Symbols have meaning. The lack of symbols have meaning as well.
I recently finished Dave Shiflett's book, "Exodus: Why Americans are fleeing liberal churches for conservative Christianity" and it sparked a train of thought. In the book Shiflett quotes the nearly worn-out statistics on contemporary Christianity put out by the Barna Research Group. The by now well known statistics show how supposed conservative Christians reject cardinal doctrines by wide margins: the Virgin Birth, the reality of a personal Satan, the Resurrection, etc. It seems to me that the one common theme that runs through these rejections is a rejection of the real and/or physical for abstract metaphysical categories. For example, many believe there is no being called Satan only a "principle" of evil. This seems to have some bearing on sacramental/liturgical issues.
I'm sure many out there in conservative Christian circles have had the experience of seeing or being the facilitator of erasing or coloring out any representation of Jesus in Sunday school materials on the grounds of having no images. It seems that at the root of these perhaps good intentions is a desire to protect the transcendence of God but this is also indicative of a creeping reduction of all things into abstract categories. Wine is removed from the communion table and replaced with grape juice because "it's not the actual substance that matters, its the principle." Church buildings become formless hulks because "it's not the building that's important but the principle that the church is the people." Vestments, paraments, and the placement of the pulpit and the communion table all become irrelevant or are rejected outright because we are to focus on...the God who is above all of this but who in practicality is to remain unimagined in our conscience. This seems to fly in the face of the biblical presentation of God who comes to his people in physical symbols: pillars of fire/smoke, an incredibly detailed religious cultus and ultimately in flesh. It seems to me that an all-encompassing reaction against this is a sure road to nominalism rather than a barrier against it.
The charge is often made that a high view of the sacraments and of liturgy will lead to nominalism but is this really the cause? Detractors will point to the fact that liberal churches find resonance in liturgy and symbolism and it is remarked that liberals dumped everything and all they had left were the symbols. The question I ask in response is this, "Are the symbols the only thing left because they are weak or are they left because they were so powerfully enduring?"