his sin, and although vitally important, we must step even further back to gain a proper perspective.
In Genesis 1:26-27, we see that man is the only creature made in the image of God. According to Romans 3, the problem in the fall was that in our sin, we fell short of the glory of God. Falling short of God's glory, adequately understood, is to fall short of the image we were supposed to reflect to the world.
In Pagan religions, their idols were created to reflect the image of their false gods. In Judaism and Christianity; we were made to reflect the one true God's image. No doubt this is why (in Matthew 22:21) when being tested about taxes, Jesus says to render to Caesar what is Caesar's but to render to God the things that are God's. Taxes can go to Caesar, but our lives must go to the Creator.
In light of this image-bearing quality, every part of the story of God communicates God's love and compassion towards man. Whether it is seen in God's walking with him in the garden or God's plan to walk with man in the new heavens and new Earth, God's love for his image bearers is clear. Even the reality of Jesus' incarnation reveals God's true view of man.
This story would be incomplete, however, without the reality of sin. That all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God is true in Scripture (Romans 3:23-24). That all sinned and therefore all died (Romans 5:12) is also well-established. The significance of sin concerning the doctrine of man has to do with our inability to undo the effects of sin. Without a proper understanding of sin inside the doctrine of man, we might be led to believe 1. that we can save ourselves (an utter impossibility), or 2. that there is no hope at all.
Image bearing creatures as we are, fallen and tainted by sin, required a Savior, coming in the form of a man and being without sin. Although spiritually dead because of sin, scriptures tell us that God's power in the Gospel called us to Salvation.
This is where a proper understanding of the doctrine of man (before and after sin) has a significant impact on our soteriology. Man was made in the image of God, and because of sin, he fell short of that image. However, man did not fall "out of" this image. My point is that although spiritually dead, we still maintain our ability to respond to the God of the universe. We still have the ability to respond to the powerful logos of God. In other words, we are not unable to respond. For a man to not be able to respond to the call of God through the Gospel doesn't put a man in his rightly humble state, it declares God to be impotent. For if the God who spoke light into existence by the word of His mouth cannot penetrate the ears of dead men, then He is no longer omnipotent.