In the time since then, however, this question has become less asked.
As well, there was the provoking suggestion that the thought of Augustine at Cassiciacum was Neo-Platonic
and not Christian.
But this sweeping assertion has now generally been denied.
Certainly, the writings of Augustine at Cassiciacum are more purely philosophical than are his later works as a priest and bishop (which were composed after further study on his part).
They also are slightly more sparse in their references to Scripture; however, for Augustine to have required time and study to attain full force of his Christian thinking is surely a reasonable proposition.
It can be explained why that these Dialogues at Cassiciacum are different in tone and religious quality to the Confessions that he wrote ten years later.
Firstly, the Dialogues
were written by Augustine when he was an unbaptised seeker of the Christian faith. He was then a Christian catecheumen rather than as yet a Christian teacher.
On the other hand, the Confessions
were written by him after he had attained practical pastoral insight and had become a church leader.
Secondly, the tone of the Dialogues was philosophical, and that of the Confessions primarily spiritual and theological - although philosophy was not excluded therefrom.
Augustine had not yet attained the reflective depths to have made the Dialogues of Cassisiacum a more obvious prelude of the style and spiritual subjectivity of his written Confessions at Hippo a decade later.
Augustine later stated that the first step in his conversion
had been his overcoming his pride with a Christian humility; to have written his Confessions
only months after the conversion incident in the garden at Milan
would certainly have been greatly precipitate on his part, if only because of the fact that conversion is an ongoing process rather than an instantaneous event.
His period at Cassiciacum required the practice of humility,
such that even his "boasting" at that early stage about the providence
(in Latin, gratia)
of God in his life would possibly have been misconstrued by others, and thus not served well the God Whom Augustine was then seeking.
Augustine departed from Cassiciacum more ready for baptism than when he had arrived there months earlier. He had worked out his intellectual difficulties and was now prepared to approach baptism.
He had found an acceptable response to philosophical skepticism
, and was again eager in the pursuit of wisdom.
The more-intellectual "Milanese" style of Christianity he saw in Bishop Ambrose of Milan
fitted with his studies of Neo-Platonism, and made the possibility of his actual involvement in batism and Christian practice intellectually comfortable for him.
Author Peter Brown has stated that, after his positive experience there, Augustine departed Cassiciacum certain of his future, i.e., confident that perfection could be attained in this life. Ten years later, however, when writing his Confessions
he had come to appreciate that he was doomed to remain incomplete in this life. Perfection existed beyond the grave.