I was recently in a Lutheran church and noticed up in the chancel a lot of geometrical shapes. There were shield-like shapes, some other weird shapes and a cross shape. As I looked at these weird shield-shapes (I don't know if they have an actual name or not) I was struck by how strange this phenomenon is. I've often noticed it in stained glass windows too. Colored glass in strange shapes with no real meaning. It seems rather odd that a church would be into something that doesn't enhance the Gospel with clear depictions of what the Gospel is.
This, I think, is one of the real problems with a simple, empty cross. I've heard the argument made several times by clergy and laity, "We worship the risen Christ!" but that just doesn't hold water. Especially at Christmas, when so many Christians delight in nativity scenes with depictions of the Holy Family, the shepherds, wisemen, sheep, camels, manger, angels, etc. I have never heard anyone complain about these images, rather, they are often held as dear and salutary depictions of Christ's incarnation for us. But isn't this what a cross with our Lord on it is as well?
There is a real danger, and I believe we can easily see the fruits of it in the church today, of making the Gospel into some kind of geometrical abstraction that anyone can find meaning in, be it true or false. The cross is certainly dear to us, but it is just a shape. It is not the thing that saves us, but rather He who died on it is our only hope of salvation and forgiveness of sins. A cross is a shape, like weird shield-shapes, or a circle or a square. When we take Christ off of the cross we run a real danger of taking Him out of our Gospel as well.
I love the cross of Jesus Christ, for through it the gates of paradise have been opened up to humanity. A simple, plain cross can remind me of that just as well as a crucifix. But please, don't tell me that I don't worship Christ crucified for sinners! Don't tell me Christ is no longer on that cross! Don't force the God of the Incarnation off of His throne! In so doing, you will loose that sweet message of forgiveness through the merit and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I worship an incarnational God who put on flesh and lived like me in all ways except sinning. I worship a God who loves me with such ferocity that He would hang in torment on that beautiful cross and bear the full weight of the sins of the world. Please, don't take Him off of that cross.